It’s been years since a hardcore platformer has crossed my path. When Craig Skistimas announced that he wanted Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures to be the next Super Meat Boy, my reaction was a few lighthearted laughs and a nod of dismissal. This game pulled me by the hair, smashed my face into the pavement and kicked my limp body up and down the block.
The tale of AVGN Adventures is simple. The Nerd and his friends are taking part in a wonderful game night in his basement. Soon after the group boots up an awful title called Game Land, the television sucks them in, and the game forces them to fight their way through a series of horribly designed levels.
Game Land is composed of an introduction level, eight main levels and a concluding level with a final boss. Each level is based on a certain classic title from the late 80′s and early 90′s. For example, Assholevania is Castlevania and Boo! Haunted House is Nightmare on Elm Street. Within the levels, there are multiple cameos from a plethora of other titles such as Battle Toads, Super Mario Bros. and Doom. The amount of nostalgia this game evokes is absurd.
The levels are brief, but the game makes up for that shortcoming with its intense difficulty. The player is supplied with 30 lives per level. Each life contains a health bar, which is composed of three beer bottles. As the player explores each level for the first time, those lives will disappear within seconds. It’s terrifying and daunting at first, but the player will come to learn that memorization and patience are the keys to success.
The Nerd can also pick up special abilities, which will either make him powerful or aggravated. These upgrades include the Glitch Goblin, NES Super Scope, Super Mega Death Christ and a bag of rocks. Watching the Nerd say, “I’m the lord of the harvest! Bring it down! Bring it down!” when he acquired the famous Super Scope for the first time made me burst out into tears.
The control scheme is tight. Any miscalculation the player makes will result in his or her undoing. During gameplay, the player’s worst enemy is his or her concentration, technique and temper. Certain portions had me slamming my fists against the table and slapping my knees in frustration. What counterbalanced my anger during these infuriating sections were the convenient checkpoints, which were perfectly spread throughout all of the levels. After barely slipping by an arduous segment, reaching a checkpoint felt satisfying to me.
Boss battles are grueling, but predictable in the best kind of way. The bosses start off with slow, methodical movements, and once their health is drained, they move with lightning speed. Every victory had me jumping out of my seat in a state of euphoria. My favorite boss battle was Bimmy and Jimmy from Boo! Haunted House, because the duo was so hilarious.
This title is not suitable for children. Right off the bat, the game opens with a rating of “F for Fuckballs.” There is also a level called Beat it & Eat it where the floors are covered in semen, sprite men are using their erect penises as pogo sticks and breasts are utilized as trampolines. For me, this particular level and all of the swearing added to the charm of the game. But, for others, it may be a problem.
The one issue that plagued my sessions was the game’s inability to distinguish the Nerd from the environment. There were times when my character’s gun or body was overlapping a death cube and he didn’t die. But, when his foot touched it, he exploded, which didn’t make any sense to me.
What’s nice about the enemy types is that they add life to the game and are entertaining. In Future Fuckballs 2010, the foes are replica robots from the film Short Circuit, which is fantastic because it’s amusing to watch them die. The most infuriating enemies in the game are the puzzles. Some of the puzzles are so tightly knit together that it’s impossible to stay alive. In the level Dungeons and Dickholes, there’s an area where there are moving instant-death boxes and five circling flame balls. That section alone obliterated more than 60 of my lives.
The soundtrack is phenomenal. It’s upbeat, catchy and addicting to listen to. Other sounds such as jumping, shooting and enemies exploding into a million pieces all sound great. One effect that caught my ear was the noise the disappearing Mega Man-themed blocks made, which sounded like a slow motion version of the hopping noise.
For those who love a game with replayablity, Adventures includes six different difficulty modes, three extra playable characters with unique skill sets and a bunch of hidden secrets. Adventures is superb in the graphical department. It looks just as an 8-bit NES game should. It’s colorful, filled with tons of variety and original.
AVGN Adventures is a funny, demanding and rewarding love letter that deserves a love letter of its own. If you are seeking out an old school-themed title that will put your sanity to the test, this is your game.