Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures

AVGN Adventures wants to punish you for your hubris. All those years of playing your modern games and thinking "I'm invincible! Nothing can touch me! Bosses tremble at my might!" will be reduced down to you yelling obscenities at your screen like a twelve-year-old on Call of Duty.
A badly timed jump will end with you missing a health point (in this game's case, beer) or an instant death. It has no remorse for making you angry and for making you curse at it. Focusing your attention on avoiding a fireball might make you forget about the deathbeam or deathblock that's just after it. The game is full of the latter and makes you share in the Nerd's pain as you progress through a twisted and sinister game that's all about old-school platforming and shooting action. Its littered with curse words and references to the Nerd's videos and surroundings and fits perfectly among his mythos. Its best played with an Xbox 360 controller attached to your PC, but it can be played with a keyboard, just very carefully.

(THIS took me at least 20 tries to get right, all to get that key on the right.)

Its an 8-bit platformer in the vein of the Mega Man games and, much like those, you can switch between characters on the fly that have different abilities to suit the job needed. The only drawback is that the other characters are never necessary. While Mike Matei can jump higher and see hidden blocks, BS Man has a more powerful attack and double-jump, and Guitar Guy is faster, these variations are never really needed except to discover hidden areas and cameos. Power-ups consist of an SNES Super Scope, which is a more powerful shot that unfortunately goes away when hit once, to rocks that arc in a terrible way, a nod to one of the nerd's episodes. Also the game-"glitching" Glitch Gremlin which freezes enemies and causes things to go haywire for a few seconds, and Super Mecha Death Christ v 2.0 beta Edition, which clears enemies off the screen. These last two aren't needed to get through certain areas and can almost be ignored. Unlike many of the game's that the Nerd has played, this one is very solid. No (unintentional) glitches and a generous checkpoint system means you won't die from a game-breaking glitch. All deaths are your own fault.

Its frustrating, but rewarding: You rarely ever want to stop playing for the feeling of wanting to beat it, of wanting to prove you're better. It also wants to reward you for your patience. The game is filled to the brim with patterns both simple and not-so-much. Taking your time to understanding these is key to finishing each level, especially on the last where you may die a few times before reaching even the first checkpoint, which is close by. Hidden pathways, cameos, power-ups and even playable characters are your reward for exploring. Its also generous on lives; the 30 you get from the start might seem like too many, but they dwindle quickly. Also, if you're thinking of using a certain well-known old-school cheat code, you'll only end up with a good chuckle. Try it out anyway.
The cameos are from friends of James Rolfe, like Angry Joe, Keith Apicary, and Whiz and Boomstick from DEATHBATTLE. The hidden paths to get to them aren't terribly hard to traverse, and finding all of them only unlocks an achievement. That and the S#!t Pickle achievement. There's one for dying 1,000 times. That can get awfully frustrating.

The music is purely chiptunes, which is a throw back to the music you used to hear on old NES games. It changes up with each level and they're catchy. The soundtrack is also available to buy and if you're into chiptunes then its a must have. The various sound effects throughout the game are repeated, but never enough to the point of frustrating.

While the asking price of $15 seems a bit much, it is best to wait for it to go on sale. It was made with speed runs and streams in mind. It was made so you can become better at it with each playthrough. For some, particularly those get angry very easy, will be disappointed. Others who appreciate a good challenge or love old-school platformers will find something to be engrossed in for a few hours.

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