The 'Shroom:Issue 164/Critic Corner

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Director's Notes

Written by: Hypnotoad (talk)

Shroom2017 Anton.png

Happy November! For us here in the United States this is the time to be celebrating all kinds of things! Halloween Part 2 🎃, Thanksgiving 🦃, The Awakening of Mariah Carey 🎄, Daylight Saving Time beginning 🌃, The Second Wave 🦠, The Collapse of our Country in Real Time 🗳️, all kinds of things! For those NOT in the United States you all still get to celebrate all of those thanks to our monopolization of culture due to us being the proverbial car crash you just can't look away from! While things quickly spiral out of control think of us as the commercial break to your binge watching and just grab a plate, pull up a chair, and chill out with some of our reviews.

It's not all doom and gloom here, we've got some news! I snuck over into Strategy Wing in the middle of the night and kidnapped Yoshi876 (talk) and his Pokédex Power section while everyone was sleeping!

Thank you for voting Half-Baked Reviews as October's Critic Corner 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!


And now for my regular announcements: We've decided to implement in Critic Corner something similar to News Flush over in Fake News, where no formal sign-up application process is required for one-time or limited sections. From now on if you just want to send in a single review for something you just read, watched played, tried, whatever, you just have to send me your review privately either to me directly in chat, or in a message to me on the forum at least one week before each 'Shroom is to be released! There's no commitment or obligation to provide a full monthly section (although you absolutely can shift it into one if you so choose), just send us your thoughts on a thing and we'll feature it here! If you have any questions or curiosities about this, please feel free to ask!

As always, 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 Ninja Squid, 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

Critic Corner SECTION OF THE MONTH
Place Section Votes % Writer
1st Anton's Half-Baked Reviews 12 75.00% Hypnotoad (talk)
2nd 'Shroom FM 4 25.00% MrConcreteDonkey (talk)

Reviews / Opinion Pieces

Raisin Machine? October really is full of horrors!
[read more]


'Shroom FM

Written by: MrConcreteDonkey (talk)

Welcome to 'Shroom FM. We're already very far from October, which is good because I only managed to review one horror-themed album anyway so if I did try to make this a Halloween special it would've been very disappointing. It's nearly the end of the year, too - I do have a few ideas for how to round off 2020, which I'll talk about in next month's issue. I'm not making an album of the year thing before the year is over though. That's cheating.

OCTOBER "SCARY HALLOWEEN MONTH" 2020
SFMdarkhearts.jpg ANNIE - DARK HEARTS
Dark Hearts is the first LP from Annie since 2009's Don't Stop, and first new release at all since 2015. Unfortunately, a lot of the time I was left very bored by this record, or kinda perplexed by something that didn't sound right. The opener's a good example of this, it just feels slow and generic, completely lacking in the energy you'd hope to find in an album like this - and a lot of the other songs here suffer from the same issue, especially in the second half. In some places, the production feels... a bit off. One of the worst examples of this (or best examples, I guess) is the end of 'Countdown to the End of the World', where there's a small spoken word bit at the end, but it sounds tinny, plus it's almost drowned out by the music. Vocals are a bit lacklustre, too - on the title track, for instance, the lead vocal feels too quiet in comparison to the huge, thumping synths and percussion. There's a song where the main line of the chorus is "into the sea with me", and I cannot for a second take this song seriously as my mind reads that as "please throw me into the sea". Not to say there's no merit to Dark Hearts - 'Corridors of Time' has a nice, deep atmosphere and some very cool sounds, and the aforementioned title track feels like it delivers on the energy front - but I didn't enjoy it much, sadly.
Best tracks Corridors of Time, Dark Hearts
SFMsignplus.jpg AUTECHRE - SIGN and PLUS
I like Autechre a lot, but I don't think either of these albums are their best work. SIGN is mostly just alright, and PLUS is pretty average. They're definitely pushing for a few new sounds here, and creating some pretty cool soundscapes along the way, but a lot of the time on both records it feels like nothing's happening. Despite some cool and deep moments there's a lot of noises that sound out-of-place, or sometimes just straight up bad (the first song on PLUS being the worst here by far). SIGN is usually the more interesting - and straightforward - of the two. PLUS focuses more on the abstract and experimental elements of this sound, but it's so abstract it gets a bit lost in itself and you're left with multiple tracks where nothing happens. SIGN at least has quite a few catchy songs, even if after a while it starts to wear thin. All in all, there's little here that's outright terrible but with both albums I was left very underwhelmed.
Best tracks (SIGN) F7, M4 Lema, au14
Best tracks (PLUS) lux 106 mod, TM1 open
SFMvisionsofbodies.jpg CLIPPING. - VISIONS OF BODIES BEING BURNED
Seeing as it was October, here's a pretty scary album for you. The band describe this as the "second half of a planned diptych", the first being last year's There Existed an Addiction to Blood. As such, there's a lot of similarities between the two albums - the most obvious being that the cover is essentially the same thing but with teeth instead of lines/spikes, but the two albums share the general style and sound, or similar track titles ('He Dead' on There Existed..., 'She Bad' on Visions). This doesn't mean either album feels incomplete without listening to the other as well, thankfully. Visions more than delivers on the horror front: 'Say the Name', right at the start, throws you in with the "visions of bodies being burned" hook, as Daveed Diggs retells the story of the Candyman, and by the end more and more industrial elements flood in until it sounds like a Nine Inch Nails track. Diggs is a fantastic lyrical storyteller, painting these vivid and disturbing pictures almost effortlessly; the production is great at creating and building tension up, and this complements what he's doing well. Not every song here is perfect, the interludes in particular I don't see that much point in. I also think '96 Neve Campbell' goes on a bit, like you get the point pretty quickly. I do think the ending of this album is a bit underwhelming - neither of the songs following 'Body for the Pile' really match up to it, and this is especially noticeable when There Existed... ends with a performance of Annea Lockwood's Piano Burning, which features a piano burning for 16 minutes. It's pretty relaxing, actually - I think it's a great come-down for the rest of album, while still being in some sense vaguely creepy. For Visions to just end on two comparatively lacklustre songs is a bit disappointing - but nonetheless, this album has an excellent, twisted atmosphere and a lot of bold songs to back it up with.
Best tracks Say the Name, Body for the Pile, Make Them Dead
SFMsongmachine1.jpg GORILLAZ - SONG MACHINE, EPISODE ONE: STRANGE TIMEZ
Since the start of the year, Gorillaz have been releasing new material (songs, music videos, character skits, interviews, etc.) every month under the Song Machine banner. I'm a big fan of how this has been going so far, a lot of interesting music videos and collabs have come out of it, and it's created a steady stream of content for fans of the band. So this album's a collection of the first few of these releases, plus a few extra songs, AND a deluxe version with even more extra songs. The creativity of the project really shines through on this record - it's quite eclectic which maybe you could say makes it feel a little unbalanced or lacking coherency, but the brightness and inventiveness of the best tracks here should make that easy to look past. One thing I will say is that there's a few tracks here where the character of the band doesn't feel as strong as it could be, or a few moments where Albarn's vocals feel like they're not adding much. The band collaborate with many odd combinations of artists (if you want to see this taken up to eleven check out a Handsome Boy Modelling School album) but clearly have their own vibe, and sometimes their presence feels a bit lacking when paired up with the better guest performers here. I'm also kinda confused why the band felt the need to release the six extra songs as bonus tracks on a deluxe edition, when they easily could've been saved for an EP or even Season Two - especially most of them are pretty good, especially 'MLS'. Anyway - Season One definitely doesn't equal the heights of the band's Demon Days/Plastic Beach eras, but it's a fun and refreshing project after a few mediocre years for the band.
Best tracks The Lost Chord, Pac-Man, Aries (plus MLS on the deluxe version)
SFMsongsinstrumentals.jpg ADRIANNE LENKER - SONGS and INSTRUMENTALS
