With the Angry Video Game Nerd Movie now widely available for anyone to watch, it feels like I should continue my reviews of the DVD sets. Volume 5 is where things start to get interesting. This is when James Rolfe had started to become burnt out on doing 2 episodes a month and instead cut his output down to 1 per month. I remember people were unnaturally angry about this and that pissed me off. There was lots of talk about how viewers were owed more episodes. You’re not owed shit, fuck off. …Anyway so that was happening and as a result Volume 5 contains the fewest number of episodes of any of these DVD sets so far.
Included in Volume 5 are the following episodes:
Street Fighter 2010
Back to the Future trilogy
Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde Revisited
Lester the Unlikely
How the Nerd Stole Christmas
So you get 13 episodes in total, not a bad amount considering the length of the episodes but still kind of strange after the ridiculous amount of shows on the last few sets. I will be honest; it’s also not my favourite group of episodes. Don’t get me wrong there are some damn good ones here but the previous volumes were so strong it’s to be expected a dip would eventually happen.
Things do start off strong as I would probably rank Ninja Gaiden amongst my favourite AVGN episodes. Normally I tend to prefer the more straight forward game focused episodes but Kevin Finn is just so god damn good as the ninja that this episode really works for me. Finn is also the highlight of the Game Glitches episode. That dude is good, it’s actually a shame he isn’t able to appear in more of the episodes overall.
Hydlide is a straight-forward game review but there isn’t a whole lot to say about the game itself it seems. The same could be said for the Zelda II review, as it seems like a whole lot of the run time of that one is just spent reading the enemy names out of the instruction manual. The rest is mostly just devoted to how the hard the game is. Not a bad review, just certainly not amongst the best in my eyes.
The same could be said for the Pong Consoles episode. It’s a cool look back at some of the earliest video game consoles but once you’ve taken a look at a few of these pong machines, there isn’t a whole lot to say and I would estimate that at least fifteen are covered here. The Swordquest episode is a better example of covering a historical video game story as the material it is highlighting proves to be far more interesting. I personally didn’t know the story being told and it’s a good one.
The Action 52 episode is certainly admirable as each and every one of the 52 games is given screen time (the ones that don’t immediately crash at least) but there’s only so much one can do with the material as each game is terrible in almost the same way. James does what he can to keep things fresh and interesting and I do like the episode but as he himself says, there really isn’t a whole lot to say about the majority of these games. Cheetahmen I feel fares better as those games are so astoundingly, uniquely bad that they make for interesting subjects.
The double bill of revisited episodes, Back to the Future and Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, are probably my favourites on this set. Even when watching the original Back to the Future review I remember thinking that it was too bad he didn’t talk at all about Back to the Future III for the Sega Genesis. My friend and I spent countless hours trying to beat that first stage and on the very rare occasions where we pulled it off (I’m proud to say that we did beat that level at least a few times though we failed it many hundreds of times) we were never once able to beat the second stage. It’s nice to see that game finally get torn apart as my god it deserves it.
The episodes end on a very strong note as well as How the Nerd Stole Christmas is insanely well done. Featuring tons of hand drawn images and a soothing narrator voice, it’s a terrific homage to the original cartoon special. Not only that, but a whole lot of games are covered here, all using rhyming dialogue. It’s my favourite Christmas special the AVGN has done to date and the amount of work that must have gone into it definitely shows in the end product.
Looking back at this it sounds like I was perhaps a little harsh here as I certainly don’t want to say these episodes are weak. I find that even the weakest AVGN episode is pretty entertaining (with a couple of exceptions) so keep in mind that while I don’t think this is the strongest run of episodes, it still adds up to a few hours of quality watching. Plus you get a few classics in here that I would place amongst the very best.
The crop of extras here is pretty solid as well. Granted they don’t start out great as the first two features (Top 20 AVGN Rants and Holiday Memories) are simply made up of clips from past episodes. After that you get a five minute interview with Bear McCreary who did the music for the Christmas episode, a 10 minute look at some AVGN convention appearances, and a quick video of James playing Castlevania IV back when he was a kid.
Next is kind of a strange feature (primarily because I didn’t know it existed until watching this DVD set). It’s a music video parody of Britney Spears’ “Piece of Me” only here it’s “Piece of Meat” and she’s eating people and stuff? I don’t know the origins of this but James makes an appearance in character near the end of it. Well done I suppose but it didn’t do much for me. You also get some outtakes for the video.
There are more outtakes after that for Ninja Gaiden and Game Glitches. They run a total of about 9 minutes and as you can expect are highly focused on Kevin Finn. It furthers my theory that Finn should definitely be in more videos when possible.
Rounding out the extras is a trio of commentary tracks which is nice to see as I’ve always enjoyed when these are included. You get commentary on Back to the Future, Game Glitches and Ninja Gaiden. All three are worth a listen.
So that’s Volume 5! I would honestly put it at the bottom of the list of the five volumes so far but again that doesn’t mean it’s not worth picking up. The extras are solid and the episodes themselves are consistently entertaining with a few that rank amongst the very best. I see that as I’m writing this Volume 5 is on sale for only 10 bucks and for that price holy shit you best grab this one right away!