Review: The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures for Wii U

Probably the most NSFW review ever on this site.

Seriously, like it says above: Not going to hold back the language on this one, because really, if you’re interested in this game at all, you should be okay with a bit of colourful language. That said…

The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is gonna take you back to the past, but is it a shitty game that sucks ass?

That, of course, is a matter of opinion.

In the case of a lot of video games, the idea is to immerse yourself in an experience that makes you feel like you’re something or someone else. In that regard, The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures (hereafter referred to as AVGN Adventures) manages to succeed.

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For those who don’t know, James Rolfe portrays a character called the Angry Video Game Nerd who plays the worst old video games he can find to bring to light the atrocities of game design committed so that those mistakes don’t repeat themselves. The cheap, the unfair, the poorly designed, the Nerd has endured all sorts of misery over the years for the benefit of his audience.

Oh, and he curses a lot. I mean a lot. And so will you.

This game is hard, perhaps one of the hardest I’ve ever played. I’ve succeeded at Contra without using the Konami Code, I’ve bested the Yellow Devil in Mega Man without using the pause trick, and among everything I’ve ever done, this definitely ranks near the top… and that’s on Easy mode.

By the time you finish this game, you will feel like the Nerd himself, and no doubt utter some pretty colourful phrases of your own. Suffice to say, you probably don’t want to play this game in front of your mother.

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Generally speaking, the game isn’t poorly designed– it’s just hard. Hard, but doable.

A lot of tactics employed by the game designers could be described as very cheap, but many are able to be overcome through trial and error. Not everything, but at least on Easy Mode, you have unlimited lives to figure it out. Had it not been for that, I don’t think I’d have ever had a realistic hope at finishing this game, least of all without breaking something.

(Note: If you’re the type to throw controllers, best to invest in a Pro Controller if you plan to play this title– if something breaks, those are far easier to replace than the Wii U GamePad.)

If there is one thing I’d fault the game for in that regard, it’s that hit detection seems kind of inconsistent. Level layouts are generally block-based, similar to Super Mario Bros. (among others), in that a “block” is more or less a default measurement for background tiles, etc. Some instant-death obstacles tend to be a lot more lenient than others, making it tricky to know just where you can stand.

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While Easy mode is nonetheless difficult (but doable), there are still five other difficulty levels available, three of which are unlockable. On one end of the spectrum, the Easy mode gives you unlimited lives, six beers (hit points), strong weapons, and weaker enemies. On the far opposite side, you have “YOLO” mode, unlocked after beating “Fucking Impossible.” As the name implies, you only have one life, as well as one beer, no continues, weak weapons, strong enemies, no continues, no saving, and no extra lives to be found in the stages.

It’s apparently doable, though, but I imagine that requires an insane amount of dedication.

That said, you are expected to die, and die a lot. So much that there is even a death counter keeping tally as you play the game. My personal stats (again, on Easy) are a time of 125:44 and 0207 deaths throughout that time.

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Moving past the difficulty for a moment, the game is a pastiche of tributes to the 8- and 16-bit eras of gaming, which is appropriate due to that being where the Nerd tends to focus most of his scorn. There are plenty of references and even guest appearances from other YouTube personalities (including Pat the NES Punk, Jim Sterling, Egoraptor, and numerous guys from publisher ScrewAttack), though most of the former are presented in such a way that it’s clear what they’re referencing (such as “Naggi the Patronising Firefly,” who takes you through the tutorial level). Even the cutscenes are drawn as homages to past games both good and bad, such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time.

The Mega Man-esque stage select screen doubles as a tribute to the 1989 cartoon Captain N: The Game Master, while the levels themselves are general references to different game worlds. “Assholevania” is clearly a nod to Castlevania, whereas “Future Fuckballs 2010” is a futuristic world which seems to mesh elements of Mega Man and Metroid. The most thinly veiled of all would probably be “Beat It & Eat It,” a stage which clearly draws its inspiration from the notorious pornographic Atari 2600 game Beat ‘Em & Eat ‘Em by Mystique (which yes, the Nerd did review alongside other similar games).

Complete the eight initial levels of Game Land, and you move on to one final stage… but revealing what it is would be telling. If you know the Nerd, though, then you can probably take a good guess as to what its theme is.

The final level notwithstanding, there is one weird thing about the levels: Certain obstacles which you would not associate with a given game wind up in other worlds a lot. In particular, the disappearing blocks of Mega Man that are right at home in Future Fuckballs 2010 wind up in other levels as well. It’s not a huge deal… well, unless you absolutely can’t stand disappearing blocks. Even so, they seem to have been modified a little bit here– it may just be me, but having each block in sequence be a different color seemed to help.

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AVGN Adventures offers you four characters to play as, each with their own traits. The titular character is, of course, the default and the most well-rounded character. Armed with a Zapper light gun (or a close facsimile) that can be upgraded to a Super Scope (likewise) and a Power Glove (ditto), the Nerd has a ranged attack that packs a decent punch among the four. In a way, he plays sort of like Mega Man (which at this point should come as no surprise), but takes a cue from Bass in being able to fire in eight directions should you hold down the right trigger (which in itself is a throwback to Contra III: The Alien Wars).

With the Nerd, you can find Guitar Guy, which is the skeleton the onscreen persona of Kyle Justin, who performs the Nerd’s theme song. As such, his weapon is a guitar that emits sound waves which act much like Samus’s Wave Beam in Metroid, able to travel through walls to hit enemies and switches on the other side. Unfortunately, his jumping ability is rather weak compared to the Nerd, and he’s a little slippery to boot.

Couch Guy is required to find Mike (aka “Motherfucker Mike”) who is the ultimate sidekick, bringing with him a jump like Luigi and a weapon like Zero. He lacks Zero’s beam saber combos, but he can identify walls you can smash for power-ups and items. Unfortunately, his Luigi-esque fluttering high jump carries with it the same slippery controls that fans of Mario’s brother must frequently contend with.

Last, but not least, is The Bullshit Man, shortened to “B.S. Man” here. He has the worst jump, even when augmented by his fart-powered double-jump ability. He does have a relatively short-ranged projectile attack in which he flings a large log of… well, shit at opponents. As one might guess, this attack is particularly potent.

Each character, when found, becomes instantly accessible by tapping one of the shoulder buttons. That way, you can play as your favorite while still being able to switch out as needed.

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So, does The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures suck balls? No, not really. It’s quite difficult, but then, it’s meant to be. If you’re willing to go through on Easy, it’s a solid experience and definitely able to be beaten, but for those who want more of a challenge… I can’t imagine anyone would come away disappointed as each of the difficulty levels does quite a bit to ramp things up considerably.

If you’re a fan of solid platforming, you might want to give this one a try, and if you’re a fan of hard platformers, you’ll definitely want to give this one a try. And of course, if you’re a fan of “The Angriest Gamer You’ve Ever Seen” and have wondered what it’s like to be him without dropping a ton of money on vintage games and an NES toaster, this is definitely the best way to go about it.

That said, if you’ve got more… shall we say “delicate” sensibilities, whether it be due to the nature of content or simply prefer a more relaxed experience, this game is designed to cater to certain crowds and is probably not the game for you.

avgnthumbThe Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures was released in the Nintendo eShop for the Wii U on April 2nd, 2015 at a price of $9.99.

A review copy was provided by ScrewAttack.

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David Oxford

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you're interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.