The 'Shroom:Issue 186/Critic Corner
The leaves are turning, the clock is ticking, soon the time for Hallow--wait, stores are already putting Christmas Trees out for sale??? If you're in the mood to complain about something, or defend it, Critic Corner is the spot for you!
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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 Meta Knight 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|
|1st||Anton's Half-Baked Reviews||11||47.83%||Hypnotoad (talk)|
|2nd||All-Time Smash Merit Ranking||5||21.74%||SonicMario (talk)|
|2nd||A Report on the Effectiveness of Power-Ups||5||21.74%||Mustard Machine (talk)|
Hello! I've been quite busy again this month so these reviews are very brief.
DANGER MOUSE / BLACK THOUGHT - CHEAT CODES ⭐
A collab between producer Danger Mouse (known for among other things being half of Gnarls Barkley and collabing with many different artists) and Black Thought (best known as lead MC of The Roots). Really just an insanely slick album from start to finish, incredible beats and fantastic bars, what more do you need? Black Thought is very much the standout but there's plenty of fantastic guest appearances here too - particularly Michael Kiwanuka on the chorus of the huge, lush 'Aquamarine' - plus a very welcome posthumous verse from MF DOOM on 'Belize'. Love this.
STELLA DONNELLY - FLOOD
I liked Stella Donnelly's debut Beware of the Dogs when it came out in 2019, though ended up going back to it recently and not enjoying it as much. Still thought it was good, the best songs were still as effective, but on the whole just didn't do as much for me. Even still, Flood feels like a definite step down, unfortunately. The first track, 'Lungs', is a really strong start - fun and energetic, plus it has a much fuller, more vibrant sound than her earlier work. The song after is alright, but then the two that follow are just quite slow and not that interesting - and beyond a couple of tracks, things overall don't improve as the album goes on. Donnelly had quite a distinct, sardonic voice on her debut and it feels like that's getting lost here, sadly.
J.I.D - THE FOREVER STORY
It's good, but I don't have much of an opinion on it beyond that. There were some interesting beats here and there, quite a few songs went in an entirely different direction which was pretty cool, but generally I feel like I'm missing something. I'd also say that besides 'Sistanem' and 'Just in Time' (the latter including a surprisingly good guest appearance from Lil Wayne) the back half of the album is a bit lacklustre. Still - on the whole, smart, well-written and consistent.
MILD SORROW INTEGRATED - ARBOL.
This is a pleasant little album, the bright synths and complex, jumpy beats work nicely together. The longer tracks are catchy and consistent, though there's quite a few short tracks which feel a bit pointless or don't really go anywhere. Very fun and breezy.
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS - BLEED OUT
Really enjoyed this! It's a concept album inspired by revenge and action movies. The way this is presented in the songs is fun and engaging, and there's plenty of great moments in the songs here. A couple of the longer tracks later on lost my interest slightly, but on the whole just about everything here sounds great and has a consistently strong voice and energy.
ROC MARCIANO & THE ALCHEMIST - THE ELEPHANT MAN'S BONES
At its best, there's a lot of unique and unorthodox things going on here. The minimal beats create a mysterious, surreal atmosphere, and this also allows Marciano's delivery to really stand out. Definitely front-loaded as after the first four songs it loses steam a little bit, but overall a unique album with plenty of strange and intriguing moments.
TROPICAL FUCK STORM - MOONBURN (EP)
I like Tropical Fuck Storm and I've enjoyed all three of their albums, but unfortunately there's very little to write home about on this EP. It consists of two original tracks, an alternate version of a song from their second album, Braindrops, and a cover of Talking Heads' 'Heaven'. Neither of the two new tracks do much for me, I'd say 'Ann' is probably the one I like most of the two but they're generally pretty aimless and derivative of the band's style. I don't have much of an opinion on the new version of 'Aspirin' but comparing it to the original I don't like how the vocals sound at all, and 'Heaven' - pretty much like everything else here - is just too slow and meandering.
|Daughter of the Moon Goddess|
|Author||Sue Lynn Tan|
|Genre||Chinese mythology, fantasy|
Hello, everyone, and welcome back to a new edition of Book Review! Today, I will be taking a look at Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan!
Last year, after I had finished Iron Widow, Amazon tossed this one at me in my recommendations. I was intrigued by the cover art alone (as I am a person who judges books by their covers), and after consuming media such as the aforementioned Iron Widow and Netflix's Over the Moon, which also incorporates the Chinese legend of moon goddess Chang'e, I was really looking forward to this one coming out. I got my grubby hands on it a couple days after my birthday, so let's dive in, shall we?
Daughter of the Moon Goddess follows the daughter of Chang'e, Xingyin. She and her mother (and a handful of devoted servants) are living on the moon, in exile, after Chang'e took the immortality elixir from the Celestial Emperor. Xingyin is kept a secret from the other gods of the Celestial Kingdom, however, when her magic powers flare up unexpectedly, she is forced to leave her mother behind on the moon and flee to the Celestial Kingdom below, where she must hide herself away as an ordinary servant girl. Moving from abusive household to serving in the Celestial Palace to fighting in the Celestial Army, Xingyin learns much about the world she could only watch in her childhood, meeting helpful allies, dangerous foes, potential love interests that hide secrets just like she does. She vows to herself to find a way to end her mother's exile to the moon so they can both live in peace without fear of the Celestial Emperor, and thusly, her journey begins.
