Sometimes a game is so bad you just want to scream at it. That’s the premise behind James Rolfe’s Angry Video Game Nerd web series, wherein a pocket protector-wearing, beer-guzzling, controller-wielding nerd shouts horrible obscenities at the “sh*tty games of the past.” These are the genuinely terrible games with abysmal level design and maybe just broken game mechanics that drive people into a rage. Over time, AVGN developed its own continuity, with inside jokes, recurring characters (mostly played by Rolfe), and even celebrity guest stars. The fandom had such an appreciation for the series that FreakZone Games made a pair of video games in 2013 and 2016 celebrating the series. And now we’re getting a remaster collection in the form of Angry Video Game Nerd I & II Deluxe on Nintendo Switch.
Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures
Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures: Remassturd’s plot is something straight out of a ’90s movie. The Nerd and his friends are chilling in his basement and playing a sh*tty game on the Nintendo Entertainment System when they’re suddenly sucked into the TV. You start off armed with nothing but an NES Zapper in a tutorial level and are greeted by Naggi the Patronizing Firefly (whom you can just kill if you feel you don’t need to be told to press the jump button to jump). The game is full of humor like this, and the Nerd himself frequently has something to say about the game’s design.
After the intro, you can choose from eight stages based on older classics with aggravating mechanics like Castlevania, as well as more infamous games like Custer’s Revenge. Visually, AVGN1 is well-designed, playing into the retro aesthetic without being constrained by it. However, the levels all share the same mechanics, which makes them feel a bit bland after you’ve gotten through a couple of them.
Once you make your way through the first eight stages, the final level opens up. It’s named after a certain developer whose games are featured pretty often on Angry Video Game Nerd and is composed of elements from each of the others, with a pretty sharp difficulty spike to boot. Surprisingly, it’s a bit shorter than most of the others, and the final boss is the sh*tty game’s developer, AVGN running gag Fred F*cks.
All in all, Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is a fun little game. It plays like an homage to the Nerd’s frustration with old sh*tty games, without sinking to that level itself. There are a couple of different collectibles scattered throughout the world, which adds a little replay value. It can feel a little monotonous, but the gags and dialogue more than make up for it. It’s a surprisingly fun game, considering the source material.
Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation
AVGN2 starts with the whole world changing into a sh*tty video game, and it’s up to the Nerd to save everyone. This time around, there’s an overworld split up into six worlds of four stages each, with a map reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3. Each of these worlds has a theme, like the sewers from the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (complete with electric seaweed), Rolfe’s other YouTube show Board James, and Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. The Nerd can also get permanent power-ups, like a Super Scope that charges up or a scanner right out of Dragon Ball Z that reveals hidden platforms. After clearing five worlds, the sixth opens up that again combines elements from the rest of the game. The final boss isn’t as inspired as Fred F*cks, but it’s an interesting fight nonetheless.
Ultimately, Angry Video Game Nerd II feels more refined and polished than the original, with more varied enemies, new mechanics, and more stages. It keeps the humor of the original — the Nerd is constantly griping about all the sh*tty game design and straight-up weirdness he comes across — while improving on the total experience.
Both titles in Angry Video Game Nerd I & II Deluxe have tight mechanics and good level design, in a departure from their source material. They parody beloved classics and hated garbage alike and do so in a way that respects and teases in equal measure. While some of the gameplay feels a little off — particularly the height of the Nerd’s jump, which can led to some annoying deaths — they feel like products that respects the players and the medium, something that the sh*tty games of old never did.
Angry Video Game Nerd I & II Deluxe also features an epilogue: three stages and a final boss that will make any AVGN fan smile (or scowl, as the case may be). It’s a nice addition to the package, albeit nothing particularly mind-blowing. There are other nice touches here and there as well, like the Future Nerd showing up in AVGN1 and giving the player a power-up from AVGN2, making the level a little easier. There are other details that are different between the originals and this remaster, and hardcore fans will want to find them all.
Finally, regarding the delightfully crass humor, these games play into exactly the kind of younger Gen X / older Millennial nostalgia that we’ve been eating up for the past two decades. The Nerd fights against enemies like R.O.B. and “Cacademons.” Weapons include the spreadshot from Contra and literal F-Bombs. For AVGN fans, things like beer being used to replenish lost health and the Nerd’s constant criticisms are great touches to an already awesome game collection. If you let go of the controller for a few seconds, the Nerd flips you off with a Power Glove, rewarding and punishing you for assuming he’d have an idle animation.
Not a putrid pile of dookie?
Angry Video Game Nerd I & II Deluxe has all the makings of a sh*tty game but never sinks to their level. Everything from the music and sound effects to the levels to the dialogue are crafted with a level of care that only a quality product could have. There’s a bit of cognitive dissonance there, I’m not going to lie. Simply put, I enjoyed both titles and the epilogue. There were times when it was frustrating, but even in those moments there was a nostalgic feeling that I can’t bring myself to criticize too harshly. It’s a celebration of ’80s and ’90s video game and geek culture, for better and for worse.
If you’re someone who enjoys sidescrolling platformers, wacky humor, or just the AVGN series, you’ll probably enjoy this one. At the very least, it won’t make you want to set your Switch on fire, shoot it with a gun, cut it in half with a katana, take a dump on it, or subject it to any of the other things the Nerd has done to sh*tty games over the years.
A review code was provided by the publisher.