Another double review? This time from Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief, a band who also released two albums last year, both of which I thought were fairly charming but ultimately okay at best. songs and instrumentals were recorded over a few weeks in a cabin in the woods in Massachusetts, with little outside help. These two albums, particularly the latter, might seem quite sparse on the surface - and the titles certainly don't help much in that regard - but it's so easy to get drawn into and lost in the guitarwork here, and the atmosphere Lenker builds with comparatively little is vivid and warm. The lyricism here feels tender, melancholic and very personal, and through the production you get a great sense of the surroundings and the recording process; either from the way you can sometimes hear each individual guitar string being plucked, or the various other noises that rarely crop up, such as the rain in 'come' or chimes and birds in 'zombie girl'. Of the two I think I enjoy songs more, there's a bit less happening in instrumentals but that's all intentional - it's largely scattered guitar lines, chimes and ambient noise. I can see how you'd find either of these records a bit boring or stagnant, but the atmosphere is very soothing, and everything sounds so clear.
Best tracks (songs) not a lot, just forever, half return, anything
Best track (instrumentals) music for indigo
SFMroisinmachine.jpg RÓISÍN MURPHY - RÓISÍN MACHINE
This is the first solo album I've listened to from Murphy - I've listened to two Moloko albums and really disliked one and really liked the other. My experience with this album has been very mixed, though - not necessarily in either a bad or good way. I enjoyed the lead single 'Murphy's Law' a lot before the album came out, so I was pretty hyped for it - but on my first listen it just didn't click, at all. The first two songs felt sluggish and aimless, and on every track the drumbeat felt far too overpowering and monotonous. The songwriting also felt repetitive, despite some nice melodies or instrumental bits breaking through that only seemed to stay around briefly. 'Murphy's Law' was still a high point though, one of the few tracks that really had the energy and preciseness I'd hoped to find elsewhere on the album. I gave it a second listen, because I thought I must've been missing something - and, while I don't think it's great, I definitely enjoyed it more. Songs that I felt didn't start or didn't grab me the first time round had me at least tapping my feet, and there were very few times I felt as annoyed or perplexed as on my first listen. I still don't think it lives up to what it could be - which is a real shame considering what Murphy is capable of at her best. On both listens I ended up disliking the last run of tracks a lot, especially 'Narcissus', the hook on that song just plain sucks. I've seen people saying this album was "released at the wrong time" - who needs a disco album when all the discos are shut? Who wants to dance when you can't (or, shouldn't) even go to a party? But honestly, both before and during the pandemic, I've listened to and enjoyed other nu-disco/dance albums in other contexts, so I can't say that applies for me, at least.
Best tracks Murphy's Law, Something More, We Got Together
SFMmagicOPN.jpg ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER - MAGIC ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER
The title Magic Oneohtrix Point Never pays homage to the radio station Magic 106.7 (as does the name "Oneohtrix Point Never"), which should give you a good idea of what the concept behind this album is. The radio station aesthetic put across here works supremely well with the surreal and ethereal nature of Lopatin's music here. There's four little 'Cross Talk' sections throughout the album which are short but add a lot to the atmosphere, they're a great representation of the interference you get trying to tune into a radio station, and the feeling of going through different frequencies and coming across all sorts of odd stuff. There's a lot of really great sounds on this album, either with the more straightforward tracks such as 'I Don't Love Me Anymore' or more surreal stuff such as 'Shifting'. On other OPN albums I've found it a bit jarring when a track stops what it's doing and completely shifts to another idea, but on this album it makes sense with the concept and more often than not feels justifed. This is a damn good album.
Best tracks I Don't Love Me Anymore, Long Road Home, Lost But Never Alone, The Whether Channel
SFManimetraumadivorce.jpg OPEN MIKE EAGLE - ANIME, TRAUMA AND DIVORCE
I wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as the other project's I'd heard from Open Mike Eagle (I'm not even sure why) but thankfully this is a really well-crafted and catchy album, that often gets lyrically serious but doesn't lose its sense of fun. There's a lot of pop culture references in the lyrics and track titles - "The Black Mirror Episode" being the most blatant - but it rarely feels lazy, and often connects really well to the meaning behind the song. There's plenty of emotional moments on this album but often Mike manages pull humour out of the situation, such as the chorus of 'The Black Mirror Episode' (I kinda don't want to spoil it), which is hilarious in its bluntness and absurdity yet still packs an emotional punch. The most outwardly emotive track here is probably 'Everything Ends Last Year', which sees Mike at his most downbeat, and the instrumental responding by cutting everything but this somber piano line out for the chorus - though it also crops up in the middle of the album, which seems like a bit of a weird place to put it. None of this really takes away from the atmosphere of the album, which - despite the melancholy - is often comedic and laid-back. There's plenty of uplifting stuff here too, such as the last track, featuring Mike and his son performing a dumb song about the ocean or something. Anime, Trauma and Divorce doesn't always feel as polished as some of Mike's best work, but there's a lot of great tracks here and the way it balances the sadder stuff with his personality and sense of humour - plus anime, of course - makes this a smart, funny and captivating record.
Best tracks Bucciarati, Asa's Bop, Airplane Boneyard
FURTHER LISTENING
HEALTH - DISCO4 :: PART I
Peach Kelli Pop - Lucky Star
tricot - 10

