Noah Antwiler, also known as The Spoony One or just Spoony, is a popular internet video game and film critic in charge of the website The Spoony Experiment, and a former member of the review site That Guy With The Glasses. Antwiler describes himself as the "[...]terrifying result of a generation raised on MTV and films by Jean-Claude van Damme and Steven Seagal at the height of their popularity". Antwiler's rise to popularity was influenced by his scathing review of Final Fantasy VIII, which remains one of his most infamous and popular reviews.
Antwiler's pseudonym began at a Dungeons & Dragons table, where he played as a bard. The name is a tribute to a scene in Final Fantasy IV, where the bard Edward is attacked by Tellah, who shouts "You Spoony Bard!" Antwiler was unaware of what the word meant, but was trying to think of a name for his Dungeons & Dragons bard character that involved a notable adjective of some sort, and thought "spoony" was a good fit. After rejecting "Edward" as too obvious a name, "Tandem the Spoony" was born — Antwiler reflects in a later video that in spite of his ignorance about the word at the time, its meaning did fit his character. Eventually during play sessions the character was referred to by friends as "the Spoony guy" or simply "Spoony". Antwiler decided to use the name as an internet handle, because it is "infinitely more memorable and interesting than Noah Antwiler".
Antwiler's first reviews were improvised without scripts before he refined his process, and his early videos were done to show friends on message boards. When Antwiler began his Final Fantasy VIII review, word of mouth lead to the review becoming massively popular, and Antwiler received thousands of emails alternatively denouncing and applauding his work. Antwiler decided to continue with the review after seeing this response, stating "I knew from that moment, I had to keep making videos like that, if only to keep generating responses that passionate."
Today Antwiler reviews many old video games and films as The Spoony One. Targets for review besides Final Fantasy have included Reb Brown films, early FMV games in a series titled "FMV Hell," the Ultima video game series, and the Highlander franchise, among many other franchises and themes. Antwiler has hosted "Wrestle Wrestle" covering recent televised wrestling programs, and a series of Dungeons & Dragons focused tabletop RPG anecdotes in a series called "Counter Monkey". Spoony's accomplices in his reviews are his robotic puppet Burton, and Spoony's mad scientist counterpart Dr. Insano, played by Antwiler. Antwiler plays a multitude of other characters for different reviews, and occasionally reviews new games and movies out-of-character, sometimes with his real-life brother Miles or girlfriend April. Reviews featuring other That Guy With The Glasses reviewers also occur, most frequently Linkara of "Atop the Fourth Wall".
Final Fantasy Reviews
The entire scene takes a half-hour of real time, where nothing is accomplished except a few brief minutes of throwing harpoons at magic mushrooms in the forest, and the rest of it is spent watching Laguna be a complete McFly.
- —The Spoony One on the Laguna dream sequences.
From April 2007 to July 2009, Spoony reviewed Final Fantasy VIII in an eleven-part review. Spoony is openly critical of the game, complaining about the tedious Draw mechanic and the complex Junction system, as well as the game's plot and characters, particularly Squall Leonhart, whom he names "Emo Git", and Rinoa Heartilly, whom he names "A Whore". Spoony criticizes the plot reveal of the party members growing up in the same orphanage as random and convenient, feels that the Laguna dream sequences are pointless and serve only to pad the game, and says any male player who unironically likes "Eyes On Me" needs to "turn in their man card". Spoony sums up that Final Fantasy VIII is the point he feels Final Fantasy began to decline in quality, though he compares later games to it favorably.
In the review's conclusion Dr. Insano, fed up with Spoony's reviews, hires Squall (Antwiler cosplaying) to kill him. Though Squall fatally stabs him, Spoony triggers a self-destruct mechanism on Burton, destroying his home and killing them both. The appearance of a main hero from the game he just finished reviewing went on to become a running joke of his Final Fantasy reviews.
The destruction of his home and his death marked a divergence, where the Spoony Experiment acquired an in-universe storyline. In real life, Antwiler was moving out of his parents' home and was experiencing camera difficulties, and the conclusion of the Final Fantasy VIII review was intended as both a send-off to his old room and a possible ending to the site in case he could not continue filming reviews. He acquired a new camera and the site soon continued running. In the storyline Spoony was still dead, and fellow That Guy With The Glasses reviewer Lewis Lovhaug, aka Linkara, created a clone of him to continue reviewing his show. The real Spoony meanwhile was eventually revived and took part in numerous crossover reviews with Linkara before returning to take control of his show.
In March 2010, Spoony returned to Final Fantasy with Final Fantasy X. He began by stating he loves the game's combat system, though he later states in a commentary of the videos and in his review of Final Fantasy X-2 that he hates the Sphere Grid. Spoony praises Auron as one of his favorite characters, but criticizes Tidus, Rikku and especially Wakka for being stupid, noting that the party's taking a break from their pilgrimage to play blitzball shows skewed priorities when Sin has already been seen destroying towns. He frequently criticizes the game's plotholes and character designs, and the protagonists' naivete in regards to Seymour, who Spoony sees as obviously evil, pointing out "He's the villain" the very moment Seymour speaks his first line. Special criticism is reserved for a scene where Wakka tries to cheer up the Al Bhed by comparing the destruction of their home to "happy festival fireworks", something Spoony finds offensive and mean-spirited, comparing it to telling Hurricane Katrina victims to just think of the destroyed, flooded New Orleans as a big happy water park.
