Wow, we aren't dead after all. However someone else is, DnD Co-Create Ernest Gary Gygax (July 27, 1938 – March 4, 2008). Since 3 out 5 WANC'rs lifes were hugely affected, for better or for worse, by what this man created we decided to emerge from our WoW induced comas and record a podcast to honor Mr. Gygax and talk about how DnD and Role Playing Games affected our lives. Look for it to be posted in a couple of days. In the meantime I will fill some space with a product review.
There are tons of different energy drinks out there, Red Bull, Bawls, and even the venerable Jolt Cola. All of these are marketed shamelessly at gamers, not that it takes much of a push to get your average gamer to chug down something that is suppose to make your heart race and your head buzz. After all, how many hard core gamers have the time to go out and find real drugs? So something readily available (usually sold at computer stores such as Fry's and Microcenter so you can pick up a case when you grab the latest video card) and doesn't run the risk of landing you in jail where it is unlikely you can get a low lag internet connection, is a pretty easy sell. In fact the worse for you and more over the top you can make something the more likely it is to appeal to those of us, I mean them, that believe they can be hardcore without ever getting off the couch.
With this in mind it is no wonder that a company has decided to market a product ripped right from the virtual world that many of us spend all of our free time in. A company called Harcos has launched a new energy drink called a Mana Energy Potion. Mana potions are a staple in many games, like WoW, EQ, and just about any sword and sorcery based game out there. When you have over extended yourself and just don't have the mojo to get the job done, reach for a mana potion to recharge. It really is a pretty cool idea, and lots of gamers would gladly shell out a bit of cash to be able to drink mana potions in real life for their energy.
Right now the only way to get these is to mail order them from the company in CA, or places like Thinkgeek. Inconvenient, but it is a new product and might take a time to find distributors. However the price is the first problem with this innovative idea. It costs $20 + S&H for 6 40ml bottles of this stuff. That is over $3 a bottle, actually over $4 a bottle once shipping is added. While still on par with a pretentious cup of coffee, it is still pretty steep for a 40ml bottle, which is about 11% of a 12 oz can of cola. Four dollars for something a 10th the size of a can of cola. That is getting way to pricey for any serious consumption. Of course each tiny little bottle is suppose to pack the punch of 2 8oz cans of Red Bull, or 4 cups of crappy office coffee, so perhaps an argument can be made that they aren't outrageously expensive, though I still feel they are horribly overpriced.
The bottles themselves are nice, the same kind of globe bottomed bottle that are often portrayed in computer games. One thing immediately stands out though, they are green. In most games mana potions are blue, health potions are red, and you wouldn't drink anything that is green. And we aren't talking a wholesome vegetable green, or an uber cool neon green. No, these are a kind of malevolent oozing slime green. Maybe they were afraid of some kind of licensing issue if they made them look exactly like the potions from games, or more likely, they couldn't find an ingredient to make the chemical sludge turn blue without becoming truly toxic. Another cosmetic issue is that the bottles are covered by a plastic wrap that has the label printed on it, there is no printing on the bottle themselves. For a serious MMORPG player it might be worth buying these things just to have a bunch of cool bottles sitting on your desk, but without the label printed on the bottle, you really just end up with a bunch of nondescript bottles that you could pick up cheaper at someplace like World Market.
Now for one of the more important factors when considering an energy drink, the taste. I really had to rack my brain for the proper way to describe the sensation I got when I popped the cap and tossed one of these back. The best I come up with is that of a muppet pissing in your mouth, artificial and wrong. I can't really place the taste, it might be vaguely citrusy, in a plastic kind of way. It wasn't something I would care to try again.
Of course the real purpose of such a drink is not to look pretty, or even taste good, it is to wire you so you can game long into the night without the need for sleep. I can't really gauge how effective these are at that. Caffeine doesn't really have much affect on me. Four cups of coffee doesn't phase me, and neither did one of these. Despite the warnings that you shouldn't ever drink two of these at once, I doubt that doing so would produce any ill effects other than the taste. I feel bad saying that, because it is a cool idea and one I would like to see take off. But for the cost and with the dubious flavor, I just don't think they are worth it.