The 'Shroom:Issue 118/Critic Corner

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Director's Notes

Written by: Hypnotoad (talk)

Issue100 anton.png

Woo! Happy 2017! We did it! Stay up, stay strong, stay ready for whatever surprises are in store this year. Take it for all it's got and come out better and wiser than before. While you're at it, take a break every now and then to check out good ol' Critic Corner. Like our writers strive to do, be sure to live your life with a critical eye, because not everyone else will. Especially my dad on Facebook.

Also, Nabber (talk) is here with a section exclusive to this month, so read it while it's fresh!

Thanks again for voting for Half-Baked Reviews, it makes me really proud :D Be sure to keep reading and voting for your favorite sections, we really take pride in seeing people enjoy our work.

Section of the Month

Critic Corner SECTION OF THE MONTH
Place Section Votes % Writer
1st Anton's Half-Baked Reviews 8 44.44% Hypnotoad (talk)
2nd Lord Bowser's Inside Story 6 33.33% Lord Bowser (talk)
3rd Character Review 2 11.1% Yoshi876 (talk)



Reviews

Enter another dimension with Lord Bowser!
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Fall in love and/or don't (we hope you do, Valetine's is soon)
[read more]

Christmas is over but it's still winter!
[read more]

For a low low payment of $10 you can enjoy PowerKamek's review!
[read more]

Top notch review from Yoshi876, what'd ya expect?
[read more]
Opinion Pieces

Get your New Year, New News right here!
[read more]

Snow day? Check out these films Nabber recommends!
[read more]

Help work off your holiday fat by giving Anton your snacks!
[read more]



Lord Bowser's Inside Story

Written by: Lord Bowser (talk)

Greetings, 'Shroom readers. This is Lord Bowser, still reeling from the traumatic experience that was Super Paper Mario, here to present you all with a new edition of Lord Bowser's Inside Story!

Today, I'll be covering Super Mario 3D World. Since it's a direct sequel to Super Mario 3D Land, it should come as no surprise that the postgame content in 3D World is quite similar to that of its predecessor; a new set of worlds for the player to explore after beating Bowser in the main game. However, there are only three (and a half) worlds opened up to the player in 3D World, as opposed to the eight featured in 3D Land. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the levels within those worlds are generally more variable and fun than those of 3D Land, but it's still a relatively small amount of content. Anywho, let's get onto talking about the levels themselves now.

The new worlds that are opened up are known as World Star, World Mushroom, World Flower, and World Crown. World Star features original, fairly challenging levels, while Worlds Mushroom and Flower feature difficult remakes of levels found in the main game. World Star is heavily based on Super Mario Galaxy, which is fitting as Rosalina can be unlocked after completing the second level here. However, in order to get to the second level, you'll obviously need to complete the first level; unfortunately, that's easier said than done.

Why does everything rainbow need to be so hellish?
The first level of World Star is known as Rainbow Run, and boy is it a doozy. As you can probably tell from the picture, the majority of the level is spent maneuvering across these rolling platforms. If it was just a few of them, it wouldn't be that bad, but when they comprise most of the solid ground found in the level, they're more than likely to get a few curses out of you. Skipsqueaks, some of them spiky, are frequently found on top of the rolling platforms, making already fairly risky jumps even worse. There's also a lot of trapezes found in between the platforms, making you have to time your launches precisely in order to get to the other side safely. Add in a Plessie section, the Stamp, and Green Stars, and this level can get to be a huge pain in the ass and require many replays despite appearances. I just wonder why does it always have to be rainbow-colored stuff that's particularly difficult in Mario games; Rainbow Road, Rainbow Cruise, Rainbow Run... is Nintendo secretly attacking the LGBT community?


I've never been so scared of animated clouds in my life...

The rest of World Star isn't very notable, but it's a nice way to experiment with your flashy new space waifu. The last level of the world, Cosmic Cannon Cluster, could get painful at times if you're not careful, but it's not at the level of frustration that Rainbow Run is in my opinion. After completing World Star, the player is given access to World Mushroom, the easier of the remix worlds. World Mushroom isn't that challenging overall, but there's one particular level that stands out to me as being a painful experience. Gigantic Seasick Wreck, the sixth level of World Mushroom, is a remix of an earlier level in World 6, known as Spooky Seasick Wreck. The level itself is based on a haunted ship, though ironically has no Boos at all. However, it's still a pretty hard level, as there are Bullies and Ty-Foos working together to push you off of the ships to your death. The wind blasts from the Ty-Foos essentially guarantee death unless you have blocks behind you to hold you back, but having Bullies constantly ramming into you makes staying in a safe spot like that a much harder task than it sounds. Throw in Octoombas pelting you with rocks every few seconds, and this level can easily become a headache to clear fully.

After completing World Mushroom, you're allowed to visit the last full world of the game, World Flower. As expected of the last world, there's a pretty significant difficulty spike here. There are 12 levels total to be found here, the most of any world in the entire series. All of them are challenging in some way, but two specific levels kill me a little bit inside every time I play them; Piranha Creeper Creek after Dark and Honeycomb Skyway.

This could've come straight out of a horror movie. It'd certainly be more fitting there.
Piranha Creeper Creek after Dark is a far more difficult remake of an already relatively challenging level known as Piranha Creeper Creek, found in World 4. As the name suggests, the level is mostly pitch black, making finding your way to the end a pretty tough task. You need to maneuver yourself among enemies known as Piranha Creepers, which are essentially Piranha Plants who had a bit too much Miracle-Gro; they're quite long and spread out over a large area. You also have to be careful not to just run off the edge of the level, as you're moving in a sea of toxic water; this is easier said than done, since as previously stated, the level is almost completely dark. In order to find the Green Stars for this level, you need to light up all of the torches scattered throughout the level using a Fire Flower, a task that's quite difficult to pull off since they're often hidden in the darkest spots in the level or surrounded by Piranha Creepers. All in all, it's a frustrating level that I'd prefer not to replay.