In the review's conclusion, the clone Spoony, who up to this point had been running the review, is attacked by his original counterpart, as well as Tidus (Antwiler cosplaying again) and Pumpkinhead, the antagonist of another video game that frustrated Spoony. With Linkara's assistance Spoony and his clone are teleported away, the process merging them together, all while Tidus is taken away by Doctor Isano for an autopsy so Isano can know how blitzball players can hold their breath for long periods of time. In Spoony's absence, Dr. Insano took over the website and began collecting footage for a Final Fantasy X-2 review.
Spoony praises the game for the battle system, but dislikes the exploitable dressphere system the plot is based on, and the fanservice "dress-up" it allows. He stated the side quests, while nice due to adding variety, are, for the most part, pointless, and that fully completing the game requires too much busy work. Spoony found the plot repetitive, stating that most of the main story is detecting a sphere, going to its location, fighting a boss and retrieving it. He sarcastically praises Paine as a female version of Squall for male gamers to lust over without homosexual undertones, and is horrified to learn the point of 100% completion is to revive Tidus. He notes the peculiarity of seemingly no one being affected by Yevon being revealed as, in Antwiler's words, "a millennium-long genocidal lie", as one would think at least Wakka would experience an emotional crisis, given how devoted he was. However, Spoony prefers the sequel over the original and acknowledges it tried to do something new and different with the Final Fantasy series. He compliments the game's "1000 Words" sequence as emotional and having a good song, if translated poorly.
In the finale, Spoony is attacked by Yuna (humorously played once again by Antwiler), initially confused since he gave her game a positive review, then decides her anger is because he killed Tidus in his last review. Spoony is saved by Sephiroth (also played by Antwiler), who impales Yuna and hands Spoony a copy of Final Fantasy XIII to review. As part of the storyline, told in part in other reviews, it is hinted that Sephiroth has enacted a scheme involving Burton and a meteor headed to Earth, and that Spoony's continuous feelings of hatred are aiding this plan.
Prior to the formal review, Spoony made comments on Final Fantasy XIII in his Final Fantasy X review and some other reviews released during the same time period, and in the final part of his Final Fantasy X review implies Final Fantasy XIII is as bad or worse than Final Fantasy X. In the same segment he voices his hatred for Final Fantasy XIV, a game that had been near universally hated since its release. When he officially began the review, he prefaced it by noting that no matter what he says of the game, "it gets worse", said while holding up Final Fantasy XIII-2. He recanted every overwhelmingly negative thing he had said about Final Fantasy VIII, and admitted to at least enjoying it, declaring the only reason he was so harsh on it was because he had no idea how much worse the series would eventually get. In particular, Spoony admitted it was good as a game even if he didn't like the story, and expressed embarrassment over his gay jokes about Squall and Seifer, stating that he doesn't even know in retrospect why he ever thought what he said was acceptable or funny.
Spoony criticizes the game's writing as sloppy and awful, hating the reliance on datalogs to explain plot-critical details and noting that even those don't explain everything, as he had to visit this very wiki to even know what the Antimatter Manipulation Principle is. He also gets particularly angered by the Grav-con Unit never being seen again after the first chapter, having actually found it interesting and wishing it had been put to more use. He sees the protagonists as foolish and coldhearted, fighting Cocoon's military, who Spoony notes are innocent soldiers just doing their job protecting the public, killing the fal'Cie Cocoon relies on and generally creating chaos wherever they go. He somewhat likes Lightning for hitting Snow, who Spoony considers a complete idiot and prompted him to start a "Serah!" count for how many times Snow calls out her name. He also stated in a vlog that he likes Sazh due to him being more "human" in behavior and that he's the only member of the party who brings guns to battle, however, he theorizes that Sazh wasn't meant to one of the better characters due to what can be seen as stereotypical African-American traits and behavior and that he carries a chocobo chick in his afro. In regards to gameplay, he criticized the linearity in the game's level design, comparing it to an endless hallway where the player's every move was predetermined for them long before they even bought the game, and the Crystarium system for giving the player no options in how the party grew, and found the paradigm system boring with no player input beyond switching paradigms in the same pattern for every enemy. He criticized the fal'Cie leaving mere vague clues of the main group's Focus as terrible storytelling, describing it as being like if someone broke his door down, handed him a banana and a shotgun and said nothing more than "Now get moving, Spoony, or I kill your whole family!" At the end of Part 4 of the review, where Barthandelus reveals himself, Spoony later stated this is the point he initially stopped playing the game, as the reveal that fal'Cie are capable of normal human speech causes the Focus concept to fall apart.