Graphic Novel Review

Written by: FunkyK38 (talk)

The Way of the Househusband
GNReview164.jpg
Author Kousuke Oono
Release date 2018
Genre Comedy, slice of life
Pages 160
Available From

Greetings, readers! Welcome back to Graphic Novel Reviews!

Today we’re going to take another dive into the world of manga with a look at Way of the Househusband!

Recently, Netflix announced that we’re getting an anime for this manga, and it has already been turned into a live show in Japan, so I thought it would be fun to tell you all to read the manga before you watch the anime, because everything about this manga is fantastic.

Way of the Househusband follows Tatsu, who is a former Yakuza leader, nicknamed “The Immortal Dragon.” He has now become a house husband after marrying his wife, Miku, who works as a designer. The manga is basically slice-of-life adventures but with the twist that Tatsu’s Yakuza past can and will catch up to him at any moment, from rivals challenging him to a throwdown where they cook food to employing a Roomba to help clean the house. There’s not really a “plot” but the status quo changes as you meet new characters. Each volume is a set of small stories that might not all be related to each other, but they all contribute to the story as a whole and the universe that they occupy.

This series is really a funny one. I’m looking forward to the Netflix anime because the manga makes me laugh so often. For example, Tatsu encounters a member of a rival gang one day while he is out doing some shopping. The two of them decide to fight, and their fight involves each of them making an elaborate dessert (the rival gang member is the owner of a crepe truck.) To decide the winner, they post their desserts on this universe’s version of Instagram and whoever gets the most likes after an hour is the winner. Tatsu ends up winning because he got one like, from his wife. Besides the silly premise for stories, the art style supports the humor. A lot of the time, Tatsu is portrayed with a very serious expression, to the point where a lot of the encounters are basically someone who is meeting Tatsu for the first time is slightly unnerved by how serious he is, or how scary he looks. Tatsu makes a face that you would expect from a mobster while he is making cute, animal-shaped lunches for his wife to take to work. Whether it's the challenges of daily life with a yakuza twist or watching Tatsu interact with his otaku wife, this series is always charming and guaranteed to make you laugh.

Another thing I like about this series is how Tatsu throws himself into his quest to become the best house husband he can be. He never looks down on being a house husband, he never complains or demands his wife stay home and let him go to work and make the money. He wears the pink frilly apron because he wants to, and he learns new things and tries his best to support his wife in whatever way he can, even if some of his habits intimidate her at times. It’s really wholesome, and I can’t wait to see where the series goes. Currently, the first four volumes are available on Amazon in English, and the anime is scheduled to debut on Netflix next year, although I’m sure you could probably find some resources to watch the live action adaptation from Japan as well. Really, this is one manga that you don’t want to miss out on. I highly recommend it.

That’s all for me this month, readers! I’ll see you next time with a fresh Book Review after Christmas!

Pokédex Power

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)

It's an Aura Pokémon, which let's be honest, we all knew.

Hello everyone, it's me, Yoshi876 again with a new edition of Pokédex Power, the section written by the person who has moved teams. Pokédex Power is now a part of Critic Corner as we review whether the Pokédex entry for each month's Pokémon is actually interesting, or whether the writer decided to just give us the same fact for eight generations in a row.

It's been a while since I've written for Critic Corner, but it's great to be back. And this month's Pokémon might be able to tell how truthful I am with that statement, as Lucario is able to read your aura. I am hardly an expert on aura, but from what I understand Lucario, who has even starred in one of the Pokémon movies, is able to sense whether you are a good person or not by reading your aura. And hopefully Yoshi876 has a good aura, otherwise we might be in some trouble here…

I have some experience with using Lucario in Pokémon Black 2, and although it starts out with a lot of weaker moves, it did become one of my most powerful Pokémon, and I certainly have no regrets about training it, and I'd happily train it again in future games. But just because I liked using it, does that mean it has good Pokédex entries? Let's find out…

Generation IV

Pokémon Diamond It has the ability to sense the Auras of all things. It understands human speech.
Pokémon Pearl By catching the Aura emanating from others, it can read their thoughts and movements.
Pokémon Platinum A well-trained one can sense auras to identify and take in the feelings of creatures over half a mile away.
Pokémon HeartGold It's said that no foe can remain invisible to Lucario, since it can detect Auras. Even foes it could not otherwise see.
Pokémon SoulSilver It's said that no foe can remain invisible to Lucario, since it can detect Auras. Even foes it could not otherwise see.