Is it too early to call Book of the Year? I don't think so. I've loved this book since the second week of January, when I first read it. I can still remember it now- I started reading it while I was eating my lunch before going to work and thinking "hey, this is pretty good", and when I got home from work, "book good" turned into "feverishly reading until two in the morning on a Friday night." I was maybe 50 pages in that afternoon, and I ended up finishing the rest of the book that night. It's seriously that good. This is one book that truly deserves the adjective "breathtaking", as this book is a whirlwind journey from start to finish. Xingyin is an amazing protagonist. She never gives up, and her burning determination and kindness endear her to the reader immediately. I was rooting for her the entire way through, and I loved watching her grow and learn more, whether that be fighting and combat, magic, or legends and myths of the Celestial Kingdom. Settings in the book are vivid and rich, as are characters, creatures, and battles. The romances are sweet and well-developed, and I can easily find myself rooting for either of the two love interests. I can't say enough good things about this book- it's got it all. If you're put off by the sound of romance, there are plenty of battle scenes for you, and exploration and adventure.
I have one single gripe about the book, and it's minor and petty. If you read my title card up there, you'll see that it's 500+ pages long- and it's not a small 500 pages, either. The hardcover is MASSIVE, easily one of the largest I have in my collection, and it's a book that needs to be rested on a surface (a table, a pillow, your legs, etc.) so you don't hurt your hands. If hardcovers aren't your thing, you're in luck, because a paperback has recently arrived as well. Now is a great time to start this book, because its sequel, Heart of the Sun Warrior is coming in November. It's a tidy duology, but unlike Iron Widow, this one can stand on its own and doesn't have a sequel hook cliffhanger at the end.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess is a smashing supernova in the glittering starfield that's been 2022's Asian mythology releases, from The Girl Who Fell Into the Sea to the Book of Tea duology, and this is one book that you can't pass up. I know that page number can be intimidating, but trust me, you'll be devouring this book as it is impossible to put down no matter what. If you only read one book this year, PLEASE make it Daughter of the Moon Goddess. I promise you wont' regret it. And hey, once you finish it, you'll probably make it two books with Heart of the Sun Warrior.
That's all for me this time, readers! Check back in next time for a fresh Graphic Novel Review!
A Report on the Effectiveness of Power-Ups
Welcome back, troops! For this month, headquarters decided to get a little retro on us. This month, we're going to be looking at two power-ups from the Super Mario Land series.
The first power-up we're going to look at is Sarasaland's (legally distinguishable from the Fire Flower) plant, the Superball Flower. First appearing in Super Mario Land, the Superball Flower turns Mario into Superball Mario, which gives him the power to throw Superballs. Now, Superballs may look identical to fireballs at a glance, but there are some key differences. For one thing, unlike Fire Mario, who can throw multiple fireballs at once, Superball Mario can only throw one Superball at a time (presumably due to technical limitations of the Game Boy). This means that the player has to be a little more careful with their Superballs and can't use them to clear multiple enemies in front of Mario easily. In addition, unlike fireballs, which bounce in a straight line, Superballs bounce at an angle. If you don't hit the enemy with the first strike, it'll probably bounce away from it, meaning that you have to have better aim with Superball Mario or you'll miss the enemy in general.
But one thing Superballs have over fireballs is, whereas fireballs can turn enemies into coins, Superballs can collect coins by hitting them! In addition, since they bounce longer then fireballs do, you can, if there's an area with a lot of coins, use the Superballs to collect them. Weirdly though, Superballs actually seem to be weaker than fireballs. With fireballs, most enemies can be split into two categories: can be killed by fireballs, can't be killed by fireballs. The enemies that can be killed are usually killed in one hit. But Superballs seem kind of random in regards to how many are needed to kill enemies, with most early-game enemies taking one hit, and enemies later in the game most taking between two and three. In addition, due to the Game Boy's hardware limitations, you have to be very precise with your aim. There were a lot of times when I'd hit the enemy but, because I didn't hit the right spot for it to register as a hit, the Superball didn't do anything. Also, because Super Mario Land operates with Super Mario Bros. power-up rules, if Mario is hit as Superball Mario he reverts to Small Mario, not Super Mario.
The Superball Flower returned after a long absence in Super Mario Maker 2 as an unlockable power-up found in the story mode after completing Spiny Shell Smashers. Here, Superball Mario functions in basically the same way as in Super Mario Land, except now he can use the Superballs to activate more things, such as lighting Bob-ombs and activating P Switches. Honestly, the Superball Flower is a way cooler power-up in Super Mario Maker 2. In Super Mario Land, the levels aren't really built for the strengths of Superball Mario, so it just comes off as an inferior Fire Mario. In Super Mario Maker 2, levels can be built to the advantage of the more interesting ideas of the Superball Flower, such as the Superballs collecting items Mario can't reach or hitting switches from the right angle. It's a pretty cool addition to the game, especially since it had looked like the Superball Flower was lost to time, and I think Super Mario Maker 2 really gives the Superball Flower the ability to shine.
