The 'Shroom:Issue 141/Critic Corner
Happy Year End Holidaypalooza! It's that time again when every kind of family get-together you can imagine is crammed into one 2-week mega stress fest, all eventually until some ball somewhere descends 100 feet or so and starts the cycle over again! We're also doubling up this double-whammy by not only celebrating the Super Smash Bros. franchise's 20th anniversary, but also the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate! Come on down and take a break from those frustrating World of Light battles and let your Treasure Hunt timers run by reading some lovely thematic reviews from your pals here at Critic Corner.
As stated last month, this month's issue of Could Have Been will be the last for Alex95 (talk). He has been a monthly writer here in Critic Corner since Issue 120 back in March 2017, frequently placing high or winning our CC Section of the Month poll, and will be missed. Go enjoy his section (and others) while you can! If you would like to help Critic Corner, we always have openings for more writers! The application process is very simple, starting with reading the Sign Up page, and sending your application to LudwigVon, our Stats Manager on the forum. On the Sign Up page there are a list of "vacancies" that provide you with examples of the types of sections we're looking for that would fit into Critic Corner, including the soon-open Could Have Been, but any idea you have is welcome!
I thank you for your votes again for making Half-Baked Reviews November's Critic Corner Section of the Month! Keep your votes coming, because it is the fuel that sustains me and our team here. Positive vibes!
What's in the works for next year? Who knows! Turns out I'm running the Anniversary and awards stuff again, but we also have a 'Shroom Director election coming up! Get your resolutions fired up because 2019 is not going to wait!
Section of the Month
Could Have Been
Greetings everyone! Alex95 here, and welcome to my final Could Have Been! December is an exciting month for Super Smash Bros. fans, so exciting in fact that we're basing this entire issue around the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate! To celebrate, I'm going to take a look at what went into making every game in the series in one large section! …Except Super Smash Bros. Melee, as I already did an article on that, so give that a read. With that, let's dive right in and take a look at what went into making the Super Smash Bros. series.
Super SMAAAAAAAAAAAASH Brothers!
If you're a Super Smash Bros. fan, you likely already know how the series got its start. The game was a low-budget side project created by Masahiro Sakurai and Satoru Iwata in their down time. It was always a fighting game, using percentages instead of health bars like Street Fighter, but the characters were bland and generic. This stage of the game was named Kakuto-Gēmu Ryūō, or Dragon King: The Fighting Game. However, Sakurai felt like the game needed more depth, and went to Shigeru Miyamoto to request adding Nintendo characters, who refused. So, Sakurai replaced the fighters with existing Nintendo characters anyway. But all was well, because when the game was shown off to Nintendo, they liked it, and the game was renamed to Super Smash Bros.! As for the original models, their appearance and moves were similar to what would become Captain Falcon's, so I guess that solves how the racer-turned-fighter came to be. (Speaking of Captain Falcon, go read Mach Speed Mayhem to hear more about his clone.)
Once the concept was solidified, it was time to complete the roster. The demo they showed Nintendo had Mario, Donkey Kong, Samus Aran, and Fox McCloud. Other fighters they brought in were Link, Yoshi, Pikachu, and Sakurai's own Kirby. Luigi, Ness, Captain Falcon, and Jigglypuff were added as unlockable characters, but there were more planned! Bowser, King Dedede, Mewtwo, and Marth were all in development, but were cut due to time constraints. Sakurai also considered adding an original character, but decided to focus more on established ones. Link also went through a bit of a design change, as he was meant to be able to block projectiles with his shield, but the mechanic had to be scrapped after it wasn't finished in time. Characters were also meant to have Final Smashes, as evident by unused clips in the game data. Aside from the original character, all of these cut elements were added in later games, with Final Smashes in Brawl even reusing the clips they had of characters like Ness and Captain Falcon.
For stages, Hyrule Castle, Dream Land, and Saffron City all had a slightly different color scheme. Peach's Castle also lacked some details, such as the sign, the floating bridge, and the moving block. But there are two other stages left over that were most likely just meant for testing. One resembles Dream Land, but without Whispy Woods and grabable ledges on the floating platforms. The other… is this mess of platforms and invisible structures. Obviously not tournament viable.
What could have been?
Imagine there's a new fighting game for the Nintendo 64 coming out, but all the promotional material was of generic Pepsi-Man-like figures. Would you buy this? Only if you were a dedicated HAL Laboratory fan. The decision to include Nintendo characters was a good one, as without Mario, Link, Kirby, and the others, the game likely would not have sold well and "Super Smash Bros." wouldn't be a thing (and we wouldn't have this issue theme). And if Bowser, King Dedede, Mewtwo, and Marth were included, would they play the same as we know them now? And how would Final Smashes work? We know they would've been in the game, but I'm not finding anything on the Smash Ball. Would it have worked like the Final Smash Meter introduced in Ultimate? Too many questions, not enough answers, but luckily we don't have to worry about any of them.
Super Smash Brothers MELEEEEEE!
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Of all the characters that were brought in to Super Smash Bros. Brawl, there were many that didn't make the cut. Files still in the game code reveal Dixie Kong and "Toon Zelda/Sheik" as newcomers and Roy, Mewtwo, and Dr. Mario as returning characters. Files for a character named "Pra_Mai" also exists, but no one's sure what this can mean. Pac-Man, Villager, Miis, Geno, Blastoise, and Krystal were also considered by Sakurai, but were dropped for a number of reasons.
The characters that did make it in went through a number of changes. Kirby originally had his aerial Hammer Flip move from Melee before it was changed to a horizontal double swing, and he was also able to charge his hammer, which was later added to Smash 4. Fox had his blaster in his hand the whole time and it's possible his and Falco's blasters would have overloaded or backfired, and Wolf shared more animations with Fox than he does in the final game. Perry from Super Princess Peach was also part of Peach's moveset before going back to her standard umbrella. Captain Falcon and Meta Knight were also going to take battle damage, with their helmets cracking as the battle goes on. Pit, Solid Snake, and Zero Suit Samus also all had slightly different artwork, having heavier shading and styling. Ridley was also planned to be an Assist Trophy be he was moved to a boss for the Subspace Emissary.
