The 'Shroom:Issue 183/Critic Corner

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Director's Notes

Written by: Hypnotoad (talk)

Shroom2017 Anton.png

June June June it's time for June! 🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈 !!! Time is moving way too quickly for me, and it's likely because I never have a day off anymore and my work shifts are easily 12+ hours each! Happy Pride! And speaking of rainbows, this month we're bringing you all kinds of sections, art, and whatever in the spirit of Super Mario Sunshine! So, splish splash, enjoy the heat, try not to melt, and don't get these reviews too wet.

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 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

Thank you for voting Half-Baked Reviews as April'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!

Place Section Votes % Writer
1st Anton's Half-Baked Reviews 15 62.50% Hypnotoad (talk)
2nd All-Time Smash Merit Ranking 4 16.67% SonicMario (talk)
3rd Van Shouel's House of Ghouls 2 8.33% Mustard Machine (talk)
3rd A Report on the Effectiveness of Power-Ups 2 8.33% Mustard Machine (talk)

Reviews / opinion pieces

'Shroom FM

Written by: MrConcreteDonkey (talk)

I was very busy again this month so these are mostly short and not extremely detailed (good). I've tried to subtly tie a few reviews into this month's 'Shroom theme. See if you can spot any of them!


Dance Fever
A neat collection of rare tracks from Jun(e) Chikuma, who's best known for composing some superb Bomberman soundtracks. This is a really dreamy, sleek collection of songs, with some nice synth work - nothing too groundbreaking but very lush and pristine. Perfect to relax to on a summer night.


Did think Dance Fever was a bit of a boring name at first, though in context it does make a bit more sense - it's a reference to dancing mania, or choreomania, a sort of phenomenon where people would start dancing and not be able to stop until they collapsed, or even died. So there you go. Anyway, Dance Fever is a really vibrant album. Instrumentation is super rich, Florence's vocals are strong as ever. There's some darker and moodier moments here, especially during the second half, and lot of the lyrics address anxieties and changes in life, all of which are presented vividly. There's also plenty of bright and uplifting parts to contrast this, though, and the more energetic, upbeat moments really deliver. There are a couple of songs here I don't have much of an opinion on, but on the whole I thought this was very cool. Unlike the summer, which is very warm.


Did not like this. Sorry, but I really didn't. It's unique, it's often well-constructed but my god after the first track it just gets so tedious. I'm not inherently opposed to the style even though it is a bit jarring. But most of these songs really do it no favours. The samples and references are often recognisable, but in the case of the former the songs don't really surpass or build upon what the original song does in an interesting way; such as the second track "her head is soooo rolling!! love her", which largely just made me wish I was listening to "Heads Will Roll" instead. Very disconcerting, just like being accused of a crime you didn't commit and being forced to clean Isle Delfino. Actually that's exactly what this sounds like.


Yeah it's pretty cool... I thought maybe I'd enjoy it a bit more. All of the songs feel like they're doing something different, which definitely keeps things feeling fresh, but there weren't a lot of individual moments that stood out that much to me. "You Will Never Work in Television Again" I thought was a bit awkward when I first heard it, I've definitely warmed up to it a bit but it's still not one of my favourites. I did really like the opening track "The Same", the way it progresses as it goes on is very cool, and "Thin Thing" has a great sound to it. I guess you could call the sun "a light for attracting attention", as it's always out during the summer.


Harry's House
I HATED One Direction back when I was 13, when they started getting big. I hated their songs and I hated their fanbase. I still don't like their songs, they only really play one or two of them on the radio anymore so maybe I've just forgotten about them. But either way I can't remember them doing anything that feels uniquely bad. Apart from solo careers, which are mostly utter shit. Harry Styles has definitely took off a lot more than the others, though that's not surprising as he was always the 'main' face of 1D. I've never cared much about most of his hits, beyond a few I think are okay and maybe one or two I think are dreadful. That sort of reflects my opinion on Harry's House - don't really like or dislike it; there are some parts I felt bad for not enjoying much, and some I didn't. Goes without saying that "As It Was" is the big hit here - since the first time I heard it, my thoughts have been that it just sounds like a generic indie song from the latter half of the 2010s. I don't even mean indie as in "not mainstream", you'd get tons of songs that sound just like this a few years ago coming up in your recommendations on Spotify with 100,000s of plays. So I think it's an unusual song to have such a massive chart dominance: even though stuff like this doesn't usually do well on the charts, it's not like this does much people won't have already heard. Though that said I bet that godawful Glass Animals song is still in the top 10 in America so who knows. No I'm not going to check. Oh my fucking god it is I just checked!! But anyway, "As It Was" is still one of the better songs here, definitely pleasant, but also nice to listen to in the background largely because it doesn't do anything too interesting. The best moment here by far is "Late Night Talking", a bit of a bland topic for a song but the tune is very nice and the synths are doing cool stuff, feels very polished. The rest is sort of mid-level, doesn't do a lot for me but obviously well-made and puts forward his personality well.


I've enjoyed stuff I've heard from Sharon Van Etten, and I thought her last album was pretty good. I found this one really boring, though. Almost all of the songs here are just doing exactly the same thing, starting all quiet and then slowly building up into some dramatic ending, not really doing anything interesting on the way. The only song that really did anything for me was "Mistakes", it's upbeat and fun and has a great chorus. But I'd heard that before I'd listened to the album - in fact it was because I enjoyed that song I listened to the album, because I was hoping there would be more songs like it. You can't win!!!!

A Report on the Effectiveness of Power-Ups

Written By: Generalissimo Shoe (talk)

At ease, soldiers! Welcome to this month's debriefing. I'm pleased to report that top brass found last month's reports to be most satisfactory. This month, HQ has sent another batch of power-ups for me to analyze.

The first power-up we'll be looking at is the Hammer Suit. Only found (unfortunately) in Super Mario Bros. 3, the Hammer Suit is a rare power-up only found in the game once you get to World 6. In fact, the game only contains a maximum of five Hammer Suits, two being found in hidden areas of levels 6-10 and 7-8, one being guaranteed to show up in a Toad House in World 6, and then the final two appearing in Toad Houses in World 7, which have a chance of producing a Hammer Suit. They also appear in a few levels of World-e in the GBA remake of Super Mario Bros. 3.

The Hammer Suit turns Mario into Hammer Mario, giving him the ability to throw hammers like a Hammer Bro.. Mario can also duck into the shell to become immune to fire like a Buzzy Beetle, but, as a trade-off, he loses the ability to slide down slopes. In addition, Super Mario Bros. Advance 4 introduces a new type of Gray Brick Block that can be destroyed by the hammers. The hammers Mario throws have two heights: a base regular height and a longer throw if you press the d-pad while throwing. The Hammer Suit is easily the most powerful power-up in the game, with the hammers being able to defeat almost every enemy with a single hammer (even Bowser quickly falls to the hammer). The only real downsides are that the hammers can be a little tricky to use against moving enemies, since they're thrown more like a lob rather than shot straight like a fireball, and that you can't slide while wearing the suit (but who needs to slide when there are hammers to throw?).