This picture makes no sense. Neither does this level. Why does this exist?

In a similar vein to Piranha Creeper Creek after Dark, Honeycomb Skyway is a remix of an already hard enough level. It takes Honeycomb Starway from World Star (the only remixed level from a special world) and multiplies the already rather high difficulty by at least five. The level is autoscrolling, and the main gimmick here are these honeycomb-shaped platforms that you need to jump across. A lot of the platforms are icy, making the chance of slipping off quite high, or have instakill lava. There's also Venus Fire Traps and other projectile-based enemies constantly shooting at you and making you question your life choices. You also can't forget the inexplicable Fire Bars on top of the icy platforms, making the risk of sliding off a lot higher; you gotta love Nintendo logic. At least the Green Stars here are pretty straightforward and not hidden in easily missable spots, but still, this level is a pretty difficult one to get through without losing at least a few lives in the process. I wish Nintendo decided to remix a different level instead of this, since this level was already a decent enough challenge by itself; it didn't really need the artificial difficulty provided by more gimmicky platforms. It doesn't help that the player likely just played this level, seeing as it comes from World Star; the level is probably still fresh in their minds and just feels repetitive.

Anywho, after beating World Flower, you are given access to... a rocket. Unfortunately, you can't use this rocket until;

  • You have collected every Green Star in every level
  • You have collected every Stamp in every level
  • You have reached the top of the flagpole in every level
  • You have sold your soul to Satan

So yeah, it's one of those "get literally everything"-type deals. Once you've subjected yourself to that torture, you'll be able to board the rocket, giving you access to the half-world known as World Crown. I say "half-world" since it only consists of three levels, but trust me, you'll be quite glad it's only three after reading this.

"Oh, what in hell’s name have I just gotten myself into…"

The main """""attraction""""" of this world is the big crown on top of another crown; the level known as World Crown-Crown, World CrownCrownIcon.png-CrownIcon.pngCrown, or simply Champion's Road. This is the extra hard final level of the game, and it features everything that could potentially make you want to destroy your Wii U. There's single-block platforms, barrages of Boomerang Bros., lots and lots of Dash Panels, Sentry Beams, Fuzzies, Piranha Creepers, literally Satan, and underwater spikes. This level is virtually impossible to clear without the help of a Tanooki Leaf, and even then it's a highly painful level that we need to suffer through in order to earn all five stars for 100% completion. This honestly puts Special 8-Crown from 3D Land to shame; at least that level never legitimately made me want to tear all my hair out. Unfortunately, this isn't the only atrocity World Crown has to offer; there's still two levels left for us to "enjoy". The last two levels in World Crown are a Captain Toad level and a Mystery House. The Captain Toad level, known as Captain Toad's Fiery Finale, actually isn't too bad for one of the last levels in the game; it's tricky but fair, not bullshit like Champion's Road can be. However, the same can hardly be said for the Mystery House found here.

How Mario manages to stay still here, I have no idea.

The last Mystery House of the game, Mystery House Marathon, certainly lives up to its name. There are thirty Green Stars to be found within this level. That means there are thirty challenges, that must all be done at once, ten seconds each, without fail, in order to complete this level. You really don't have any sort of room for error here, since if you mess up on one challenge, you need to do the entire level all over again, regardless of how much progress you might have attained. This almost makes things like the Pit of 100 Trials look tolerable.

Anyway, after completing World Crown, you're finally done with the postgame content for this game. You can finally bask in the glory of your four-star file, never having to worry about playing things like Cha-

wait
uh
...four-star file?
where's the fifth star?

...

...

...

...oh.
...well.

In order to get the fifth star on your 3D World file, you need to complete every level using every character.

That means having to complete every level at least five times.

Every level. Even Rainbow Run, even Honeycomb Skyway, even... Champion's Road.

...yeah. There's a reason why I don't have five stars on any of my 3D World files, and why I have no plans to ever try for it. Anyway, it's time for me to give the postgame content of Super Mario 3D World a final rating. Overall, the Special Worlds and... final challenge of 3D World get...

6.5/10 (D)

The Special Worlds themselves aren't too bad; there's some rather hard-to-swallow difficulty spikes here and there, and Champion's Road is a bit of of a mess overall, but they were generally some pretty fun and challenging levels to play in. However, I knocked off a lot of points for the completely asinine final task given to us; having to complete every level with every character is pretty damn blatant padding, something that really should not be taking place in modern Mario games. I understand that the task can be made easier by having friends play as the other characters with you, but it should be known that many players of this game unfortunately don't have access to that luxury, and fewer still who have friends that can tackle levels such as Champion's Road. This challenge would probably rank a B- or so if it wasn't for this pretty pointless and rather insulting padding thrown at us.

Well, that's my review on the postgame of Super Mario 3D World. Please remember that I will take any requests for games you want me to cover into consideration, as long as your ideas aren't submitted too late into the month. Anyway, this has been Lord Bowser, signing out!



Book Reviews

Written by: FunkyK38 (talk)

Romeo and/or Juliet
ShroomBookReview118.png
Author Ryan North (author), William Shakespeare (author) and various illustrators
Release date 2016
Genre Romance, humor
Pages 476
Available From

Greetings, readers, here I am again with another book review! This month, I shall be reviewing the choose-your-own-path literary classic, Romeo and/or Juliet!

