Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures Review: A sh*t load of 'f*ck yeah!'
The Angry Video Game Nerd, AKA James Rolf, made a name for himself out of playing hideously bad games and showing his frustration toward them. Whether it was Silver Surfer, Bugs Bunny’s Birthday Blowout, or Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties, the Nerd has played countless titles, garnering a fan base that appreciates his foul-mouthed, hot-tempered antics. It makes sense that the Nerd is now entering the very medium that causes him so much agony. Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is a retro-style platformer that will kick your ass, hurt you deeply, and make you curse. Unlike the popular Internet escapades of the Nerd, however, this game is certainly not a load of ass.
AVGN Adventures kicks off with the Nerd gathered around the TV alongside his buddies Mike Matei, Guitar Guy, and Bullshit Man. Out of nowhere, the Nerd’s friends are sucked into the TV while the Nerd is literally grabbed by the balls and tossed into the weird dimension of Game Land. This plot setup paves the way for a highly difficult and often hilarious adventure starring the Nerd and company.
Right from the get-go, you get a sense that this game is very faithfully produced to keep in line with the show. It doesn’t take long for the Nerd to start cursing, and once you get through the tutorial stage, you'll see exactly how tough AVGN Adventures can be. It seems like you’re always at a disadvantage due to the myriad of perils flying around the screen, awaiting beneath a pitfall, or simply charging headfirst into you. Even then, this disadvantage doesn't feel cheap, and if you just pay attention and utilize those twitch reflexes, you should be fine. Umm, but you'll probably still end up cursing a bunch.
The Nerd frequently plays games that have abysmal control issues, practically rendering them unplayable. That’s in no way the case with AVGN Adventures. The controls are tight and responsive, and moving the Nerd through levels just feels right. Dodging flying enemies, avoiding projectiles, and jumping on hard-to-reach platforms is challenging, yes, but thanks to the great precision in the controls, it’s also largely satisfying.
Along your journey, you can encounter and unlock the Nerd’s buddies. Mike Matei can jump really high (think Luigi in Super Mario Bros. 2) and spot secrets. Guitar Guy shoots sounds waves from his guitar that can go through walls. And Bullshit Man can double jump and toss crap around. Each character has his own perks, but more often than not, the Nerd’s all-around style is the most ideal.
In addition to the different playable characters, there are a few power-ups. Aside from picking up beers to regain health or lives to earn more tries, you can also snag items that give you an edge. Most notable is the good ol’ Glitch Gremlin. Despite the fact that he’s a total pompous prick who revels in the glitchiness of certain games, he’s actually quite useful in AVGN Adventures. If you’ve got the Glitch Gremlin power-up and find yourself overwhelmed with loads of onscreen hazards, releasing the green dude freezes the screen in place and allows you to pass safely.
Most of the frustration I had with AVGN Adventures was during boss battles. Coincidentally, this is also where I felt the most satisfaction. At first it appears that the bosses are moving erratically onscreen, but careful inspection allows you to see patterns, prompting you to pick your spots wisely, jump to avoid danger, and shoot projectiles whenever possible. It’s hard as hell, but once you get past that bad guy, it’s impossible to deny the elation and pride you feel after conquering such a massive challenge.
Another major trope is the skull block. These devilish obstacles kill you with one touch. A lot of the time, they appear in large quantities, clustered together and forcing you to make death-defying leaps. Sometimes they even blink on and off, which prompts you to run across rapidly. When you make it across, you feel like a Greek god. But it’s those moments when you keep touching the damn things that you feel like ripping your face off out of sheer anger and dismay. Admittedly, these hazards are often so out-of-place that they sometimes feel cheap, but getting past them always ends in a sigh of relief.
The best part about dying in AVGN Adventures is reading the Nerd's angry remarks toward the very game he's in. The first few times you read about how he'd rather sniff ass juice from a chicken's foot — or something similarly disgusting — are absolutely golden. These lines are all randomly generated, and they do get a bit repetitive after a while, but they're still pretty damn funny more often than not.
The game is not only good, it’s well made, too. That said, if you can’t stomach games that are NES hard, you might not want anything to do with this potty-mouthed pixelated platformer.
Speaking of pixels, AVGN Adventures looks great. Levels are colorful and have a ton of old school influence. Everything you come across is soaked in retro charm, but there’s an inherent modern touch seen throughout. For example, seeing penises flying around the screen during the Silver Surfer parody sequence isn’t something we’d be likely to see back in the ‘80s or ‘90s, but it fits immensely well here.
The sound design is equally retro-flavored. If you’re a fan of chiptuney goodness galore, you’re bound to dig the soundtrack. It’s not just the actual sound, though; the beats you hear in each of the levels are just really good. The Happy Fun Candy Time level, for example, has one of the catchiest themes in the game, and it’s likely to get stuck in your head. Of course, it’ll be stuck up there with a bunch of swear words and images of pixelated penises, but hey, what are you going to do?
You can get through the nine main levels in AVGN Adventures in under three hours. In those three hours, however, you’re going to die a few hundred times. Sadly, the game is over a bit too soon, and the $15 price tag comes off as a bit steep. If you’re a fan of the Nerd or just love platformers, however, it’s still worth it to make the investment. Multiple difficulties that lower your health and continues and beef up the baddies encourage multiple playthroughs, though some folks may feel that they did everything there was to do in that first run.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing AVGN Adventures. (In fact, I accidentally deleted my save like an idiot, but I had no qualms about playing through the four levels I had already cleared one more time.) I also thoroughly wanted to stab myself in the eye with a pencil. Seriously, this game will destroy your soul, because it’s ridiculously difficult. Thankfully, every time you get just a little bit further in a level, and every time you actually clear a level, you feel like you’ve been rewarded in a big way. Questionable price tag notwithstanding, AVGN Adventures satisfies with its delicious brand of tough love, bad language, and delightful vulgarity.
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