Speaking of Subspace Emissary, it was also changed a bit. Some planned cutscenes were removed due to time constraints. One example that was mentioned on the Smash Bros. DOJO!! is King Dedede unintentionally stalls Meta Knight from preventing the Subspace Army from taking over the Halberd. King Dedede and Meta Knight never meet until it's time for the final fight, so this cutscene was likely removed for story reasons. An older commercial also shows Mario fighting Petey Piranha in place of Kirby; while this can happen in The Great Maze, the cages still contain Peach and Zelda here, while they are missing in The Great Maze. Pokémon Trainer has unused animations related to the Subspace Emissary, where he can jump, fall, and land. In the final game, he warps everywhere.
For some miscellaneous stuff, Masterpieces were going to contain more games. Donkey Kong Country was planned but removed from all versions, while Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem and EarthBound were removed from non-Japanese versions of Brawl. Fire Emblem was likely removed due to a lack of an official English translation. Some of the characters also have unused Trophy poses, signifying a third trophy similar to Melee and Smash 4. These trophies lack some eye textures, and some were carried over from Melee. There are also a large number of empty music files, as in we have the Japanese name, but no music can be played. Files also include alternate victory themes for characters that share a franchise; in the final game, only Meta Knight has a different victory theme from his other series representatives.
What could have been?
Obviously, the cut characters are the biggest "what could have been". While Smash 4 included Pac-Man, Villager, and Miis, and the Project M mod brought back Roy, Mewtwo, and Dr. Mario, the other characters leave questions. Dixie Kong was meant to be a sort of "tag-team" character paired with Diddy Kong, similar to how they would work in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, but when the mechanics didn't work, they cut out Dixie. Considering Smash 4 cut out character swaps and Ice Climbers, it was unlikely she was reconsidered to appear then. She could have appeared as an Echo Fighter in Ultimate, acting similar to how she does in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, but I'm not sure about that. And then there's "Toon Zelda/Sheik". Likely another clone, using the Zelda from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, or perhaps she would have a different moveset? "Toon Sheik" is likely referring to Tetra, who acts nothing like Sheik. However, both of these characters eventually made their way into Hyrule Warriors Legends. Geno was likely held back due to licensing issues with Square Enix, though with Cloud Strife now in Smash Bros. and Geno as a Mii costume, it's possible we could see Geno as Ultimate DLC. Blastoise was removed because the developers simply thought Squirtle would be a better fit, and Krystal was shoved for Wolf to make development faster, though Krystal did come to Ultimate as an Assist Trophy. And if Roy and Mewtwo were kept, they likely wouldn't have been DLC for Smash 4, instead being part of the main game... Or cut again.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U
When making Super Smash Bros. for the handheld, some things are going to change. Melee-veterans Ice Climbers had to be removed from the roster altogether to keep the game consistent between versions; while they worked perfectly on the Wii U version, the Nintendo 3DS version had trouble. The Nintendo 3DS is also the reason why characters like Zelda and Samus are split from their Sheik and Zero Suit Samus variants, as the system couldn't handle swapping the characters around. Charizard was also split off of Pokémon Trainer, but I don't know if this was because of the 3DS or if they just wanted to make Charizard a separate fighter, as Squirtle and Ivysaur don't return either. The 3DS hardware also affected how Magicant worked, as the Flying Men were originally meant to be 3D models. Additionally, Dr. Mario, Dark Pit, and Lucina were meant to be alternate costumes for Mario, Pit, and Marth respectively, but were made their own fighters due to differences in attributes (and to appease Dr. Mario fans). Alph and the Koopalings, however…
As for the characters that were considered but didn't make the cut, there are a few of them. Takamaru from the Mysterious Mirasame Castle was planned as a full character rather than an Assist Trophy, but was dropped due to lack of familiarity… which is a strange reasoning for Smash Bros. Heihachi Mishima from Tekken was also planned, but was dropped as the developers thought his moveset would be too difficult to implement. Chrom was also cut from playable status and placed as Robin's Final Smash, as Sakurai thought he would be "just another swordfighter". Indeed, this is exactly what Chrom became in Ultimate, as an Echo Fighter of Roy. All three of these characters have their own Mii Costume, though. A Rhythm Heaven character was also possibly considered, as a matching emblem can be found in the games' code.
Back to stages, there are some unused files that regard them. A boss with the name "Virus" can be found, possibly referring to the Viruses from Dr. Mario. Further proof of this is an unused portrait for the Viruses and the unique Trophy render, though no files for their home stage exist. A stage file named "braintraining", the Japanese, British, and European name of Brain Age, exists, though the file is empty. Emblem files named "Plankton" and "Diary" are also grouped with the stages, possible referring to Hanenbow and Swapnote, though again, both files are empty. It's also been said that a stage based on Kirby's Epic Yarn and Super Mario Land were planned, but they were reworked into The Great Cave Offensive (to not conflict with the Woolly World stage of similar aesthetics) and Dream Land GB respectively. The Link on the Spirit Tracks stage was also going to be visible while Link was battling instead of just Toon Link.
For some miscellaneous stuff, there are unused stock icons of Miis, Ridley, and Metal Face, as well as unused portraits for those, the aforementioned Viruses, Yellow Devil, and Master Core. The Mii icons are likely placeholders, as they only depict generic Miis, and Ridley's was replaced with a different variant in the final game. Metal Face was meant to be a KO stock icon similar to Ridley, but he doesn’t give a point in the final game; however, a tip still says you can, so this was likely a last-minute removal. The portraits were likely meant to be used to show a boss's health in a similar fashion to the bosses in the Subspace Emissary from Brawl. Finally, in what was the biggest leak in Smash history until the Ultimate broken street date, footage of the ESRB testing of the 3DS game revealed a number of new things, such as locked characters and new stages. Of these, only one thing didn't make it to the final game: a trophy of Tharja from Fire Emblem Awakening. Other publications and datamining reveal characters having three custom moves for each move rather than two and a two-player co-op for the 3DS's Smash Run (though four players can connect in the final game, so I'm not sure what this means).
What could have been?
First comes the big question: What if Smash 4 was only on the Wii U? It likely would've gotten a proper subtitle, first of all. Ice Climbers would remain, but we'd miss out on Zelda's Phantom Slash and Sheik's Bouncing Fish. Honestly, I think people are more pleased with the splits. While they can no longer cycle between multiple characters on the fly, there's a new level of strategy here and they can focus on one character at a time (I've heard of a few instances where someone actually switched to Zelda when they didn't mean to). Though what if Squirtle and Ivysaur became separate characters, too? Let's speculate! The first move that comes to mind for Squirtle is Reflect, where Squirtle puts up a shield in front of him and counters physical attacks, but not projectiles. For Ivysaur, it'd be Powder, where Ivysaur shakes out pollen around him that cycles between Sleep Powder, Poison Powder, and Stun Spore. …That's just what I'd like to see, anyway.
The Super Mario Land stage likely would've worked how the Dream Land GB stage does, it scrolls and cycles through the levels of the game. It would be especially fitting now, seeing as Princess Daisy is a playable character in Ultimate. Takamaru likely would've worked as a playable character, and the "lack of familiarity" reason makes no sense to me, given how we have Ice Climbers, R.O.B., Mr. Game & Watch, etc. Chrom could've also used lances, seeing as he can use them upon promoting (and before you tell me he can't use lances in his base promotion, Mario can't use Fireballs and Capes at the same time). The Tharja trophy is an interesting case; obviously it was removed to not raise the game rating, but then we have Zero Suit Samus in her seventh and eighth palettes, Palutena practically pole-dancing, and Bayonetta flaunting around so… Hmmm… Pick-and-choose, I guess.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
And now the reason why we have this issue theme to begin with! Super Smash Bros. Ultimate just released, but with the two-week-early broken street date it had, people had plenty of time to datamine some unused information and compare information from the E3 demo. Many character palettes have changed, with Pokémon Trainer and Villager gaining dark skin in some of their costumes and Ridley losing two costumes to make way for Meta Ridley. Wario also had gold buttons instead of his usual white. Mr. Game & Watch also had his model changed to remove a Native American head feather; this is a strange case as the look is supposed to represent the original Fire Attack Game & Watch game, but the feather was removed in later ports of the game, specifically to avoid this same controversy that stemmed from adding it again in Ultimate.
Mario, The Legend of Zelda characters, Fire Emblem characters, and Pokémon characters, and the Ice Climbers had the same victory themes as in the previous game, but get slightly shorter variants in the final, with The Legend of Zelda characters getting a new one based on their victory theme in Melee. Ness and Lucas, Corrin, and Ridley all got new victory themes from the demo. Rosalina's Power Star Final Smash was similar to the previous game, but she instead uses a Grand Star in the final game, with the name of the move changing to match. King K. Rool's down special was originally named "Stomach Attack", which was changed to Gut Check in the final game.
Now for the datamined stuff! Devil's Third, Jet Force Gemini, and Blast Corps all appear as series names alongside the others, even though there is nothing representing them in the final game. They all appeared on a Nintendo system before, but they are all owned by different companies (Nexon for the first and Rare for the last two), so it's likely these were just ideas they couldn't follow up on. The Homerun Contest theme and stage appears in the code, but isn't accessible through regular means, though it's possible it can return in a future update. And while Giga Bowser does appear in the game, it is grouped with the other fighters and has alternate costumes, likely from when the form was still able to be controlled by the player as in the previous two games. Speaking of controllable characters, there are a whopping 30 placeholder character slots for the character selection screen. We have 6 of those confirmed to be filled, with Piranha Plant and Joker followed by the other 4 unknown announced ones. While it's plausible 24 additional characters could be added, I don't find that very likely, so this is likely just an overflow number they used when creating characters slots, with around 110 being the chosen number.
And that's it for Could Have Been! I need to put more focus on other matters, so thanks for reading everyone! And to whoever decides to continue this section, good luck!
What better way to celebrate a month that has been taken over completely across the globe by the holiday of only one particular faith that stole a bunch of its traditions from other Pagan customs and celebrations, all while their most rabid adherent cry foul that literally anyone anywhere dare suggests a more vague wintery greeting? Why, it’s by basing the theme of this month on stuff from the Muslim world, of course! That’s right, everything I’m reviewing here is from The Maghreb and Mashriq, historically Islamic regions spanning from Western and North Africa, through to Western Asia. I am aware that this excludes South and Southeast Asia, which includes Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Maldives, all with enormous Muslim populations but uhhhhh...I guess I just am. Someone give me stuff to review from specifically that area and I’ll get back to you on it.
While looking on Google Maps for vague things like “import grocery” and “international food market” I happened across a place called International Food Club. The website boasts its collection of stuff from more than 20 countries, complete with an online catalog to back it up. Seems right up my alley, and perfect to go there and blow a bunch of money on things to pad my review section for months to come! It’s in a pretty centralized location, being just south of downtown near a major shopping area, and to no fault of their own I couldn’t have picked a worse time and place for this. I’m new to living anywhere where temperatures shooting above 80°F doesn’t make news headlines, and that day was a bright and sunny 95°F, further boosted by the Urban Heat Island phenomenon, stand-still traffic, and my car’s AC not working and instead only blasting hot air. It was a pretty miserable experience, but it encouraged me to stick around inside the IFC place for quite a while just so I could be too scared to venture out and try anything more than some fruity looking drinks because I’m a big baby afraid of buyer’s remorse. After this place, I was emboldened to try out more, starting my quest for halal markets while overcoming my deeply instilled desire for food stores that are pristine as basically none of really any non-chain enormous corporate grocery stores really look fully up to code.
Tamek Sour Cherry Nectarthat kombucha I tried, thankfully. It definitely tastes like cherry, though, which is pretty good for something trying to taste like cherry. It doesn’t taste like fake cherry at all, though; I do really enjoy the fake cherry flavor, but natural flavoring is pretty top notch as well. The flavor isn’t very fleeting, either; much like those Ocean Spray Cran Apple Cranberry Apple Juice Drinks (actually the real name of the product, by the way), it lingers with as much power as it had when you first drank it, but at least doesn’t hit you like a truck as much. I wouldn’t exactly say that my thirst was quenched by this, like something a bit more crisp would do, but it definitely provided flavor that left an impression. Apparently this doesn’t contain preservatives, so good thing I tried this relatively soon after purchase, unlike most of my stuff that I stick on a shelf for a couple months before I get around to it. It also doesn’t have any artificial coloring, and is rich in Vitamin A and antioxidant cherry stuff. This could be deceptive marketing, as tends to happen in the American market, but the slim ingredients list backs it up, so that’s nice.