This book is another case of "Judged by the Cover," or rather, by the art on the cover, for me, as the cover art was drawn by the author of one of my favorite graphic novels, Nimona, Noelle Stevenson. So I was intrigued at first sight. I have to say, Romeo and Juliet is not my favorite Shakespeare work, that honor goes to A Midsummer Night's Dream but that's another story for a different day. Our author, Ryan North, is currently writing for Marvel on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and also for Archie Comics on Jughead. Oh, and he also writes a webcomic called Dinosaur Comics, if you've heard of that one. Judging by that list, you can tell this guy is going to turn Shakespeare into Snark-speare.

Onto the book itself! This dude is huge, at a hefty 476 heavy pages, but it comes with a lot of pictures, all of which are printed in a charming monochrome with red accents. Very classy. But the most important thing is the format here! If you grew up with the Choose Your Own Adventure series, like I did in school, then you know how this show works. If you haven't heard of these books, well, here's how they work: You start out the book with the same 3-8 pages of exposition every time. At the end of each chapter, there will be a prompt for you to choose, sometimes one, or two or more, that says "If you want to eat bananas with Donkey Kong, turn to Page 21, or if you want to fly a jetpack with Diddy Kong, turn to page 48." You pick a page, and turn to that page to continue your story. When you reach an ending, you can either let the story end there, or, if you're not satisfied, sometimes the book will give you a chance to retrace your steps to choose a different path. Otherwise, you'll have to either remember what page you were on last, or just start over. The scrambled pages make it so that THAT ONE GUY who decides to read a book by reading the last page (seriously, who does this??) won't spoil the ending for everyone. Or, maybe he will, you never know. But not with this book, trust me. Go ahead and try it, I dare you.

Okay, so let's talk about the story now, shall we? If you've ever taken a high school literature class, or watched a really trope-y TV show with a forbidden love interest, you know how the story goes: Romeo and Juliet are from two families that are at war with each other, and somehow the two fall in love with each other. At the end, though, they both end up dying, in a tragic jump-to-conclusions error, so it's not Shakespeare's happiest work (one of the reasons I'm not a fan. How romantic can it be if they both die? At least in AMND everyone lived, as best I can remember). BUT, with this new format, YOU, the third, secret author, can change it up! You can make it so that Romeo and Juliet don't die. You can have them never even meet. You can have Juliet date a brodude on a island for a little while, if you like. Whatever path you choose, it's all up to you to choose an ending. All of the endings, by the way, are illustrated, so whatever you choose, you will be getting a visual along with it, and let's just say some of them are a little less... graphic, than others. Romance, robots, and GORE! Probably definitely ninjas too. So why wouldn't you like it?

I love all the ways you can read this book. If you've never read Romeo and Juliet before, North puts a little heart character next to all the paths that lead to the way Shakespeare originally wrote it, so if you'd like, you can follow Shakespeare's path, or, as I like to do, follow Shakespeare a little bit of the way, then diverge and explore other possibilities. Or, you can jump in blind and blaze a trail your own way. It's up to you! You can read (play?) as the buff Juliet (who starts her mornings with crunches) or as the womanizer Romeo (who starts his day with poetry). There is also an unlockable secret character who I won't spoil that you can find, too, so have fun with that. Unlockable characters in books, what will they think of next?

My final consensus on this book? It's definitely something you should check out. If this type of thing isn't normally something you think you'd like, try renting it at the library or off an e-book site first before you judge it, it really is a snarky, satisfying read. If you love Dinosaur Comics and you can appreciate Shakespeare, there's really no reason for you NOT to try this book out, and I would definitely recommend you getting it soon! Who knows, North has already redone Hamlet, perhaps he will write A Midsummer Night's Dream next! See you next time, everyone!



Character Review

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)

Headless Snowman

He's happy now, but wait until the season changes.

Last month, in this section, I took a look at a snowman that I didn't like, however, this month I'm doing the complete opposite. For once in this section, I take a look at a character that I actually like, and seeing as the latest open-world 3D Mario game has just been announced, I think it's fitting to look at the Headless Snowman from Super Mario 64.

Last month I mentioned how I enjoy snowmen being enemies in games, well I also enjoy snowmen in games in general, so long as they're actually for something. In Super Mario 64 and its remake, the Headless Snowman is a the holder of a Power Star and he'll only give it to Mario, if Mario gets him a new body, as his previous one had melted away (despite him clearly being in some form of Winter setting. The Headless Snowman is there for exactly one thing, and that's exactly what I like about him, he gives the quest, has a small backstory, and then your helping him gets you a reward, and your help is visible for the rest of the game. By only being in the game for so long, The Headless Snowman fulfils his role, and seeing as he doesn't really offer himself to another role, he's correctly left behind as the player progresses, instead of forcing him into other roles better suited for something else, or giving him too much that what he ends up being is wasted potential.

His name does irk me though. He's not a "headless" snowman, more a "bodiless" snowman, it's a small thing, but still kind of irritating.

Headless Snowman should be the template for one-time characters, make them important for a small bit, but don't give them so much that they just end up being wasted potential.


Meta Knight's Boss Battle Reviews

Written by: Meta Knight (talk)


Hello and welcome to this month's boss battle! Man, would you believe Super Mario Galaxy is 10 years old? It's pretty crazy. There are definitely a lot of bosses in the game, and Mario Galaxy has a talent of making its bosses seem grand. Things like Major Burrows and even Dino Piranha are all much bigger than Mario. However, let's take a look at someone that makes even all of them seem small. This boss holds the first Grand Star in Bowser Jr.'s Robot Reactor. For this month's boss battle, Megaleg will kick off 2017!

Megaleg on the planetoid. It's a giant robot.