Diamond really gives me the vibes of a Generation I entry with the way its written, two simple sentences, but it does really set out the main thing about Lucario, that being its ability to sense the auras, as well understanding human speech. It is just a little bit annoying that the writers couldn't decide whether 'aura' was a proper noun, and managed to change their minds twice while writing the entries, with Diamond and Pearl deciding it is, Platinum changing its mind, and then HeartGold and SoulSilver going back to having it as a proper noun. The entries also give you a little crash course in what auras are within the Pokémon universe, as it explains what exactly Lucario is able to sense, that being thoughts, movements and even its location, which is something we will come onto later in this section. This is quite a good set of introductory entries, and I leave pretty satisfied with my knowledge of Lucario.

Generation V

Pokémon Black A well-trained one can sense auras to identify and take in the feelings of creatures over half a mile away.
Pokémon White A well-trained one can sense auras to identify and take in the feelings of creatures over half a mile away.
Pokémon Black 2 By reading the aura of all things, it can tell how others are feeling from over half a mile away.
Pokémon White 2 By reading the aura of all things, it can tell how others are feeling from over half a mile away.

Generation V isn't a generation that brings a whole lot to its entries, and on this occasion it hasn't, just giving slightly rewritten versions of the Platinum entry.

Generation VI

Pokémon X By catching the Aura emanating from others, it can read their thoughts and movements.
Pokémon Y By reading the aura of all things, it can tell how others are feeling from over half a mile away.
Pokémon Omega Ruby By catching the Aura emanating from others, it can read their thoughts and movements.
Pokémon Alpha Sapphire By reading the aura of all things, it can tell how others are feeling from over half a mile away.

Like Lucario can sense an aura from half a mile away, you can tell from half a mile that Generation VI isn't really going to be introducing much.

Generation VII

Pokémon Sun Not only does it perceive auras, but it has also gained the power to control them. It employs them in battle.
Pokémon Moon They can detect the species of a living being—and its emotions—from over half a mile away. They control auras and hunt their prey in packs.
Pokémon Ultra Sun It concentrates it mental energy and fires off mysterious waves called auras, which can crush boulders of large size to dust.
Pokémon Ultra Moon Lucario reads its opponent's feelings with its aura waves. It finds out things it would rather not know, so it gets stressed out easily.

Pokémon fans should've known for a while that Lucario commands aura in its attacks, given its moves like Aura Sphere, but we do get confirmation that Lucario does so in this generation, and what it uses it for in the wild, namely hunting prey. It's not surprising that Lucario hunts prey, given its wolflike appearance, though I do have to wonder what sort of thing it hunts, I can't really imagine a pack of Lucario teaming up to take down a Bidoof. We also learn just how powerful its aura waves are, being able to crush boulders, so who knows, maybe Lucario actively hunts Rock-type Pokémon like Geodude. However, with Lucario being a pack Pokémon, I do have to wonder how exactly it's determined who the pack leader is. Perhaps it has something to do with the spikes on its hands and chest, whoever has the longest one leads the pack, although a duel would also be likely. I do have to feel sorry about the final entry though, I imagine Lucario has quite a few mental scars from hearing things from the wrong people. Remember Trainers, if your Lucario is staring with abject horror at another person, it's best you avoid that person!

Generation VIII

Pokémon Sword It controls waves known as auras, which are powerful enough to pulverise huge rocks. It uses these waves to take down its prey.
Pokémon Shield It can tell what people are thinking. Only Trainers who have justice in their hearts can earn this Pokémon's trust.

Generation VIII doesn't really have a whole lot to work with, the Sword entry is something we learned in the previous generation, but the Shield entry does pose an interesting thing with Lucario only trusting those with justice in their hearts. I feel like it does slightly feed into how Riolu only evolves with a high friendship level, and it does remind me of how some Pokémon don't trust their Trainers until they have a high number of badges. But would Lucario just not allow itself to be captured by those without justice in their hearts, or would it flee from them?