The next power-up we will look at is the Carrot. The Carrot made its first and so far only appearance during Mario's quest to retake his castle from that bastion of capitalist excess, Wario. Found in ? Blocks and in the Bonus Games, the Carrot transforms Mario into Bunny Mario. As Bunny Mario, Mario gains access to a jump that's takes him to about double the height of his original jump, but, as a tradeoff, he loses the ability to spin jump. That in amongst itself is pretty cool, because the jump being that much higher means that Mario can easily reach the highest of ledges. But that's not the main event of this power-up. No, the main event of this power-up is that it also provides Mario with a near infinite hover, allowing Mario to easily glide over most of the obstacles in the game. In addition. Mario controls fantastic in the hover and he moves slowly when moving right or left, making it very easy to control where Mario lands.
Serving as the flight equivalent for Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, the Carrot is one of the strongest flight power-ups in the entire Super Mario series. In fact, it might honestly be the strongest outside of the P-Wing, since you can easily skip huge segments of levels without really any danger of hitting an enemy. Also, since you can hover for so long and because you have so much control while you do, there really isn't any threat of bottomless pits like there can be with the Super Leaf and Cape Feather. To be honest, using the Carrot can kind of make the game boring, because, as long as you have it, most levels really won't be a challenge. The Carrot has never made another appearance in any other Mario games (outside of a few cameos here and there), and I can kind of see why. In a series that has a lot flight-based power-ups, each with their own gimmicks, Bunny Mario, while effective, is kind of bland. I don't think it really needs to make an appearance without some sort of change to what it does.
With that, another report is finished. I hope you'll read next month's report when we look at another power-up, to hopefully discover power-ups that can help us in our eternal war against the Koopa Kingdom!
All-Time Smash Merit Ranking
Welcome back to Smash Merit rankings! Today our rankings will have its 50th addition. Albeit today’s issue will technically feature 4 characters for the price of two. As for our non-shroom sections… they were Yoshi, Greninja, and Fox.
We shall begin with the fighters of many, many, faces. And in some cases, the bane of many people’s broken Smash fighter dreams.
|Fighter Number||51, 52, and 53|
|Fighter Group||Smash 4 Veterans|
|Game of Origin||Wii Sports (Nintendo Wii, 2006 (US/JP/EU)|
The Miis even before their eligibility for Smash has always been a very varied reaction amongst Nintendo fans. Many of the more casual crowd and/or those who weren’t so inclined tend to thought they had a charm of being able to have a more simpler, cartoony version of yourself, friends, and family. While those of the hardcore crowd tended to dislike the attempt at catering to people who have never played video games before since they were fearing it’d mean Nintendo would be dumbing down many of its hit franchises making them a little too accessible. Wherever you feel about the direction Nintendo went with the Wii, it’s certain that the Miis were quite central to the that console’s success. As many of that console’s best sellers starred the Miis in some fashion. Games like Wii Sports (And its sequels/re-releases), Wii Play, Wii Fit, and more let folks have simplified fun with the motion controls of the Wii remote and in some cases get a little exercise in their living rooms.
It only got a little more dicier as Miis started heading into games that didn’t star them such as the Mario spin-offs, and inevitably with games with online play. The advent of people abusing the Mii maker by creating effigies of some of the most evil people to ever live, take them online in such a way that's abuse whether or not it's just a "joke" to be playing as such figures. Which became a huge part of why any online game with playable Miis on it got a fair share of worry. And if there was one game that people did not want to see that happen to. That was Smash Bros. Miis would miss the cut for Brawl, but when it came time for Smash 4 there was this sneaking suspicion that it was inevitable. Early on, we got some signs not only in stages that would be in the game but some of our first newcomers heavily clued us in. Villager meant that avatar characters were on the table (Even if you can’t customize Villager) plus Animal Crossing is a much more peaceful series then any previous franchise in Smash. But what clued us in even more, was the inclusion of the Wii Fit Trainer.
As I mentioned in our very first batch of characters, the Wii Fit Trainer took everyone by surprise. A character so insignificant that if there were every any support threads for the character, chances are it was a joke on the part of the thread creator. All the trainers do in Wii Fit is instruct you while you perform yoga. There was no suspicion whatsoever that they’d be a candidate for a Smash roster. And I repeat once again, you could choose to ignore the yoga sections altogether if you so wish. The true playable characters of Wii Fit were of course, your Mii(s). So if Wii Fit Trainer is going to get in, she obviously had to have grabbed the Miis coattails in order to get there. There were people who still tried to deny the possibility of Miis becoming playable in Smash even trying to pinpoint the Mii in the Find Mii cage or in the background of Wuhu Island as a deconfirmation. They’d be in for a rude awakening as the Miis were announced… as we got an epic fight between Reggie and Iwata that transitioned into the introduction of the Mii fighters.
We were shown that the Miis wouldn’t just be a fighter, they’d be 3 fighters. And besides that, they and Palutena would be the only characters to have entirely different moves for each of their custom specials. A gimmick from Smash 4 that gave every base game character 2 more variations of each of their special moves. Meaning in terms of special move, there were a varying number of combinations to pick your Mii’s fighting style. And the Miis were essentially the biggest users of Smash 4’s unique gimmick (Though YMMV if it was one you were interested in, the competitive scene didn’t turn out to be keen on the idea. Some even banning Miis or restricting them to their default 1111 moveset).
The 3 Mii Fighters basically represented some of the more common archetypes in a Smash roster.
First is the Brawler, which naturally is the most basic but most up close and personal. The fighters that fight up close and personal using their bare fists and/or kicks to knock opponents out. This archetype being the most common out of any of the Smash roster. The Mii Brawler happens to be my favorite of the three to play as.