In this galaxy there's only one mission, Megaleg's Moon. When you enter this mission, you'll be on a small planetoid where you'll have to use platforming skills to lure Bullet Bills into glass to shatter it so you can get to the Launch Star. There's also some coins and a 1-Up Mushroom. This is pretty interesting because it prepares you for what the fight against Megaleg will be like. When you go in the launch star, you'll get to the planetoid where Megaleg himself resides.

To fight Megaleg, you simply jump on the legs and climb its body to get to the head. Along the way, there will be Bullet Bills that target you. I like this because while it isn't necessarily difficult, it gives you something to watch out for in addition to just climbing Megaleg. On the top of his head is a metal cage that needs to have a Bullet Bill be lured into so that it's destroyed. Again, I like how the previous planetoid kind of preps you for this.

The second metal barrier, made of individual sections. Mario is luring a Bullet Bill into it.

When the metal cage is broken, another metal barrier appears around the central core, and this one rotates. This provides a bit more challenge than before because in addition to luring the Bullet Bill, you have to lure it in the specific area where the different metal sections are broken. The metal sections can come back up as well if enough time has passed. All of these factors make Megaleg pretty fun to play through. It feels unique compared to the other bosses, and provides some degree of challenge.

Last time, I made a comment about how I'm not expecting bosses like Shadow of the Colossus. Well in all honesty, this is more like it. I mean really, you climb a gigantic robotic titan and use their own arsenal against them. It's a really satisfying boss, and the fact that it's the first Grand Star boss gives a feeling that there's going to be a lot more to the adventure. Megaleg is mega cool, check it out if you haven't already.



Marioverse Reviews

Written by: Rosalina1999 (talk)

SMR Logo Final.png

It’s Rosalina1999 here! Happy New 2017! The year of the Nintendo Switch. The two games I am excited for are Super Mario Odyssey, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It’s really exciting, and it is available worldwide on March 3rd. Today, I’m going to review a new Mario Game that recieved mixed reviews: Super Mario Run!

Super Mario Run came out on December 15, 2016 for iOS only. That means Android users like me cant really play it yet. Thank god if it wasn’t for my one iPod Touch, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. So, I am going to say the positives about it on the first paragraph, and the negatives on the second paragraph.

"I'm-a making history”! Not so fast, Mario. Once I got the game, I didn’t even need my guts to make me not buy the $10. I noticed that the game was being criticized because of the $10. Big deal! I paid it without whining and rating it a 1 star. I wish people would grow up and accept things more nicely. $10 may be much for an app, but it’s not much for a Mario Game. At least it didn’t happen with the Nintendo Switch. Anyway, I loved the game. I paid the $10, and got all 6 Worlds! Each World had 4 levels. I haven’t completed it, yet. I got up to World 5. It’s really fun, and I think it’s a new step for Mario. Although Super Mario Odyssey will be a WAY bigger step! I also liked Toad Rally. It was fun to play with other peoples ghosts!

"If I didn't deserve this, I wouldn't give it to me." Yep, some people agree with you, Bowser! Actually, there’s really nothing I disliked about the game. The only thing I think should change though is I think it should have more content. $10 is a good price in my opinion, but I think other people would prefer to pay the $10 if they added more content to it. Am I right? That's pretty much it!

"A Mario Brother never says 'can't', Luigi!" That's right, Mario! I would rate this game a 9/10! It had nothing wrong with it except for that minor change that I think should happen. I hope you all have a Happy 2017! Not to long before the Nintendo Switch comes out on March 3rd!



Movie Reviews

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)

Top Gun

Top Gun
Top Gun.jpg
Genres Action, military, romance, drama
Release date May 1986
Starring Tom Cruise, Kerry McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards
Runtime 110 minutes
Ratings 12 (UK)

Earlier this year I turned 20, and in all honesty I have never watched a vast majority of the films that are considered classics. I have never seen Jaws, Alien, Pulp Fiction or the like, however, I started rectifying that issue earlier, by watching Top Gun.

The plot follows U.S. pilots, Maverick (Cruise) and Goose (Edwards), after they are sent to Top Gun Academy, a flight school tailored to the best U.S. pilots; there they compete with fellow pilots in classes, as well as Maverick forming a romantic relationship with astrophysicist Charlie Blackwood (McGillis). However, for a film about planes, it doesn't feature a lot of aerial scenes, and when it does they follow the exact same format of Maverick attempting to get missile lock, before learning some form of lesson. The final ten minutes of the film contain more action than any of the other flying scenes put together, although that final sequence is one of the best action movie finales of fall time. This is mainly due to the believability of it, it doesn't go over-the-top with explosions galore, and the protagonists surviving, despite doing something that would almost certainly get them killed. Arguably, the two Americans beating the five Russians isn't entirely believable, but the American pilots are the best following their training, and we it's possible that the Russians didn't go through the same training so it's not out of the realms of possibility.

Therefore most of the film takes place firmly on ground, and surprisingly this is okay. Each on-ground scene gives character development to Maverick, at the start he is kept purposefully vague, so we learn more about him as time goes on, and in my view this is a brilliant move. Nowadays, we'd know everything about Maverick in the opening five minutes, robbing us of any mystery throughout the film. Here, we're slowly drip-fed information, so as the film progresses, Maverick develops, and in my eyes this made him a much more likeable character, and one I therefore wanted to root for.

Another great thing about this film was the tension. The opening and ending scenes are full of on-the-edge of your seat tension, and they keep it up throughout. Whether it be in a battle scenario, where they can be gunned down at any instant, or just fuel issues that could cause them to crash. The film gives you the possibility that at any given instant, the characters could die, and with how they handled the characters, you actually care whether they live or die. No one in the film feels expendable, which makes the shock death all the more meaning. In some films, you have no attachment to the side characters, but with how they are here, you do, and it's gut-wrenching watching the immediate aftermath.