Mario smashing through Bowser's defenses

The Hammer Suit might be a little too rare in Super Mario Bros. 3, though. It's a very powerful power-up, but if you play through all the worlds and don't know about the hidden areas of 6-10 and 7-8, you're only guaranteed to see a single Hammer Suit throughout the whole game. It's too bad, for a power-up as good as this, it feels like the game is wasting potential. Surprisingly, neither the Hammer Suit nor Hammer Mario has ever reappeared in a Mario game outside of brief cameos in Super Mario Maker and WarioWare: Twisted. It's pretty wild that the Hammer Suit didn't manage to make it into either Super Mario Maker game when even things like the Superball Flower and Power Balloon do.

Speaking of Power Balloon, the second power-up we're going to be looking at is, in fact, the Power Balloon. First appearing in Super Mario World, the Power Balloon turns Mario into the inflated Balloon Mario, who flies through the air until he, well, runs out of air! Functioning similar to the Invincibility Star, the Power Balloon doesn't override your current form and only lasts until its timer (unseen by the player) runs out. In Super Mario World, the Power Balloon is lame! As Balloon Mario, Mario flies high up in the air, but the player can move Balloon Mario in any direction through the d-pad. Only appearing in four levels, the Power Balloon basically operates as slower, worse means of flying and is only used in, like, two required ways. In Forest of Illusion 1, it is used to grab a key and unlock a secret level (but even then, you can instead use Cape Mario or blue shell Yoshi to get the key). Then, in Special World level Tubular, Mario has to keep activating new Power Balloons to complete the level. In a game that already has what is possibly Mario's best flight power-up, the Power Balloon just seems like an unnecessary flight-based power-up. You also cannot ride a Yoshi while using the Power Balloon. Probably the only redeeming quality of the Power Balloon is that, if you beat a level while using it, you get another version of whatever power-up you currently have on.

Mario floats over the enemy.

While the Power Balloon doesn't appear in Super Mario 64 DS, Balloon Mario does, now being activated by a Power Flower. In this game, rather than float upwards, Balloon Mario floats downwards and the player has to press the jump button to keep Mario afloat until he either reaches his destination or until the time runs out. Balloon Mario is still lame in this game, but at least it's competing with Wing Mario in the flight category this game... so at least it's the best flight power-up in the game. After a long absence, the Power Balloon made its return in update 3.0.0 of Super Mario Maker 2. Exclusive to the Super Mario World style, here the power-up has been revamped. Instead of floating away after being knocked out of a block, the Power Balloon instead stays in place (except in the nighttime theme, where they spin in a circle). Now, the player can move in all directions while in balloon mode and no longer move up or down by default. The time limit is gone and you have a new rocket boost if you hold the run button. However, Balloon Mario has no offensive ability in Super Mario Maker 2 and will take damage no matter how you hit an enemy. All in all, the Power Balloon is a way better power-up in Super Mario Maker 2, because it's no longer a slow timed flight that's worse than all the other flight power-ups that exist (except the Wing Cap), but the Mario series has so many different flight power-ups that I don't really think Power Balloon needs to return outside of the Super Mario Maker games.

That's another report done! Join me next month for another combat analysis of another batch of power-ups.

K-Pop Album Reviews

Written by: Zange (talk)

This month, Zange reviews Dreamcatcher's Dystopia: Road to Utopia! Who would have guess the real utopia was the reviews we did along the way? (as a reminder, make sure to turn on subtitles!)

Van Shoeul's House of Ghouls

By: Mustard Machine (talk)

Little Shop of Horrors
Genres Horror Comedy Musical
Release date 1986
Starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Levi Stubbs
Directed By Frank Oz
Runtime 94 minutes
Streaming HBO Max, Youtube (buy and rent), Tubi

Good evening, dear readers. and welcome back to another petrifying Van Shoeul's House of Ghouls. As always, I'm your guide through the darkness, Vincent Van Shouel. Last month was 1985's Day of the Dead, and, for this month's performance, we'll be jumping one year in the future with a cult classic, 1986's Little Shop of Horrors. This is the tale of a down-on-his-luck everyman who us offered everything he could ever ask for by a mysterious plant. There's just one condition. He must feed the plant. Before we continue, I must warn you that those of you with weak bladders and weak knees should turn back now, but, for those of you brave enough (or foolish enough) to continue, I promise you that this tale will be a thriller.

Our featured performers in this month's performance are: Steve Martin as Orin Scrivello, DDS a dentist with a sadistic streak; Vincent Gardenia as Mr. Mushnik, the owner of the eponymous Little Shop of Horrors, a failing flower shop on Skid Row; Ellen Greene as Audrey, a fellow worker at the flower shop who is in love with Seymour (who unbeknownst to her, shares her feelings), but sadly she's stuck in a relationship with the abusive Orin; Tichina Arnold, Michelle Weeks, and Tisha Campbell as Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon, three street urchins who play the role of the Greek Chorus; Levi Stubbs as Audrey 2, a mysterious plant with strange powers who craves blood;, and, finally, Rick Moranis as Seymour Krelborn, a down-on-his-luck everyman stuck working at the flower shop of his adopted "father" Mr. Mushnik. Discovering Audrey 2, Seymour's life turns around, but there's a terrible cost.

Based on the 1982, off-Broadway playm which was itself based on the 1960 black comedy horror film, Little Shop of Horrors is a black comedy musical set in scenic downtown Skid Row. Originally, Little Shop of Horrors had an all-star production team, with Steven Spielberg set to be executive producer and Martin Scorsese set to be director, but the project ended up stalling out over a legal dispute between writers and, eventually, both Spielberg and Scorsese would leave the project. Frank Oz of Muppets fame was then offered the position of director, as he was fresh off the success of Muppets Take Manhattan and had a long history with puppets. Oz took the position and spent a month and half working with the script because he felt it was too stage-like.

At its core, Little Shop of Horrors is a classic Faustian bargain, one struck between a perpetually unlucky man named Seymour Krelborn and a newly discovered plant christened Audrey 2. Working in a failing flower shop, Seymour brings in Audrey 2, hoping to attract new customers, much to Mr. Mushnik's skepticism. Audrey 2 immediately attracts customers. In fact, the second it's put in the window, a man comes in trying to buy fifty dollars worth of roses before upping that to one-hundred dollars worth of roses after finding out the shop can't make change. Unfortunately, immediately after the first day, Audrey 2 begins to wilt and a furious Mr. Mushnik demands Seymour get the plant back to health. Frustrated, Seymour sings a beautiful rendition of "Grow for Me", a song about all of the different things he's tried in his efforts to keep Audrey 2 alive before accidentally cutting himself and realizing that Audrey 2 is drawn to his blood. From there, Seymour continues to feed it more and more blood to keep it alive as the shop's success grows and grows. But as the plant gets bigger and bigger, it needs more and more blood.

What a cute little baby!

Eventually, it grows so big that it learns how to talk and, through song, tells Seymour that if he keeps feeding him, Seymour will get everything he ever wants. But by this point, Seymour can no longer sustain the plant by his blood alone and Audrey 2 claims it can only take fresh human blood, so Seymour is forced into making the terrible choice between taking a life and getting everything he's ever wanted, or refusing to keep feeding the plant and letting his only chance at escaping poverty slip away.

One of the biggest strengths of Little Shop Of Horrors is that all of the characters are incredibly sympathetic. You've got Mr. Mushnik who, while a jerk to Seymour, still took Seymour in, raised him, and runs a failing flower shop. Audrey (the woman, not the plant) is stuck in an abusive relationship with the sadistic dentist Orin, and had to moonlight as a prostitute in order to keep the lights on when the shop wasn't doing good. Finally, you have Seymour, whose parents abandoned him. He was then taken in by Mr. Mushnik, who treats him less like a son and more like cheap labor. He's constantly unlucky and he feels like he's never going to be able to escape Skid Row, which is described and portrayed as a disgusting grimy slum. He's also in love with Audrey but thinks he's not good enough for her (the tragedy being Audrey is actually in love with him but thinks she's not good enough for him). So even as you watch Seymour do terrible things, you, as the viewer, never stop feeling some sympathy for him. On the flipside, I would argue that the film probably keeps him too sympathetic, but we'll get into that later.

Another big strength is that the Audrey 2 puppet is just one of the coolest puppets ever produced. All of them based on a Venus flytrap, multiple puppets are used as the plant grows throughout the film. Audrey 2 starts out at the size of a regular Venus flytrap, but by the time it learns to talk it's almost the size of a room. It's got vines all over the place and teeth inside it's teeth. It's just so cool. Frank Oz and designer Lyle Conway (who previously worked with Oz on both The Muppet Show and Dark Crystal) really outdid themselves.

Just a Mean Green Mother

Of course, a puppet this big did present challenges, and the team for awhile struggled to film Audrey 2 in a way that made the movement natural. Eventually, they figured out a pretty clever way to solve the problem. They took to filming the plant in slow motion and then speeding the footage up in editing. This also meant that, anytime somebody was on one screen with Audrey 2, they were actually lip syncing and moving in slow motion.

A musical can only be as strong as its soundtrack, and Little Shop Of Horrors delivers. I'd honestly go as far as saying Little Shop of Horrors has the best soundtrack of any musical, period. Each song in the movie is a jam and there's a lot of variety in the songs. You've got comedy songs such as "Dentist!". You've got smooth songs like "Suppertime". You've even got genuinely beautiful songs like "Suddenly Seymour!". It's a great mix of different tempos and sounds. There isn't a single track in the theatrical cut that I don't think is great (there's one in the extended cut, but we'll get to that.) I've listened to a lot of different versions of the Little Shop of Horrors soundtrack and I wouldn't say this is the best version of the soundtrack I've ever heard, mostly because Rick Moranis is an actor, not a trained singer, but it's still a great soundtrack and I think the rendition of the "Prologue" they do is my favorite version of that song, period. Of the singers, Ellen Greene (who plays Audrey) and Levi Stubbs are by far the best singers. Ellen Greene's singing voice is absolutely beautiful and she brings all the great energy she had from the original stage show. It's a little sad because her best song, a reprise of "Somewhere that's Green", is unfortunately cut from the theatrical version because of an ending change (more on that later). It's just so unfortunate because it's such a beautiful song that brings tears to my eyes. Levi Stubbs fits in the classic mold of Audrey 2 with a smooth, tempting singing voice. Most of the best songs in this film involve Audrey 2 tempting Seymour into taking another step to feed him. I think he might be my favorite Audrey 2 because he adds such a cocky swagger to him in every song.

What a lovely couple. Sure hope they don't get eaten by a big plant.

Most of the songs from the stage show's score were adapted, but there are four exceptions. "Closed for Renovation", "Mushnik and Son", "Now (It's Just the Gas)", as well as "Call Back in the Morning" were cut. Now, for "Closed for Renovation", "Mushnik and Son", and "Call Back in the Morning", those three songs were cut for time because they aren't really important to the plot of the movie. Of those three, the only one that's really even kind of important to the plot is "Mushnik and Son", which is a song where Mr. Mushnik convinces Seymour to let him adopt him because he's worried Seymour will leave the shop and take Audrey 2 with him. It's kind of important, but not really, and I can see why you'd cut it. "Now (It's Just the Gas)", which a song where evil dentist Orin asphyxiates after his special gas mask breaks (the sick fuck gasses himself instead of his patients), is a different story. In the song, Orin begs Seymour for help while Seymour ignores him. The film still features Orin's death in the same way; they just don't have the song. The reason they cut the song was because they were having a hard time filming the song with the gas mask prop they crafted, so they just decided to cut the song. It's a shame, because Now "(It's Just the Gas)" is a very fun song despite its context. Another song, "Ya Never Know", was changed into the more calypso-themed "Some Fun Now," which is a perfectly acceptable song. Another song, "The Meek Shall Inherit", is significantly cut down, losing almost everything except a single chorus sung while Seymour meets with executives. This is really important and is probably the worst loss in the film, but, don't worry, we'll get to that. New to the film and probably the film's best song is Audrey 2's new villain song, "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space". A tremendous jam that originally started out as a much slower but still good song called "Bad", the producers didn't feel it was good enough for a finale so they reworked it, and, oh god, the finished product is fantastic. "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" is a fabulously catchy tune that features Audrey 2 mocking Seymour as he absolutely destroys him in their fight (he even pants him!). The best part of the song is when Audrey 2 basically declares himself superior to all other movie monsters, naming such legends as Frankenstein, King Kong, and The Thing and ranking himself above them. It's a fantastic song and it's made even better by some of the most impressive choreography in the film, with Audrey 2 growing vines with their own buds that provide background vocals as Audrey 2 easily counters any attack Seymour can throw while also completely destroying the room.

When it comes to acting, I'm not sure if anybody in this movie had more fun than Steve Martin as the dentist, Orin. He plays him as a completely over-the-top sadistic biker prone to fits of laughing and whooping and hollering with a bit of a greaser vibe; it's just fantastic. Our other secondary actor, Vincent Gardenia, does a fairly good job as Mr. Mushnik, an ambiguously Jewish businessman obsessed with money. Interestingly enough, despite Mr. Mushnik being part of three songs in the stage show, all of those songs were cut, making Vincent Gardenia the only core character that doesn't sing. For our main characters, Ellen Green, who is reprising her role as Audrey ,is great from a singing standpoint. As already stated, every song she sings is just great. I will say this, though. For some reason, when she's talking instead of singing, she went with this over-the-top cartoony high-pitched voice, and it's just kind of a weird decision. Both me and my friend noticed it while watching and it takes a little bit to get used to. It's not bad per se but it's really noticeable. I've already said everything I wanted to about Levi Stubbs and Audrey 2, so I'll just move onto Rick Moranis as Seymour Krelborn. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but Rick Moranis plays a nerdy character. Shocking, I know. Seymour is basically every nerdy, meek, timid man Rick Moranis would play for the majority of his career and he's got the character down perfectly. Where he falters is in the singing category. He's probably the weakest Seymour vocally, which, you know, makes sense because he's an actor and not a Broadway-level singer. He's definitely the weakest person in the cast in the vocals department, but I'll give him credit because his singing never destroys a song and he more than holds his own.