Next is the Swordsman. While sure to get more groans from the “Too many swords” crowd, it’s nonetheless an important archetype for the Smash series. With so many sword fighters in video games, there’s nothing wrong with people who want to see themselves or play as other real people themselves arriving in battle with swords of their own.
And lastly the Gunner. The archetype that relies on projectiles (Or otherwise known what annoys people the most in online play). If you feel that you’d prefer to fight at a distance, the Gunner would be the choice for your Mii. As I’ll mention soon, the Gunner probably got the more interesting Mii costumes for a couple of reasons.
I think one important note about the Mii Fighters, is they are sort of the first time officially we play as the game’s multi-man team. SSB64 had the Fighting Polygon Team, Melee had the Wire frames, and Brawl had the Alloys. In both Smash 4 and Ultimate though, they are now the Miis in your library. Putting a whole interesting twist to the Cruel modes when a Mii of your Grandma could appear and kick your ass. This might even be the reason that the Miis are given the Smash symbol. They’re technically the only Smash originals to make it as playable, even if course their origin is not Smash Bros. itself. (Though one thing I’ve sort of wanted for the Miis, is the option to choose their victory theme out of all the franchise themes in the game. The default would still be the fanfare version of the Smash game’s theme but otherwise you could give the themes to Miis that are wearing costumes to resemble characters from said franchise.)
Though speaking of the costumes, I want to make those the last thing to end off this segment. As Mii Costumes gave another option for characters that just unfortunately couldn’t make the cut. Now the Mii costumes garnered something of a controversial reception. For some, your character being a Mii costume was worse then the character not being in the game. Cause a Mii Fighter costume to them may have been like they just saw their dreams die right in front of them. However, that was never the intention of the Mii costumes at least from Nintendo and Sakurai’s point of view. They are meant to be more of an honorable mention, and in some cases a way for even unlikely fighters to get some representation in Smash. I’ll get over some notable ones from each of the three.
For the Brawler there was Skull Kid, Toad, Callie, Spring Man, Knuckles the Echidna, Tifa Lockhart, Creeper (Minecraft), Heihachi, Bomberman, and Shantae. I feel of these characters Toad is the only one that should have already gotten into Smash in some form. I will still contend that the Mario franchise representation in the roster even with how big it is, especially if you include the subsidies. It’s not yet quite complete without an actual Toad, Peach’s neutral special be damned. Spring Man probably would have gotten in if ARMs had gotten a rep in the base game but while Spring Man is front and center for ARMS it made sense to go with a different character if they didn’t want to suddenly raise expectation of who could be coming next (Because say if Spring Man did get playable, people would be outright in droves expecting Waluigi soon). I will say Skull Kid, Knuckles, Heihachi, Bomberman, and Shantae would be cool choices as well but I understand why they couldn’t quite make the cut. Tifa is probably the most likely should FF7 grow to having 3 characters, though I would much rather a different Final Fantasy get a chance to be represented. Particularly one that debuted on when the series was still Nintendo exclusive.
For the Swordsman there was Rex, Zero, Lloyd, Travis Touchdown, The Dragonborn, Aerith, and Dante. I think Rex like Spring Man would have gotten in had Xenoblade 2 made it into the base roster, but having a Pyra/Mythra duo works just fine representing the game too. I also know the Rex costume was only available to those who bought the first Fighter’s Pass. And I didn’t quite pull on that, having bought each fighter individually. Both Travis and Dante came out as some of the more tragic reveals since there were many hoping they’d somehow make their way into Smash. The latter specifically since Dante was considered one of the top possibilities for another Capcom character. The others could have certainly been interesting choices as well, though none of which I have a particular attachment to.
And lastly the Gunner, who by far got the most interesting set of costumes. Cause the Gunners could be Geno, Tails, Megaman X, Proto Man, Sans, Cuphead, Vault Boy, Barret, and Doomguy/Doom Slayer (Heh, I guess in a way this still became the Super FX set as mentioned in my coverage of Fox). We have to say that Sans and Cuphead both caught people off guard as there was no way in hell either would be fully playable. So them getting to be playable in Smash still felt like something to be celebrated. Vault Boy was just hilarious. X and Proto Man would both be solid choices if Megaman got a 2nd character. Poor Geno fans though, they had to have suffered during Ultimate’s speculation period. Not only was Geno in the infamous Grinch “leak”, but there was a solid amount of hope when the costume did not return with the Dragon Quest Hero. Only for it to feel like Sephiroth outright murdered Geno’s chances the same way he did to Aerith's life. And on the more personal side, yeah it does hurt a little that Tails is still a Mii costume. But I take it with stride, though it helps that the Tails costume came pretty quick alongside Joker. I wasn’t strung along hoping for too much longer. That said, I think Tails will have a decent shot whenever the next Smash rolls around. I actually wouldn’t be surprised of multiple Sonic characters other then just Sonic himself make it. 3rd Party barriers have gone down so quickly between Brawl, Smash 4, and Ultimate. I could see Tails coming alongside any combination of Knuckles, Dr. Eggman, and/or Shadow. If Sephiroth made it, Tails has a legit shot. And the EGM April Fools issue will have fully come into fruition if/when it does.
