Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is a retro-style 2D platformer based on the popular internet show and titular character The Angry Video Game Nerd. The Nerd and his friends are playing a shitty game when all of the sudden they get sucked into the TV to a place called Game Land. It’s up to you to explore these strange worlds, fight the menacing bosses, and hopefully rescue your friends along the way, as you try your best to escape the living nightmare of ass that is this game. Are you a bad enough nerd to get the references?
You play as AVGN himself, who has the ability to move, jump, do a pitiful crouch, and wields an NES Zapper that shoots REAL projectiles. You can fire in eight directions and if you hold down a certain button you can lock yourself in place to fire at all angles without moving. You also can get some consumable items along the way. Rocks are tossed in an arc in front of you to damage enemies. The glitch gremlin temporarily freezes everything on the screen while sending the audio and visuals into a panic. Super Mecha Death Christ only has a single use but it will clear the entire screen of enemies. You can also pick up a Super Scope that shoots more powerful pellets than the Zapper but is lost upon taking damage. Your health is represented by beer bottles, which can be collected to refill it as well. You can get life insurance in the form of the Nerd’s disembodied head. Depending on the difficulty you choose, there may or may not be Nintoasters about the stages as checkpoints. Playing on easy will give you infinite lives and six bears of health as well as make the enemies and bosses a bit weaker. On normal you’ll have 30 lives but unlimited continues with only 3 beers of health while enemies are of standard durability. On old school you still have 3 beers of health but only 15 lives, 5 continues, and your foes might just be a bit burlier this time around. The checkpoints are still there but they are invisible and you can’t save in this mode either. I only beat the game on the first two difficulties myself, but beating old school will unlock a harder mode and beating THAT will unlock an even HARDER mode and beating THAT will unlock YET ANOTHER even HARDER mode! You’d have to be a fuckin’ nerd to keep playing this…
So after the tutorial stage you get eight levels to pick from and beat in any order you’d like. These levels are mostly linear but do have some branching and secret paths. Going out of your way might just net you some goodies conveniently placed next to cameos by other internet personalities. Not to mention that most of the dialogue, enemies, areas, and bosses are references either from the web series or straight from the retro games themselves. Every time you die you’ll even get a mad-lib of AVGN lines strung together at random. If you look hard enough you just might find the three hidden playable characters. There’s Mike, Guitar Guy, and Bullshit Man. Once you’ve found them you can switch between any of them on the fly to take advantage of their strengths and weaknesses. Some are needed to reach certain secrets as well, but they are entirely optional. The stages themselves feature a heaping helping of spikes, flames, enemies moving in wavey lines, death traps, moving platforms, falling platforms, and even timed appearing and disappearing platforms straight out of Mega Man. It’s a real hodgepodge assholery in video games. But there’s one other obstacle… one special hazard… the thing that will haunt your dreams as you try to conceive of beating this game. Death blocks. These are blocks with skulls on them that will instantly kill you should you come into contact with them. Some are stationary, but some of them move. Some of them appear and disappear. Some are invisible until you are close enough to see them. They even put them in some boss fights! But, should you make it through all eight worlds and the final level, you’ll be on your way to beating the msater of Game Land and, hopefully, getting the hell out of this shitty fucking game!
This game definitely has some redeeming qualities. The gameplay itself is pretty tight and responsive. The visuals are very colorful and the tunes can be pretty catchy. It also is a nice amount of fan service with all of the references, quotes, and nods to things longtime fans of the show will recognize. I also kind of liked how some levels introduced fun little segments with scrolling shooter mechanics. There’s enough crammed into the short experience to keep things new, interesting, and exciting. It can also get pretty tough as you learn the levels and start cranking up the difficulty. The different characters add some incentive to explore and give you interesting new ways to tackle levels and bosses which can also increase replay value if you want to play mainly as one character or another. It’s definitely a solid, passable platformer.
However, it’s nowhere near great. Most of the references will be lost on anyone outside of the show’s fanbase. The huge amount of inspiration and borrowing of elements from other games will also feed into this game’s lack of identity or originality. It’ll remind you a lot of a lot of other things that did things either much better or much worse. And then there’s the whole concept of doing things to humorously mock elements that make other games shitty. Most of these are downplayed enough where they are good for a laugh, but some of them are actually contributing to the game’s poor design, especially on higher difficulties where you can’t afford to be blindsided by bullshit just to make a point. The worst offenders are those damned death blocks. What’s the point of having health if you’re going to just die in one hit? And why litter the entire game with these things? I’ll admit that most of the time you can learn the game through trial and error and do better with your future attempts, but the idea that you can be instantly killed at a moment’s notice from these in certain spots just seems like overkill. At least keep them out of the boss fights for fuck’s sake! Then again, the difficulty of the game has been largely exaggerated as well. Yes, if you play on the unlockable difficulties you’ll be having a hard time, but that’s kind of the point. If you play on the normal difficulty you should be fine. You’ll die a lot, but the game is often times more of a test of your patience than your reflexes. Learn the levels and you’ll pretty much be set. So it culminates in this very meh experience when looking at it in terms of a general game.
Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is a game for fans of the show, classic video games, and old school bullshit. The references will carry you through the average experience and give a little charm to what otherwise is largely forgettable. Then again, if you’re a fan then you probably already have the game. Anyone looking for just a general game should consider getting it on the cheap and only if they enjoy retro-esque 2D run and gun platformers. It may not be cool as shit, but it’s not a shitload of fuck. It’s an okay game wrapped in a love letter to one of the most influential personalities in online video game reviewing and entertainment. Maybe they’ll impress me more with the sequel. Only time will tell. Until next time… ASS!