Depending on which version you watch, you may see a different ending. Little Shop of Horrors has two endings. The original ending (which is the ending in the extended cut) sees Audrey 2 attack and almost kill Audrey, causing her to ask Seymour to feed her to the plant so that Seymour can stay successful. Seymour does this, and then goes to kill himself in grief but gets confronted by a man asking to buy clippings of Audrey 2 so he can grow more and sell them. This causes Seymour to realize Audrey 2 isn't just one hungry plant, but is instead a plant trying to take over the world. Seymour resolves to destroy the plant and UTTERLY fails, finding himself eaten at the end of "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space". With nobody who knows about Audrey 2's true nature, clippings are then sold to unsuspecting people who each feed their own Audrey 2. The film ends with a truly impressive scene of a bunch of now-Kaiju-sized Audrey 2 plants destroying a city while the army desperately tries to fight back. All set to Little Shop of Horrors' signature song, "Don't Feed the Plants", this ending is, for the most part, faithful to the stage show's ending which sees Seymour failing to defeat the plant and being eaten. The movie does take the stage show's ending to its logical conclusion with Audrey 2 taking over the world (the play ends after Seymour is eaten, with "Don't Feed the Plants" being sung as a warning to the audience). Costing five million dollars to produce (out of a twenty-five million dollar budget), this ending is truly a spectacle and was always intended to be the ending to the film, but something funny happened when they showed the audience the film. Reports say that audiences loved the film. They'd clap and cheer... right up until the ending where everything would turn sour. How sour, you ask? Well, in order to get a theatrical release they had to have 55% of the test audience say they'd recommend the movie. They scored 13%... Test audiences felt the ending was way too dark, so the team had to produce a new ending. This ending has Audrey survive her encounter with Audrey 2 and has Seymour defeat Audrey 2 at the end of "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" by electrocuting Audrey 2, causing it to explode. The film then ends with Seymour and Audrey, who have just married each other, moving into a nice little suburban house only for the camera to reveal an Audrey 2 bud in their front yard. This would be the ending used during the original theatrical release.

Whatever you do...

There's been a lot of debate over which ending is better. Most prefer the original ending, which is more creative and more faithful to the original play. I, on the other hand, fall on the side of the happier ending and I'll tell you why. Do you remember how I said they might have made Seymour too sympathetic? Well, here's what I mean. In the stage show, Seymour plays a much more active role in the kills, with him deliberately deciding not to help Orin while he's suffocating as well as tricking Mr. Mushnik into looking inside Audrey 2's mouth, causing him to get eaten. But the film cuts "Now (That's Just the Gas)," so instead of Seymour making the clear choice to let Orin die, instead it comes off as Seymour being paralyzed by inaction. It's not exactly the biggest difference, because either way he lets him die. The bigger difference is the Mr. Mushnik kill. In the stage show, during the song "Suppertime," Mr. Mushnik discovers the bloody uniform of Orin in his shop and is worried that Seymour killed Orin. Now, he doesn't actually believe that Seymour did it, but he still feels that Seymour needs to go to the police. Seymour then deliberately tricks him into looking inside Audrey 2, telling him that he put the day's money in there for safekeeping, getting Mr. Mushnik killed when Mr. Mushnik looks inside. But in the movie, what happens is Mr. Mushnik pulls a gun on Seymour and tells him they need to go to the police (he saw Seymour chopping up the dead body of Orin), but before they leave he tells Seymour that maybe he can just skip town for a while and he, Mr. Mushnik, can watch the plant even, threatening Seymour with the death penalty if Seymour doesn't leave. During this, while Seymour is meekly telling Mushnik how to take care of the plant, Mr. Mushnik backs up into the area of Audrey 2, being eaten just as Seymour was attempting to warn him about the dangers of the plant. So instead of Seymour killing concerned citizen Mushnik on purpose to cover his tracks, Mushnik instead dies in an accident while attempting to extort Seymour.

The cutting of "Mushnik and Son", I also think, goes a long way towards making Seymour too sympathetic. It's not exactly an important song, all things considered, being a song where Mushnik convinces Seymour to let him adopt him to keep the plant in the family. Here's the thing, though, while the audience knows that Mr. Mushnik is adopting him for selfish reasons, Seymour doesn't! As far as Seymour knows, he's being adopted out of genuine affection. So when he kills Mushnik, he's not just killing his boss who's been mistreating him; he's killing his father figure who he thinks loves him. It's a very notable distinction in context. The most important thing, however, is the changes to "The Meek Shall Inherit". You see, I'm of the opinion that "The Meek Shall Inherit" is the single most important song in the show. You see, "The Meek Shall Inherit" is a song where three different business people (an agent, an editor's wife, and a television producer) all tell Seymour about the great things they can do for Seymour, whether it be a TV Show or lecturing tours. Importantly, the song features a part where Seymour realizes how wrong all of this is and that if he takes these offers then he's going to have to keep killing. He then resolves to destroy the plant before anyone else dies, but soon changes his mind because Audrey won't love him if he doesn't have money. This song is so important because it has Seymour acknowledge that what he's doing is wrong, but also shows him deciding to keep doing it anyways. The film, importantly, doesn't feature Seymour's revelation at all, so you never get to see Seymour deciding to commit to more murders. In addition, in the stage show, Seymour is shown enjoying his fame and money, but in the film he's always shown as miserable, even running away in shame during the taping of the gardening show. So you can see where, in their attempts to keep Seymour sympathetic on the belief that people don't want to watch a film with characters they can' root for, they go too far in making him sympathetic. When it's time for him to die and face the consequences of his actions, you, the viewer, don't want him to, because he really hasn't done anything that bad. I'd even argue that "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space," as great as it is, is kind of a bad choice for a song if you're going to kill Seymour. You see, the stage show ends with him valiantly attempting to hack Audrey 2 to death from the inside, getting swallowed for his efforts. But "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" instead has Audrey 2 punking and wrecking Seymour at every turn before eating him. The original ending is a great spectacle, but I just don't think it fits the tone of a film where Seymour just doesn't do anything really evil.

I love Little Shop of Horrors. It's one of my favorite films. It's a great adaptation of the best musical ever made. The characters are strong and the puppetry is fantastic. It's a great movie full of spectacle and fun that everyone should watch. You can find it on HBO Max with the theatrical ending and, honestly, it's such a good time that you should definitely seek it out.

And so, dear readers, ends another terrifying tale. I hope that it wasn't too frightening for you, but if it was, don't worry. There's no shame in sleeping with the lights on. For all my gardening friends, this story provides a little gardening tip. If you're ever confronted with a talking plant that says he can give you anything you'd ever want in exchange for blood, just remember to only feed it two adults. Any more than that, and you won't be able overpower it if you find out that it's really an evil plant from space. That concludes this month's Van Shoeul's House of Ghouls. Be sure to come back next month for another dark tale.

All-Time Smash Merit Ranking

Written by: SonicMario (talk)

Hello once again! After today, there will be 50 characters left to do. Thus 10 months to go before all of this is wrapped up. Our non-shroom sections this time were Toon Link, Princess Peach, and the Inklings.