Mega Lucario Generation VII

Pokémon Sun Black streaks all over its body show where its auras and the energy of Mega Evolution intermingled and raced through it.
Pokémon Moon It readies itself to face its enemies by focusing its mental energies. Its fighting style can be summed up in a single word: heartless.
Pokémon Ultra Sun Its aura has expanded due to Mega Evolution. Governed only by its combative instincts, it strikes enemies without mercy.
Pokémon Ultra Moon Bathed in explosive energy, its combative instincts have awakened. For its enemies, it has no mercy whatsoever.

We also have a Mega Evolution entry to look at with Lucario, and it really makes me wonder why on earth people would want to Mega Evolve their Pokémon. I mean, Mega Absol will literally kill peoples with its mere presence, there's another Pokémon that is pain once it Mega Evolves and Mega Lucario sheds its whole justice spiel and becomes enveloped with a primal, heartless instinct. I'm not surprised that this instinct lies within the Pokémon itself, but with it having such a strong sense of justice, why would it want to Mega Evolve to become this heartless machine?

Conclusion I've always felt that the Mega Evolution Pokédex entries are pretty dumb, and I don't really pay much attention to them, so putting that aside, Lucario has some really solid entries. I would've liked a bit more from Generation VIII, but Generation IV and Generation VII really deliver, and really help you understand Lucario's place in the Pokémon world. And with aura being some mythical thing associated with Lucario in the Pokémon universe, it also does a good job at explaining what exactly aura does for Lucario. I'm always happy for more information in future entries, but with Lucario, the only thing I find myself wondering is how a leader is determined in their packs.

Anton's Half-Baked Reviews

Written By: Hypnotoad (talk)

Welcome to my November tradition of skirting away from American Thanksgiving by focusing on international brands! This year I’m focusing on Cadbury, mostly because I’ve tried a bunch of Cadbury things here and there over some time and it’s finally precipitated into enough content for a review instead of just being half-formed notes. Cadbury itself is a British confectionery company, but joke’s on me, they’re wholly owned by Mondelēz, an American company. Gotta love corporate mergers! After months and months of grueling painstakingly researched reviews, I’m thanking myself by having this one be a rather straight-forward review. Go me!

Cadbury Caramilk

Probably the most standard candy bar there is.
Apparently this hasn’t been available in the UK until late 2019, but also seems to be a completely different product. Upon just a simple cursory look it appears that ‘Cadbury Caramilk’ has several iterations, even licensed under different companies, or just simply exists as the same product under different names with only the most minuscule changes. Why this was done seems completely unknown and just seems kinda short-sighted and silly.

Regardless, the one I had was what Americans probably know as Caramello; just a bar of chocolate with little nubs that are filled with caramel. The pieces break apart easily and uniformly without cracking into the caramel core and dripping everywhere, which is a fantastic aspect if you eat enough chocolate as I do to notice. The caramel is a bit runny rather than how chewy it tends to be utilized in American candies, and makes it not feel as heavy and filling. The milk chocolate is nice, light, and sweet, carrying the caramel with it rather than separately, serving as a reminder that dark chocolate just isn’t always the way to go. Because there’s a billion different kinds of caramel-filled chocolates out there, texture can become an important way to differentiate; this particular Cadbury Caramilk’s top chocolate layer was relatively this, and kinda felt like a bubble that could be popped with even a gentle pressing of your tongue, and just something about that I liked. Felt lighter.

Starbar

Shockingly cylindrical.
In another Cadbury twist, the Starbar is apparently the same thing as what Canadian and German markets brand as the Wunderbar. I’d really like to get some marketing intel from Cadbury and Mondelēz to see why there’s such variation in markets for the same candy bar having different names, or the same name applying to several different candy bars. To appeal to different markets? What else?

Well whatever it’s called, this candy bar is peanut butter, caramel, some kind of crunchy stuff, all robed in chocolate. The peanut butter and caramel seem to be layered right with each other, and are both soft, but with varying levels of firmness, which makes it a tad awkward to bite into. Coupled with the crunchy layer not really providing much weight, and the chocolate being softer and almost greasy, it just doesn’t give a nice satisfying bite. The whole thing kinda smashes down around your mouth as you bite into it. There are better vessels of which to shotgun peanut butter into the back of your throat. Flavor is good, though!

