Anthony's Film Review
The Angry Video Game Nerd
(Web Series, 2004-Present)
Offensively and scatologically entertaining retro video game reviews by a creative filmmaker...
The Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN) is a YouTube success story. In his spare time, filmmaker James Rolfe has made many short films, including a humorously disapproving review of the Nintendo video game Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. Just for fun, he uploaded it to YouTube, but the response was very positive as many people wanted more. More of his Nintendo game reviews would appear in YouTube, including the embarrassingly awful Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the pathetic video game "adaptation" of Back to the Future. I say adaptation in quotes because, as Rolfe's review shows, the majority of the game's content has nothing to do with the movie.
The rest is history. Rolfe continued to make these video game reviews with the nickname "Angry Nintendo Nerd." However, he would stop posting these videos on YouTube. He would also change his nickname to "Angry Video Game Nerd" for legal reasons. But nothing stopped him. He began working with ScrewAttack.com and GameTrailers.com, two web sites that provide original online video entertainment related to video games, to continue promoting his work. He agreed to many interviews, including one on the Opie and Anthony Show on XM satellite radio. Best of all, he released a DVD containing his Nerd episodes from 2006, which initially sold out in a matter of days.
So why is the Angry Video Game Nerd so popular? Because he's very good as a critic and as a filmmaker. He doesn't just tell how he feels. He shows us, through both words and visuals. When you watch his videos, you can see his ability to edit. He matches certain video clips to his words in order to engage us. He doesn't simply play a game, capture it in one continuous shot, and narrate as he is playing. In fact, many imitators of the Nerd do this. That's why Rolfe is still on top.
Let me give you an example to illustrate: the Nerd's review of Dragon's Lair on the Nintendo Entertainment System. He introduces the episode with shots of games from 1983, like Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and Dragon's Lair, which was nothing more than an interactive animated movie that hit the arcades that year. He also displays footage of each game in a quadrant of the screen so that we can see them all simultaneously. As an editor, he does this well. Expect his editing skills to show in his other episodes, too.
Then he discusses the Dragon's Lair game on Nintendo, which is a side-scroller game instead of an interactive movie due to technical limitations. He shows us the first screen of the game: the main character Dirk in front of a castle with a bridge over a moat. As a critic, Rolfe spends several minutes pointing out glaring flaws in this screen: death with one hit by anything other than a bat, death by getting hit with a bat about eleven times, the presence of a health meter despite dying instantly by anything other than a bat, death by hitting the castle's portcullis, the inability to move quickly, and the frustration of throwing daggers at a dragon in the moat because the daggers barely hit the creature even in the only position where it's possible to hit it. Even if you never played this game, you can still laugh out loud at how badly designed this game is. You can see for yourself what Rolfe is complaining about.
This episode ends very much like his other episodes. He tells you the most putrid, vile, and disgusting acts related to feces, urine, vomit, excess pain, gratuitous violence, and other unspeakable things that he would rather do than play this awful game. You may also see him drown his sorrows with beer. You will love his ranting if you're not easily offended by this sort of thing. In some episodes, he has someone play a character to commit violent acts on, like Bugs Bunny in his review of Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout. That episode, by the way, ends with the most scatological act against a beloved cartoon character the world has ever seen. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Yet, the Angry Video Game Nerd is never boring. He alters his review style and content from one episode to the next. In his review of the Friday the 13th game on Nintendo, he is subject to playing this terrible game by Jason Vorhees. Rolfe also does a few non-game departures, including reviews of the Nintendo Power Glove and the Nintendo Virtual Boy, two embarrassingly bad products. He even has one game review with an original cartoon character as a guest. I will not mention its name, but let's just say that it combines bodily waste with a certain vegetable.
To sum it up, James Rolfe the Angry Video Game Nerd is funny and amusing because of his skills as a filmmaker and his wacky sense of humor. His material is always something to look forward to. I can only identify a few moments where they were misses rather than hits. I don't know if the Nerd will remain a Web show or if it will lead to something bigger, like a TV show. Regardless, with the Nerd episodes plus his other short films, all under his film company name Cinemassacre, this guy is a creative genius. As his story proves, you don't need to be a professional in industry to be a star.
For more information about The Angry Video Game Nerd, visit the Internet Movie Database and Cinemassacre.com.
In addition, check out my review of Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie.