Alex and His Pen: Top 10 Favorite Angry Video Game Nerd Episodes
Heâ€™s gonna take you back to the pastâ€¦
I got into the Angry Video Game Nerd in 2009. Though that seems like small potatoes when you consider (as he pointed out) heâ€™s been doing it for a decade now. A lot of TV shows havenâ€™t lasted that long. When anything has been around that long, thereâ€™s bound to be ups and downs. Despite that, he still remains one of my favorite online reviewers. Very soon, The Angry Video Game Nerd Movie will be released. So what better time to countdown my 10 favorite episodes? Iâ€™ll admit this list is kind of arbitrarily ranked, but I still figured Iâ€™d get it out while itâ€™s timely.
10. The Ghostbusters Trilogy â€“ Yeah, I think itâ€™s a given that this one was going to be on the list just because of what a major league ghosthead I am. One of the funny things is I actually remember wanting this game as a kid. In hindsight, Iâ€™m REALLY glad I didnâ€™t get it. I did have Ghostbusters II. I remember me and my brother beating it as soon as we got home from the store. I recently got through the Genesis game which I agree is pretty good. Oh yeah, the Nerdâ€™s review. Aside from my rampant Ghostbusters love, a lot of my enjoyment from this is that I think this is when the Nerd really hit his stride. Okay, there were good episodes before this (A Nightmare on Elm Street comes to mind), but this is when he was getting better. He had a little more on camera-presence compared to the awkward line delivery he gave in earlier episodes. The fact that he touched on all the games and talked about them in great detail showed that he wasnâ€™t cutting corners less.
Also, another fun fact â€“ Until I saw this episode I had never actually heard of the Sega Master System.
9. Winter Games â€“ As I mentioned before, 2009 was the year got into the Angry Video Game Nerd, and what a way to close the year. He had produced some of his most entertaining episodes that year such The Castlevania Saga and Plumbers Donâ€™t Wear Ties. While Plumbers Donâ€™t Wear Ties was a funny episode, it was mainly funny because of how bizarre the game was. This is one I like simply because of how funny the video is and the humor does come from the Nerd. He has some really funny bits (â€œIf [high scores] were saved, I guarantee theyâ€™d all belong to AAAA.â€). Even if it was an accident, you gotta love that he actually pulls off a trick while demonstrating this gameâ€™s terrible controls. While this video wasnâ€™t the first or last time he destroyed a cartridge, it has what might be the coup de grace of the Nerd destroying one as he goes through EVERY step the cartridge not to do.
(Though if you want to know how much games can endure, watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCLOxK6FpfA)
8. Nintendo Days Re-Re-Visited â€“ It seems fair that I would pick this as my favorite mainly because I wanted the Nerd to an episode like this. Even James himself acknowledged why this episode was necessary. Itâ€™s hard to put a finger on what exactly works about this episode. Since he didnâ€™t really go into the games as deeply as he could have in his original reviews, I do like hearing him find new things to say about these games. I think this was the smartest way to go about the concept â€“ doing it as one big event and tackling all of them at once â€“ also going into greater detail about the Back to the Future sequel games. (Fun fact: Thereâ€™s still one he didnâ€™t touch: Back to the Future Part II for the Sega Master System, but itâ€™s INSANELY rare and PAL only.) Plus there is something met about doing a nostalgia trip in a show thatâ€™s already all about nostalgia. On a side note, there are a few games I feel he could still do this with: Iâ€™m still disappointed that other than Maximum Carnage heâ€™s never brought up the 16-bit Spider-man games. Well, at least we got Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
7. How the Nerd Stole Christmas â€“ Further proof, the AVGN is a trend-setter: It seems after he did this episode, a lot of other internet reviewers including Nostalgia Critic and Linkara followed suit. I wouldnâ€™t call their videos ripoffs since they did put their own spin on their videos. But this was a fun episode since it was such a departure from the Nerdâ€™s usual style. The song parodies were amusing and the Nerd did pull off some pretty clever tongue-twisters. This video isnâ€™t perfect. I understand that going full-blown animated would have been extremely tasking but the slideshow style and never actually seeing the Nerd is a touch awkward. But I guess itâ€™s a necessary evil for a really funny episode.
6. Dracula games: Not a lot to say about this episode, but it is one that gets a lot of laughs out of me. Thereâ€™s just something about the Nerd not being thrown through a loop because of bad gameplay but games that are just weird. Also, for those of you wondering, Fred Fuchs is an executive at Francis Ford Coppollaâ€™s Zoetrope productions. I actually kind of find the Nerdâ€™s reaction to this funnier knowing who that is.
