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AVGN Adventures Review: It’s Gonna Take you Back to the Past
Played on: Wii U
Also on: PC, 3DS
Well, it’s finally happened. After several years of one of the biggest internet personalities making a living ranting about various old Nintendo games, he has come full circle and found himself on a Nintendo console. Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, which is a port of a two year old PC game, makes its way to the Wii U and 3DS, and proves to be a nice fit for a console that has its share of retro-style experiences.
However, when it comes to the vulgar content and filthy language that the web series, the Angry Video Game Nerd, has been notorious for, this game sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the Wii U library, as it finds itself on a console made by a company known for its cutesy and kid-friendly games. AVGN Adventures might even be the raunchiest title to grace a Nintendo console since Rareware’s gem, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, a decade and a half ago. And such a game is long overdue, I say!
Some of the notable humorous nods to the show include – the subtle appearance of shit pickle, the clever environments that are based off various episodes references (Beat it and Eat it, Boo! Haunted House, along with a neat secret stage which I won’t ruin, to name a few), and that brutally frank game over screen. The game also treats you with some classic AVGN rants upon your death (“I’d rather [insert disgusting action here] than play this shitty game!”), taking a bit of the sting out of an otherwise frustrating in-game death.
In addition, there are some various enemies placed throughout which hearken back to certain retro games that the Nerd has played or referred to – everything from Ghostbuster ghosts, to scrotum guns, to Atari porn chicks, and even the dreaded LJN gaming cartridges. Unlike the show however, most of these jokes simply had me saying “huh, that’s pretty neat/clever” rather than laughing out loud.
I also felt like the game overused the vulgar inside humor a tad – not because I found it offensive (as anyone who has watched the funny and entertaining AVGN shows should be aware of what’s coming anyway), but because it came across as a little too self-aware. It seemed as if the developers felt the need to desperately cram in everything from the show into the short gameplay experience to keep the fans interested. Most of the various inside jokes scattered about, while mildly amusing, just didn’t seem to have quite the same humorous impact as they did in the show, and the game seemed to rely on this gimmick for the entertainment more so than the actual gameplay at times.
With that said, the actual game does provide moments of fun, amongst the endless frustration throughout. Seriously, AVGN Adventures will make you pay for every little misstep, and you will frequently be killed. While normal mode at least seemingly provides you with plenty of lives (30 to be exact), you will most certainly burn through a good portion of them, very quickly. Luckily the game has the decency to give you a steady dose of checkpoints throughout each stage. Still, chances are that you will plow through all of your lives before reaching the end of certain levels and find yourself demoralized as you are forced to start all the way at the beginning.
I powered through the first stage, appropriately named “assholevania” on normal mode, before swallowing my pride and beating the rest of the game on easy, where you thankfully are granted infinite lives – turning an insanely difficult game into a far easier one. From that point, the game essentially becomes a matter of trial and error; and once you’ve had a few (or perhaps several) go-rounds of practicing and getting acquainted with the stages, you’ll find yourself blaze through this game relatively quickly. This is provided you have the patience to keep persisting and powering through the endless manifestations of death thrown your way, rather than tossing your gamepad out the window and moving on. Luckily, perhaps as a subtle nod to Mega Man, you have the luxury of jumping into any stage you chose, so you can always experience something new, should you happen to get stuck – and you probably will.
Even with the increase in health and endless lives that easy mode provides, this can still be a pretty damn frustrating gaming experience, and not always in the good sense. This is largely thanks to the dreaded “death blocks” that are scattered liberally throughout the game, bringing you to your abrupt demise with a mere touch. You’ll likely get killed by these far more than having your health whittled down by enemies – which is cleverly represented as the AVGN’s trademark drink, Rolling Rock beer. Boss battles, at least on easy mode, aren’t too tricky, as you can usually get away with spamming the Y button to shoot hectically and simply outlast most of them, once you’ve memorized their patterns of movement.
Still, between the ridiculous death blocks that end you in the blink of an eye, the bombardment of enemies, and countless booby-traps, this game will ironically make you feel as enraged as the fictional Angry Nerd himself, though I suppose that is what developer FreakZone Games was going for…
The irony doesn’t stop there, however. The game provides stiff and sometimes awkward control mechanics that are quite reminiscent of the very games in which it spoofs. Although these stiff controls give it a feeling of NES-style authenticity, they certainly don’t make things any easier for you. It feels a bit jarring at first, especially if you’ve spent a great deal of time away from your retro consoles. In particular, there is this strange lack of forward momentum after you run or jump, that requires a bit of a learning curve. The crazy thing is that the Wii U control scheme is probably the easier of the control methods. I can’t imagine attempting to navigate these insane stages with the awkward keyboard-and-mouse setup.
Once you’ve grown acquainted with the game’s somewhat shoddy mechanics and quirky style, however, you will find that beneath the goofy surface lies a moderately fun experience and overall solid game that will remind you of the good ol’ days of the Nintendo Entertainment System and Atari 2600. And if you’ve seen a good portion of the AVGN web show, your experience will only be enhanced further as you will undoubtedly recognize many references throughout.
However, assuming you play the game on easy (as any sane person should), and therefore don’t spend enormous amounts of time trying to make it through a single stage with a limited life count, you’ll also find that your AVGN Adventure ends a little too quickly. Considering the lack of content that could have helped beef up the replayability – things like unlockables, leaderboards, multiplayer, high scores, etc – this issue stands out even more.
The charming and simplistic retro-sounding tunes and the authentically 8 bit looking graphical style are nothing spectacular or groundbreaking, but then again, they were not meant to be. These aesthetics act more as an emulation of an old style of video games, and they manage to pull this off pretty successfully. I truly felt I was playing an old NES game, albeit somewhat of a shallow one.
Overall, if you are particular to the AVGN series and/or happen to be a die-hard fan of nostalgic-induced retro gaming, you will almost certainly find some amusement from this quirky gaming throwback. While it doesn’t quite reach the depth or quality of many of the games it is spoofing, it is meant to be more of a parody than a true gaming experience, and for this, it succeeds quite well. If you don’t fall under the aforementioned categories, or are looking for some epic and lengthy platforming experience, you likely won’t get too much out of this, but otherwise, it’s worth giving a shot.