So between being a way to bring in more casuals to play Nintendo games, a customizable character in not just name and face, an officially playable form of the Multi-Man fighters, and a way for some characters to earn an honorable mention. I feel the Miis hold an important role in Smash history and I hope they continue to stay going forward. The Miis aren’t quite as prominent as they are compared to the Wii era, heck even in Nintendo Switch sports they aren’t the default option for what made them famous in the first place. But I’m one of those that think the Miis certainly have a decent charm that allows you to be yourself in Smash to fight or team up with your favorite characters. And even if Miis end up being phased out at some point, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new sort of customizable character take their gimmick in allowing fighters that couldn’t make the cut get some form of representation. I think it’s far too late now to just put that genie back in the bottle.
And now we transition from the (mostly) happy-go-lucky avatar characters, to a king of evil…
|Fighter Group||Melee Veterans|
|Franchise||Legend of Zelda|
|Game of Origin||The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64,1998 (US/JP/EU)|
In almost every Legend of Zelda game, there’s always an evil force that Link is destined to save the land of Hyrule from. As just like how every generation in the Zelda universe has a green-tuniced hero, and a magical princess. There’s a demonic evil that seeks to rule with an iron fist. We should note that of course the Ganondorf in Smash is not the Ganon of the original games.
There have been at least 5 different Links playable in the Smash series (OoT Link in SSB64 and Melee, Young Link in Melee and Ultimate, Twilight Princess Link in Brawl and at least partially Smash 4, Toon Link since Brawl, and BOTW Link in Ultimate), as well as 3 Zelda’s (OoT in Melee (And Ultimate if you count Sheik), Twilight Princess Zelda in Brawl and Smash 4, and A Link to the Past Zelda in Ultimate) but only two kinds of Ganondorf. He originated, and came back in Ultimate as his Ocarina of Time incarnation. While Brawl and Smash 4 featured the Twilight Princess Ganondorf. Ocarina of Time is also the first time Ganon was in a more humanized form in the Zelda series as before he was a giant evil pig monster with a trident. So while the character of Ganon is just as old as the series itself, the one we get in Smash is credited to Ocarina of Time as the debut rather then all Ganons entirely.
The odd thing is of course, is despite being an incarnation of the big bad of THE Legend of Zelda series, is that his moveset in Smash at its core is not based on any kind of moves he does in the games. Even with the big sword he’s given in Ultimate that’s been requested for a while he didn’t exactly use it in the games outside of a tech demo video cutscene for the Nintendo Gamecube. Instead, they somehow made him a clone of none other then Captain Falcon. Only being far slower, though much more powerful. There’s no other instance like this in the Smash series where a character from one franchise is heavily based on another from an entirely different franchise. I won’t say it’s out of character for Ganondorf to smash the heck out of his opponents like he can in Smash, but it’s still so odd that one of Nintendo’s biggest baddies has been stuck to being a semi-clone to Captain Falcon since 2002. It’s part of the reason there’s probably a fair bit of Zelda fans that could get behind another Ganon getting in like say the pig Ganon from the original game just so Ganon can be more faithfully represented in Smash they'd probably even take "Toon" Ganondorf as at least the two swords might bring something new to a roster filled with other sword users.
It’s not that the Ganon we do get in Smash isn’t fun, having such a tank at your disposal can be satisfying. Though Ganondorf’s trade-off of speed for strength hasn’t exactly been satisfactory for those at the competitive scene. Ganondorf having been pretty consistently among the lower characters in the tier list in every game he’s been in. So Ganondorf more likely then not is going to be a character you play purely for fun rather then rely on to win against someone of equal or better then you. Many of his moves are slow enough to predict, you really have to catch someone off guard if you ever want to land a Warlock Punch. At least with a Falcon punch, Falcon’s speed often can help him rush up and try to land one in the air if the Falcon player can predict how fast an opponent will fall. But the Warlock Punch often can only punish things like a broken shield or a failed rest attempt from Jigglypuff. And Ganondorf is always going to struggle with many characters that have a quick way of moving across the stage. A Ganondorf player always having to hope a more speedier character gets too cocky and ends up on the receiving end of Ganondorf’s stronger moves. As otherwise a speedier character could simply rack up the damage over time while Ganondorf struggles to keep up. And unlike other heavies like Bowser, King Dedede, K. Rool, or Ridley, Ganondorf doesn’t have any kind of projectile he can use to try to punish those trying to run away from him. Some have suggested Ganondorf’s projectile should be the light ball that you can tennis ball back in the first phase of the Ocarina of Time boss fight. It’s a move that could backfire on him, but then again so can Dedede’s gordos.
Ganondorf is obviously one of the most deserving characters to be in Smash, but his legacy in Smash has made him seem like he’s more so Captain Falcon’s grandpa rather than the Face of Evil he is in Hyrule.