5. Toxic Avenger Games: When this episode first came out, I was pretty excited to see a new AVGN episode. I was absolutely blown away to see Lloyd Kaufman in the video. Okay, Iâ€™ll be honest, I didnâ€™t actually know who the guy was until I saw this and it would be months before Iâ€™d actually see The Toxic Avenger. But it was still kind of mind-blowing to see the AVGN do a review with the creator of one of the characters. Kaufmanâ€™s presence proves to be more than some gimmick as Lloyd is a silly old man who spews hilarious non-seqitors. James put ego aside and actually let himself play straight man to Kaufmanâ€™s wackiness. I donâ€™t know if it was stream of consciousness â€“ though I assume some of it was improvised since James does in fact crack up at one point. Either way, this episode used its guest star to the fullest.
4. Battletoads â€“ This is one of the Nerdâ€™s simplest episodes, but itâ€™s also one of his most effective. The Nerd tries to play with his guitar guy, Kyle and instead of being able to work together, they just yell at each other because they canâ€™t stop beating each other up. I guess one of the reasons I like this episode so much is because Iâ€™ve been in similar situations. The most specific example is when my brother, some of his friends and I got New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii. The four of us could not cooperate and caused more grief than help for each other. Also, after years of just being the guitar guy, Kyle Justin got a little personality which was nice. If I had one nitpick, itâ€™s a shame that the Nerd didnâ€™t show more of the game. With a game as notoriously difficult, you think James would have more to say about it. But I guess I gotta review the episode as it was made, and James made a pretty funny episode.
3. Ninja Gaiden â€“ Of course, we did a get a full play through of one notoriously hard game. Thatâ€™s one of the reasons I like this video. Instead of complaining about another game because of its lousy controls or bad graphics, he just demonstrates how frustrating it can be to beat a really hard game. However, he takes it to nth degree and says that a ninja has to train him to beat the game. The ninja proves to be a pretty funny character with some good bits. (Ha! Faked you! Ha! Faked you!â€) Also, this episode is just relatable because a lot of us probably had at least one game that weâ€™ve tried to beat without any luck. (I did a whole list on mine years ago.)
2. Ikari Warriors â€“ This was not the Nerdâ€™s comeback episode. After going on hiatus to work on his film, his official comeback was in August of 2012 with Schwarzenegger games. He only did two other episodes that year and they wereâ€¦ okay. He went on another hiatus of sorts and did not do another episode until March of 2013. And this was the result. So in a way, this was a comeback of sorts because it was a comeback in terms of doing great episodes. People have often criticized James for doing skits instead of reviewing games. (Like a lot of people, Bugs Bunnyâ€™s Crazy Castle is one of my least favorite episodes.) Out of all the episodes where heâ€™s tried to tell a story, I think this is the episode where he balanced the two perfectly. I chalk a lot of that up to the fact that the humor comes from a lot of angles. The interplay between James and Justin is pretty comical. There are some clever gags about trying to apply the gameâ€™s logic to the real world. Rather than just complain about the game, The Nerd perfectly captured the frustration of trying to conquer a childhood albatross. When I first saw this episode, I wasnâ€™t too keen on Kyle Justinâ€™s songs. As time went on, I actually found myself singing these songs to myself, and thereâ€™s just something about that overwordy code song. Considering that 2013 saw a lot of solid Nerd episodes, this episode was a comeback episode in more than one sense.
1. Big Rigs â€“ I feel like such a copycat for picking this as my favorite since Doug Walker picked this as his favorite. But itâ€™s easy to see why. Much like Ikari Warriors, this came after a long break from episodes (No doubt working on the film). This was an interesting case because James was not the person to review this game, and the game already had a huge reputation. And there was a veritable goldmine of things for him to cover. The thing about Big Rigs is that unlike other legendarily bad games, the Nerd was actually having fun with this game. There was a lot of fun in watching him experiment with the gameâ€™s various glitches and straight up TRYING to lose at this game. Also, that commercial parody the Nerd did was right on the money (at least as on the money as a TV commercial that uses the F-bomb can get). With his work on the film, Iâ€™m impressed James can produce any episodes, but the fact that theyâ€™re this good says something else. (Then again, the fact that he spaces them out more may also be why theyâ€™re so good.)
So thatâ€™s my list. Feel free to share your favorites. But more importantly, if anyone actually gets to see The Angry Video Game Nerd Movieâ€¦ could you let me know if my part made it in there?