Tamek Sour Cherry Nectar mixes really well with Licor 43, orange juice, and ice, in case anyone was wondering.
Looking further into Tamek as a thing, it appears that they’re a Turkish company that’s a pioneer in Turkey for food and beverage products, and is a big well-known name that probably someone from Turkey or familiar with that area is chuckling at me not knowing squat about them until now, much like I’d be at a loss for words if someone from somewhere had no clue what Chex Mix was. They make a lot of liquids and semi-liquids in jars, including more juice nectar whatever flavor drinks like the Sour Cherry, including Peach, Mango, Black Mulberry, Mango, Apricot, and some others I’m excluding to make the list have the illusion of plenty. With my toes now dipped into the pool of familiarity with the company and their products, I’ll be more cognizant of their logo next time I’m out hunting for stuff to try, trusting that their flavors don’t include things like “toes dipped in”, and will likely snag a few more.
Rating: Rice Chex Cereal
Explanation: It’s pretty ok, and not exactly bad, it just would be so much better when paired up or mixed with something else, because otherwise it just feels like unfinished or just an ingredient.
Rani Floatthe Rani website has a neat image gallery of the cons they’ve participated in and looks pretty ““““normal””””; America’s steel country more accurately fits the description. Everyone loves corporate sponsorship, so it’s neat to see that one of them is making an investment into game, comic, and film entertainment culture. Rani, in particularly their Float brand, has been making its way into new countries, like India and Pakistan, within the last couple years, so I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually this crops up in the UK market soon enough.
I can’t be too shocked at the concept as something my family does for a treat every now and then is dice up strawberries and put them in a little bit of sugar water, and then eat it like cereal I guess. Basically strawberry shortcake without the shortcake. Anyone else’s family do that?
I can’t find the pictures I took of this, so I went and snagged a picture from google that you will see to the right, featured in this ominous video by my boi SNAKIN WORLD, who I literally just discovered right now, whose video gallery appears to be filled with a lot of stuff that is also on my lists of backlogs or stuff already done. After clicking on a few of them, I can say that I appreciate his approach to making a professional-style review video that provides ample tactile and auditory sensations that I can’t really provide here fully through text, but doesn’t go out of his way to clean it up and make everything look nice by making sure to not show that a package of crackers or cookies isn’t absolutely smashed and comes out in broken pieces. I unironically appreciate that level of realism, being able to see the product as I would receive it at a store, and not prettied up in any way. He doesn’t seem to speak in any of them--at least the ones I clicked on--so this would be absolutely gr8 to pair my reviews with his basically ASMR unwrapping vids. The way he opens a package to reveal everything is a half-melted misshapen blob holds so much TRUTH and POWER. Go watch them and give him Likes and views because I love him!!!
Explanation: It’s still good, and arguably better because the Brazil Nut Effect wiggled and jiggled all of the good stuff to the bottom, but it’s just doesn’t feel like it should. It’s not a situation you seek for, but it’s one you accept once it happens upon you.
Legendary Uludağ Gazoz
In a remarkable display of platonic soulmate twin hamsteak diamond bonding, at the same time I drank this, Gabumon (talk) was also drinking it, further strengthening our constellation in the sky. What is this quantumly entangled elixir? It’s Legendary Uludağ Gazoz! What’s that, you ask? Uhhhh…a mountain in northwest Turkey. In fact, their website also provides a 60-page ordering catalogue that details all of their products in a much more accurate and concise way than I could transcribe over to you here as some half-baked research attempt. Something of note from it, though, is that apparently the shape of the bottle is a good part of what makes this particular drink “Legendary”. Not much else is said about it, unlike ramune bottles, so I assume it’s just some basic product recognition from a time and place where standardized containers didn’t flood the market. What’s more special about it, in my opinion, is that every single bottle of every one of their products is produced in one single facility near the Uludağ mountain using only the mineral water from there. It’s that touch of authenticity that sets it apart from me as a genuine product with history and heritage, as opposed to all of the other drinks from an endless list of PepsiCo and Coca-Cola brands dispersed around the world with nothing really different between any of them aside from appealing to the flavors most relevant to the local market.
Also of note, when looking up some info to dump here, the top results for reviews of this are all like...unreasonably bitter and forced-witty. I really hope I don’t sound like this.
As the bottle claims, it’s ‘mixed fruit flavored carbonated soft drink’ vibe is readily available just in the scent, which smells pretty mixed-fruity and has the indisputable fizzy drink nose tingly feel. Visually, the soda was crystal clear, a sign that it wasn’t adulterated with unnecessary coloring agents that I, for some reason, don’t really care for as they have no immediate use beyond aesthetics of a drink that is not visible within its aluminum can. I guess color can be used to identify, but, _. Just let me hate something. It tastes like a novelty candy soda, like more straight-up sugar than anything, but not too strong. It reminded me of Juicy Fruit in terms of what the flavor was and how long (read: not very) the flavor lasted. The fruit flavor was kinda uhhh...vague? Like how Tutti Frutti is kinda just like generic fruit punch, this was kinda in the same pocket but just more generic sweet. Siding with angry commenters telling these other reviewers “u suck”, the Legendary soda is not that bad, and I’d actually opt to buy it again should it be an option available while Sprite and Dr. Pepper are not. It’s refreshing enough and my mouth doesn’t feel like the flavor is there all day long, which is neither here nor there and all really dependent on if that’s what you want. Sometimes I just want a palate cleanser.
I also managed to find a 1 liter bottle of the Orange flavor. It definitely tastes like orange for sure, and has the fake orange color. It’s more similar to orange juice, but still tastes more like American soda than Orangina (see below). Not as carbonated as American soda, either, which usually feels sharp. Doesn’t feel syrupy. It’s pretty faithful to the original Legendary but instead has orange vibes. There’s also apparently Lime and Strawberry and it’s safe to assume they will be similar, but I’m very interested in what their version of Cola is like.
Rating: Chugging milk after shoving a fistful of Chex Mix into your drooling maw
Explanation: Helps wash stuff down, but is a fleeting experience on its own. It tastes good and feels nice, having you wanting to choke down some more, but that gets expensive very quickly.
