Friday, 15 April 2016

Top 20 Angry Video Game Nerd Episodes



Even though the history of film criticism as a whole crosses so many continents and ideals and theories that it would take far too long to sum it all up in a single post, how exists within the realms of YouTube is, surprisingly, really easy to pin down. I say this because it basically all comes back to the one I’m talking about today: The man who decided to craft a several-year-long joke about just how seriously a person can take it when a video game is… less than pristine, let’s say. Even amongst his contemporaries, you can see the influence of this vitriolic foul-mouthed guy with a Jersey accent in their work. So, since this is my dedication to my critical influences, it’d be ridiculous if I didn’t highlight the grandfather of the modern video review. These are my picks for the Top 20 episodes of the Angry Video Game Nerd.


#20: Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties

Have to admit, I have a certain amount of fascination for interactive fiction games; games like this that portend to being about creating a straight-forward story that the player can directly change. You can understand why then I would pick this review to kick off the list, as the Nerd goes through this confoundingly structured slideshow of a game with the kind of reactions that are the only rational follow-ups to what takes place in the game proper.

#19: Dark Castle

A lot of the time, one of the biggest problems that some games bring up is how broken their controls are. The inherent problem with getting that issue across is that, unless you’ve played it yourself, it can be difficult to understand just how bad they are. Unless it’s a game like this which, both with the Genesis and CD-I versions, are painfully obvious just from watching them that these are a nightmare to get through. It helps that the Nerd does a good job explaining how bad they are as well.

#18: Making Of An Angry Video Game Nerd Episode

Maybe this speaks more to someone like me who, at a given point, was making video reviews on YouTube, but the kind of detail creator James  Rolfe goes into when it comes to what goes into a single episode is quite fascinating. I especially like his setup for getting clips from various sources, which goes into the realm of “I am prepared for anything” with how expansive it is.

#17: Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde Re-Revisited

A re-attempt at one of the Nerd’s earliest reviews, one of the bigger setups for the joke that not just this show banks on but as does the entire genre of video reviewing as a whole, he goes into much better detail on the problems and the actual gameplay of the subject itself. It also shows hints of the convoluted attempts at profundity that he would end up getting a lot of mileage out of later on in the show’s run, but thankfully it starts on a note of facetiousness that the rest of those attempts would follow.

#16: Halloween

James has a big thing for horror cinema, so much so that he makes a lot of his Halloween episodes some of the bigger productions of the entire show. This is just a taste of what would be capable of in that regard, making this weird parody of the original Halloween film that ends on one of those notes that induces some nice nostalgia-gasms in the right people. I mean, defeating Michael Myers with game controllers? It’s kind of awesome in a dorky way.

#15: The Wizard Of Oz

Mike Matei’s turn as the Cowardly Lion is right up there with Vice’s Kids Telling Dirty Jokes and pretty much anything Game Grumps-related in terms of things I should find a lot less funny than I do. Actually, that kind of applies to a lot of Matei’s character portrayals on AVGN. All the same, he works really well next to the Nerd and certainly makes for a memorable presence in the video itself.

#14: Frankenstein

Another Halloween episode, this time with the Nerd bringing his own abomination to life with the Frankennerd, culminating in a classic Nerd fight that is actually pretty cool to see as he wrestles with both the game and his creation trying to get the better of him.

#13: NES Accessories

As much as this video probably served as more of a nostalgic trip for those who grew up on the NES, I find this video and devices on offer interesting because I didn’t grow up during that era. To think that people actually bought stuff like the Speedboard and the Konami LaserScope tickles me, and the Nerd’s remarks on just how weird these things inherently are makes it even funnier.

#12: The Power Glove

That most legendarily infamous of NES peripherals, it also served as a product that the early Nerd would cut his teeth on. His struggling through some of the classic NES library with the counter-intuitive controls the Glove offered is funny on its own, but his reaction to actually succeeding on a particular game is priceless. I also find something weirdly funny about the expressions he gives in the montage immediately after that bit of bewilderment.

#11: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

More so than the review itself, it’s the long-form skit that surrounds it that makes this entertaining. Jimmie Jim Slugg as the Hillbilly is very funny, Mike Matei gets one of his more aptly casted roles as the psychotic fanboy, as well as a nice rendition of Leatherface, and the added grungy texture to the video as a means to make it resemble the original film more closely adds some odd creeps to the overall parody.

