Review: Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures (Nintendo Wii U)

Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures
Developer: FreakZone Games
Publisher: ScrewAttack games
Genre: Adventure/Action (read as: platformer)
Release Date: 4/2/2015

At its core, Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures would seem to be critic proof. It is inspired by the Cinnemassacre web show that has been trashing awful games for eleven years. Its source material consists of notoriously bad games. The opening sequence of AVGNA is such that the Nerd and his friends are sucked into the television while playing a “shitty video game”. One would assume that this is the shitty game into which they are being sucked. Therefore, any problem or annoyance with the game can be labeled as intentional: the reviewer just doesn’t get it.

Sure. I’ll accept that.

Still, I’m not sure whether the idea of creating any work of art evocative of NES games made by LJN is an idea formed by nostalgia or Stockholm syndrome. I mean, I certainly have memories of playing through a Nintendo game as an eight bit Wolverine, but I would not call them fond ones.

AVGNA starts with difficult platforming and gets more difficult from there. The jumping takes a bit to get used to as the Nerd lacks the momentum of a character like Mario. It is very easy to overcorrect after landing and walk backwards off a platform. The game also embraces every other peccadillo that has driven the Nerd to cursing fits over the last decade; namely, it is possible to fall through the edges of some platforms, enemies will block the tops of ladders, offscreen enemies will hurl projectiles, flying enemies will come from nowhere to knock the Nerd off his perch, enemies will require far too many hits, powerups will be placed in impractical positions, various things inexplicably cause instant death, and so on and so on and so on and so on.

And so on.

It is a game full of fire and bats and one hit kills and everything that made gamers go nuts twenty five years ago. This leads to what I am sure is a meta-goal of the game: to transform the player into the Angry Video Game Nerd, himself. This is accomplished through frustrating levels designed to cause temper tantrums in otherwise reasonable people. It is my belief that the fun of the Angry Video Game Nerd is in watching somebody else get frustrated, and enjoying the fact that you are not them. (We paraphrase the Marquis de Sade all the time here at DHGF.) So perhaps AVGNA is a game best enjoyed by watching someone else try to play it.

Naturally, I experimented with that thing. I came to the inescapable conclusion that the game is, indeed, much more fun to watch somebody else try to play than to try to play it oneself. One needn’t even watch the screen, just the person as he or she tries to contemplate why any game has such utter contempt for him or her. This provides about ten minutes of fun per person upon whom you are experimenting.

I would imagine that there is a tipping point at which people will cease to remain on friendly terms with you for reasons of this experimentation, but now is not the time to speculate on such things.

After we make it through the game’s brief introductory chapter, we are taken to a screen wherein we can choose to visit a variety of purposefully cliché video game worlds. There is a snow level, a fire level, a cutesy unicorn level, a future level and so on. There is also an Atari porn level, though. So there is that. All the levels play almost exactly the same way with minor tweaks here and there. A little variety would be nice: an annoying swimming level, perhaps, a Roger Rabbit style driving portion, a Superman 64 style level, level specific power-ups, a level with a ridiculous time limit, a level where the stage scrolls, a level where one of the enemies chases you, or any number of things other than a frustrating platformer ten times in a row.

On the positive side, we are given the option to go to whichever level we please after completing the introductory course. Were it necessary to complete one level to make it to the next, I would have seen ONE LEVEL. I made it to two boss levels on easy mode, but did not care enough to spend the time to learn their patterns in order to progress. The main problem is that the game is not fun to play.

Its high difficulty can make it rewarding to play, I guess. This is the sort of reward enjoyed by many people, I’m sure: kids who love trains a whole lot, people who buy Sudoku books, nerd dick wavers who boast about their ability to learn Tekken combos and do Sonic speed runs, and all sorts of psychopaths. But the game is simply not fun to play.

Just like the LJN games for NES were not fun to play, so we should mark the authorial intent as . . . accomplished?

I don’t want to be too much of a jerk to the game. I think it is wonderful that a guy who initially called himself the Angry Nintendo Nerd can make videos for years and years and reach a point where he ends up in his own game on a Nintendo system. That is awesome.

And the Nerd himself is likable. He can be funny. I’ve enjoyed many of the AVGN videos, but stopped watching them a few years ago. Too often the humor just fell completely flat with me. It was lazy, relying on such clever bits as: “he’s swearing, that’s the joke” or “there’s poop, that’s the joke.” The game falls squarely into that school of comedic thought. If you pick up a weapon and use the quote “say hello to my little friend” as a joke, you are exactly as cutting edge as The Pirates Who Don’t do Anything: A VeggieTales movie. You are going after the lowest hanging fruit. It is fruit so low, that it is probably on the ground and fermented by now.

In the end, though, this isn’t a cynical AAA game made by some faceless entity doing focus groups. This really feels like a game made with love. Unfortunately it is the love of bad video games and poop jokes.

Short Attention Span Summary
Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is worse than doing SOMETHING HORRIBLE with SOMETHING GROSS. What were they thinking?!



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