Crunchie

I can't tell if it's obvious or a missed opportunity as for why I never saw this in Buffalo.
Literally just sponge candy, but long. Like, that’s all there is to it. I talked a little bit about sponge candy two years ago when I reviewed the Nestlé Coffee Crisp, where I said:

(...) sponge candy, which is a chocolate toffee thing that’s apparently only really well-known and popular from the western New York area I grew up in. Me, being the only Buffalo native who hates it (...)

There’s just something about the way sponge candy crunches down on my teeth that I really don’t like, but it’s at least tolerable when they’re little cubes you can pop in your mouth in one bite as is common in Buffalo, but the Crunchie forces you to bite into it, pretty certainly with your incisors, and even just thinking about that sends chills down my spine, like scraping a fork on a plate. The taste isn’t bad, it’s really just regular Cadbury chocolate and sugar, but the entire purpose of the bar is its texture and it’s just abominable. To each their own.

Double Decker

Chocolate bar with nougat and crispy cereal bottom, the two making the eponymous Double Decker. The crunchy bits seem to be puffed rice kinda just sitting freely with only the hopes and dreams that the nougat and chocolate will keep it all together.
Double Disaster.
Spoiler alert: it doesn’t; the little balls fly all over the place every time you bite and makes for more of a mess than I really care for. Now, I know based on the picture I’ve provided it’s clear that my bar was smashed, but holding it in my hand I’m certain that it being smashed, if anything, made the bar more stable; it’s hard to imagine what an uncrushed bar would be like, would the crunchy balls just pour out? The nougat has the most notable honey taste I’ve ever had in a candy bar, though, reflecting what actual higher end nougat tastes like. It’s an alright candy bar, leaning surprisingly on the sweeter side, just be sure to not eat it in your car.

Mr. Big

Mr. Meh.
Living up to its name, it is a fairly large chocolate bar physically, but it doesn’t feel nearly as heavy as it should be. Turns out that this is because, aside from some peanuts tossed into some caramel and enrobed in chocolate, the majority of the bar is a big wafer and more of the puffed rice balls, which seems to be an easy Cadbury filler. As a result of most of the bar being either wafer or puffed rice, it just really feels like I’m biting into nothing, with a couple peanuts kinda floating around for good measure, and kinda just tastes a bit dry and flavorless. Compare this to Kit Kat, whether it’s Hershey’s or Nestlé; it’s a chocolate bar that is simply chocolate and wafer, yet it has a satisfying firmness and crunch, and feels like you’re biting into something more than filler. Should the Mr. Big wafers be a bit more dense I feel that I’d enjoy it more, but with the entire gimmick of this chocolate bar being its size you just simply can’t expect there to be much content of quality over quantity for the same price point. Much like the Sex and the City character by the same name, I’m left somewhat unsatisfied and expecting more.

Cadbury Dairy Milk Whole Nut

A whole hazelnut seems to make more sense as a smooth bite than a whole almond.
Just milk chocolate with a big hazelnut in each section. Pretty good, simple but to the point. The chocolate is pretty standard mainstream quality, kinda sweet, creamy, smooth, and the huge nut in the middle makes a nice texture. This just honestly isn’t that far off from chocolate covered nuts, it just so happens to be in a bar format with some extra chocolate. Whatever else you can say about this I feel would just be a prior preference showing, like whether you like hazelnuts or not, or which brand of chocolate you prefer. I could attempt to dissect the intricacies and variances of Cadbury’s chocolate compared to other brands, as well as the quality of this one compared to other Cadbury lines, but honestly who really gives a crap? It’s just a well done chocolate bar, and sometimes that’s just all it is.

Picnic

Whole lotta stuff in it but really only tastes and feels like a handful of those little crunchy rice balls covered in chocolate that is in every other Cadbury bar. Described as crunchy, chewy, fruity feast, I guess I can agree.
Sure had things in it!
The cereal rice balls are certainly crunchy, the caramel is certainly chewy, and the raisins certainly provide a fruity sweetness. It just feels like it has no direction, you know? Kinda just some things thrown together with no clear leader, so it’s like shoving a fistful of trail mix into your mouth but with messier chocolate. It was surprisingly filling, though, so I guess the goal was achieved, but I feel you can get more bang for your buck by literally getting a bag of trail mix. In standard Cadbury fashion, apparently there’s an Australian version that’s basically just the Mr. Big but lumpier.

I LAUGH AT YOU. MUSHROOM HEADS. PATHETIC THINGS. 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!

The 'Shroom: Issue 164
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