I have taken far too long to get to this review. I reviewed the volume 1 DVD of the Happy Video Game Nerd like two and a half years ago now. I was a fan. Not too long after that review the second DVD set was released. I’m very late to the party with this review (as will be the case with a lot of, if not most of these DVD reviews actually) but I am once again, a big fan. In fact, I would say this set solidifies me even more of a fan than even volume 1 did.
Volume 2 contains the following episodes:
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
StarTropics 2: Zoda’s Revenge
Mega Man 10
Clash at Demonhead
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
That’s 15 episodes in all, the majority running anywhere from 10-20 minutes in length (some even longer). It’s a good deal of content and that’s before taking into account the solid amount of bonus features there are too. We’ll obviously touch on that later.
The episodes in volume 1 focused far heavier on the show being a parody of the Angry Video Game Nerd. You had plays on a lot of AVGN’s more famous quotes, the shit pickle parody, the guest appearance parody, etc. Here the show has moved away from that and become its own entity, which I feel makes this a stronger run of episodes. The focus is less on humour (though there are jokes in there) and more on the reviews, and I’m ok with that. The idea that all of the reviews are focused on high quality games (happy is part of the title after all) is also put to the test here, with two reviews heavily skewing negative. I’m ok with that too. I won’t do an episode by episode breakdown as there are quite a few of them here but let’s talk highlights.
Earthbound is of course my favourite game of all time so I was very curious to see this episode, especially when I noticed the run time is around a half hour or so. The first portion of the episode talks about the game and why it stands above many older RPG’s on account of things like its modern setting and its battle system. It was also another great reminder that the soundtrack is fucking incredible. The latter half of the episode was the better part though as by this point I’ve heard so many people sing Earthbound’s praises that there isn’t a lot to say anymore. In the second half however, it focuses more on the Earthbound community and their attempts to get the other games in the series, Mother and Mother 3, released properly in North America. It’s not a super happy episode since we know their quest was for naught, but it’s a damn fine piece of entertainment that is full of information I was not aware of.
The reviews for Startropics 2 and Mega Man 10 seem to get a lot of shit on the internet because they are not overly positive reviews and the mentality seems to be that all reviews for this show must be full of praise as otherwise the “Happy” in the title is a lie. I don’t buy that. First of all the reviews were sort of necessary as the prior installment of each series had been given an episode so it’s not as though they were selected purely to pick on them. Second of all, the episodes don’t skew negative in the way many internet review shows do. It’s not 10 minutes of “what a piece of fuckin’ shit”. Each review is well written with Derek (I guess I should mention the happy nerd is actually Derek Alexander) presenting his argument in a clear and concise way. Positive aspects for each game are still mentioned however the negative arguments are backed up in a way that makes sense. I disagree with the Mega Man 10 review thoroughly as I remember enjoying that title even more than Mega Man 9, but I see where he’s coming from and damn it that’s what counts.
The Halloween run of episodes that include Enemy Zero, D2 and Sweet Home is probably my favourite block of episodes in the set. First of all I love horror games so I’m always excited when review shows get to the Halloween stuff. What’s even better here is that two of the games I was completely unfamiliar with and although I played and beat D2, it was a long time ago so it was fun to go back and look at that game again in its episode. Because of these I actually went and played Enemy Zero and Sweet Home and while Enemy Zero did not do it for me, Sweet Home is indeed fucking awesome and I highly recommend it.
Actually this is a good time to mention that this show more than any other I’ve watched has gotten me to try out some games I hadn’t played before. Looking back at the first DVD set as well, watching these episodes has led to me playing the following titles – Metal Storm, Wild Guns, Nightshade, Ninja Warriors, Sparkster, Sweet Home and Enemy Zero. I wasn’t into all of them but some of these ended up being great games that I may never had tried were it not for this show so that is another huge point in its favour right there.
I also have to give at least a quick shout-out to the Splatterhouse 2010 review as I was a big fan of the game who while playing it back when it first came out, was surprised at the harsh treatment it was receiving. It’s certainly a flawed game but I had a ton of fun with it and it was nice to see this review give it a fair shake.
The Chrono Trigger review is the April Fool’s episode and while I won’t spoil the gag here, I will say that I found it amusing at first but then it does run a little long. I like the idea and there’s a good running gag but I feel by the end the general joke had run its course.
While those are the highlights, I can’t really say there is a weak episode amongst the bunch. Simply put, this is a damn good show. It’s well written, informative and finds a good balance between discussing more mainstream and perhaps well-known titles such as Earthbound and Zombies Ate My Neighbors, with the ones nobody really talks about like Ninja Warriors and Sweet Home. The humour doesn’t dominate the proceedings though the jokes that are there usually land more often than not. While again I may not always agree with the opinions being presented, they are at least well supported and aren’t simply variations of “This game sucks because it’s a piece of shit”. This DVD set contains a very solid run of episodes that succeed across the board.
Also impressive is the amount of bonus content in the Volume 2 set. Each episode has a commentary track and while I was doubtful Derek would be able to keep things interesting throughout all of them, he manages to pull it off by changing his approach throughout the tracks. There is talk of the episodes themselves and the production behind them, there are personal stories, there is extended talk of the games themselves, there are numerous guest commentators, there are question from viewers, etc. My favourite thing about these commentary tracks though is that Derek spends a good amount of time calling viewers out on all their bullshit. Whether its people overreacting to a review they don’t agree with or just generally being over the top assholes, it’s always fun to hear people called out on their nonsense.
Outside of the commentary tracks, there are also a good number of Game Quickie bonus videos covering some additional titles including Ghoul Patrol on SNES, Crackdown on Genesis and a number of others. On top of that you have some outtakes as well. All in all, lots and lots of content spread across these three discs.
If you are a fan of retro video games in any form I highly recommend you check this show out. Watch a couple of the videos to get a sense of things and assuming you enjoy it, then throw some money at these DVD’s as you get a ton of content for the price and also I really, really want a volume 3 and if I don’t get one I’m going to blame all of you!