Now as for the rankings, the Miis I feel have a strong enough pedigree. Even if they may not be as prominent as they once were. They are still solidly a Nintendo staple since their debut in Nintendo. I will say they probably don’t deserve to be higher then a majority of the Mario characters. But I think they have enough going for them still to be above even the most Nintendo-centric 3rd Party. So I’m putting them between Princess Peach and Mega Man
As for Ganondorf, he’s with most of the other major Nintendo antagonists, but is the lowest out of him, King Dedede, Ridley, K. Rool, and Mewtwo for not exactly having a moveset that derived from him. While he has a big sword in Ultimate, he still at his core is this strange situation of him being a stronger, slower clone of a character from another franchise. His status as the main villain of the Zelda franchise at least keeps him just in the Top 20 for now. If Ganondorf had a moveset that felt more like him he could potentially be closer to Bowser. But until Ganon breaks off ever further from Captain Falcon, he’ll remain where he is for me.
|1. Mario||21. Mr. Game & Watch||41. Mythra|
|2. Link||22. Sonic the Hedgehog||42. ROB|
|3. Pikachu||23. Sora||43. Min Min|
|4. Donkey Kong||24. Bowser Jr.||44. Byleth|
|5. Kirby||25. Olimar||45. Ice Climbers|
|6. Luigi||26. Fox||46. Wii Fit Trainer|
|7. Wario||27. Rosalina & Luma||47. Chrom|
|8. Yoshi||28. Zero Suit Samus||48. Dr. Mario|
|9. Bowser||29. Toon Link||49. Dark Pit|
|10. Peach||30. Inkling||50. Piranha Plant|
|11. Mii Fighters||31. Snake|
|12. Mega Man||32. Shulk|
|13. Pac-Man||33. Pit|
|14. Diddy Kong||34. Ness|
|15. Banjo & Kazooie||35. Captain Falcon|
|16. King Dedede||36. Jigglypuff|
|17. Mewtwo||37. Duck Hunt|
|18. Ridley||38. Greninja|
|19. King K. Rool||39. Steve|
|20. Ganondorf||40. Lucas|
What makes this location special is that it houses the largest play area in the brand, and features unique menu items sold in this store alone. I figured, since I live right by it, I can allow you all to experience this one-of-a-kind waste of time vicariously through me, my continuous gift to you, so should you one day come to Orlando you can use your minimal time on better things like getting into an accident on the I-4.
It calls itself Epic McD, with many articles over-embellishing every detail of the place, acting like it’s mind-blowing that a McDonald’s uses a real oven, despite actual reviews across many aggregator sites being pretty consistent with their negative views. Once the World’s Largest McDonald’s, with no additional qualifiers to make up ground for the one in Taiwan maybe now being bigger, it was every kid’s dream of what any McDonald’s would look like. Opening in 1976, it was closed for demolition and renovation in 2015, opening up next door in 2016 as the larger one we can see today. No longer featuring a bowling alley or other attractions, it instead has a video arcade that looks impressive out of context, but is a dime a dozen here in Orlando when every other bowling alley, strip mall, and restaurant has one in the area, if not a bigger standalone arcade or arcade bar nearby. Any and all of these logistical technicalities only seem to be filler on aggregate tourism websites and don’t actually matter; how impressive is it that there’s multiple floors when basically any chain restaurant or store in the downtown of any respectable city will have the same feats? What actually matters is the menu they hold that no one else has.
When you walk in you are immediately met with a mess of tables and chairs with obvious tourists milling around, everyone completely unaware of what to even be doing, diddling around the numerous soda fountains as if they’ve never been to a 7-Eleven before. To the right is the unique food prep area, visible behind some panes of glass to ogle at them making pizzas and pasta. As you keep walking you come upon a series of self-service ordering kiosks where all of the tourists stare in awe of technology that they can find at basically any McDonald’s or Wawa, perhaps only breathtaking in the sense that they are needlessly large obelisks. Yet, despite there being like eight of these things with five of them not being occupied by an active customer, mere seconds after I approached one did some ugly lady and her ugly kid come stand within a foot of me and breathe their covid dirt onto me, sighing heavily as if impatient and inconvenienced that I was looking through the menu. After her third sigh she decided she wasn’t being obvious enough and told her daughter something like ‘this shouldn’t be taking so long’, I honestly don’t remember, but it compelled me to turn to her to explain and direct her that there are MULTIPLE open kiosks where she can go if only she was capable of looking further than her face, gestures that she apparently could not recognize as she stared at me like a captured sea bass and remained immobile. Nevertheless, I persisted, with my noble quest to photograph the exorbitant prices I was about to pay.
Navigating the place is like a more annoying game of Frogger, dodging wild children running around and screaming while their parents, at most, just excuse it with ‘oh, he’s just excited because we were driving all day’ as if I didn’t also just survive a 55 minute drive through only 15 miles of road, as if letting your children run with reckless abandon into strangers in public is but a mere inconvenience for me to have cursed you with out of my own will and pained existence. While I’m busy playing an unwanted game of touch football with a dozen kids, I also have to watch out for every single adult too who checked their spatial awareness at the door and meander around the building like Victorian ghosts who follow paths of buildings no longer present. You can say the same about many places, but there was just something special about this McDonald’s that held people in a state of unknowing; an attraction that felt familiar, but with minor gimmicks promised and waiting to be found, sometimes remaining hidden due to covid protocols that got manipulated as cost-cutting measures or because you forgot that breakfast isn’t 24/7 yet.