I can hardly find any information on this, so you all are spared from another wordy opening. -Bottled in Saudi Arabia, but apparently originated in Spain. The impact of Islam on Spanish culture was probably the focus of two lines of text in 10th grade textbooks, so just tl;dr Spain is close to northern Africa and has a history of Islamic influence, and as I’ve noticed frequently enough in my focused search for Middle Eastern things I grabbed to try is that a lot of stuff flows back and forth from Spain. Also from Wikipedia, they have a dearth of information on Shani, with the entirety of their scope being a picture of a can and this one sentence here: “Shani is a berry-flavoured soft drink produced by PepsiCo. It is sold and marketed outside the United States.” Another website, a drink distributor in Spain, is far more generous in its description of Shani: “This is alcohol free drink good for promoting positive health. It keeps cholesterol level under check as consumption of this drink does not affect increase in cholesterol level. After years of research in the field, we have chosen the best ingredients, concentrated juices, aromas, and bubbles to provide it a distinct natural character” and “The drink contains natural fruit concentrate juices, bubbles and aromas that provide with a natural character inimitable by others. The beverage contains only natural ingredients and no chemical taste enhancers or preservatives. This flavoured soft drink is highly demanded by people of all age groups across the world. Our range is widely available in the international market owing to its quality, health promoting features, health benefits and exquisite taste (...) Features: Excellent taste, Long shelf life, Flavored taste, Healthy and tasty.”
So there you have it! Shani is a berry-flavored soft drink that does not contain alcohol, can sit on a shelf for a while, and has a flavor.
Rating: Chex Mix
Explanation: It’s Chex! It’s mixed up! Please buy it?
Chocolate BaklavaEpcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, where you can pay to get into the park to then pay more for a small “appetizer”-sized portion of food from a bunch of kiosks representing places around the world. Excellent source of nonsense to fill up my review backlog, and there is no doubt you will see more items from this event as months pass. There are also a bunch of seminars, but those all looked really stuffy and pretentious, and also cost a heck of a lot more to have some overpaid line cook tell you which cheese tastes like what.
Probably the last one I actually purchased in the linear time our physical forms reside in, the first one here for me to tell you about is the Chocolate Baklava from the Morocco kiosk. It is described as being “Rolled Phyllo Dough with Toasted Almonds and Dark Chocolate Sauce”, which beat out Hummus Fries and a Kefta Pocket for my selection. Do keep in mind that A LOT of people basically make their living on hovering around Disney parks and blogging/reviewing stuff from them, and the Food and Wine Fest is top billing. I’ve perused a bunch of the first results for these review blogs, and while their photos are of higher quality and their descriptions more professional, I’ve seen nothing else but unwavering loyalty and praise heaved onto The Walt Disney Company for everything they do with little to no flaws pointed out or observed. I’m not that guy. A point of pride I have in this section is that if something tastes like crap, I’m absolutely going to tell you, and the fact that my venue is small and not even really an appropriate place to do food reviews helps me decrease any friction resulting from that. I will concede that my photo was absolute trash, but it’s because photographing in bright light is very difficult to focus, plus it was on a phone, plus the place is really crowded, plus I was being rushed, plus I didn’t have time to check the image before I ran off, so I have provided what mine looks like if you squint at it hard enough, as well as a better photo I’m stealing from some other blog.
I paid $4 for this thing, which is kinda more than I would really want to, but is on the cheaper end of the Fest goodies, and is comparable to farmer’s market vendor rates. So what is baklava? “(...) A rich, sweet dessert pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey,” according to Wikipedia, with filo/phyllo dough being just very thin unleavened dough. Yup, seems accurate to what was given to me, although the syrup or honey or whatever was very running and made the experience of grabbing the baklava kinda uncomfortably wet and sticky, especially after biting into it. The dough also seemed simultaneously hard and brittle, yet amazingly sponge-like absorbing the syrup and liquid nonsense; this is likely a result of it being a bunch of thin layers with space between each. I wouldn’t really call it a pleasing experience, having a tube splinter in your mouth and then instantly turn into unmanageable mush. I guess this is the key difference between the yeast-leavened croissants, and the unleavened phyllo dough. I also wasn’t a fan of the dark chocolate (really, dark chocolate in general and overall), as it provided little to no sweetness to an otherwise stiff and flavorless cylinder. I feel a baklava might be better served warm and with a savory filling, rather than just lukewarm on top of neutral with unremarkable filling. Perhaps with cinnamon? Cardamom? It almost tasted stale, to be frank.
Subtlety is an artform, and no, your kid can’t make a Jackson Pollock.
I think it’ll do me better, as well as justice to the cultures that hold baklava in their cuisine glossary, to just try baklava from an actual bakery or restaurant owned and managed by a family or company that puts genuine quality and authenticity above crafting the illusion of one.
Explanation: It has the makings of perfection, but is just tweaked too far in one direction, throwing off the entire balance between good and evil, dark and light, order and entropy.
For the final thing this month, I’m doing a half-cop out, half-I should have done this earlier, review of Orangina, which is apparently Algerian and thus qualifying for this month’s theme! I had already actually tried this back in October 2017, when I was visiting 2257 (talk), but ‘tis the season of leftovers and regifting!
Be thrilled and amazed at this unique opportunity to see me look gross in pajamas casually reviewing something in the 3D world that you would’ve already seen if you’re active on the forum here. In this video you can see what I actually look like when I’m disheveled and gently unkempt, complete with my dinner of mashed potatoes, an unidentified meat, and a Kit Kat bar. In fact, have this excerpt from IRC from back then:
I tried that before when reviewing fancy fizzy water and dumping orange juice in it to make it more palatable. Orangina is not for the weak-willed, either, as it contains a pretty decent amount of pulp. The fact that it’s carbonated is pretty negligible as it’s so tame, and I presume this product only exists because adding bubbles is the only way to make liquids palatable to Europeans. If you like orange juice, you will probably like Orangina.