After continuing from where he originally quit, he criticizes the heroes for playing right into Barthandelus' plans and is particularly baffled by the fact that they seem to believe they're foiling the villain's plot by carrying out every single action he wants them to. He also gave especially heavy criticism to part of the ending for having Lightning and her teammates turn into Cie'th and then inexplicably return to normal, expressing disgust at the suggestion that all it took was wanting badly enough to turn back into a human and everyone else who became a Cie'th just didn't wish hard enough to not be one. In the review's finale, Spoony is attacked by Snow, played by Brian Lewis, a collaborator of Brad Jones from That Guy With The Glasses. Snow breaks Spoony's gunblade in half over his knee and brutalizes Spoony while mocking his outdated nerdy collections, but Spoony eventually overcomes Snow and kills him. While cleaning himself up in the bathroom after the battle, Spoony is attacked and knocked unconscious by Reno (the clues that it's him being a sharp electric crackling, a left-handed attack with a steel baton, and a staticy, unsubtitled voice clip of Reno's seiyuu, Keiji Fujiwara, speaking the line "Looks like we're clocking out early" from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children). Reno is later seen from behind propping up Spoony in his chair in time for Rebruary 2014, having dressed him in new clothes and treated his wounds, and briefly doing something with Burton before absconding.
In February 2009, Spoony reviewed Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift. He began by stating the game is "okay" but he disliked the complex and tedious battle system, which required him to keep track of over two dozen characters, their equipment and their job and ability statuses. He criticized the Judges for unfairly calling violations on him, and mocked the game's overly long title. Spoony concluded that he was enjoying the game despite its shortcomings. During the review Spoony said he likes the original Final Fantasy Tactics, but wasn't very good at it, and attributes this to him not taking the game seriously at the time he originally played it.
Other Opinions on Final Fantasy
Spoony reviewed the original Final Fantasy as an April Fool's joke in April 2009. He criticizes the game in virtually every respect, from the combat system to the plot to the prevalence of self-imposed challenges fans have created, such as completing the game with one White Mage. However, the review was in jest, and in a written note accompanying the video after its posting Spoony stated Final Fantasy was a good game in a time when video games often had simple battle systems and little plot.
As a joke during his Final Fantasy VIII review, Spoony reviewed Final Fantasy VII during a hallucinatory dream sequence. Spoony says he likes the game, but dislikes the obsessed fanbase, including cosplayers and the abundance of Final Fantasy hentai on the internet. He notes the game's infamous Wall Market sequence where Cloud crossdresses is "emotionally scarring" to children. Despite liking Final Fantasy VII, Spoony has stated he disliked both Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, but favorably compared the latter to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within as a faithful Final Fantasy film, stating "Advent Children was loud, dumb, and obnoxious, but at least it was modeled after the games."
In the opening of his Final Fantasy X review, Spoony said he has played Final Fantasy IX sparingly, but dislikes it due to the art style and calls its protagonist, Zidane Tribal (based solely on his design), an "androgynous preteen furry." He does say his opinion is based on his memory of only playing the first two hours of the game years ago, and that he is being unfair to the game. He also says Final Fantasy IX might've actually been a great game since it is a throwback to the oldschool style of Final Fantasy he has been missing.
In the same review and numerous video logs, Spoony stated he enjoyed Final Fantasy XII to a degree. He felt the game had an identity crisis where its main protagonist was concerned and regarded Vaan with almost the same contempt he gave Tidus, and believed him to have little relevance to the plot, which he felt was about "Ashe and her romance with Balthier the sky pirate." He also said that he disliked the License Board in his review of Final Fantasy XIII. In his commentary of the Final Fantasy XIII reviews he elaborated on Vaan, comparing Tidus favorably to him, stating that for as annoying as Tidus was and how much Spoony felt it was Yuna's story, at least Tidus was an active part of the plot of Final Fantasy X and fans are often quick to defend his place in the story, whereas he noted that even fans of Final Fantasy XII have been known to question why Vaan is in the game at all.
Spoony has expressed interest and "enthusiasm" for Final Fantasy XV (then known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII), stating that he was "very impressed", and that the segment of gameplay he saw was "very good," noting its similarity to the battle system in the Kingdom Hearts games and liking it for such. He is relieved the game does not follow the original Final Fantasy XIII story, characters, and "boring" auto battle system. He acknowledges the necessity for a more action RPG oriented style of play for Versus XIII universe that gives the player greater input than Final Fantasy XIII. He went on to say that he is "not down on every Final Fantasy game because [he is] looking forward to XIII Versus."
Reception and Impact
Due to his cynical, biting, and sharp sarcastic perspectives, Spoony's reviews and content resonate wide to a cult following and viewership of the same temperament, and mainly by those of the Western video game and PC game fandom. However, in years passing his resignation from That Guy With The Glasses, his behavior, virtually indifferent off camera, as well as various incidents, from the scandals regarding his resignation, reputation amongst the mainstream entertainment industry in regards to his and That Guy With The Glasses approaches to criterion and reviewing, and repercussions brought about from his actions to his fans and fellow co-workers, his reviews are seen as tongue in cheek, or humorously exacerbated displays of overreaction and profanity filled nitpicking.
- The Spoony Experiment, Spoony's review site.