The Angry Video Game Nerd: Season 9
R0 - America - Cinemassacre/Screenwave Media
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (8th February 2017).
The Show

“Angry Video Game Nerd: Season 9” (2014-2016)

The web series “Angry Video Game Nerd” has been a continuous mainstay on YouTube for over 10 years now - a lone white button-up shirt wearing nerd that plays terrible retro games and takes out his frustration with Rolling Rock beer and loud outbursts of obscenities. Conceptually it sounds like many other YouTube channels of useless videos of so called critics commenting haphazardly and without merit, but writer/director/star James Rolfe sets his show apart from others with creative production work, witty scriptwriting, great editing, and rewatchability. While episodes used to come every two weeks, Rolfe started to slow down the pace of AVGN episodes to concentrate on other work - other web series such as “Board James” and “James & Mike Mondays”, and the theatrical feature film “Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie”.

The AVGN web series had been released on the DVD format in separate volumes 1-8. Recently, they have been re-released with new artwork and newly remastered discs along with the release of the 9th collection. The re-released collections are now labeled “Season” rather than “Volume” and the latest release is coined “Season 9” even though chronologically speaking, this collection of episodes spans the Christmas episodes of 2014 to the 10th anniversary episode in early 2016 - so the word “Season” may not be the most accurate but at least the numbering is correct, being the 9th release chronologically. The following episodes are included in this two disc set, with DISC ONE having all the episodes and DISC TWO having all the bonus features:

"The 12 Days of Shitsmas" episodes
From December 11th to December 22nd 2014, the Nerd opens 12 video game presents once a day for mini-reviews, rather than a full length episode on a single title. The following 12 episodes are part of “The 12 Days of Shitsmas”:

- "Tagin' Dragon" (3:50)
- "ALF" (4:02)
- "CRAZYBUS" (4:06)
- "Ren & Stimpy: Fire Dogs" (5:16)
- "Rocky & Bullwinkle" (4:06)
- "Mary-Kate & Ashley: Get a Clue" (4:16)
- "V.I.P. with Pamela Anderson" (4:53)
- "Lethal Weapon" (4:38)
- "Porky's" (6:02)
- "HYPERSCAN" (6:32)
- "Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure" (11:29)
- "LJN Video Art" (8:42)


There are some terrible stinkers in here. The Venezuelan bus title “CRAZYBUS” barely qualifies as a game. If you’ve never been to Universal Studios but only play “Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure”, you’ll probably never want to go there ever. The “HYPERSCAN” console breaks a new record on slow loading time. “LJN Video Art” is one of the most frustrating things that the rainbow color company ever released. But there are some that are not too bad. The “Ren & Stimpy” game does have good graphics and even the Nerd says that the “Mary-Kate and Ashley” game is “not bad”>.

- "Hong Kong 97" (12:30) (March 26, 2015)
The game “Hong Kong 97” was an unlicensed game made in 1995 and the origin is still quite mysterious. As the Nerd was not able to get a physical copy since its elusiveness and legality proved it difficult to acquire, this was the first time a game was played over a PC with an emulated version of the game. When a game starts with Jackie Chan’s 16 bit face and text saying “a herd of fuckin’ ugly reds”, it’s obvious this is no ordinary Super Nintendo game. There is broken English and Japanese text all over, an insane backstory, and over the top gameplay Bruce Lee’s “relative” killing people. It is said this was made by a Japanese company over a week’s time and never got proper distribution, but I find it hard to believe a Japanese company or Japanese programmer would make a game with so many bad Japanese mistakes in the text leading me to believe this was a Taiwanese game. In one of the featurettes on DISC TWO, James and Mike show off a physical game cartridge acquired but even that had some Japanese text on the cover that didn’t make grammatical sense. The mystery and conspiracy continues…

- "Darkwing Duck" (13:21) (May 13, 2015)
Disney Afternoon’s TV series “Darkwing Duck” was a spin-off of “DuckTales” mixing film noir and DC Comics style heroism. The Nerd plays the TurboGrafx 16 version of the game, which also happens to be the first time the TGX16 was used for a Nerd episode, where he shows off the way-too-short controller cables. But with bad hit detection and delayed controls, the Nerd obviously cannot control his frustration.

