Back in the early aughts, there was a funny little internet jokester called the Angry Video Game Nerd who ripped apart all of our childhoods by playing old classic NES games and trashing them. Filled with ranting, disgust, and more swears than the first three seasons of South Park combined, AVGN was a treasure to gamers, because he said what we were all thinking all along. Jump ahead to today, and he’s got his own game from developers Freakzone and published by the folks over at Screwattack continuing that same idea. Will the Angry Video Game Nerds Adventures through various classic gaming landscapes trigger your nostalgia boner, or leave you slamming your keyboard/gamepad and flipping off your monitor in disgust?
After a thinly veiled pretext to explain the AVGN’s expulsion into the world of crappy video games, he’s armed with his traditional Power Glove and Zapper and sets off to escape his new dimension(s). Fully sprite based and full of chiptunes, Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is rampant with odes and nods to 8-bit platformers and even games that came before it. But it’s all about the “bad” games from your childhood – the games he would mock and ridicule on his show. Mega Man, Super Mario, Castlevania – all these 8-bit, stress-inducing games have some sort of homage in Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures that not only help you understand the premise, but bring back those frustrating elements once again. He’s thrown in to ruthlessly hard levels and worlds and forced to survive to the end boss and discover the madman responsible for this. As James jumps and shoots through levels dodging various instant-death blocks and pitfalls, you’re taken aback to younger years and grasping how hard these games really were. Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is an intentionally hard game, and you will die, a lot!
Luckily, checkpoints and health are plentiful, strewn about the level with 1-Ups and additional power-ups from other AVGN characters. Well, at least on easy difficulty. I swear, if we had to play this on anything other than easy, none of us would have working PCs by the end. It’s filled with moments requiring quick reaction times and boss fights that are less about “hit here three times,” focusing more on pattern recognition. Of course, as soon as you learn their patterns, they’ve sped up and changed it all around. Patience is a virtue, and will come in very handily with Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures. It’s a brutal difficulty that, for those of us spoiled by today’s gaming standard of multiple checkpoints and quick save options, makes it hard to return to.
The chiptunes of Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures are unsurprisingly stellar and evoke each world’s essence – particularly, tracks like the one found in the “Asslevania” level, which does a good job parodying “Vampire Killer” by Kinuyo Yamashita. With eight initial levels and one final conglomerate level testing your mettle, you can finish the game in about two hours depending upon skill/difficulty. The ending is pretty anticlimactic and will likely not be as impactful for non-fans of the series and characters. Since we’ve bowed out of the series years ago, a lot of the references in in-series bits were lost on us. Despite being out of the loop for so long though, the game quickly reminded us of why we stopped watching so long ago.
Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is full of crass, crude, and juvenile humor that, to us, is just not funny anymore. We could appreciate it as teens and younger ages because “random swearing is funny,” but now, it’s just sad. We get that he’s “us” playing these games as kids, but the charm wears off quickly after your fifth death, and the continue screen is bombarding you with such quips as “I’d rather suck the ass juices out a hobo’s nipples than play this shit again!” That’s funny – right, guys? I’m throwing random gross ideas and adjectives together to make my frustration shine more. Ugh.
Unfortunately for Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, it’s full of these bits that are more and more repetitive and frustrating as the game goes on. After your twentieth death and restart, these quips entice us to put it down rather than push forward. Again, we get the joke of the nerd being trapped in terrible, crappy game worlds, but it’s a joke that’s run into the ground quickly. Seeing as how when we were younger we only had to deal with 15 minute videos of him doing this in the past, pushing two hours of dealing with it is grating by endgame. This is a game for fans however, so if you still like the AVGN’s stuff, then you’ll undoubtedly still enjoy this game. If you’re like us and can only take so much infantile humor, you have been warned.
Don’t get us wrong, we’ve all sworn and gotten aggravated at video games over the years and will continues to do so, but this idea is pushing it too far. Unlike Super Meat Boy, which doesn’t insult the player upon failure, it’s a solid, old-school platformer that will test your grit and your funny bone as far as its comedic content. Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is a fan’s treat, but a test of half-and-half skill for others. That’s 50% skill to finish the hardcore level design and gameplay, 50% toleration of the comedy found within. If you’re still a fan of AVGN or enjoy adolescent humor veiled over insane platforming, maybe bump up the score a point or two, but if you’re not, there’s not much here aside from a good two-hour platformer outing.