The 'Shroom:Issue 152/Critic Corner
Welcome to November, the penultimate month of the year! 'Tis the season of fully realizing how fast time has gone and realizing that, if you're subject to regular American and Western holidays, that you're due for sitting in the same room as family for an extended period of time whether you want to or not. If you need a distraction, we're here to help! We've got lots of words for you to look at and digest side-by-side with entire loaves of pumpkin bread, cans of cranberry sludge, and turkeys stuffed with who knows what, so get out of the cold weather and away from the cold shoulders and snuggle up with Critic Corner.
Thank you all again for making Half-Baked Reviews Critic Corner's Section of the Month!! Be sure to give your love to all of our sections here, and give a shout out to our writers whether in chat or in their forum threads dedicated to their sections. Be sure to vote vote vote!
If you would like to help Critic Corner, we always have openings for more writers! You are free to write for sections such as Character Review and Movie Review, or really anything you'd like to do! There's no pressure to have a huge section; they can be shorter and concise! 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. Any idea you have is welcome, and if you have any questions or need help signing up, please feel free to reach out to myself or other 'Shroom peeps!
Section of the Month
Seemingly starting a tradition that I have no intentions on maintaining, this November is once again a review dedicated to Nestlé products. There’s just so many candy bars and sweets made by them that I just couldn’t do a single review, and as I’ve come to discover they have a lot more products in general which could probably sustain a Nestlé November for at least a few more years if there’s ever room left over after the abundance of pumpkin spice options. Also, I’m in need of a smaller, more simplistic section given what the last 5 months were, and what I have planned for the next few. Eye of the storm.
MirageFlake, and just be kinda stiff, brittle, and crumbly, but instead it remains smooth and sweet. There’s honestly just like...not much to say about this. The chocolate bar is straight and to the point, so I’ll compound my Final Word on this with Aero.
Aerowonderful smooth matte packaging. “Taste incredibubble chocolate.” “Feel the bubbles melt.” The chocolate tastes fine, and it has the same kind of bubbly melty effect as Mirage. It has the same feel as Mirage, but it being in smaller pieces you can break apart it just somehow feels like less of a waste of space and instead more of a textural experience. The actual chocolate flavor is pretty solid; standard Nestlé milk chocolate that is smooth with a hint of sweetness. Aero also comes in a variety of flavors, including dark, white, and what appears to be a luxury line of truffle flavors with vanilla and dark cherry. Apparently the flavors and shapes go far beyond and enter the territory of what’s been happening to Snickers and Reese’s in America. Regarding Aero, though, here in America we pretty much just got the basic and Peppermint flavor, so I got Peppermint. To put it short, it’s perfection. Probably the only minty thing I’ve ever seen that uses milk chocolate instead of dark, and it’s a wonderful treat. The air bubbles pair really well with the mint and give it a very nice and light effect. It’s the chocolate equivalent of eating snow.
Final Word: Between Mirage and Aero, it is disappointing that it’s Mirage that is more difficult to find and with no flavor variations. It’s a tough call, but while I find Aero to have a more appropriate shape for the gimmick, I just personally feel that Mirage being so bulky allows the airiness to approach overwhelming and take on its true gimmicky form. Honestly they should just dissolve the Mirage brand and just rebrand this as a Chunky Aero and make it more widely available, because perhaps at that point they could experiment more with ways to make Mirage more fulfilling. Everyone loves a nougat center. Aero doesn’t leave me feeling like I’ve wasted my money on half of a chocolate bar, so that edges out, and Peppermint Aero is one of the most pleasant and non-jarring experiences I’ve had with any mint candy in general, beyond chocolate. Praise Aero for using milk chocolate.
Nestlé White Crunchbeing discontinued. Enjoy them and build a stockpile of everything while you can!
The way it breaks looks """""""""fun"""""" I guess, but it doesn’t do much else beyond encouraging tiny pieces splintering off and making a mess, as well as uneven pieces that aggravate my carnal desire to evenly distribute quantities and sensations throughout my whole mouth. Excellent amount of crunchy bits. The crisped rice has that little bit of dryness to it that, like, peanuts in a Snicker bar give, but without the saltiness. The white chocolate itself actually has a body to it, some kind of flavor, as well as creaminess, which is something I don’t find in many other kinds of white chocolates.