We had Mario as our #1 this time, and both of our characters this time have names that are somewhat derivative of the famous red plumber. Though they are certainly far from being simple knock-offs

Captain Olimar from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Categories Fighter Info
Fighter Number 40
Fighter Group Brawl Veterans
Franchise Pikmin
Game of Origin Pikmin (Nintendo Gamecube, 2001 (US/JP), 2002 (EU)

The Pikmin series can make you sort of feel sorry for all the little insects that you see crawling in your front yard with how the games put into perspective of what’s it's like being that small. When you’re as small as an ant, many more things can end your life at a moment’s notice. It’s only thanks to the army of Pikmin that Olimar, Alph, and the other Pikmin characters ever get off the planet alive.

Every game involves using an army of Pikmin to survive the daytime of the planet Olimar and other’s of his planet crash lands on and safely get out before night falls, where things particularly get nasty on that planet. (Any poor Pikmin you leave behind are very much implied to be wiped out by next morning)

Though in terms of Smash, they kinda degraded the use of Pikmin due to the 3DS’ limitations. Even after we got the Ice Climbers back in Ultimate since that was no longer an issue. Olimar still can only pull out 3 Pikmin at a time rather then the 6 he could in Brawl. I imagine it’s not the biggest deal as I imagine they probably made up for it by making individual Pikmin stronger. But the more numerous the Pikmin the more it represents the series. Granted, I’m not going to call for Olimar being able to have 100 pikmin at once as that would be pretty ridiculous. But you get what I mean right?

Regardless, the Pikmin series is a pretty well-beloved small franchise that often have long breaks in-between games. What isn’t helped is Miyamoto’s tendency to say the next Pikmin is “close to completion” (Which was in 2015 btw). It was said before with Pikmin 3, and it’s been said with Pikmin 4. (Apologies if a direct happens after the deadline for my section comes out, resulting it in not aging well with Pikmin 4 possibly being announced in the direct before the Shroom is out)

While I get why Metal Gear and Kid Icarus getting the interactions, one potentially fun thing would be what Olimar may have as notes on each of the characters. Though it probably would only be complete if Louie got that chance to do his own… granted they probably wouldn’t be allowed to actually give tips on how to cook the more humanoid characters. I could see that kind of being a rather disturbing move.

And now, our #1 for this month only requires us to turn last month's #1's M upside down!

Wario from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Categories Fighter Info
Fighter Number 30
Fighter Group Brawl Veterans
Franchise WarioWare/Wario Land
Game of Origin Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (Game Boy, 1992 (US/JP), 1993 (EU)

As with any Mario-adjacent character, we have an extensive article on him here on the wiki. But I will actually say Wario’s certainly had an interesting history. He started as simply an evil counterpart to Wario that was the new villain for Super Mario Land 2. But then he branched out to have his very own platformer series, a regular in many Mario Spin-offs. And a somewhat niche but addicting series of microgames with it’s own fun cast of characters that don’t tend to appear anywhere else.

Wario is the character that’s given the more crude and prankster-type stuff to do. Wario’s not a villain on Bowser's level, but he’ll cheat you out of cash or any treasures if he’s got his eyes on anything. That has included a fair share of sports trophies over the years. Though it’s through this weirdness that obviously Wario gets to show much more of his personality then Mario does. (Perhaps best shown in the long intro for Mario Power Tennis. This video also contains the hilarious blooper clips from the game)

Heck, in WarioWare Gold he actually quite often spoke full sentences. A rarity in the Mario series for Charles Martinet to be given that much work. Though I’m sure he loves to ham it up as Wario for that matter. And to add to his mischief, he’s often a reason crude humor might be listed on the ESRB for a Nintendo game with one of his most well-known abilities being… explosive farting. (Solid Snake’s reaction to that being a thing certainly one of the more hilarious parts of the codecs)

Most of my experience in regards to Wario, aside from the many Mario Sports games (Which speaking of which, I did love his tuba and accordion theme from Charged) is the WarioWare series. Which is a game series that has garnered a reputation as perhaps the closest to having a drug trip without actually taking drugs. With all these mini games going by so fast that you hardly comprehend what will come next. We should be thankful WarioWare microgames aren’t as harmful as actual drugs. It’s the WarioWare series that seems to be represented the most in Smash too, even though I understand that for those who prefer the Wario Land games. It’s a little frustrating that it took until Ultimate for the iconic shoulder bash move to make it into Wario’s moveset. Mario’s default design even uses his biker clothes from the WarioWare games, though for those who much prefer his traditional yellow plumber suit. It’s there as an alternate costume.

Wario’s never been the kind of character you want to look up to, but he’s an enjoyable character to play as just for his personality and often a good laugh at your opponents that you beat them with this crude, obese (but very strong), plumber that the character themselves would proudly laugh in the face of your foe

As a unique franchise rep and part of Nintendo history since the Early Gamecube days. I think it’s fair to put Olimar just below Bowser Jr and above Rosalina despite less game appearances. As for Wario, this might be a bit of a shocker but I’m putting him above main Mario baddie Bowser. For what reason? Wario happens to have 2 well-recognized game series to his own legacy. As much as being the final boss in most Mario games help Bowser reach a strong place. Wario branching out just about twice I think is a fair reason to put him above Bowser despite his debut being much younger then Bowser. We’ve had playable Bowser in many games, but none aside from I guess Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story where we can clearly say it’s a Bowser video game as opposed to both Wario Land and the Wario Ware series. Wario is still below Luigi at the very least, given Luigi’s had his own branching out what with the Luigi’s mansion series but he’s also still the iconic Player 2 that keeps him above Wario

1. Mario 21. Shulk
2. Link 22. Pit
3. Donkey Kong 23. Ness
4. Kirby 24. Jigglypuff
5. Luigi 25. Duck Hunt
6. Wario 26. Steve
7. Bowser 27. Lucas
8. Peach 28. Mythra
9. Pac-Man 29. Min Min
10. Diddy Kong 30. Byleth
11. Banjo & Kazooie 31. Wii Fit Trainer
12. King K. Rool 32. Chrom
13. Mr. Game & Watch 33. Dr. Mario
14. Sonic the Hedgehog 34. Dark Pit
15. Bowser Jr. 35. Piranha Plant
16. Olimar
17. Rosalina & Luma
18. Toon Link
19. Inkling
20. Snake

Anton's Half-Baked Reviews

Written by: Hypnotoad (talk)

“Seltzers and sparkling waters are still bubbling to the surface pretty strongly, but after trying some out and after a few years, I just couldn’t bring myself to develop a whole review set on something I couldn’t find much personal enthusiasm or inspiration in. I was truly hoping to make it into one of my redo-reviews where I give something I gave a bad review years ago another chance now that I’ve had time to grow and develop as a real person who exists in society with at least a tangible grasp on nuance, and not as a slimeball struggling to mature at my mom’s house making forced one-liners that still wake me up at night with spine-shattering cringe.”

The vacation starts now!

