The Angry Video Game Nerd has inspired many game reviewers ever since he started his expletive-laden retro game reviews on YouTube over 15 years ago. Two sidescrollers based on his videos and skits were created by FreakZone Games in 2013 and 2016, and recently, they were bundled together with numerous tweaks for the Switch. Providing you’re familiar with James Rolfe’s sense of humour, chances are you’ll find it to be a real gut-buster, but even if you’re not an avid fan anymore, you’ll likely have a lot of fun with this none-too-forgiving side-scroller bundle anyway.
The first AVGN Adventures game is the shortest of the two. Neither game is particularly long, clocking in at about a few hours of gameplay each, but this one is definitely smaller, as each of the eight levels will take about 10 minutes to complete, but they can be tackled in any order before unlocking the final stage. None of these levels are a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination, and chances are you’ll be racking up the Nerd’s death toll awfully quickly. Good thing there’s plenty of checkpoints with the occasional extra life scattered around.
Some of the missions are parodies of both good and bad games he’s covered up to 2013, like ‘Assholevania’, which is obviously a reference to Castlevania. The amount of traps in each of these missions are plentiful, with some levels adding a few cheap ones off-screen to mess up your progress. Expect spikes, geysers of fire, ghosts, and the all-too common instant-death blocks. Seriously, there’s an abundance of these, along with numerous enemies that soak up a bit of damage before going down.
Most of the levels are still pretty fun in themselves, each with their own distinctive theme and visual style. ‘Thy Farts Consumed’ is the obligatory Hell-themed level that’s bathed in gritty-looking environments bathed in red, while ‘Beat It and Eat It’ is incredibly un-detailed and full of phallic shapes, just like the adult-themed Atari games it’s based on. Gross. Each tends to have a unique feature. The aforementioned XXX stage has boob trampolines that move when you do, and ‘Boo! Haunted House’ has very low visibility, but that only makes it a slog to explore because of how confusing it is.
AVGN Adventures 2: ASSimilation is the other game bundled alongside, and this one features missions set in five different zones: the sewers, a spooky hill, a futuristic factory, Japan, and a kid-friendly board game. Now each mission will take around a handful of missions to complete, of which there are four in total for each. While you have to beat each stage’s levels in order so as to reach the boss, thankfully, you can still tackle whichever zone in any order you like.
The missions here are a lot trickier and have more creative traps. There’s scrolling screens with lasers to dodge in the factory, conveyor belts in Japan, hungry hippos in the board game zone, and a handful of vehicle segments as well. Instant death blocks and the like are back once again, too. There’s some nastier enemies, some of which are placed so as to throw you off mid-jump or before you head through a tunnel.
That’s what these games are good at – trying to piss you off. Thing is, it’s actually mostly forgivable, barring some of the cheap ambushes and enemy placements. Though they’ll no doubt turn you into an angry nerd yourself, the fact that the developers have shortened the time it will take to respawn upon death turns it into a somewhat-minor setback.
AVGN is by no means a pacifist in this one, as he’s armed with his trusty Zapper, and can even grab a few power-ups along the way. The metal balls bounce around and aren’t particularly useful, but the Glitch Gremlin can freeze everything in place for a limited amount of time, perfect for cheap shots and traversing traps with ease. Super Mecha Death Christ can destroy everything on-screen, and beer kegs replenish your health. Just be warned, as if you die, you’ll lose your power-up, which just feels like a lousy punishment, considering how often you’ll perish.
While in the first game, you can come across some of AVGN’s friends, each with a unique special ability and alternate means of firing, the sequel has you collecting special equipment that’ll give you unique abilities to use in either previous or future levels. There’s also game cartridges spelling ‘N-E-R-D’ that are strategically placed in hard-to-reach areas. Hunting these down does add a bit of extra replayability to both titles.
The boss battles are short but intense and occasionally frustrating, as to be expected. Their health bars can be depleted fairly quickly, but the amount of attacks that they’ll spew out means they’re adequately challenging. Some are a pain because of the fact that their attacks are very difficult to dodge at times, but with a bit of skill and determination, you’ll be able to batter them. Usually, there’ll be a spare beer keg to carry before you fight, which does help out a lot.
If you compare the visuals of the original titles to these, you’ll notice that the bundle has some notably improved graphics. More colours, better sprite work and a stable framerate throughout are all to be found here. Plus, both games have got themselves some upbeat chiptune soundtrack, which make for a funky, invigorating listen. There’s even some cool new content to unlock once you beat both of these games. It makes it well worth the asking price, and it’s a recommended pick if you want to double-dip.
Fans of the nerd will definitely get a big kick out of AVGN Adventures 1 & 2 Deluxe. Bundling them together with some well-needed balancing tweaks and visual upgrades does make it a solid buy, thanks to its challenging but brilliantly designed gameplay. Newcomers may not be tickled pink by the excessive toilet humour that AVGN is known for, but may at least appreciate the variety on offer here, in terms of gameplay and the stage designs. All in all, it’s an ass-kicking experience with some well-needed polish for a 2020 re-release.
Review code supplied by developers.