The soundtrack could use some work though, "Danger Zone", by Kenny Loggins is played three separate times throughout the film, and I lost count of the amount of times the instrumental version of "Take my Breath Away" showed up, before we finally actually started hearing it. I'm not saying the songs are bad, but they are grating after a while, and surely there was the budget to afford the rights to other songs.

I didn't know what to expect from Top Gun, I was aware of the homoeroticism, and boy there was a lot of that with beach volleyball scenes and locker-room scenes, but they didn't really add or take anything away from the film. I would have liked there to be more aerial action, considering this is a film about fighter planes, but again I don't think it detracted from the quality of the film. Top Gun is definitely a high-flying classic, but might have benefited from focusing more on the aerial pursuits, rather than the ground ones.



Yoshi876's Monthly Thoughts

by: Yoshi876 (talk)

Hello readers and welcome to my Monthly Thoughts! Here, I give a run down on the 10 news stories that interested me the most in the past month. Most of these will be me shining the light on lesser known stories, among some of the larger ones of the past month. This issue we'll be covering news from December 18, 2016 - January 14, 2017.

10. Southern Rail train causes delays on the road - People in England will know all about Southern Rail, and how it's constantly delayed or cancelled causing major travel disruption to rail users. Well now, they're taking it to the roads as a truck transporting a Southern Rail carriage got stuck between a corner and causing travel disruption for road users. Many onlookers found the irony quite amusing, as did the truck driver, who was met with a round of applause after finally freeing himself.

9. Nearly 1000 items damaged in Britain's museums in past decade - Precious art pieces are damaged regularly in Britain's museums, to be specific, 966. The various ways these items have been damaged include: a waiter knocking a prong off of a marble statue of Triton and Neptune with a wine crate, a security guard falling into an installation artwork by Sue Lawty, and statues having lipstick put on them. So it's best that you see your favourite paintings before soup leaks on them, as it did onto a painting at the National War Museum.

8. Saudi Arabia using British-made cluster bombs - Britain's arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been criticized by many people, mainly due to Saudi Arabia violating various human rights, and this news will probably boost their campaigns. Cluster bombs are banned by over 100 countries, including Britain, which begs the question why we're even manufacturing them, although they're not outlawed in Saudi Arabia. Civilian deaths are rife in the Yemen war at the moment, and whilst I'd happily end all arms sales to Saudi Arabia, I do understand the impact it could have on the economy, but I think Britain should at least stop selling, and manufacturing, the cluster bombs.

7. Boron found on Mars - The Mars rover has found the element boron on Mars, boron is usually found in places where water once existed, and scientists believe that from the analysis the water that would have been there would have had the right temperature and acidity to support life. If this is the case, then Mars is becoming a whole lot more interesting, and hopefully means we'll have the answer to whether Mars did harbour life at some point.

6. Health experts want Coca-Cola truck banned - A Christmas tradition over here in England is to have a massive Coca-Cola truck tour the country giving out free cans of Coca-Cola, but health experts say that it encourages unhealthy drinking, especially when reports suggest that children have already eaten half of their daily sugar allowance by the time they get to school. Personally, I think banning the truck would be a stupid idea, as I disagree with the reasoning. I don't see how one free can of Coca-Cola would encourage a child to go on and become a Coca-Cola guzzler, for me, it's just a harmless tradition.

5. Queen backed Brexit? - In our monarchical system, the monarchy remains politically neutral, although they are obviously allowed their own opinions, and according to the BBC's political correspondent a source told her that the Queen suggested it'd be easy for us to leave the EU, and asked why we couldn't just get on with it before the referendum vote. If that's the case, then sadly I disagree with her Majesty, but each to their own opinion.

4. Prostate cancer cure? - Prostate cancer treatments using bacteria found on the ocean floor seem to be going well, with 49% of 413 patients going into complete remission following the treatment. The side effects are good as well, in current high-risk prostate cancer treatments, the prostate can be removed or irradiated as part of the treatment, and this can lead to lifelong erectile problems and/or incontinence. With this treatment, there are only short-term urinary and erectile issues that resolve themselves in three months. The chances of the cancer progressing to a more high-risk one also lowered with this new treatment.

3. Hackers can control planes using in-flight entertainment - Hackers can gain access to planes using the Panasonic Avionics in-flight system. Hacker Ruben Santamarta and IOActive claimed that hackers could change flight information, or even control the cabin lighting. They even say they have passed this information onto Panasonic, but they say the research contains "highly misleading and inflammatory statements". IOActive have been shown to be good hackers in the past, in 2014 they did an experiment, where they were able hack into a Jeep 10 miles away and crash it, so it's highly possible that their research is valid. Either way, aircraft companies are making planes safer, so hopefully it won't be much of a worry.

2. Auroch to be brought back from extinction? - Scientists are trying to resurrect an ancient cattle species that went extinct in 1627, by using their descendents that may still have their DNA. Operation Taurus has used selective breeding to back-breed, and each generation is closer to the Auroch. The scientists admit they'll never get it to 100% be an Auroch, but it'd be one hell of a scientific achievement to bring a species back from the dead.

1. Colombia air crash investigation conclusion - Last November a plane carrying the Chapocoense football team crashed in Colombia killing 71 people, including most of the team. The investigation concluded this month that the plane had ran out of fuel. However, the blame was largely human, as the plane didn't have enough fuel when it took off, the pilots decided against refuelling halfway through the journey, and the pilot declared emergency too late. The report must be shocking for the family, friends, and fans who lost cherished ones down to other people making poor decisions.