There still exists registers operated by real humans, but the space between the kiosks and them is sprawling and just feels awkward walking over towards because the only other people heading in that direction are old people walking past the covid sneeze guard to ask why their credit card isn’t working. Otherwise that space is occupied by people waiting for their food, glomming into an anxiously-shifting mass of bodies curiously looking at the pizza prep area, a Blob I joined momentarily until 4 minutes passed, alerting me that this is going to take a while and I should explore. The rest of the first floor is seating, nevermind the dessert bar that appears abandoned and only serves as a desolate display that they sure do have cakes. Traveling upstairs shifts the game to Q*Bert, dodging entire families that are barreling down the stairs interlocked across the whole width with less visual acuity than if they had their eyes closed, sometimes taking a moment to stand still or randomly change direction. Once to the top you can find access to the regular children’s Playplace, as well as a fairly well-stocked arcade. Ultimately, I chose to not partake in the games, partially because any review of them would not be unique to the establishment and just be ‘wow they sure had games here’, but what I can say is that playing them requires a scannable card that didn’t have much signage or information on how to actually acquire, aside from the little machine for it with contradictory information on a sheet of paper at the meager and unattended prize desk. I poked around that for a few more minutes until I figured my order could be ready, venturing back downstairs into the waiting void for what actually was another 15+ minutes.
The McDonald’s Pizza was an attempt to hop on the Pizza Hut train and offer a product aimed at the whole family as a dinner option, starting in just a handful of stores in the late 1980s and then expanding into many more stores by the 1990s. Numerous logistical problems that should’ve seemed obvious began taking over, including the necessary wait time to produce a pizza and the price incurred being much greater than what a Big Mac has, along with fierce marketing competition labeling them ‘McFrozen’ and a ‘McStake’, resulting in the McPizza disappearing from nearly every store, down to just one location by the time the 2020s rolled around. Turning their misfortune around, exclusivity and nostalgia wins the long game and now McDonald’s Pizza has become one of those quirky sought-after touristy foodie things. There is at least one reader out there (talk) who has requested I try this, which is more requests than I usually get, so an obligation was set.
The Build Your Own Pizza base starts at $8.99 for its only size of 10”, which would be considered a small or medium at most pizza places. Choices for the sauce are tomato sauce, marinara, alfredo, and olive oil & garlic; choices for meats are pepperoni, crumbled sausage, grilled chicken, canadian bacon, and bacon bits; other toppings include onion, spinach, green pepper, tomato, olives, mushrooms, jalapeno, and pineapples; cheese options include cheddar jack, mozzarella, and shaved parmesan. For my pizza, I chose pizza sauce, mozzarella, bacon bits, black olives, and pepperoni, with the two meat toppings costing an extra $1.49 each bringing the total to $11.97, which is comparable to their 20pc McNuggets now and cheaper than many other pizza places that offer the same size, quality and choices withholding. As it is pizza it did take about 25 minutes total to receive it, which is exactly how long I think it should take for a pizza to be completed, but the nature of it being McDonald’s made it feel like it took forever. They have generated a perception and desire for instantaneous food receival and this is a food concept that just simply can’t provide. What are options to mitigate this? Any respectable pizza shop has one of those warming display cabinets where fresh single slices can be seen and bought, so why not that? Does it fly in the face of pure customization? Does it create too much unnecessary waste?
In true New York style, it is incredibly thin, with a very dusty bottom that is telltale of a brick oven that you can clearly see them using in-store. Satisfyingly hot and gooey when it’s fresh, and as it cools the quality predictably decreases as literally any pizza would. I’d recommend getting several veggie toppings, partly because they don’t cost any more, but because they’re a bit skimpy so if you get several of them it compensates. Four of my eight slices only technically had pepperoni on them and the bacon bits seemed to be clustered in one spot before having a couple tossed around elsewhere, making my $1.49 expense for each start to feel not worth it. There were a few toppings that were out of stock, which may hamstring your ideal vision as the topping options in general feel kinda weird and offbase, like they transitioned a sub or sandwich prep station into a pizza one. I can’t say that this was a bad pizza, it really wasn’t; it definitely satisfied a pizza itch I had, but there are just so SO many more options out there that are simply better in every way, whether it’s cost efficiency, options, quality and freshness of ingredients, it only ever makes sense to get a McDonald’s Pizza for the gimmick of having gotten one, and there is no reason to ever return and get one again.
At least it reheats well.
While pizza is one thing that has playful debate over what toppings are better, pasta is divisive and sacred, and what McDonald’s offered was lots of things that you certainly could put in pasta but in ways that just made it odd. Starting at $10.99, you choose your pasta as either cavatappi, linguini, tortellini, or ravioli; your sauce as marinara, bolognese, alfredo, basil pesto, or olive oil & garlic; meat options as chicken, canadian bacon, and bacon; and assorted toppings of olives, onions, green peppers, tomato, broccoli, jalapeno, mushroom, and shaved parmesan. If this sounds like the pasta toppings are just retrofitted pizza toppings, that were already retrofitted sandwich toppings, then you’d be correct. My selection was one of both caution and curiosity, wanting to see what some of this nonsense entails but still end up with something I can eat because it’s costing me so much: tortellini, marinara, diced green peppers, black olives, sliced mushroom, and broccoli. I am aware that the differences in these options may provide vastly different experiences, but whether I am up to trying it again is up to other factors.
