If you grew-up in the 80’s, you should remember at least one game that made you smash your controller on the ground. Mega-man made you hate your life. Ninja Gaiden was the realization that birds are the Devil’s assassins. Ninja Turtles introduced you to the dreaded seaweed. In general the Nintendo generation has been raised to appreciate violently difficult gaming.
At some point the difficulty faded into the mist and the gaming culture was left with content that catered to the masses. We are now given games that are playable by our grandmothers or our mom’s best friends non-gamer accountant neighbor. At what point did we bleed out our potentially amazing games just so we could make it through 100% of the new murderer’s creed? When did developers decide we need an easy button just so we get to play that new end-boss instead of actually working through each level biting our hands and banging our heads on the walls with 39 of your closest guildies? We miss you C’Thun.
If you are a member of the cult of punishment-gluttons and have been begging for a reprieve, then ScrewAttack and James Rolfe have heard your calls and could potentially have an answer. I introduce you to The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures. Based on James Rolfe’s wildly popular YouTube persona the Angry Video Game Nerd, AVGN Adventures places you inside the 8-bit world of rhetorical video game stereotypes and life-hating pitfalls with a large amount of toilet humor to fill in the gaps.
The story goes as follows: you (The Angry Video Game Nerd) are enjoying a nice time at your home with all of your friends. Suddenly everyone is sucked into the television and you are the only one who could possibly rescue everyone from certain doom – insert Star Wars or Mario or any other stereo-typical archetype storyline here. Your primary weapon will be your trusty NES Zapper and your amazing platforming abilities. While exploring each level in search of your buddies you can also collect the obligatory power-up as well as the option to change characters once you have rescued a friend from a level. Keep in mind, not all of these alternate characters are easy to get or even useful for that fact. Now some areas can only be accessed by specific characters. Unfortunately those are really the only useful jobs these alternate characters have. The Nerd is really your best option for 80% of the game.
You will also have the joy of being accompanied by the in-game tutorial/helper/fairy-monster known as Naggi (appropriately named). Naggi will assist you in learning the game, your controls, and any other bits of information that any relatively intelligent individuals could figure out on
their own. It is very evident that the game is incredibly self-aware, but the inclusion of the hand-holding tutorial can be a very frustrating break from the overall gameplay.
If you are at all familiar with the Nerd character, you will instantly recognize all of the inside jokes and retro gaming references and it will bring joy to your filthy and disgusting heart. That is who this game was made for – the fans of the series. Now, if you are an outsider or someone just discovering the show then you will be utterly confused and quite possibly appalled. Who is that skeleton with the guitar? Is that a mentally handicapped vulture? Why is there a pickle covered in feces? WHAT IS MECHA-DEATH-CHRIST?! Much of the fan service is really going to be a difficult hurdle to climb. Fortunately if you are new to the Nerd, and have the ability to not care what you are doing, then this is not actually a terrible game.
The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures does one thing incredibly well, nostalgia. Throughout the entire game you are exposed to eight strangely familiar levels. Each one reminiscent of games we have all most likely played at one point or another. You get a Castlevania, a fairies and fantasy, an ice, a firey lava, a high fantasy RPG, a scary haunted house, a sci-fi adventure, and strangely enough an overly sexualized tribute to an Atari 2600 porn game called Custer’s Last stand. Each of these stages tests the players coordination, twitchy reflexes, patience, and resolve.
Each stage is made up of what could be some of the most frustrating pit-falls in gaming, but this does not mean you are being cheated. Quite the contrary, every challenging part the player is presented with is completely fair due to the spot on controls. If you fall to your death it is because you screwed up. If the boss hands you your pants then you need to be better. Do not over think or you will die, do not think or you will die, do not forget the patterns or you will die. Players need to be prepared to die, because it will become a regular occurrence. Luckily when you do fall to your death or explode into blood and organs you are greeted with a wonderful screen informing you in a spewing of foul words and disgusting adjectives that you have died and must try again. This screen will give you a few laughs at first, but after the 10th time you are told to poop out of some animals ear hole, you will be officially sick of it.
While the levels themselves are challenging and require complete concentration to master, the enemies that litter the levels do not. Every enemy is literally a copy of a core set. Yes, they are re-skinned for each level. Yes the way they move or attack may have slight variations. But do not let this fool you, once you have played one level you know what to expect in the next 7. The only time this does not hold true is during the rare times when you are thrown into one of the few horizontal shooter sections. This is truly where The Angry Video Game Adventures falls short. The combination of the repetitive enemies and the high level of difficulty really hinders The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures from excelling. It generally feels like there is something missing during the course of every level. Luckily each level has been littered with checkpoint after checkpoint ensuring that you never have to start too far back, saving yourself the enjoyment of dealing with the rinse repeat of the enemies.
So why would you play this game? Yes, the levels are damn hard and they will make you want to inflict physical pain on something, anything. Is that really worth the time though? Well luckily the boss the end of each level will make your struggle worth every death. The one thing that really made retro gaming so magical has been injected into every single world, the level boss. Each of these levels gives you a chance to take out your frustrations (or develop more). As is with the frustration of each level you also get that same feeling of what the **** when you are pitted up against the guardian of each level. These battles will require nothing more than the immediate mastery of the bosses pattern. These are not battles that you get to accidentally pass or has cheap or easy win mechanics. These will challenge your skill level as well as just how well you can adapt to a rapidly changing situation as the boss gets more aggressive and more challenging the closer to their impending doom they get. The levels are going to challenge the player but the bosses are what is going to keep the player pushing forward.
The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is a wonderful game. It does have it’s shortcomings. The game is incredibly inappropriate game and full of toilet humor and sex references. If you are a fan of the AVGN show you will love this game. If these things bother you then this game probably is not for you. It is a solid homage to retro platforming goodness that has much room for improvement.