Orangina also apparently comes in other flavors, such as lemon, mandarin, and grapefruit, all of which are marketed by some by nigh-uncanny valley erotic furry art, which I appreciate because they made sure to include not just large-breasted animal-headed charismatic species women, but also fig-leaf clad masculine bears, penguins, octopuses, jellyfish, and cacti. Much like many of the other non-American things I’ve tried, they were pretty scarce and had to either be brought over on a plane to me straight from that other country, or purchased at a specialty international import store for an extortionate rate, up until I go and type out the review only for them to be released into regular grocery stores. I guess that benefits you, the reader, in that you can check out my review and then go out and try the products for yourself knowing that it may or may not have passed the test of some goofy snob on the internet. I found some at Whole Foods and The Fresh Market, which should come to no surprise as being places to stock it, but have heard of it being available at World Market and certain Publix stores. Of course, only a limited variety of one (1), orange, is readily available here in the States, as far as I can tell.
Explanation: A fine product that does what it says it does, tastes how it says it tastes, and is enjoyable enough to reach for it over other options should the opportunity rise again.
P.S. here’s my favorite SNAKIN WORLD video.
Tune in next year where I make a feeble attempt at organizing an enormous amount of grouped reviews! Also, tell me what to review next! It can be games, movies, shows, physical actions, trying new foods, music, literally anything and I’ll cover it eventually if it’s not too ridiculous. Just send me a message here on my talk page or PM it to me on the forum. Don't like what I have to say? That's fine, and probably bound to happen because I've been told about how much people like Super Mario 64 and how they feel about any criticism of it! We at Critic Corner will welcome your alternate review of it as a new section for the next issue!
The Donkey Kong Country series isn't something I have a lot of experience with, I never played the original trilogy, and haven't managed to get past the first world in the recent games, if you couldn't tell I'm an expert gamer.
However, I have seen a few playthroughs of the original trilogy, so I feel that I am expert enough to comment on them. And the main thing I need to comment on Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble is that the bosses are incredibly terrifying. We have that slug thing that lives in the waterfall and you have to keep shooting it in the eye, and we also have this snowman that looks it was made by the Grinch in a fit of madness.
Unfortunately, Bleak's boss fight is incredibly disappointing as it's just simply a snowball fight. It certainly fights into the theme, given that Bleak is a snowman and the whole world takes place on a snowy mountain, but this just seems ridiculous in every way imaginable, especially since you need to aim for his tie, a piece of clothing that most snowmen don't even wear. I would understand if we went meant to target his carrot nose, or his top hat, but the tie is just way too strange.
Bleak is a strange boss in a game full of strange bosses, but his fight is ultimately disappointing. Not even the snowball launching hat can save him from just being utterly forgettable. Well, unless he and Squirt team up against you in your nightmares.
Hi Everyone! It's Geeky here once again with a review of what's been on my TV. Which has been an assortment of Chinese Drama, Christmas Movies, and of course Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. However, I'm not just going to do a basic review on Super Smash Bros Ultimate. I thought I would try and do something that is often associated with this holiday; music. I thought I could try and do a review of what I thought was good and bad about the newest game in the form of a classicin which I call, the 12 Days of Smashmas.
I am very aware that this game is a new game that is going to have its issues, such as its online portion. However, with the amount that you’re paying for with playing online, someone should at least need some decent amount of online gameplay that isn’t going to have you lag with every other match you play in. There is also the potential connection error if someone randomly drops from the match, you’re playing due to activity issues or an excessive amount of lag. There are also some extra expenses that you need to pay for if you’re going to play this game, such as controllers and extensions. With a game cube controller, you’re going to need an extra extension that you need to plug into your Switch to enable it to work. However, with that, it, unfortunately, causes tilt stick problems. There are some articles that can help with this problem. Another solution is to buy a specialized controller, with that there would be an extra $30 to $50 charge. Which would be a bit pricey of a purchase. The last alternative would be to use your joy cons to play. In my opinion, would be the best option to use. I also don’t think that this is a problem however I would have liked to see better quality on these. The Smash Tags that players use is too simplistic. I would have liked to see something special that they could have done with the players ID’s, such as some sort of flashy animation to go with it with the selection of a character to represent them. It’s a decent sized card that has important information on it which is the purpose of an ID. I just find it too boring. Now with a few positive notes to end on. I really love the newly added characters they added to the roster. I just tried out Incineroar yesterday and he’s incredibly awesome to play with his grappling moves. My current favorite newcomer is Inkling. I love how Inkling can easily turn into a squid to attack opponents. I also love that you can use a paint roller brush to bury someone leaving them incapable to move. This can be a great strategy for when you want to finish someone off. Just bury them and then use a paint bomb to blast them away. There are also some cool new weapons and stages that are cool to play with. So far, my favorite new weapons are the banana gun, blackhole, and the death scythes. Great weapons to help you stop whomever you’re facing from and defend yourself from an onslaught.
As for my final say on this video game, I think it’s worth purchasing. Your gaming experience is filled with all sorts of fun challenges that allows you to play on for hours. It’s full of all sorts of characters that you can try and master. While having to get used to the different stage challenges that could give you trouble at first but will strengthen you as a player. There is also Classic Mode and World of Light that can keep you playing for hours. Just make sure you don’t get overly frustrated, just like how I got frustrated with the darn Yoshi level. Anyways, guys, I hope you have an Awesome Holiday and a Happy New Year! Make sure to celebrate with the ones you love. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself. Maybe do something new with this upcoming year.
Virtual Console Reviews
'Tis the season of not only the month of December, but also the release month of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which, as you probably heard, is commonly agreed upon to be excellent, and to celebrate I shall take a look at the game that started it all: Super Smash Bros.!
The game starts with a snap, where Master Hand pulls up two dolls onto a table and snaps his fingers, bringing the dolls to life. After a cutscene showing the playable characters, the game pans to the title screen, and once a button is pressed, the main menu is shown with multiple options, being 1P, Vs, options and data. To start of, let's look at 1P mode, which, as the title says, is this game's primary single-player mode. In this mode, there is four options. First is 1P game, where you chose your character and battle through a set of battles which are the. Exact. Same. Every. Time. Unlike in later Super Smash Bros. games where this mode (later called Classic Mode) is randomized or even uniquely designed for each fighter, giving you a reason to replay this mode over and over again or to even play it with every fighter, however in this game the mode is the same with every fighter, thus make this mode repetitive when going for completion. There is some variety in the minigames that appear during the run, with the Break the Targets! and Board the Platforms! minigames changing their layout depending on the played character. Still, those minigames are the minority in this mode, and can be played in the Bonus 1 Practice and Bonus 2 Practice in the 1P mode, no longer making these minigames a sole reason to play this mode. There is several special events such as fighting against Master Hand, the boss of this mode, however once again, these events are the exact same each playthrough. As for the practice mode, you can well, practice with several options such as the ability to spawn and choose items.