Nabber's Top Films of 2016

Written by: Nabber (talk)

The sad, unfortunate fact is that it’ll take years for me to actually see all of the 2016 movies I want to see. This is partly because there are a lot of movies from 2016 to catch up on, partly because it takes forever for these movies to actually come to theaters or even Blu-Ray, and partly because now I have to start on 2017 movies and oh my god it never ends. And that’s just assuming that I watch movies that got good reviews – but as someone with, quite frankly, awful taste in movies, I’d be missing out on a lot of things I’d probably like (one of my favorite movies from this year currently holds a 6.7/10 on IMDB, not that IMDB has ever been a good judge of quality.) That said, if I don’t make a list of my favorite movies now, I’ll never get around to it, and then I’ll fade into obscurity. Sort of like that Artemis Fowl movie that’s supposed to still be happening. Do people even still know what Artemis Fowl is?

Anyway, I’ve managed to cobble together a list of a few movies I still liked. For whatever reason, there was a lot less consensus on good indie movies this year, and the blockbuster scene was even more pathetic, with Warner Brothers deciding to grab all of their franchises by their respective urethras and shitting out the triple whammy of Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Still, there were a decent number of movies that people did enjoy, like Deadpool and Zootopia, and the indie scene appeared to have a lot of great offerings, even if they were harder to track down. I’m sure that as soon as this list is published I’ll watch that deserved to be on this list, so without further ado, let’s go! The best movies are at the bottom and the slightly less best movies are at the top, but honestly, many of these movies are interchangeable, anyway.
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9. Pass Thru

I didn’t see this one, but we should all feel grateful that our lord and saviour Neil "Jesus" Breen blessed us with a film this year.

8. Captain America: Civil War

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Wow, bet you haven’t heard about this one. A decade ago, Civil War would have been a goddamned miracle, bringing together an absurdly large cast of superheroes and pitting them together in action sequences that blend together all of their unique powers (though let’s face it, there’s no real reason why Vision couldn’t have easily dealt away with everyone on Captain America’s team). In 2016, however, this kind of spectacle is so commonplace that it’s hard to get too excited over it. But it’s important to appreciate the many things that Civil War does right that still seems to be out of reach in other blockbuster. Whereas other movies go for giant, world-threatening events with glowing portals in the sky and whatnot to raise the stakes, Civil War keeps the conflict personal and genuinely engaging with the simple act of turning already-established on each other. This and some extremely creative, well-choreographed actions sequences make Civil War feel distinguished in an otherwise overdone genre.

7. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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I have a very high standard for comedies. This is partly because I’m a humorless robot who is incapable of laughing without other people to indicate when I’m supposed to laugh. But it’s also because I find the best humor comes out of characters that I love and care about, and many comedies – especially American comedies – tend to just use bland, blanket characters to tell generic jokes. But Taika Waititi, the director of the upcoming Thor: Ragnorok, draws laughs from the heart in adapting the popular Australian book Wild Pork and Watercress to fabulous results. At least, I assume it’s a popular Australian book, because that’s what I read online and I’m not Australian. The point is, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an absurdly hilarious and quirky comedy that tells the story of young delinquent Ricky Baker and his adoptive “uncle” Hector as they go on the run from the authorities in the New Zealand forest. Here, Waititi uses the humor reinforces the drama, and vice versa, causing this story of two people society doesn’t want to become gut-bursting until it’s tear-jerking.

6. The Edge of Seventeen

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No one is misunderstood as much as the teenager. I can’t really say that with a straight face, but there certainly is a truth in that teenagers receive some of the worst writing in all of media. Movies and television shows alike tend to portray kids as either tiny adults or quirky Wes Anderson parodies, to the point where 2007’s critical darling Juno, with its obtuse and awkward slang, was regarded as a “realistic” portrayal of teenspeak. So it comes as a real surprise that Kelly Fremon Craig’s directorial debut of an adolescent dealing with the hardships of coming of age manages to show teenagers as… people you or I might actually meet in the real world, complete with age-appropriate actors (except for the 30-year-old Hayden Szeto, but to be fair, he looks absurdly young). The actors are important, because lead star Hailee Steinfeld is the wonderful, wonderful glue that cements the whole film. Not enough praise can be said about her performance, which causes the film to feel less like a movie and more like a documentary of a normal seventeen-year-old. That’s a cliché if I’ve ever heard one, but the movie itself manages to almost completely avoid clichés, instead going for true, sometimes harsh, sometimes sweet, life. Also, Woody Harrelson is in it and he’s great. If you’ve ever been an angsty teenager like me, then you’ll absolutely love this one.

5. Hell or High Water

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I saw this movie a while ago, and if I’m being perfectly honest, I can’t remember the exact plot details. Two brothers rob some banks and are pursued by a cop across the Texan landscape. But what I remember is he feeling. Hell or High Water is a furious movie, one that masks a deep sadness of millions of people who were screwed over by the American recession a few years ago. The world that this movie lives in actively reflects the situation of these ruined, neglected towns, through the empty streets and graffiti-ridden walls. And it’s all centered by an excellent character study, with a tense and morally gray cat and mouse chase that is cemented by David Mackenzie’s excellent, patient direction, letting the actors shine but never undermining the stakes. The film’s also quite funny. I’ve never been crazy about Westerns, but this one is instantly watchable, either as a thinkpiece or a character study. Either way, see it.

4. La La Land

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La La Land has flaws. Some aspects of the plot are a bit contrived, and it sure as hell is pandering. But after this nightmare of a year, I can’t possibly care about pandering when it’s done this goddamn well. La La Land is a movie that is irrepressibly in love – with movies, with music, with happiness, with passion itself. And sure, it starts out with grand, sweeping camera movements and beautifully choreographed and orchestrated song sequences, but if the early stages of the movie feel like a generic romantic musical, you can’t help but root for the characters because Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are so instantly watchable, the music so joyful, the dialogue so charming. That’s good, because when the stars do get together, it allows the movie to develop into a truly moving statement about the hardships of pursuing dreams. It all leads up to the best last 10 minutes of a movie since, well, director Damien Chazelle’s last movie, Whiplash. By the time La La Land is over, you are left with a powerful feeling, a comprehension of the film as a whole package, and understanding and love for each aspect of its extravagant display. And while I understand that it’s easy to take a cynical view on this movie – and there is some reason to – I urge people to try not to. Fall in love.