Final Word: A strong showing for the white chocolate team, worthy of a place in the pantheon alongside Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme.
CocosetteCocosette Fudge, literally just a regular Cocosette but dipped in chocolate. If I see one around I guess I’ll let you know how it is.
Final Word: I guess if you’re into non-chocolate candy bars that also aren’t taffy or gummies, and also don’t like things that are too sweet, then this is for you, but honestly just spend the same price and get one of those huge packs of plain wafers instead. The only thing that makes these special is the inkling of coconut flavor.
SmartiesAmerican Smarties may be a bit more culturally iconic and nostalgic, as well as having a place in the arts & crafts world, but Nestlé Smarties are superior in what they’re meant for. Rather than being a Tums tablet that doesn’t do anything for you other than send chills down your spine with its tooth-grinding chalkiness, Nestlé Smarties are an “oblate spheroid with a minor axis of about 5 mm (0.2 in) and a major axis of about 12 mm (0.5 in);” a piece of chocolate covered in sugar candy. The Smarties Wikipedia page is gratuitously thorough and informative, especially if you’re interested in blue pigments. Even on the package they seem to be either incredibly proud, or just exploitative, of their use of natural colors. Good on them, I guess, despite it being based on shaky grounds that artificial dyes exacerbate or generate ADD/ADHD symptoms. While the tests aren’t exactly definitive in that they lump together a whole bunch of dyes and preservatives, leaving no real way to determine what exactly is the culprit, I can’t really complain too much as there’s no harm in switching away from them that we know of yet. Perhaps next divest from America’s natural springs? Regardless, they basically taste like off-brand M&Ms, complete with some kind of stale Easter candy sensation. The package is pretty cool, though, a resealable hexagonal paper tube with a tapered pouring hole. Don’t see engineering that convenient with many things.
Final Word: I would say “Just buy M&Ms, I know you Europeans have them,” but the package is just cool enough to allow Smarties to co-exist as a synonymous product.
Final Word: I honestly don’t know how this hasn’t breached other markets beyond South Africa because it’s a pretty legit choice; I guess because the chocolate isn’t the focal point and is kinda lacking relative to others. Thinking further, it’s just not greater than the sum of its parts; a standalone Kit Kat bar is better, as is a standalone Aero bar. If you just simply can’t decide and also happen to be in a store that carries South African candy, you can spend the money it costs to get both bars instead on one single Tex. With it being essentially the same product as Coffee Crisp but with Aero in place of the coffee candy, this raises the question that may have been missed by Nestlé’s merger and R&D teams: what else can be squeezed between two wafers?
Tune in next month for milk! Also, tell me what to review next! You can tell me to do can also be 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!
Graphic Novel Review
Hi, everybody! Welcome back to Graphic Novel Reviews!
Some of you may remember me reviewing a book called Sunny Side Up. If you haven't read that review or don't remember, here's a short recap: Sunny is a young girl living in the 1970s, and she is sent to live with her grandfather in Florida for the summer while her family deals with her older brother's substance abuse problems. It features the absolutely charming sister-brother duo of Jennifer and Matthew Holm writing and drawing, respectively, and it was a lovely little read that felt honest and authentic.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because very recently, the third book in the series, Sunny Rolls the Dice, just came out! It's another winner, but it would be unfair of me to talk about that one without mentioning the second book in the series, Swing it, Sunny. So, this month's review will focus on Swing it, Sunny, and the next Graphic Novel Review will look at Sunny Rolls the Dice. With all of that out of the way, let's jump into the book.
Swing it, Sunny picks up the story in the fall of 1976, after Sunny comes home from her summer with Gramps. Sunny is starting middle school, and she's having a hard time adjusting to the absence of her older brother in the house. She makes a new friend in the new neighbor girl moving in, watches lots of TV, and tries to navigate middle school and all of the feelings she's having with her brother off at boarding school. It's a story that you can relate to- trying to navigate school life while problems in your family make things hard at home. Watching Sunny try to apply pop culture scenarios, such as the Six Million Dollar Man, as a fix to her problems is both cute and heartbreaking.
