Sunday, March 12, 2017

Angry VideoGame Nerd Volume 9

It has been a couple years, but I am back with a blog on Cinemassacre’s latest collection of game videos from James Rolfe reprising his persona of the affable “Nerd” in Angry VideoGame Nerd: Volume 9.

James has been significantly dialing back the output of his AVGN videos in recent years, which is why it took more than two years to release his latest DVD collection when before he was releasing them on a near annual basis. If you are unaware of the AVGN character, James Rolfe has been portraying him since 2004 and the persona is rather self-explanatory as he spends each episode bashing notoriously awful videogames. Most episodes are straightforward reviews, but some Rolfe has done his share of indie filmmaking and will get ambitious with some episodes. Usually his Halloween and Christmas themed episodes will mix in guest characters and an over-arching plot. As I have stated on previous AVGN blogs, you can find all previous AVGN episodes streaming for free on the AVGN website, but I appreciate having the option to get them on DVD too.

AVGN Volume 9 is a 2-DVD set that has 17 episodes on disc one, and two and a half hours of bonus features on disc two. The first 12 of the 17 AVGN episodes consist of the ‘12 Days of Shitsmas’ special Rolfe ran a couple years ago. He pumped out a new AVGN episode each day for 12 days straight, which seems miraculous considering his rate of releases since. It is worth noting that about the first 8 of these 12 shows are more like mini-episodes that average around three or four minutes in length. That is probably for the best as most of these shorter reviews are mostly garbage licensed games worthy of only a few minutes of coverage like a SNES Ren & Stimpy game, Alf….in Master System form and yes, even a Mary Kate & Ashley title for the GameBoy Color. I was surprised at how detailed Rolfe got with his video for a 2600 game based on the adult comedy, Porky’s so do not overlook that one thinking it is simply a shallow Atari game James is getting in some easy jabs with.

The last three Shitsmas videos are the best however, and they are closer in length to a standard AVGN episode. I was completely unaware of the Hyperscan before witnessing the ‘Nerd’s take on it, and coming out of it I am now in the camp that it looks like we have a contender that could give the R-Zone a run for its money. Universal Theme Park Adventures is the first GameCube title to get the AVGN treatment, and it was a delightful experience to see a lot of classic Universal properties get showcased in an awful GCN launch game. Finally, LGN Video Art is an awful TV-art studio accessory that hit in the 80s from the ‘Nerds favorite videogame publisher, LJN, and the ‘Nerd makes sure it gets the proper LJN treatment.

The final five episodes are standard full-length AVGN episodes and consist of somewhat newer games than what we are accustomed to the ‘Nerd covering. There are a couple exceptions. There is a previously unreleased Super Famicom game, Hong Kong ‘97 that is so awful and shallow that I am aghast that Rolfe was able to get an enjoyable full-length episode out of it. The forgotten 16-bit platform, the TurboGrafX gets its first coverage from the AVGN with an episode dedicated to its poor rendition of Darkwing Duck. Seaman gets the honor of being the first Dreamcast game to get reviewed by the AVGN, and this Leonard Nimoy-narrated adventure made for a one-of-a-kind episode that was quite a hoot to see how it threw the ‘Nerd for a loop unlike any game he played before.

I have played both The Crow and Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, and I can attest to how truly godawful both games are, especially Sub-Zero. I have seen commentaries from Rolfe before where he admits he will occasionally embellish on some games for a more entertaining episode, but I can vouch he is not pulling any punches on either of these. His experience with Sub-Zero brought back many evil memories of that game, and that episode in particular features some of the loudest gamer rage from the ‘Nerd yet! The episodes on disc one wrap-up with a mammoth half hour production on a smattering of Mega Man games for the AVGN’s 10th anniversary special. This episode features the ‘Nerd time traveling to past episodes forewarning himself not to play anymore Mega Man games, only to see the episode culminate with him popping in Mega Man Soccer (yes, this happened!). Rolfe said in this volume’s commentary that it eclipsed the ROB episode as the single episode that he invested the most production hours in and it shows since it is easily the best episode on this volume.

Disc two features two bonus mini-AVGN episodes that debuted as an exclusive during fellow character reviewer, Pat the NES Punk’s annual NES marathon. The reviews in question are for Adventure Island and Danny Sullivan’s Indy Heat. Nerdy Challenges is James Rolfe and fellow producer/guest star Mike Matei commentating for a half hour on all the AVGN episodes in this volume. They have a ton of production facts, especially when it came to detailing the toils they persevered through in order to pull off the special effects in the Mega Man episode. There is plenty to take in from the duo here as they go out of their way to explain why they went with some shorter episodes on this volume, and how they took longer AVGN hiatuses so Cinemassacre could take a break from AVGN and focus on side projects like Board James.

James has a couple recurring extra features that I always enjoy returning here such as his latest TV/console setup that features a contraption of wires that I do not dare attempt and a montage of outtakes. A new feature that is divided in three parts that lasts about an hour and a half combined is the AVGN Script Collections. These are essentially Mike & James revisiting scripts for older AVGN episodes they have not seen in year as the two reminisce over memories and production facts on the early episodes. I am glad it is split up into three parts, as it seems indulging these in half hour chunks is the way to go.

Volume 9 is a big step up from Volume 8 with a ton of quality episodes on here that were better then I remembered the first time around. I thought a lot of those early Christmas episodes were going to be easily skip-worthy, but while shorter they are still as entertaining as the standard-length episodes. The full-length episodes on here are some of the best yet in the AVGN catalog with the Mega Man and Sub-Zero episodes getting the highest marks from me on this DVD. If you are into the behind-the-scenes process like I am then you will get a lot out of bonus features disc as the Nerdy Challenges feature and the three-part Script Collections feature combine for roughly two hours of engaging production commentary. You can check out all the AVGN episodes on this DVD on the Cinemassacre website, or you can head on over to Amazon and order the DVD to round off your AVGN collection.

Past TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
2015-16 TV Season Recap
Adventures of Briscoe County Jr: The Complete Series
Angry Videogame Nerd Vol 8
Angry Videogame Nerd Vol 7
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
OJ: Made in America: 30 for 30
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-13
Roseanne – Seasons 1-9
Seinfeld Final Season
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle
Superheroes: Pioneers of Television

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