Well anyways screw that, I made a whole review set on bubbly waters! While I’ve been pretty lax with making the terms interchangeable, each kind of carbonated water–sparkling water, seltzer, club soda, and tonic water–are defined in different ways, and, as I’ve come to fully grasp while trying these, are different in ways that actually matter.

  • Sparkling Water - Often has minerals in it given that it is naturally carbonated at its source springs by processes such as volcanic and geothermal activity. Available minerals, and subsequent flavor and allure, are dependent on specific sources.
  • Seltzer - Water that has been artificially carbonated, with no inherent natural minerals and no flavors added. This is the most specific definition I have found, with most others just generalizing ‘seltzer’ to encompass qualities of all other types.
  • Club Soda - Water that has been artificially carbonated, but with added sodium or potassium salts intended to neutralize the acidity.
  • Tonic Water - Unlike the others in that it is by definition more of a soft drink and intended almost purely to be a mixer rather than drank on its own, it is a beverage that is made with carbonated water and includes the addition of quinine, which is naturally bitter, and is usually mitigated with added sweeteners.

There is also Mineral Water, which is still but has naturally occurring dissolved minerals, and can simply have carbonation added to it making it Sparkling Mineral Water. Other caveats may exist, but these should capture pretty much all of them. And, of course, not everyone fully encapsulates the differences, and many people give them different definitions, with even Wikipedia merging them, with a voice of authority; I’m aware that I have also done the same, and to a great extent I’m sure this confusion and lack of mass understanding, clarity, and acceptance is just proof that none of it really matters anymore. Seltzer, Sparkling, and Club Soda are all the same, sure, who cares, just don’t call them Tonic.

What they hold in common is that they all contain carbon dioxide, which produces effervescence (bubbles) and a slightly acidic pH and sour taste even after the bubbles have dissipated as carbonic acid will remain in the water. They’re also generally seen as healthy options compared to soda, and have historically been seen as a cure for many ailments. All versions (except tonic water) typically contain zero calories, and at the very least the carbonation generates bloating leading to a more full feeling to help avoid overeating.

It’s not just a recent trend, but rather an obsession that will never die and will simply regenerate itself with each new trend. Regarding this quote:

“In the last week I tasted and retasted more than four dozen sparkling waters. Taste is, of course, subjective, and different people are looking for different qualities in these waters. I prefer bottled sparkling waters with a clean taste and moderate effervescence. They should have no aftertaste, no aroma or off-odor. Good water should be, above all, refreshing. My findings bear out what some people have suspected for a long time: Price is no indicator of taste or quality. Some of the most expensive mineral waters had flaws in their taste, whereas some of the least expensive house-brand seltzers came the closest to the taste I was seeking.”

I’m tickled that an article from nearly 40 years ago holds a subjective stance that I mirror, along with similar generalizations, and I wonder if they thought if sparkling water would remain a snooty fine dining accompaniment, or would propagate heavily into every market and class imaginable with an unimaginable range of flavors and ever-shifting permutations.


And to help round out my obligatory selections, I felt I had no choice but to try out Perrier, if only to round out my reviews by learning what the brand that pretty much started interest in sparkling waters in the US is like. Sourced from a naturally carbonated spring in Vergèze, France, it originally was a spa until some rich British guy came by in the mid-late 1800s and bought the whole thing. Since then it has enjoyed a perception of prestige and elegance, purity and refinement, high status French culture with all of the clichés that follow suit, and a history long enough to see those symbols tarnished over and over.

The bottle shape felt good in my hand, but was awkward to drink from.

While naturally carbonated at its source by volcanic activity, the water and carbon dioxide are harvested separately and then combined later, originally both from the same source but now no longer true for the gas. The minerals present in this water include: calcium, chloride, bicarbonate, fluoride, magnesium, nitrate, potassium, sodium, and sulfates.

It’s exhausting pulling out the shaming toolbox every time for this, but just need to note that Perrier was bought by Nestlé in 1992, with all their baggage and then creating more.

Sparkling Mineral Water

I bought each of these flavors at Whole Foods at $1.19 for an 11.19 fl oz bottle. On the brink of no flavor, but incredibly bubbly; feels like my mouth is being sandblasted. The aftertaste has high minerality and bitterness, and tastes much different than the initial sip. I can’t say it left me feeling dehydrated like how other mineral waters do, but it definitely didn’t make me feel refreshed. The most value it had for me was being a chilled glass bottle for me to rub on my forehead after coming inside on a 104°F humid sunny day. I’m at a loss for where the prestige comes into play here, if only it being just them getting in on the industry long before many others to be able to lock in tradition, history, and cultural entwinement. Maybe its particular taste and carbonation bodes well with heartier meals, and that will be a test for a later time when I’m not having chocolate glazed donuts for dinner.

I mixed it with some orange juice, and then also added some vodka, and both were pretty good with the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Even being pretty diluted with other liquids, the carbonation of the Perrier remained pretty strong for a little while before dissipating.

Sparkling Lemon

There’s simply no other way to put it, it tastes like how a bulk moist towelette from a buffet in an Appalachian suburb smells. Bit of an unappealing and dry aftertaste, and the fake lemon flavor lingers in a way that certainly makes me feel like my palate has been cleansed, but I’d sooner eat a fistful of pickled sushi ginger to do the same. For all of the reviews on aggregator sites that I’m seeing say that this is a great healthy alternative to Sprite, all because this Perrier is Lemon and Sprite is Lemon-Lime, may as well say that steamed broccoli or a colonic are also healthy Sprite alternatives because there’s really no comparison to be made here; there’s better sparkling water drinks with little-to-no calories or sodium that evoke Sprite’s particular flavor better. For an essence of positivity from me, I can squarely say that the lemon-intention this has masks the base bitterness, supplanting it instead with something I can still complain about but not feel too disgusted with.

Liquid Death

Now I can match my water with my outfit!

Serving as an anti-hero in the world of packaged water, Liquid Death, flowing from the mountains of Austria, strikes hard and fast with with punk and metal themes, promising to ‘Murder Your Thirst’ and wishes ‘#DeathToPlastic’. With seltzers having been sidelined as effeminate (and therefore bad or silly), it feels like Liquid Death is taking advantage of that subconscious notion to crack open a corner of the market that has been reluctant to buy in due to optics and fragile masculinity. Certainly, when Liquid Death entered the scene at the start of 2019, with its intended appeal to straight-edge punks, many people felt that it was feeding into toxic masculinity in a way that simply reinforced gendered stereotypes. Skepticism on this was healthy and generated genuine questions, rightfully so as early messaging utilized the vision of ‘Whole Foods yoga moms’ as the only consumer water brands bothered appealing to (which, like, are they wrong??), but as time passed it became clear that Liquid Death’s word-of-mouth popularity wasn’t due to harnessing–and reinforcing–a normative male gaze, but rather aided sobriety by mimicking craft beers and hard seltzers, evoking feelings of inclusion in those typically-alcoholic scenes, ‘easing the transition to abstinence and potentially preventing a relapse’. Their website is pretty direct with this, “Liquid Death Sparkling Water doesn’t just look like a beer, it is actually carbonated like a beer. We use a more drinkable level of carbonation (5 grams/L) more similar to most beers than the higher carbonation levels of most sodas (6-8 grams/L).” And, for my personal purposes, yes Erika, we “do (...) need another opportunity to put melting skulls on things (...)”. If pastels and florals can sell water, why not this?

