No need for the backstory, you know who the AVGN is. This DVD will always hold a bizarrely special place in my heart as it’s what I put on to watch and space out to when I got back from getting all four of my wisdom teeth removed a few years back. Not sure why I chose this but it was my pick me up as I sat in a haze of mouth pain and drugs. Though I imagine it would be entertaining for those with a clear head as well.
Volume 4 is the last of the DVD sets to feature this many episodes as the show went from bi-weekly to monthly right after this run. On this set you get the following episodes:
Milon’s Secret Castle
Atari Jaguar Part 1
Atari Jaguar Part 2
Terminator Part 1
Terminator Part 2
Mario is Missing
Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties
Castlevania Parts 1-4
Little Red Hood
Jesus. In terms of sheer episodic content, this DVD may have the most of any so far with 22 episodes in total, all of which are a decent length so that’s several hours of stuff right there. I wouldn’t say it’s the best annual run of the show, my pick for that will always be the shows on Volume 2, but it’s a damn good one with the occasional misstep in there as well.
There are too many episodes here to do a show by show breakdown so let’s start by mentioning a few of the highlights. The main one for me is the four part Castlevania retrospective that was done for Halloween. These episodes aren’t as focused on comedy but it works terrifically as an overview of the series, at least the installments up through the Playstation 1 and Nintendo 64 entries. The amount of work that must have gone into these is pretty remarkable and any Castlevania fan would definitely get a kick out of this.
The run from X-Men through to the Transformers episode is perhaps my favourite block of shows from this year. X-Men highlights a slew of games that I spent a lot of time with as a kid and I always appreciate those episodes since I can spend the entire running time exclaiming “Oh Jesus, yeah I remember that.” The Terminator episodes work for me for the opposite reason in that I had no exposure to them as a kid but I do remember really, really wanting my parents to buy me Terminator 2 on NES. They refused because they assumed it would be way too violent and I was pissed off. Now I can see how much I should have been thanking them because you know what game I got instead? Bubble fucking Bobble. Best decision ever, thanks Mom and Dad! Finally Transformers highlights a game I’ve never even heard of, so it’s always cool to see these games that slipped off my radar.
Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties is another stand-out and seems to be a fan favourite. It’s understandable as it highlights one of the weirdest non-games in existence. It’s essentially a photo slide show with narration over top of it and it’s the fucking worst thing I’ve ever seen. It’s the kind of episode where James barely even has to tell jokes as the game makes fun of itself. It’s a fun peek into the world of the 3D0 and another glimpse into this world of video games I had no clue existed.
The Crazy Castle episode is very divisive as this is the best example to date of an episode than is far more of a short film than it is a video game review. The goal was to make their own classic Looney Tunes short and in many ways they succeeded, especially considering the limited funds and scope they were no doubt working with. Many of the classic Warner Bros. gags are here, complete with bombs exploding in people’s faces and anvils falling on heads. It’s quite well done and I definitely don’t mind that it takes away from the game review because at the very least it’s something unique and it provides a nice change of pace. Besides, there really isn’t that much to say about the Crazy Castle games, though I should I say I’m actually quite fond of at least the first two as I owned them as a kid and played them quite a bit. The episode does run too long though, which I get is part of it as the running gag is just how many god damn Crazy Castle games there are, but it still causes the gag to grow tired by the end.
This set does also contain my pick (and likely many peoples’ pick) as the worst AVGN episode probably ever, definitely up until this point – the Odyssey episode. I believe the intent here was to go the shit pickle route but instead it’s the Nerdy Turd, which is indeed just the Nerd’s head on a piece of shit. All the Nerdy Turd does it make fart noises. I get that it’s meant as an exaggeration of the shit humour the show is known for, but that doesn’t make it entertaining to watch. I’ve only gone back to this episode once since its original airing, usually skipping past it when watching through this DVD. I’ve never been a big fan of the shit jokes (they do occasionally work quite well) and this is the ultimate example so naturally I am not a fan.
The rest of the episodes range from good to very good, with Godzilla, Winter Games and Moonwalker being my other picks for stand-out shows, even though I’ve always had a bizarre affinity for the Moonwalker game. The Wayne’s World episode loses a bit from the online version as naturally all of the movie clips had to be removed and the Mario is Missing episode I take issue with for my usual reasons (someone really needs to review the game as an educational product instead of just being baffled it is in fact an educational product). In general, it’s a great batch of shows and the set is easily worth it for hardcore and casual fans alike.
The bonus feature selection is solid though not as strong as past offerings. There’s lots devoted to the Crazy Castle episode which is not at all surprising. There’s a 12 minute making of that shows the ridiculous amount of work that went into the episode. It’s pretty astounding and no matter what criticisms people may lob at this show, they could never say that it’s lazy. There’s clearly a lot of passion here for this. There’s also nine minutes worth of outtakes dedicated specifically to the Crazy Castle episode.
There’s a six minute look at James’ NES collection which I remember was done originally to tide people over during a lengthy lull between episodes. I’m a sucker for collection videos so this is right up my alley. My only real complaint is that I wish it was longer, there’s tons of shit in that collection I would like to know more about but this only covers the really weird stuff.
The majority of the bonus material is casual behind the scenes/extra stuff with James and Mike Matei. There are a few minutes of them recording the footage for the Odyssey video (more shit jokes, still not my favourite). There’s a 15 minute video where they just tour around the Nerd Room and you get a good look at the insane amount of stuff contained within that area. Again I could watch that kinda stuff all day so I’m into this one.
There are a couple of extra videos where James and Mike casually try out a couple of peripherals – the virtual reality stuntmaster and the Sega Master System 3d glasses. The Stuntmaster video does go on a little long but it’s such a weird item that it makes for a good watch. The 3D Glasses video is only a couple of minutes long and it’s ok too, the Stuntmaster one is definitely the highlight. There are also trailers for every episode of the disc and Screw Attack’s compilation of the top 10 nerd moments from that year.
AVGN continues to be an entertaining show, mixing nostalgia and humour mostly effectively with the usual over emphasis on shit jokes. Volume 4 has a great selection of episodes with a couple of weak entries in the mix as well. My general recommendation would still go to the Volume 2 set but as I said above, you really can’t go wrong with this one either. Volume 5 is where things start to get a little more interesting so I shall see you probably pretty soon for that review!