*Review based on the Wii U version*
The Angry Video Game Nerd has been reviewing bad retro games to the amusement of viewers for well over a decade now. Though many fan games based on the character have existed for some time, it wasn’t until 2013 that an official AVGN video game was released in the form of Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, which sought to not only replicate the humor of the web series, but also the games it has featured over the years (within legal limitations, of course). But does Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures live up to the entertainment of the series, or is it as bad as the games that have tortured the Nerd for so long?
Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures uses an appropriately retro look, with pixellated, 2D gameplay reminiscent of the Mega Man games. The Nerd is equipped with an NES Zapper, which he uses to shoot pixels at enemies. The Nerd’s health is measured in beer bottles, power-ups can be found, and a few hidden characters can be unlocked. After an introductory stage, eight levels can be selected, once again referencing the Mega Man games, with a final stage being unlocked once all eight have been completed.
In that sense, it’s a really simple game. The way the levels pay homage to episodes of the web series and a number of games (both classic and not-so classic) gives the game a fun sense of fan service. The game even replicates the Angry Video Game Nerd’s brand of humor, with a level of swearing and raunch that would make Conker the Squirrel blush. In fact, the game crosses so many lines that Nintendo had to disable its Miiverse functionality on the Wii U version, in order to keep Miiverse more family friendly. This is a game strictly for mature audiences.
On the downside, the game emulates at least one element of the Nerd’s experiences that may not be so welcome. The game is ridiculously difficult, as a means to replicate the nature of many of the infuriatingly difficult games the Nerd has reviewed over the years. At first, it’s actually pretty funny how the game stacks the deck against the player so excessively. But there comes a point when the joke starts to wear off and it all just becomes exhausting.
The game has three difficulty modes from the start, Easy, Normal, and Old School, with three additional, super difficult modes being unlockable. Though even when played in Easy mode, the game is still ridiculously difficult, with things only being made more tolerable with more health (6 bottles of beer in easy, 3 in the others), and the benefit of unlimited lives. Playing through the game on Easy mode will only have you wondering how masochistic one must be to play on the harder difficulty settings, where you only have so many lives and continues before you need to start the whole game over.
While much of the game’s platforming and shooting action provide some great challenge and fun, the trollish difficulty can sometimes become overbearing and hamper the experience. Mercifully, checkpoints are incredibly frequent, and come in the form of the Nerd’s iconic NES/toaster hybrid, the Nintoaster, making things a little smoother.
This is all a great shame, because Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures has some genuinely innovative platforming going for it. If it focused a little more on polishing on what the game does have in its corner, and placed less emphasis on its punchline of turning the player into their own Angry Video Game Nerd, this would have been a great platformer. But the joke gets in the way of its more honest gameplay, preventing the experience from reaching its full potential.
Still, the game does provide some good fun for fans of the series and its unique brand of humor. The three additional characters and different themed stages add a little bit of variety to the experience, and longtime AVGN fans will probably get a good dose of nostalgia out of it. Perhaps best of all is the game’s soundtrack, which is downright awesome!
It may be a bit of a novelty act a little too often, but when it is actually working as a genuine game, Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures provides some good (if not raunchy) fun. It may not be perfect, but at least it’s not – as the Nerd would say – total ass.