Last week, I interviewed the makers of the new, performance-enhancing pill for gamers called "FpsBrain."
I also spoke with a registered dietitian about it, and she likened the pill to most energy drinks out on the market.
Then yesterday, our friends at Kotaku published a pretty comprehensive feature on energy drinks, comparing the different brands' ingredients, tastes and effectiveness.
But there are two drinks that courageous (and no doubt bouncing-off-the-walls) feature writer Mike Fahey didn't try: the Nintendo-brand energy drinks Donkey Kong Jungle Juice and Power Up Energy Drink.
Granted, Fahey probably doesn't live near a Nintendo World Store, so I walked a few blocks from our Times Square office to Rockefeller Center, where I purchased the two drinks for $1.99 each.
Here's what I tasted...
Power Up Energy Drink
Power Up Energy Drink and Donkey Kong Jungle Juice are distributed by Boston America Corp (the makers of fine licensed products such as Lucky Charms Lip Balm, Simpsons Cookie D'ohs and other Spencer's gift store staples), and both carry the "Official Nintendo Seal." There was no indication of what flavor Power Up was on the can itself, although some Google searching led me to believe that it's a "blue-raspberry" drink that will "keep you jumping!" It came in an 8.4 fl. oz (250 ml) can (the same size as a can of Red Bull), and its ingredients are typical of energy drinks: Taurine, Caffeine, Inositol, Guarana extract, Panax Ginseng extract. Oh, and lots of sugar (mmm... delicious high fructose corn syrup!).
I opened the can and took a whiff; I gagged immediately. Power Up smelled and tasted very similar to Red Bull, which I admittedly hate. First, there was the bubble-gummy, Pepto-Bismol-y odor that I've come to associate with a case of indigestion or diarrhea. To boot, it also looked like watered-down Pepto. And the taste? It actually wasn't as bad as it smelled; it was akin to carbonated Kool-Aid... with even more sugar. In terms of added energy, I wrote this paragraph in eight seconds. Though now I have a slight headache...
Donkey Kong Jungle Juice
Since I shared some of the Power Up with my co-workers, I decided I should drink this one all by myself to get the full effect. Ostensibly, it's the same as Power Up: the same size can, the same ingredients. I wondered what flavor it would be and hoped that it was not merely just Power Up with DK on the can...
Nope! Donkey Kong Jungle Juice is the exact same drink as Power Up: pungent Pepto smell, Red Bull-flavoring and all. I began sipping in defeat...
There are a couple egregious things about Nintendo's energy drinks here. By making the same drink under the guise of both Mario and Donkey Kong, they infer that the drink of choice for princess-saving plumbers is the same as that of princess-stealing apes, and that essentially, bananas and mushrooms are the same.
It should also be noted that while both cans state somewhere that they are "not intended for children," only Power Up clearly says that it's an energy drink; meanwhile, the name "Donkey Kong Jungle Juice" implies that it is actually juice, a favorite beverage among children (and certain twenty-something, energy drink-hating video game writers). Not to mention that it's sold next to candy like Klik Smarties dispensers and Mario and Link-shaped Jelly-pops...
And as far as energy level, though I just finished about one and a half of the drinks, half the recommended daily dosage ("Consume responsibly. Limit 3 cans per day," Power Up's can told me), I don't feel too energized at the moment. In fact, I have a growing headache and my teeth feel sticky. So all in all, my recommendation for Nintendo's "energy drinks"? They'd make good desk tchotchkes or great Jäger Bob-ombs... Got it, Kotaku?