Next is the game's biggest part, being the Vs mode. It is a one to four-player mode where you continuously battle. As this is where most of the battling takes part, I should explain the core mechanics, in case if you're new to the series. Instead of the standard fighting game with health meters, in this game you increase the fighter's percentage when you hit them, increasing their knockback when hit. In order to win you must knock the player of the stage, where they either lose stock or a point, depending on the played mode. (These modes are timed, where a KO leads to a point being gained by the fighter who knocked out the opponent and that fighter losing a point, with the player with the most points at the end of the timed match winning, and stock battle, where each player has a set number of stock that are lost when knocked-out, with the last person with stock left winning.) As for the battles themselves, you can choose from a handful of stages with unique gimmicks, as well as there being Items that can change up the gameplay. There is also additional setting for these battles, which add to the customization. However while this mode is fun, it still feels lacklustre compared to future smash titles There is a small amount of stages, a small amount of items, and a tiny roster, and, as this game lacks the side special, the playable characters don't feel as fun to play as, unlike in future games. Continuing to beat on a dead horse however, there was planned to be more playable characters in the final product, and there is several stages that are in the 1P game, such as Final Destination, that are not available in multiplayer, despite being fully made and could potentially boost the multiplayer mode. The thing is, all of the other Super Smash Bros. games have more modes, characters, options and just more things to do, and the same goes with the multiplayer.
Finally, we have the options and the records. (Yes, this is a weird way to end the main portion of the review, so bear with me.) In the options, there is well, options, such as screen adjusting. In records there is character profiles and stats, and while it is nice that these do exist in the game, the options and the records don't end up adding much to the game.
While this game is a classic, and a innovative one at that, there is just a lack of... pretty much everything.While I could justify several reasons of why you would want to play any other Super Smash Bros. game over another, this game does not have enough things that are unique to it compared to other Super Smash Bros. games that haven't been ported over, expanded upon or removed for something bigger and better. While I would recommend this game for seeing where it all started, in my opinion future games are triumphant and are worth more of your time.
Hello everyone, and welcome to this guest section of Location, Location! It sure is beginning to look a lot like an ice world this December, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has just released as well. With the Super Smash Bros. series being the focus of this special issue and winter having started just yesterday, I thought why not combine the two. So for this, I would like to guide you dear readers through all of the ice levels Super Smash Bros. has to offer, and a little bit of my insight on them. Please enjoy!
|The Glacial Peak|
|Music||Ice Climber, Frozen Hillside, and Team Galactic Battle!|
|Enemies||Boom Primid, Floow, Glice, Hydro Jyk, Metal Primid, Primid, Scope Primid, Shaydas, Spaak, Sword Primid, Shellpod, Ticken, Poppant, Bucculus, and Towtow|
|First Appearance||Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)|
|Last Appearance||Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)|
The Glacial Peak
While I am not a fan of climbing levels, especially ones which include a camera scrolling at a set pace, The Glacial Peak certainly does not do as bad of a job as the many stages like it. The vast majority of the stage is without any sort of scrolling camera, except in a particular portion at the end of the stage containing moving ice blocks. The rest of the stage involves mostly platforms and ladder, with a handful of cannons at one portion. These help to create a relatively steady climb up the mountain, even with the constant bombardment of enemies, the most of which fall fairly easily with a few strikes from Meta Knight.
Speaking of characters, playing with Meta Knight initially really does make the stage a lot easier, especially with his upward recovery which enables you to easily reach the stage’s many platforms. The Ice Climbers do make the stage a bit harder with their lack of upward mobility which the stage demands to progress, though they do somewhat make up for it with twice the number of attacks. The two characters provide the player of choice of two different playstyles, a quick climb or a longer and more rewarding one with both Meta Knight and the Ice Climbers respectively.
As for the enemies in the stage, none of them provide too much of a challenger on their own but can be quite bothersome when appearing in groups. The Glice who by far along with their elemental counterparts are my least favorite enemies are quite annoying on this stage in particular. On the ladder portion of the stage, they move quite fast and must be killed quickly to advance to both my pleasure and horror. Other notable enemies include the Floow who regain their health steadily and the Spaak who dominate the last few platforms and cause trouble by firing balls of electricity at the player.
There is not much to be said for the boss fight of the stage except that it is the primary portion of The Glacial Peak which lives up to one’s expectations of an ice world. The slanted and slippery platforms do make movement somewhat tricky on the stage but can be compensated for by moving onto the platforms floating over the gaps in the stage. The music goes along well with the fight too and creates an upbeat and fast-paced experience for the player when fighting as or against Lucario.
The remainder of the stage delivers music well with “Ice Climber” making a reappearance along with the use of “Frozen Hillside.” The high pitched and resonant notes really deliver a cool and crisp experience. The latter track’s use of bells complements the aforementioned qualities well and additionally creates a sense of urgency for the player during the latter half of the stage.
|Music||Ice Climber, Balloon Trip, Shin Onigashima, Clu Clu Land, and Icicle Mountain (Melee)|
|Enemies||Polar Bear and Orange Fish from Balloon Fight|
|First Appearance||Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)|
|Last Appearance||Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018)|
Simply put, Summit is perhaps the best ice world the Super Smash Bros. series has to offer. First and foremost, unlike the other levels, it does not force the player to climb endless sets of platforms or set their pace of movement through an auto-scrolling camera. It allows much more freedom of movement for players and for the fight to progress in a more organic manner than with Icicle Mountain or The Glacial Peak. Of course, though the stage would not be from Super Smash Bros. if it did not have a few gimmicks.