3. Midnight Special

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The most touching Steven Spielberg movie he never made, Midnight Special is a sci-fi parable about a young boy with special powers. Jeff Nicohl’s movie may upset some viewers because a movie with a great mystery can rarely, if ever, live up to its hype, but Midnight Special’s ending works because it is satisfactory to the characters. It’s a film about a parent’s bond with a child, and learning to come to peace with a sad realization. I’m keeping things vague because this movie’s lack of specificity leads to a different meaning for different people, but don’t think that means that the movie is empty, because it’s not. The struggle of the movie’s characters to come to grips with the unknown takes on a transcendent, spiritual quality that allows you to empathize with the awe they find in the film’s central child. It’s the kind of low-budget, simple movie that manages to bring more spectacle than the biggest blockbusters.

2. Silence

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How does an atheist like myself approach a movie about religion? Those watching Silence, based on the Shūsaku Endō novel, will have their viewing experience tainted by what they bring into it. Martin Scorsese’s 160-minute epic about the Christian persecution in 17th century Japan may be seen as a testament to faith by the devoted worshiper of Jesus, and may be seen as a portrayal of the pointlessness of religion by the atheist. Or perhaps those roles will be switched. What I’m certain of is that Silence is a patient, harsh, and understanding movie that asks questions instead of judging its characters, and allows the audience (and perhaps God) to decide for themselves. What I got from this is a movie about philosophy, about trying to stay true to one’s identity when society will not allow it. In this movie, it’s Christianity, but it could change for other people. For how can one pretend, for so many years, to be something that they are not? To literally spit in the face of God and say that they do not have a right to be who they are? And when one is made to suffer, how does one find validation, validation which may not even be there? All the while, cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto conveys the beauty and hellishness of the environment through some truly haunting imagery that deserves to be seen on the big screen – and needs to, so it has the intended impact on the story. Also to be noted is that while Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver are great in this movie, special recognition must be given to Issey Ogata and Yōsuke Kubozuka for their fantastic supporting roles. Whatever faith you are, Silence will bring an unforgettable and powerful experience to the open and observant mind.

1. The Handmaiden

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Featuring the hottest bathtub scene of any movie this year (sorry, Batman v Superman), The Handmaiden also packs a fiercely feminist message, a rumination of the nature of narrative, plenty of wry humor, and of course, large dollop of ultraviolence, all wrapped up in a deliciously twisty mystery. The Handmaiden, adopted from Sarah Waters’ book Fingersmith, is possibly Park Chan-Wook’s definitive masterpiece, and that’s saying something, considering his 2003 Oldboy was ranked among the top movies of the 21st century by BBC Culture. It starts off as a relatively simple plot for a thief to steal a countess’s fortune, and then expands and doubles back onto itself in a way that recalls Kurosawa’s classic Rashomon. Soon the film calls into question trust, identity, and perception. But more explicitly, The Handmaiden is a manifesto against man’s exploitation of women, harshly criticizing those who try to restrain and imprison women into a role that only exists in their minds. It’s worth watching for the film’s lavish production design alone; created by Ryu Seong-hee, the movie creates a twisted (but gorgeous), half Japanese, half Korean, half English mansion that reflects its multitude of themes. It’s a tour de force of brilliancy, whose mirroring images and visual poetry (courtesy of Chung Chung-hoon) convey just as much as the dialogue. And, like La La Land, it’s also a rare movie that’s uplifting in addition to also being a kinky thriller social commentary whatever the hell this is. It’s clever, it’s fun, and it’s incredibly powerful. Watch it.

Have a movie you want me to review? Shoot me a PM.



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Written By: Hypnotoad (talk)

Welcome to new year, new you, new issue of Half-Baked Reviews where I, Anton, continue ignoring suggestions from months ago to instead fulfill some thematic obligation I decided to give myself. Don’t worry guys who told me things to do, I will do them in off-months like March or something that’s boring. This month’s theme is Christmas leftovers! I will be reviewing several things that I did over my month of December where I had Christmas I think like 5 times thanks to having a broken and scattered family.


Eat a Ferrero Rocher

As every holiday season rolls around I see the same things go up in stores, but one that has always kinda baffled me is the luxuriousness of Ferrero Rocher. How can this chocolate whatever be seen as the peak of confectionery perfection but be sold at Walmart? As someone who splurges on actual good expensive handmade artisan chocolate and places like Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory I was always a little suspicious of how good Ferrero Rochers are as well as what they even are to begin with. Some mild research shows me that people are really passionate about this subject and use it as the field for insulting Americans for having inferior chocolates (i.e. Hershey) even though I know from personal accounts and British/Australian boyfriends that I swapped packages with and talked about food a lot with I can say that in America while the main brand Hershey’s is different than Britain’s Cadbury in subtle ways, it is America that has the options to buy either one as well as a whole ton of other kinds if you bother to look for it beyond the last-second impulse shelf in the checkout lane, whereas the Brits need to go on a quest to find even the most basic Reese’s Cups. I will add, please tell me what kind of candy and chocolates that are popular in your area that I should try because I really like chocolate and Wegman’s has a lot of international stuff I can get.
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Anyways, back to Ferrero Rocher. The patina of wealth and fancy is the first noticeable thing as I eyed the distinctive gold packaging peeking out from the pile of other candy it was tossed into on Christmas at my house. My first thought when I saw this shimmering box was “wow I can totally use this to fill my Half-Baked Reviews section”. Inside the fancy box are these gold foil orbs with a sticker on top inside of a reese’s cup cup. For some reason the foil is lightly glued to the cup. I took a bite expecting to be immediately overcome with ecstasy. It’s a chocolate orb inside of a wafer orb covered in chocolate and hazelnuts. Google images shows me that it should’ve had a whole hazelnut in the middle so I feel ripped off.