#10: Deadly Towers

Probably one of the main reasons why this foul-mouthed style of reviewing caught on as much as it did is, when you get right down to it, it is deceptively easy to do. However, there is something to be said about James’ approach to this review, where he basically crowd-sourced the script and its various jokes from his fanbase. The jokes that he picks kind of highlight how much his fans would latch on to this style of humour, giving a nice collaborative feel to the video.

#9: Fester’s Quest

Yet another review that is mainly on here because of Justin’s music. I really don’t want to underplay the Nerd’s role in this video, as his caricatures of the Addams Family are very well-done in their own ways, but it’s the parody version of the Addams Family theme that will always stick in my head. Hell, whenever I do encounter the original song, I just sing this version instead. Up until then, only Weird Al Yankovic had been able to get that kind of reaction from me.

#8: Nintendo Power

Definitely one of the more reminiscent episodes of the show, the Nerd goes through his childhood memories reading issues of the titular magazine, for all the good, bad and just plain weird that they would contain. As much as the Nerd made his name from being… well, angry, this video made for a nice change of pace as we see that same persona put something with a more rose-tinted feel to it.

#7: Silver Surfer

One of a variety of games that gave the NES its reputation for just straight-up torturous gameplay that would, on occasion, make for an intense experience. Admittedly, this does but for all the wrong reasons as the Nerd braves the absolutely unrelenting enemies and projectiles that, among other things, would land this game a hefty spot on lists of the hardest games of all time. This is one I ended up checking out after seeing the review and… yeah, it’s not for the faint of thumbs.

#6: Spider-Man

“Spider-Man, Spider-Man, takes a dump in a coffee can.” Yeah, while the Nerd and Justin’s banter is good and it shows some of their comedic chemistry that would bear major fruit later on, this is another case where it’s the music that makes it rank high. It’s puerile and I love it to bits.

#5: Ikari Warriors

Behold, said major fruit. Justin’s guitar-led ramblings are hilarious, and the anger-in-real-time side of the Nerd is always fun to see, but it’s just how well their respective talents mesh together here that makes it so good. This is another one of those cases where two personalities that seem to bring the best out of each other hit their zenith.

#4: Atari Sports

It’s a little bit high school in how he throws sports geeks and gamer geeks in the same pool to find common ground, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it was a nice sentiment. Honestly, as potentially damaging as this may sound, it’s around this point that I realize that this is pretty much my anti-Big Bang Theory; it does every service to being a nerd that TBBT continuously takes away.

#3: R.O.B. The Robot

Remember that long-form joke about James seeing just how angry a person can get over something so small? Well, this is where that joke reached its punchline, fittingly enough on his 100th episode. While the banter between the Nerd and R.O.B. is fun, and the Nerd’s sewer tongue is still in top form, it’s what the Nerd finds inspiration in to keeping fighting and the conclusion that makes it this high up.

#2: How The Nerd Stole Christmas

Doing a Christmas review in rhyme, and bonus points if it’s based on the Grinch, is another gimmick that a lot of reviewers have latched onto over the years, but this is one of the few that actually gets the sentiment right. At least when it comes to finding joy in crappy games. It’s a nice follow-up to the R.O.B. review in carrying on the central theme.

#1: Street Fighter 2010

The rather dated intent behind the video itself aside, this review probably encapsulates everything that makes the Nerd what he is: Natural (or, at least, natural sounding) video game history knowledge, long digressions meant to make even a little sense of the title in question and, of course, that wide range for swearing that we love so much. Honestly, less so than a review of Street Fighter 2010 itself, it’s more like a retrospective of the entire series up until that point. That said, his detailing of that common gamer problem where all that annoyance and repetition actively makes your playing worse as you go on should connect with some of the bigger gamers out there like it did with me.

But we’re not quite done with our look at the true originator. Next time, we’re stepping into his much-hyped and, prior to its release, most anticipated release in the realms of the Internet. It’s also a release that qualifies for the Lists, so expect some off-kilter comparisons to be made in the next review.

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