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Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures

Review; Nov. 19, 2013; Channels: Video Games; By Jenner David Cauton
Now it's your turn to play a shitty game that sucks ass. (Hint: This is a good thing.)

Everyone wanted it, and they knew it was coming. It seemed like a perfect match (made in Hell), and now it's finally here.  An all too obvious, but long overdue fan fantasy come true, James Rofle, a.k.a "The Angry Video Game Nerd" (AVGN) finally stars in his own video game, the very media genre his Internet famed character complains about.

Click the image to view game screenshots

Owner, independent film maker, and creator of Cinneemasacre, Rofle's passions include horror films, documentaries, movie reviews, tributes, and other forms of cinematography. His biggest hit is the "Angry Video Game Nerd" series, in which Rofle portrays a hot-tempered, foul-mouthed gamer from the early 80s and 90s who has an unhealthy obsession with playing badly programmed and/or designed video games. The Nerd reacts to the unsatisfactory conditions of these games by having tantrums, which are often a little over the top. The series is typically done in satire, and is meant purely to entertain.                                         

Rofle shows the viewer his playthroughs while he comments in the background about what's happening on the screen.  Cheap deaths, design flaws, and any number of other irritants trigger Rofle’s sailor mouth—four letter words tend to follow suit.  When the nerd isn't blowing his top he's sharing his knowledge of gaming history and trivia or performing crazy skits with others, usually two people in costumes duking it out in the bedroom. Regardless of whether it’s nostalgia, the ability to gain a better appreciation for the games we have today, a new way to combine various animal anatomy and feces in one sentence, or just laughing as the Nerd tortures himself, there's no doubt that whatever viewers value from the series AVGN is one of the most popular retro game critics of all time. A video game based on the series seems the most logical (and yet ironic) next step.

The AVGN Adventures is, of course, a retro 2d platformer akin to the style of games like Mega Man and Contra.  As one would expect, the entire game is one giant parody, and the story couldn't be more ridiculous (or familiar, if you're a fan of the series). While the Nerd and his friends are hanging out playing a video game, they suddenly get sucked into the TV and into the video game's world.  Armed with nothing but an oddly familiar pistol, a bad (and we mean baaaad) glove, and a rather creative vocabulary, the Nerd must now fight his way through ten whacky stages to rescue his friends, survive, and make it back home.

Gameplay is as simple as getting to the end while shooting enemies and passing obstacles along the way, standard fare for platformers.  The Nerd is always drinking to drown the pain of his frustrations, so beer bottles serve as health pickups.  Other characters from the show make appearances; Glitch Gremlin (Kevin Finn) and Super Mega Death Christ 2000 show up as powerups.  The levels themselves are named as throwbacks to other games and elements of the show, such as Assholevania, Dungeons and Dickholes, and Beat It and Eat It. (Yeah, it went there.)

Since the AVGN series itself is mostly about video games and their flaws, it seems logical to design the game based on that concept, but of course, this wouldn't sell very well as an actual game.  Yet not doing so would erase all intended humor and result in a game largely disconnected from the series.  Thankfully, AVGN Adventures doesn't have a problem with this. 

Warning:  Do not play this game as your only light source.

While there are plenty of obstacles that result in cheap deaths, for the most part it's only difficult enough just to tease you, (save for a few levels) giving a "nudge, nudge" reference, but never enough to annoy the player and make them stop playing all together....most of the time.  Yes, this means the level design mostly revolves around extreme platforming.  Various traps, pits, and enemies tend to be placed in the nastiest of places, seemingly knowing that the player will fall for them.  Even on its normal setting, the game is pretty tough, but it’s not exactly punishing.  Checkpoints are frequent, and tried-and-true memorization of the levels and boss patterns are typically the key to victory, as well as a fast right thumb and a lot of patience.

The game is downright bursting with the retro nostalgia.  The music is comprised of very well-done, chip-based tunes, including a few remixes of the AVGN Theme.  The game's graphics are vibrant, colorful sprites, and it's often fun trying to make out what all the different enemies are referencing.  Shitting birds, "Air Man" floating heads from Mega Man, various Atari-style "features" that I'm probably better off not talking about—the list goes on.

The game's normal difficulty gives the player a whopping 30 lives, which is a lot more than the standard three or five life limit typical of the retro games it’s trying to emulate.  Don't take this as an overly generous difficulty curve, because you'll probably be using most of them per stage.  The game doesn't get any easier or harder in any of the other difficulties.  "Easy" gives the player infinite lives and weaker enemies, and "Old School" is the same as Normal, but only allows the player to continue the game five times if they lose all their lives and disables saving (you'll have to complete the entire game in one go).