As any ice world should, the stage has a slick floor which forces players to be mindful of their movements and not accidentally fall off the stage. Speaking of which the fish that inhabits the water will drag players off the stage quickly if they do not leave quick enough, the icicles are another similar stage hazard which poses a lesser though still significant danger to players. The stage is rife with traps to keep players on their toes similar to Icicle Mountain in Adventure mode and The Glacial Peak which are some of their more redeeming qualities given their aforementioned mechanics. Other notable mechanics include a portion of the stage in which players float as the icy cap tumbles down the side of the mountain towards the ocean and the various food items which spawn.
The music on the stage is perhaps one of its worse qualities as the tracks introduced to this stage really do not fit well with the aesthetic. This is particularly a problem with “Shin Onigashima” whose metal vibe does not fit the stage except for maybe the tempo for when the stage tumbles down the mountain. “Clu Clu Land”’s show tune piano does not work with this either in any capacity and frankly butts heads with a stage that cycles through its own destruction. As for the others “Ice Climber” and “Icicle Mountain” are staples of Smash Bros. ice worlds and do not particularly add or subtract from the experience.
While in my opinion, not some of the best stages that Super Smash Bros. has to offer, the ice stages are still an important part of the series’ ensemble. They are full of character and present a series of challenges not found on many of the other stages across the games. Their music, frustrating platforms, and wide array of enemies are all part of the series for better or worse. No doubt there will be many more to come in the future and with them another rendition of “Ice Climber.”
Doujin Game Reviews
|Tobari and the Night of the Curious Moon|
|Publisher||Sekai Project (for Steam release)|
Hello, 'Shroom readers! Welcome to a one-off section by yours truly, that I self-admit exists largely because I wanted to write for all six teams in this issue! Gotta see my tenure as Sub-Director out on a high note, right? Right! So, I've decided to review a doujin game! In this context, that's basically "self-published and self-made game in Japan", aka indie game. You might be thinking I'd do Touhou or one of its many, many fangames, and I probably would if I turn this into a full section. Considering it! But no, tonight I'm going to cover Tobari and the Night of the Curious Moon, a standalone original story by developer Desunoya. Sure, they've made plenty of Touhou fangames in the past, but that's not what we're here for tonight.
Our protagonist, Tobari Amahane, is a girl with magical abilities - specifically, hitting things with a magical staff lets her get medals that gives them their powers. Think magical girl Kirby! She can hold up to two abilities at once, capable of switching between them on the fly, and sometimes needing to switch between thenm rapidly to solve various puzzles or challenges that await her. With over twenty abilities, ranging from the simple like "throw a fireball" and "summon a lightning bolt" to the more esoteric such as "roll around in a hamster ball" and "swing a huge axe with a big delay", Tobari has quite the variety of powers to use in her adventure across everything from a desert to an ancient castle - and she's going to need them!
As for the story of the game, Tobari is a hall monitor at a magical school. One afternoon, as she leaves the school, she finds that it's getting dark in the middle of the afternoon. But it's not Daylight Savings Time at work again, as proven when strange rabbit creatures start running around and causing trouble. And on top of that, Tobari's best friend Hina Narukaze has run off without telling her what she's up to! It's enough to drive a hall monitor to go adventuring, running after Hina and trying to find out what's going on. Despite the fact that two of her classmates, Asuka and Tsubaki, are getting in her way, Tobari just won't stop until she makes sure Hina's safe and learns exactly what she's up to!
So, the gameplay. Tobari's abilities I've already explained, but the game itself is a pure platformer. The objective in each level is to make your way to the goal, with the vast majority of levels simply being a charge to the right with no real change of course - the challenge there, naturally, being to survive whatever platforming and enemies the world throws at you as you go. A few of the levels are more complex, becoming mazes where you have to find the right way to reach the goal. The levels are laid out in a straight shot, each level taking you to the next; the main worlds each have a single level with a secret goal that opens up a special shop.
However, Tobari DOES have some secrets to find in her adventures. Namely, each level has a cresent moon shard hidden somewhere, requiring some form of complex platforming challenge, puzzle involving a specific power, or both to find and reach the goal with. By carrying all of these moon shards, Tobari can open a path to the extra-difficult postgame world, and uncover the true ending of her adventures. It's not easy though, considering the moon shards are all designed to be challenges to overcome after beating the main game, so trying to go after them as soon as you can... that can be a recipe for disaster. But it gives some replay value to the main game!
The game's flaws? Yeah, it definitely has some. The controls aren't perfect - Tobari's momentum operates weirdly, especially when she uses certain powerups, and it's very easy to try for a small jump and end up doing a large jump due to the sensitivity of the jump button. When a postgame level requires you to do multiple tiny jumps in a row or else, you really start wishing it was easier to convince the game which type of jump to do... Additionally, at times, Tobari feels oddly floaty and lands with a bit of momentum, making it harder to do precision platforming. The game really loves its precision platforming.
On top of that, the difficulty is more of a spike than a simple climb upwards. The first two worlds are pretty reasonable, and World 3 is only a slight jump above that, but World 4 really amps up the difficulty with no forewarning by adding ice physics in a game where ice physics don't mesh that well. This can easily put someone off the game when it shoots up and doesn't go back down. And placing the full resolution to the story to require beating the extra world is favoring people good at challenges over those who just want to experience the story.
The story's quality... that, though, I'd recommend! It's a simple story about a girl and her best friend, but it's still a pretty nice and happy tale where things work out with hard work and effort. It might not be groundbreaking or a huge adventure in narrative development, but it's all this game really needs, and it's enough to make me very happy that the game was officially translated into English.
So, after all this, would I recommend Tobari and the Night of the Curious Moon? Well... it depends. If you like challenging platformers, especially of the Kirby-style variety, I'd say yes. If you're prioritizing story in your games, or you want a super crisp and perfectly responsive game, I'd recommend no - it's pretty clear that Tobari was before this developer fully polished their style. But if you just want to have some fun, and are willing to take a bunch of lumps when playing a game? I'd say give Tobari's magical staff a whirl, and see how it goes!
|The 'Shroom: Issue 141|
|Staff sections||Staff Notes • The 'Shroom Spotlight • Director Election • End-of-the-Year Awards|
|Features||Fake News • Fun Stuff • Palette Swap • Pipe Plaza • Critic Corner• Strategy Wing|
|Specials||It All Started With Melee • The Holiday 'Shroomfinity Scavenger|
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