Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Angry Video Game Nerd: Volume 8

If you have been a regular reader of this blog, then you can probably tell from a couple of past entries that I am a fan of the online web series, The Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN). For newer readers, I will suffice it to say that it is Cinemassacre’s James Rolfe playing a character known simply as “The Nerd” who bashes all types of old video games (although a lot of them are LJN published NES games) in a ridiculously brash, over-the-top manner.

Every year Rolfe compiles the latest year’s worth of AVGN videos and releases them on DVD . You can always watch the entire AVGN archivesfor free on the official AVGN website, but I have been a fan since the show started over a decade ago in 2004 that I do not mind sending $20 to James a year to have an official backup copy on my shelf. The 2014 DVD, AVGN: Volume 8 (preview), is the first single disc release of the AVGN collection, since a majority of the year Rolfe dedicated to finishing up and releasing AVGN: The Movie. The average past AVGN DVDs had around a dozen episodes and a good amount of extras, while Volume 8 has just six episodes and enough extra features to pack only one disc.

While there may only be one disc on this collection, there is still a lot of great content on this DVD. The debut episode focuses on AVGN-themed videogames in both the fan made variety and an official AVGN endorsed game out on Steam and WiiU. It was fun watching the Nerd trash intentionally-awful made games based on the trademark characters and lore of his own show, and I actually played the official game on WiiU, and it is brutally challenging and filled with all kinds of evil game tropes highlighted in past episodes, but in a daunting, ‘one more time’ kind of way to see if I can somehow make it to the next checkpoint and see what else the game will throw my way.

Next up is a two part special where the Nerd highlights a wish list of fan requested games that get the Nerd review treatment. Some of the games featured are 8-bit nightmares like The Three Stooges, Where’s Waldo, Home Improvement and Bad Dudes while others are more recent atrocities are shown like Shadow the Hedgehog and Bubsy 3D. Some of these games I would have loved to see get a full blown AVGN episode treatment, but Rolfe went on to say in the extras that none of these games he covered here felt especially awful to get a full episode, but were at least worth crapping on for a couple of minutes of highlights each.

Episodes four and five are my favorite on the DVD where he covers two notoriously bad driving games, Desert Bus on the SegaCD, and Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing on the PC. Desert Bus is an iconic unreleased SegaCD title that is intentionally designed to be boring where all you do is drive eight hours in the barren desert on a bus with nothing fun happening along the way, and Rolfe made sure it got the perfect AVGN review treatment. Big Rigs is a horribly buggy and downright unfinished racing game that somehow made it to retail shelves, and watching the Nerd endure its glitches and eventually succumb to the putrid quality of it all made it my favorite episode to indulge this season. The episode wraps up with with what the Nerd envisions as his ultimate TV commercial for Big Rigs in what is easily the best moment of this entire season. The last episode is what else but a review of a LJN published NES game, this one for Beetlejuice on the NES. It lives up to the caliber of past LJN classics, as does the Nerd’s take as he has no mercy from another piece of quality content from our favorite rainbow-themed publisher.

Even though there are only six episodes timing out to roughly an hour and a half of content, Rolfe made sure to pack this DVD to the brim with two and a half hours of extra features on top of it. I really liked the Video Commentary of the Year where James takes a half hour to go into all the behind-the-scenes facts on the making of each episode. There are two Q&A segments from conventions in 2014 totaling an hour and these are kind of hit and miss obviously depending on the questions. James and his Cinemassacre cohorts Mike and Bootsy are on these panels, and they do have some great tales on how they met and some dastardly moments of their gaming past to share, but that is not to say that there are also a few lulls here and there, but for the most part the Q&As were more entertaining that I originally anticipated.

Mike, Bootsy and James combine for a half hour in another extra where they all give speeches celebrating the 10-year anniversary of AVGN. I felt bad for them at times wishing they had a podium to read their speeches from, but it is another awesome extra where the Cinemassacre crew all reminisce on the past and celebrate Rolfe’s run on AVGN. The extras wrap up with ten minutes of outtakes and a couple of Mike’s videos from Cinemassacre focusing on his love for the Game Gear and a few other awful Ghostbuster games that were not featured on past AVGN videos. I have been getting use to Mike Matei’s work for Cinemassacre recently, and am starting to really enjoy his work, especially when he teams up with Rolfe for their weekly James and Mike Mondays videos where they play and commentate over a random game each week, so I will give props to Cinemassacre for including some of his work on here too.

So that wraps up my take on Angry Video Game Nerd: Volume 8. It is a little more on the pricey side for just one disc, but as I stated above I do not mind throwing a little money Rolfe’s way each year for constantly pumping out entertaining videos online for free each year and this volume is worth it for the Big Rigs and Desert Bus episodes alone. You also get a DVD topped off in space with a ton of extra features totaling up with the main episodes for about four hours of content all together, so if you are like me, make sure to order your copy to add to your AVGN collection today.

Previous TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
Angry Videogame Nerd Vol 7
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-12
Seinfeld Final Season

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