The first and immediate reaction is that it smelled really bad, like, REALLY bad. The stench forced me back in time to when I was basically kidnapped to play soccer as a kid an hour away after school and we had to eat dinner out of an off-brand Tupperware container that probably wasn’t tested to see if it could contain hot food without leaching chemicals into it and the combination of that and the ups-and-downs of driving through hills would give me the worst motion sickness that I believe anyone on Earth has ever experienced. That is what it smelled like, childhood trauma. I appreciate the piece of bread provided, which appears to be their pizza crust with some herbs sprinkled on, as that was pretty alright. Overwhelmingly sweet, with way too much basic Italian seasoning, and I think it may be the marinara sauce overwhelming the entire dish. A shame, a disgrace, made me sick in my heart and stomach. I tried to like it, I really did, tried to convince myself ‘this is a warm meal, remember those? you haven’t had one of those in days, maybe weeks’, but I couldn’t do it. Which, notably, it is hot, exceedingly hot, remaining scalding even after my 40 minute ride safe inside the plastic to-go box that likely melted some extra flavor into it. As the smell rapidly permeated throughout the apartment it also began making my family retch in stomach-churning and existential horror, likely permanently scarring my Italian sister-in-law who was once cordial with me and likely no more for bringing this curse into her home.
The real magic is with how you can watch them make it at the bar they set up, and it’s genuine boiled pasta, which seems shocking in a sense in that 1) they actually do it, and 2) that they had to show that they actually do it.
Breakfast food is my favorite food, it’s a wonderful blend of sweet and savory, an excuse for bread and sugar, utilization of fruit in an inclusive way, and among my favorites are waffles, so this was honestly what I was looking forward to the most.
Options include blueberries, strawberries, chocolate chips, bananas, then whether you want whipped cream, butter, honey, syrup. Pretty basic and nothing adventurous.
The waffle itself was honestly pretty good, a crispy exterior and soft interior, just impressively done; I just know I can go across the street or down the road and get something of comparable quality if not better for EASILY 75% of the price. The massive disappointment with this, though, was their very obvious use of a generic bulk glazed strawberry product for the fruit; like, I know I shouldn’t have been expecting anything more out of a fast food place but it’s the same nasty strawberry topping I used to plop onto frozen cheesecake slices at the pizza shop I worked at. It made me think the thought of having taken Perkin’s for granted, and that’s a thought I don’t think I should’ve ever been forced to think. The syrup provided was VERY poor quality, like I understand how cheaper syrups are made with other ingredients more desirable for their cost efficiency and I’m not expecting McDonald’s to be providing 100%. But, I’ll reiterate, the waffle itself was exceptional, just unfortunate that the available toppings were sub-par; the waffle iron and batter they use deserve to exist in a better establishment.
I wound up visiting this place a total of four times over the span of a couple months, all in 2022, and disappointingly the dessert case and ice cream bar was closed every single time, with absolutely no sign of life in it, indicating that it was truly shut down. Many food news and entertainment websites speak wonders of their ice cream bar with sooooo many flavors and options, and it would’ve been so nice to see it actually open despite it being such a bizarre thing to be in awe of barrels of ice cream to be hand-scooped when there’s much more phenomenal places scattered around the city that provide homemade scoops, or even just the plethora is good ice cream places with more presence than Publix. There’s even a Twistee Treat like a 4 minute walk down the road from here! Luckily they still produced (shipped in) a few of their unique desserts, namely the cakes.
I spent $5.29 for a slice of the Peanut Butter Explosion cake, but they also have what they call a Chocolate Corruption cake, a naming trend that I’m very fond of and I believe more places should do it. Excessively rich, which is on par for pretty much every single ready-made frozen cake that gets shipped in and thawed like what every other restaurant provides. It’s a bit lower quality than what you’d expect from The Cheesecake Factory, but is also nearly half the price, which is likely why you’re going to McDonald’s.
I also need to say that I got a large Premium Hot Chocolate, something I have gotten from McDonald’s before. I don’t expect high quality and fully expect them to be using a water base, but this was by far the worst hot chocolate I’ve had from anywhere ever. It was so watery, so bland, so tasteless, so useless, and so disappointing. I was hoping that requesting whipped cream would help add some richness to it but it was like multiplying something by zero. I will forever reconsider any thought passing through my mind again when I see hot chocolate on the menu of a fast food place, and will likely err on the side of just making it myself at home due to how shook to the core I was with how awful this hot chocolate was.
There are far better places to eat pizza while you play games, one being right nearby and other cool concepts around the city, with better drinks to be had. The consolation here is that this McDonald’s is geared more towards young kids and family fun, and while maybe there are an infinite amount more places in Orlando to take your kids, this is probably the cheapest option to get them fed, tired, and sated so you can handle them when you go do things that you actually want to do instead.
What is important to say has less to do with this McDonald’s and more with the nature of this area, it is highly reliant on tourists and is deceptively predatory, with prices on everything being absurd and thin gimmicks hiding scams around every corner. If you are staying at a hotel nearby and craving pizza you can certainly find menus for places around but they will not list prices for the most part and will try to swindle you in some way, whether through deceptive marketing or straight-up scumbag delivery drivers. I-Drive is not the place to expect a fair deal, and the fact that this McDonald’s produces consistent McDonald’s-tier quality is a massive disappointment for how hyped this place is, but a life-line for unaware tourists just trying to feed a cranky family. That said, I don’t want to give too many favors to this, as civilization exists beyond I-Drive just a few minutes away, whether by Uber, scooter, or some flavor of public transport. Options exist outside of your immediate vision, and people visiting the parks need to learn that their experiences would be heightened with more money left to enjoy more if they set their sights beyond things handed to them.
|The 'Shroom: Issue 186|
|Staff sections||Staff Notes • The 'Shroom Spotlight|
|Features||Fake News • Fun Stuff • Palette Swap • Pipe Plaza • Critic Corner • Strategy Wing|