As is the usual Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm style, the art in this book is top notch. Characters are expressive, colors are vibrant, and the overall style is cute and welcoming. It's a great follow-up to Sunny Side Up, and I highly recommend you pick this one up if you've read the first one, and if you haven't read either, then get them both! They're good books, and everyone needs a sunny day, right?
That's everything I have for you this month, readers. Tune in next time for a new Book Review, then after that, part 3 of the Sunny series!
The Addams Family
I am aware that this is November, and this would probably have worked better as an October movie review, but I hadn't watched this film back in October, and to be completely honest I wish I hadn't seen it in November as well.
What the film does well is how is the Addams Family: they're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, and all together ooky. But when the film makes some attempt to flesh these characters out, it doesn't do anything that we haven't seen already in a million odd films. There's the son who wants to do things his way, instead of the traditional way his father wants him too; and not only do we have one mother attempting to controlling a rebellious teenage daughter, but two separate ones.
And it's only really the Addams characters that they attempt to give any form of fleshing out to. The villain, Margaux Needler, is the villain. She wants everyone in the neighbourhood to behave the same to get higher ratings on her TV show, and that's that. Parker is her neglected daughter, and besides a friendship with Wednesday, does absolutely nothing of note, so much so that her character is effectively pointless. Bethany is the mean girl bully at the school, no further characterisation given. And then there are the twins, Layla and Kayla, who are the most pointless characters in the film; they have about three lines of dialogue between them, before the film forgets they even exist.
The film's plot is quite ropey, and it seems to be trying to fling as many ideas as it can into an 87-minute film. We have the home designer attempting to get rid of the family, Pugsley attempting to study for his Mazurka – a thinly defined family rites ceremony – and Wednesday becoming rebellious by attempting to be almost some form of normal, and then throw in a lot of scenes that have barely any semblance to the plot, you almost forget what the main one is meant to be. And as a result of that, when it comes to the finale, it sort of just ends. It is such a lame end to what could have been an interesting finale, seemingly so the film can jam in its ultimate message of 'Just because some families are different, doesn't mean we should hate them.' I don't object to the message, it just could've been handled in a much more subtle way.
And any of these thread points could've been an interesting idea, for a TV show. And I think that's where most of the issues lie for this film. For a feature length film, it's spread too thinly to properly enjoy, but as a TV show, like it did back in the 1960s, it really could work. Just maybe replace Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley, as the acting there was terrible.
And for a kid's film, I'm glad it avoids toilet humour, but in the screening I sat in, I'm not too sure I heard a lot of laughs, I may have caught some snoring at one point, but not children laughing. And there's only one line that stands out to be as genuinely funny. The main reason the humour fails, is because the only jokes the film wants to do is to show how different the Addams Family are, and it hopes their exploits are enough to carry a film – and in this case they don't.
I can't really recommend people watch The Addams Family, especially when far-superior live-action TV shows and films based on The Addams Family exist. Honestly, go watch those instead, they are a lot better. The sequel to this film has a lot of work to do if it wants me to go through those cinema doors again.
Ah, Nintendo Switch Online. The service's reception has been pretty mixed at best, but I think most people can agree that the inclusion of SNES titles back in September was at least a step in the right direction. The system has held up a lot better in general than the NES in the eyes of many players, myself included. There any many classic titles that still remain among the most popular video games of all time, and several of them are included in Switch's online service now! Super Mario World, Yoshi's Island, Super Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past are just a few examples. Now, instead of covering any of those, I have decided to review what might be one of the least known games they included. While I have heard about Joe & Mac 2 before, it had probably been a good ten years or so since I thought about the game, which makes sense considering that as far as I can tell this is the first time the game has ever been re-released. So, how does it hold up today? Let's find out!
Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics is a 2D action platformer by the now defunct Data East. The game's inclusion on the Switch is licensed by G-Mode, who now own the rights to many Data East titles. The game protagonists, Joe and Mac, are cavemen living in the prehistoric Kali Village. One day, a more malicious caveman named Gork steals the village chief's crown, and its up to Joe and Mac to try to get it back. To do this, they'll have to gather seven rainbow stones scattered throughout the game's world. There are a total of six levels in the game, and other than the first and last ones they can played in any order. In addition to the rainbow stones, you'll also find stone wheels on your journey which serve as the game's currency, allowing you to buy stuff in between levels, such as food to refill your health or presents to give to a girl. Once you have collected all seven stones, you can build a bridge to the final level, and ultimately take on Gork to retrieve the chief's crown. The game can also be played with a second player, if you have a friend that wants to go back to the stone age with you.
Starting out here with the basic moves, you can jump, break into a dash, and bash enemies with either your club or your fists. Basic gameplay is fun enough to try and easy to figure out, and I had no trouble with the controls at any point. Each level has their own theme, which include a jungle, some snowy mountains, and a volcano. The level design is overall decent, and you'll have new obstacles to avoid along the way, though as a whole the platforming doesn't change a whole lot. The combat is ok, but there's not a lot of variation and occasionally the enemies can get annoying when they just seemingly pop out of nowhere. Each level ends in a boss battle with a dinosaur - or in the case of the last level, Gork - and these were probably the parts of the game I had the most fun in.
In most levels you can find an upgraded melee weapon, which will allow you fight enemies from a larger distance, and will last until you either finish the level or lose a life. Additionally, some food not only heals you, it also allows you spit out a limited amount of projectiles at enemies from a distance. Both of these are good, useful additions! Then there's more friendly dinosaurs that you can ride, but these are...much less useful, actually. Their projectiles I actually didn't like as much as just using those from food or the melee weapon upgrades, and if you take a single hit while riding one your dinosaur friend disappears, so there's really not much use for them. They're just kind of...there.
Moving on to the length, the game is...pretty short. Though it may take some time to master it, at only six levels, you can finish the game pretty quickly when you really get the hang of it. Heck, it took me more time to write this review than it did to finish a full playthrough of the game. That might be fine if you just want a shorter game, but if you want something that'll take a little time to finish all the way then you're not going to find it here. There's not much you can do outside of gathering all the stones and taking back the crown, either, so there's not much reason to return to the game once you've finished it. There is a chance that your character can start a family, but it feels pretty tacked on. You'll have to buy flowers for a girl in hopes that she'll like them, and whether or not she does seems to just be completely random, so if you're going for it you might end up wasting a lot of stone wheels. I didn't really bother with it, and I don't think it affects anything besides giving the cavemen a family to come home to in the ending, so ultimately it just feels a little pointless.
The graphics are really nice, at least. The character designs didn't particularly blow me away, but they look just fine, and they're definitely very well animated. Pretty much every level is designed very well in this regard, very solid visuals as a whole. The sound is alright, I suppose. It sounds pleasant enough, and the tracks all fit in with the theme of the area and the game as a whole. It just doesn't stand out, is all. The sound was never a big highlight when I played, and it hasn't stuck with me, nor am I likely to listen to it outside of gameplay.
Joe & Mac 2 has its high points, and it's held up fine. It's decent enough fun, but it could have used some more content, and at the same time some of what it has doesn't feel like it lived up to its true potential, particularly the rideable dinosaurs and the marriage aspect. Doesn't seem like you're likely to get the game for very cheap if you're looking for the original cart, but hey, if you have a Nintendo Switch Online membership you're already able to play the game. There are better games on the service, mind you. The previously mentioned Super Mario World and Yoshi's Island for example are big standouts in the platforming genre. That said, if you like platformers and for whatever reason are particularly interested in one staring dinosaurs and cavemen, this might be worth a look.
If you have any comments or suggestions, or requests on games I should cover, I can often be found on the forums or in the Discord server, so feel free to hit me up in either place and I'll listen. With that, thanks for reading, and I'll see you all later!