Sadly, the NES Zapper is more or less the only weapon you'll be using for the majority of the game.  While you can pick up an SNES Super Scope once in a while, the gun's projectiles are only slightly bigger and stronger and can only be shot straight ahead, compared to the eight cardinal directions with the Zapper.  You'll also lose the Super Scope the second you get hit, which tends to happen almost as quickly as you pick it up.  The majority of the game's level design (or more accurately, the entire game) is based on the Nerd's many pet peeves or complaints he's had in the series:  weapons that arc over enemies, items placed over traps or in impossible to reach places; it's all there.  AVGN fans will no doubt pick up on the references and gags fairly quickly.  This is, unfortunately, the game's biggest flaw: how much of the game's source material you've seen.

You can practically hear his voice.

Unless you're a fan of AVGN and have watched nearly all 100+ episodes, you probably won't understand most of the game's jokes or pick up on the references, (such as the one shown above) which is really half the reason for playing the game.  The majority of them, if not all, often relate to very specific episodes of the series, so specific that even fans who have only watched the past few years of the series might not pick up on them as they often date further back than that. For example, whenever you pick up the rock, seemingly the game's worst powerup, the Nerd complains about its uselessness when you first use it, since the rocks arc over enemies that are close to you and never hit them (unless you step back). This is a reference to the Nerd's first Christmas episode, where he plays an NES game comprised of three mini-games called "Bible Adventures."  The rock was the main weapon for the David and Goliath mini-game where the player uses a sling to kill enemies, often to much dismay.  The trapped item references can be found in similar parts during the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode, as well as X-Men.  Even the final boss encounter will seem oddly confusing and quite random if you haven't watched a particular AVGN episode.  The jokes and references span across such a large span of episodes that's it's almost impossible to really list them all.  Even if you get a little chuckle, it definitely won't have the same effect as it will for someone who's watched them all, and I'm saying this as someone who has.  It's because of this that it becomes clear that AVGN Adventures is made for the fans, which of course isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if you're one of the unlucky few who has never heard of AVGN, the game suddenly loses a lot of appeal. 

For non-AVGN fans, the game can seem a little lacking.  As purely a game in itself, it's a little on the short side, relying mostly on its difficulty to extend its length, which becomes shorter once you've memorized everything.  Unless you're playing on Easy (which gives unlimited lives), the game's difficulty discourages exploration and finding the game's hidden characters, as most players on their first playthrough will probably just be more concerned with staying alive and making it to the end, less they have to start the entire level over.  It's a shame, because finding the extra characters, such as Kyle Justin or the Bullshit Man, gives the player the ability to switch to those different characters at any time, all who possess different abilities, dramatically adding a bit more variety.  Even if you do find them, the problem is that even though the game says you “unlock” these characters, it's only for your current game save as they become locked out and must be found again whenever you start a new game.

Fancy a guitar lesson?  Check behind your local couch today.

The game could have done well with other standard retro platformer mechanics such as collecting 100 or so coins or some other random doodad to gain extra lives (if only to encourage exploration) or a few permanent upgrades such as increased hitpoints during the same game save.  Not that there aren't extra lives to collect, but they're few and far between and often risk the player killing himself just to get them.  As it stands, the Nerd becomes no more powerful than when you first start all the way to the finish.  The only permanent upgrade the player ever gets is finding the extra characters, but unless the player plays on Easy, this doesn't seem like an endeavor worth risking on a first playthrough.  Lastly, the game tends to chug in framerate rather infrequently, even on rigs more than beefy enough to handle the job (and as the game is mostly 2D sprites and artwork, your rig more than likely is).  Hopefully this will be fixed in a patch in the future.

AVGN Adventures isn't fantastic, but it's not bad either, and it accomplishes what it's meant to do well.  For gamers who want to play as the Nerd himself, this game answers that craving with flying colors.  This game knows what fans of the show want: plenty of the Nerd's nitpicks, cameos, or awesome moments of the series.  But its source material, rightfully so, influences the game's difficulty, and while I can't blame the game in this regard, it's just a shame that it isn't just a little bit more than that. The Nerd has a lot more games in his collection than the game is making a parody of.  Maybe we can expect a sequel?  Who knows what the future might bring.

  • Presentation - 10
  • Graphics - 8
  • Story - 8
  • Sounds - 9
  • Gameplay - 7
  • Stability - 9
  • Lasting Appeal - 7


Review Score

Not Rated by ESRB

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