The brand, along with championing aggressively corny death and skull references, zealously pushes environmentalism and sustainability, entwining two topics that are too-often treated as on opposite poles. Its aluminum can is intentional as it’s more recyclable and environmentally-friendly than plastic

I got these for 3/$5 ($1.67 each) at Sprouts, which was also the only place at this time where I could find all five options at once without having to buy separate entire 12-packs. The lady bagging my groceries was absolutely not hiding her disdain for these, saying that she hated the aftertaste when the cashier made smalltalk and asked if she’s tried them yet, which I felt like…do you want me to not buy them?

Kinda borders on cringe, but ehhh, aesthetic.


Stated to have twice the amount of electrolytes as competition, it sure does taste like water. It’s smooth, clean, refreshing, and rehydrating. No weird aftertaste, nothing extra added to it, just tastes like good water. Definitely superior to plastic bottled water that tends to acquire some kind of off taste.


It doesn’t taste like anything, just the texture of carbonation. As I mentioned above, this is an intended result as they used a lower level of carbonation, which results in less carbonic acid remaining in the water that would otherwise leave a bitter taste. It made me belch almost immediately, which was something that Liquid Death also promised. As it sits there and loses its frosty chill, a slight tinge of chemical bitterness starts to form

Mango Chainsaw

Noticeably mango on the first sip, but each progressive sip has me stretching further to find that mango taste, like I’m getting too used to it too quickly and losing the exact flavor. Softly carbonated, which I can’t tell if it’s because it’s going flat or if that’s what’s intended, but it works as it feels fine and there’s no weird aftertaste, and is refreshing enough to help me relax after work.

Berry It Alive

Complex flavor, pretty apparent that it’s berry, but it’s definitely not the standard fake berry flavor. Earthy and floral, intriguing, and has me sipping more to try to figure it out, which is a great feat as berry flavors aren’t exactly my favorite. Feels more heavy than refreshing, more flavorful than light.

Severed Lime

Pretty refreshing, albeit one-note. Kudos to it for not feeling sickly, sticky, or gross, with enough lime to have it be lime, but it’s definitely the weakest flavor of the bunch. Not sure where the Sprouts bagger got that this one had a bad aftertaste because it just pretty objectively does not have one.

With all of these flavors, it’s notable that they are not zero-calorie and do include sweeteners, in the form of agave nectar, and I think it’s that touch of sweetness that elevates these into something more palatable and acceptable to people who may not otherwise be into sparkling waters.

P.S. Big fan of how corny the names are.

San Pellegrino

Feels wrong that this is in plastic

Nestled in at the foot of the Italian Alps flows the natural mineral waters of San Pellegrino. Selling itself to the world as a symbol of class, purely Italian in spirit, authenticity, and marketability, and is perfect to enhance your most fine dining experiences into an ‘amazing epicurean experience’. A storied history, in use for over 600 years, and said to have been visited by Leonardo da Vinci, the brand drills and drills and drills in that their water is entwined with Italian culture and being. Despite the romantic feeling of rustic Italy powering behind S. Pellegrino, it is squarely a product of literal evil corporation Nestlé. In early 2021 Nestlé went and sold all of their pedestrian and poor people water brands to put focus on their more prestige and global brands: Perrier, San Pellegrino, and Acqua Panna. Despite being available pretty much everywhere and to every class of citizenry in a relatively affordable way–from Michelin-starred restaurants, to Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, and even Office Depot–they have crafted a definite air of superiority and high society, making all meals, even your Banquet Hungrymans, special.

Sparkling Mineral Water

$1.59 at Whole Foods for a 16.9 fl oz (500 mL) bottle. Almost no flavor, but no aftertaste, which makes it a good palate cleanser in case you need that. Pretty salty, more than any of the others I’ve had, and isn't refreshing as a result; I feel thirstier after, which is maybe my fault for not adequately pairing this with a rich full-bodied wine high in tannins, silly me.

Mixes well with orange juice, though!

San Pellegrino in a can also feels wrong


Sparkling lemon beverage, curious how it doesn’t say ‘water’. These fruity ones are branded with ‘Sanpellegrino’, while the sparkling mineral water is ‘S.Pellegrino’. Whatever technicality lies within, likely a result of how the Sanpellegrino products have much more ingredients, I’m still trying these.

Incredibly flavorful lemonade, with a perfectly desired amount of tartness and sweetness, and a sharp sourness that makes lemonade what it is. The Italians know what’s right with this, and this should be the goal of all lemon-flavored drinks to have this level of actual lemon flavor. I should always feel like I’m on the brink of puckering, like I’m biting into an actual lemon, not just some generic citrus-adjacent fresh sensation that resembles more a cleaning solution than something that won’t intentionally rend my bowels upon consumption.

Organic version tastes exactly the same, but without the pectin, and with organic cane sugar and organic lemon juice concentrate. Kudos to them for managing to keep consistency here while having better ingredients; it’s hard being a conscious consumer when the product is just so blindingly good.

Aranciata Rossa

Tall cans and glass feels much better

Orange & Blood Orange, the flavor is very accurate and pleasing, the bubbles feel comparatively small and not nearly as sharp and biting as other drinks; both the flavor and fizz combine to achieve a good palate cleanser. Reminiscent of the times I’d dumped the plain sparkling waters into some orange juice to make them palatable, but just much better.

Melograno & Arancia

At first I was sorta miffed that the pomegranate flavor was not as strong, but then I remembered what it’s like to eat pomegranate and drink pomegranate juice, and decided that the inclusion of orange was an intelligent choice to allow the vibrance of pomegranate to flow through but not the horrific tartness. These mild flavor mixes are growing on me.

Essenza Dark Morello Cherry & Pomegranate

I need those background fruit designs as a wallpaper in my house

Meanwhile, the Essenza line is back under S.Pellegrino, with a much more sleek and elegant design, clearly labeled as ‘Sparkling Mineral Water’ rather than a conciliatory ‘beverage’. Shame that there’s such an enormous barcode on the can when vanity barcodes that seamlessly and creatively work with the package design is possible and entirely not a new concept. As much as that is an afterthought, so is the cherry flavor, which is barely there as an aftertaste. The pomegranate is likely dead and nowhere to be found, leaving me to wonder who told the intern to write that the flavor was ‘intense’? I absolutely did pair this with chocolate desserts, though. Regardless, it tastes good, there’s enough sweet flavor there for the bitterness to not puncture my senses, and there’s not enough to leave much lingering, just a sensation of crisp freshness.