These chocolates are cheap when placed in the standard of ‘fancy deluxe fine’ chocolates but, meh, it’s more marketing than anything. Here, let me copy/paste how their website describes them: “Rocher is the classic delicacy, and its timeless elegance makes it perfect for sharing during any party season. True connoisseurs will savour the delicious combination of a gentle roasted whole hazelnut and rich creamy centre, encased in a crisp wafer shell and covered in the finest Italian recipe chocolate and crunchy hazelnut pieces.”

It kinda just tastes like a hollow Crunch bar.

Rating: OffbrandMix.png Offbrand Trail Mix

Explanation: These are good to buy for your not-too-culturally-aware friends and relatives to trick them into thinking you splurged on expensive chocolates when in reality all you did was throw it in your cart because you forgot to get a gift for someone and it’s under $10. If you’re buying this for yourself you may as well just invest your money in getting a ton of Hershey’s chocolate for the same price as a few of these pretentious orbs.


Spend a ton of cash on Christmas gifts

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed a trend in my gifting habits that other people my age are going through as well: giving more than receiving. There’s nothing inherently bad one way or the other in this equation but I think by the sheer fact that the older we get the more income we have makes it so we’re more apt to give. Combine this with being bitter and reclusive and as the pool of gift recipients decreases, your funding stays the same and therefore the remaining ones you care about are showered with riches.

I guess this doesn’t exactly focus on just Christmas, because I’ve noticed I buy a lot for the Awards Ceremony and am pretty easy with lending money out and stuff, but golly gosh when my brother opened up his gift for him and his girlfriend which I had inside of a Russian nesting doll series of wrapped boxes and seeing it was $500 of cash since they said all they wanted was to be able to afford going on a vacation, hearing my brother try to decline it and say “I can’t take this much” and his girlfriend start crying and scream “oh my god”...it’s just like...that’s all I really needed to feel the holidays were a success. I enjoyed that. I mean don’t get me wrong I got a ton of stuff this year that will really help me along in getting an apartment later on this year such as kitchen equipment and accessories and machines and I’ll be more than glad to accept more of it that comes my way, but the whole pre-teen glee of receiving just isn’t enough anymore. I also like gifting because offline I know I’m not exactly the warmest person to be around and I don’t really verbalize positive thoughts and feelings unless it’s to directly solve a current issue, and this is a way for me to just show I care by just lobbing a box at someone and giggling while they open it up in total confusion and apprehension wondering what I’ve done.

What all did I give out this year, $500 to my one brother, $250 to another brother, another 2ds and Pokemon Sun and a guidebook for my niece, a bunch of collectible coins for my dad, a laptop for my mom, a coolio Lego set for Stoob, some other trinkets here and there but those are the big ones. Like, maybe I shouldn’t have just listed it all because now I can visualize exactly how much I spent when I really should be saving but hey that’s why I’m doing a budget planner now.

Rating: File:This would be a picture of 22 eating chex mix when I visited him last January but I can't find that picture and probably didn't even take one.png Sharing a bag of your favorite Chex Mix with a friend.

Explanation: The rating seems pretty straightforward with the review but that’s what it is!!


Start a budget planner

Well, I started one. This was like my only solid New Year’s resolution type thingie; every other goal I have is vague enough for it to just be basic things I pursue as I continue being a living person existing in a capitalist society. It’s literally only been like 2 weeks since I started it so I can’t really report much, but I can say that the fact that I’m forcing myself to mark down what I earn, what I spend, and how much is in all of my various cash deposits and accounts, is making me hyper-aware of everything and making me second-guess unnecessary purchases.

Right away I can see that gas is my biggest recurring expense, but I can’t w8 until various monthly bills and charges, as well as big money routine stuff like vehicle upkeep and subscriptions, come along and I can cringe at them. I already know SiriusXM is something I have that can certainly be done away with but ugh it’s just so easy to have it play music that’s of a genre I like for me instead of me having to go out and listen to things actively and discover stuff on my own.

I do have a bike that I literally have never used, I guess maybe I could start using that some more so I can save some cash. Maybe after I move. Someone just give me a bunch of money please, thanks!

Rating: SecretChexMix.jpg Strategically withholding eating a bag of Chex Mix that you know you’ll enjoy until a day comes along that you feel would be the right day to eat it and then end up not eating it for like 7 months because it gets lost inside of a pile of other nonsense you have cluttering your room.

Explanation: I feel like I’m just not spending money because I’m aware of this budget planner’s presence, which may be affecting it negatively by not offering a true representation of my spending habits, or it may be helping by providing a stopper to unnecessary purchases.


Tune in next month where I cover all kinds of topics relating to I have no idea yet because I haven't picked a theme yet! Also, tell me what to review next! Here’s my Steam Inventory filled with games I haven’t played for some ideas, but things you can tell me to do can also be movies, shows, physical actions, trying new foods, music, literally anything and I’ll cover it eventually if it’s not too ridiculous. Just send me a message here on my talk page or PM it to me on the forum. Don't like what I have to say? That's fine, and probably bound to happen because I'm putting no effort into really learning about my subjects! We at Critic Corner will welcome your alternate review of it as a new section for the next issue!



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