Essenza Lemon & Lemon Zest

After the Blood & Blood Orange flavor, and now Lemon & Lemon Zest, I’ve become a big fan of their combination of flavors that are basically the same with just such subtle differences that are so negligible that they could’ve just deferred to the one stronger and more interesting of the pair. This tastes incredibly similar to Perrier Lemon in terms of how the lemon flavor tastes nothing like lemon. The difference between this and the Limonata is that the Essenza contains no juice or sugar, making it clearly a sparkling water rather than a confused lemonade. Intensely subtle, and feels thin and unimposing, which works in its favor as the aftertaste is simply the crisp bubbles tearing at whatever enamel I have remaining. All I wanna know is regarding this quote: “Feint aromas of Italian lemon rind and kiss of vanilla cream with a supple, crisp, dryish light body and a delightful, buoyant finish of slate, hints of fondant, and sea spray. A zesty and well-balanced flavored sparkling water with an all-natural appeal.”, what are they smoking to achieve this hallucination, and can I have some?

The conclusion I have come to with San Pellegrino is that the further away their products get from water, the better they taste.

Not long after Nestlé recommitted to its prestige brands it went and made some coffee-infused seltzers, which I can guarantee you I would’ve tried for this review, but were simply hard to find and beyond my willing range to drive to get.


Accurate that I took this photo near the dish soap

To hop on the sparkling water trend in 2020, Coca-Cola released AHA with a press release saying there are unmet needs for customers looking for interesting and approachable flavors, and it’s Coca-Cola who can provide the vibrant packaging that everyone craves. It’s just a huge red flag to me when one of the major points that a brand has is what their packaging looks like. Each product they have is a blend of two flavors, which went through testing of 300 flavors and 42 pairs to get what is in their catalog today.

Raspberry Açaí

Getting right to the point, it’s bad, NOT good. It smells really good, though, but it manages to achieve exactly what turns people off of sparkling water drinks. The flavor is jarring, intensely bitter and unpleasant, and it lingered in my mouth for far longer than it was welcome. I want nothing more to do with this, I’m done with it. Go ahead and get it if you’re a fan of precisely the reasons most people avoid these products.

Maybe a different flavor pairing will work better to my specific tastes and desires.

What I’m glad for with trying AHA, though, is being able to find this review site that has fantastic writing and gorgeous graphics, and had me rolling with laughter with this paragraph within the review that still ended up calling the flavor “really good!”:

Fun Fact: Açaí, roughly translated, means “fruit that cries.” According to legend, Açaí sprang into being during a famine, and Chief Itaqui ordered all newborns to be put to death, including his own daughter’s infant. His daughter died of grief beneath a tree, which grew long strings of tiny drupes that ended the famine. Those drupes are now known as Açaí. So it seems that wherever Açaí goes, it leaves sadness in its wake.

Sparkling Ice

A resounding favorite of Superchao (talk), Sparkling Ice has become one of the most accessible sparkling water drinks around with its low price point, general appeal instead of direct honing on specific fad diets, and massive amount of flavors that takes up a lot of shelf space. Their site and marketing also seem to pivot more towards a general and family audience, with a complete sense of normalcy and no intention to appear chic or fashionable. Just a drink with a flavor that also has no calories.
I like that the color lets you immediately know what the flavor is

Black Cherry; Lemon Lime; Grape Raspberry; Orange Mango; Fruit Punch

Rather than making five separate headlines to demarcate separate flavors that all have the same review, I can just say in one conglomerate statement that Sparkling Ice flavors certainly taste like what their label states. Black Cherry certainly tastes like cherry, Orange Mango tastes like both orange and mango, etc. The Lemon Lime is pretty indistinguishable from an off-brand Sprite. No sugar, but still sweet, all thanks to sucralose, often marketed as Splenda, which is what I’m assuming is making them taste like diet sodas. Sparkling Ice really blurs the line for me between the definitions of sparkling water and what is commercialized as diet soda; it really seems like a technicality that no one cares about and marketing pivots to ride on trends.
The caffeine feels like an afterthought when instead they should just market how strong these flavors are

I drank all of these nice and icy cold, which felt refreshing and relaxing, but I left the Black Cherry sitting out too long because it had gotten shaken up, and it approached room temperature. It left me with a dry throat feeling, didn’t really make me feel hydrated, but certainly left a nice flavor hanging around for longer. Honestly, the biggest marketing point that these have is that they cost $1 each basically everywhere. Any subsequent pleasure or disgust comes with your personal and subjective taste of whichever flavor you chose.

Sparkling Ice + Caffeine Black Raspberry; Blue Raspberry; Cherry Vanilla

Once a darling of the sparkling water surge, Sparkling Ice’s sparkle has faded. This can be squarely blamed on its main line using artificial sweeteners, and that falling out of favor as more people have become skeptical of their benefits relative to their risks. To help maintain some relevance, they began to diversify their products, hopping on the trends of caffeinated single serve energy drinks, and spiked seltzers. I’ll get around to spiked seltzers later as I can make a whole other set of reviews with how that whole thing has exploded, but for now this is the one I got.

Anticlimactically, it tastes like a soda, basically, just not as much carbonation; it didn’t feel less bubbly, but didn’t feel as potent and sharp. There’s not much difference in this than the other Sparkling Ice drinks aside from the width of the can and how the +Caffeine ones seem to have more daring flavors. I didn’t notice any significant energy boost from this, but that could just be my own biology, nothing that I could quantify and not confuse as psychosomatic; just a conclusion for me that the elevated price of $1.65 is only worth it is you REALLY like the taste of a hyper-sweet blue raspberry drink, which…I do.


It simply isn’t possible for me to do a carbonated water review and not include LaCroix, the brand that has become, for better or worse, in jubilation and jest, synonymous with sparkling water. LaCroix made it big in the sparkling water world initially by breaking the barrier set by Perrier that sparkling water is meant for special occasions set by pretentious snobs, to instead promote the ideal that sparkling water can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere, as long as you’re looking to kick back and relax. An elusive brand, which has led them both to a cult of mystique as well as litigation, flavors their drinks with ‘essences’ and refuses to elaborate further, testing the mettle of their self-proclaimed innocence. I got my batch of these at Whole Foods as it was the only place I could find single cans, at 99 cents each, instead of having to buy a huge case and be stuck with a product that continues to list in its ingredients ‘naturally essenced’ with no concern that we now live in a consumer culture that balks at such opaqueness and deception.
The '90s are back


It sure is sparkling water with barely any tangerine flavor.


It sure is sparkling water with barely any grapefruit flavor.
Like, really, 'essence', you gotta be kidding me


It sure is sparkling water, but had the best smell and most present flavor out of the ones I’ve tried, which I’m attributing entirely to how I drank it warm rather than chilled. Fluid and thermodynamics doing the bulk of the legwork, olfactory magic casting its illusion over barely any watermelon flavor.

I’m finding myself at a loss of words for LaCroix; what witty jabs can I make that haven't already been made for literally decades? Maybe LaCroix, with its artificial opulence and silver screen flair of the French Riviera, is simply a sparkling water for people who enjoy sparkling water, who consume it at sickening proportions that I can only compare to how quickly I chug a gallon of 2% milk, someone who can summon hallucinations of flavors from a wisp of essence that may not even exist on our corporeal plane; an indication that spoils this whole review for which ones I ended up liking and not liking. Much like the tasting notes of IPAs, no matter what flavor and experience is described to me on the package, they all just taste like their bitter base, an unpleasant experience that serves only as an offering to its cult.

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