- "Seaman for Dreamcast" (16:57) (July 28, 2015)
The Sega Dreamcast makes its debut here, which to many people to this day consider it as one of the all time best consoles, if not greatest video game console ever. “Seaman” was actually one of the most popular games for the system - a simulation game where the player must take care of a half fish/human creature in a virtual tank in real time. The Nerd has a nerd-out moment when he hears the voice of the narrator of the game - Leonard Nimoy. It’s not a terrible game at all but it is a weird one that requires patience, but there are a lot of insanely hilarious moments of the Nerd reacting to the weirdness. Also shown in this episode is the Japanese Famicom Disk System game “Explosive Fighter Patton” which has one of the most infamous lines of text on any Nintendo game.
There is a strange anomaly in this episode on the DVD. Right after the nerd says “I must be losing my mind” there is a single frame of the Rolling Rock clock that appears - and this was not part of the original version uploaded to the Cinemassacre site and YouTube channel. An error? A subliminal message? At first I thought I was losing MY mind…

- "The Crow" (9:42) (October 30, 2015)
For the Halloween episode, the Sega Saturn game of “The Crow” is played. Based on the sequel film “The Crow: City of Angels”, the game is plagued with bad controls, a repetitive soundtrack, bad camera angles, and overall darkness that makes it hard to see what is going on.

- "Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero" (10:02) (December 22, 2015)
The Nerd discusses and shows clips of the older Mortal Kombat games but mentions that he had never played this particular game which was released on various platforms in 1997. The Nintendo 64 version is played and the angry frustration comes to life with the game’s bad controls and unfair gameplay.

- "Mega Man Games" (25:05) (April 6, 2016)
April 6th 2006 was the date that the first AVGN videos were uploaded to YouTube and the creation of the channel. To mark the 10th anniversary, a franchise that has always been a bright spot in gamers’ minds is talked about - the Mega Man series. The Nerd introduces the classic first 6 NES games and the upgraded Mega Max X series, but unfortunately decides that he should call it quits as the Angry Video Game Nerd. After he throws the shirt away and walks on a lonely road, he is suddenly transported back to past, encountering his younger self and realizing the importance of his “job” and coming to terms with who he really is. And the episode proves that there are some bad Mega Man games and spinoff games out there… What was Capcom thinking?
The 10th anniversary episode is one of the lengthiest and one of the most ambitious. The “It’s a Wonderful Life” / “Back to the Future” elements aside, it’s the integration of the current Nerd character and his younger selves in the older episodes are amazingly fun to watch - like alternate versions of the episodes. Not only that, but the episode is topped with the seemingly never-ending Bugs Bunny duel that has been going on for years…

Some great episodes are included in the “Season 9” set and the only complaint might be the fact that they are not coming soon enough, having to wait months between episodes now. But rather than making quick videos without the thought process, it’s better to have well written and well produced episodes that can be watched over and over. Plus, Rolfe is mostly a one-man show doing almost everything in pre-production, production, and post-production. Keep the laughs coming while torturing yourself with bad games, and here’s to another 10 years!

Note this is a region 0 NTSC DVD which can play back on any DVD or Blu-ray player worldwide

Video

Cinemassacre/Screenwave Media’s self-released set presents the episodes in 480i in the original 1.75:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement in the NTSC standard. The episodes were shot in full 1080p and have been downconverted to standard definition NTSC and look very good. The live action footage looks great with pin sharp focus on the Nerd with no problems with colors, banding, or errors in the picture. Colors look great, the special effects look good, but as for the video game footage - don’t expect it to be as good since the retro games are usually coming from standard definition. The aspect ratio for the gameplay footage is kept so there is no unusual stretching of the footage. The “Mega Man” episode does change aspect ratios to 1.33:1 for some of the “past” scenes as the Nerd interacts with older footage from episodes filmed in the 1.33:1 ratio. Overall, excellent picture on all the episodes. DISC ONE is a dual layer DVD and there are no problems with compression.

For the episodes on DISC ONE it is laid out in the following order:

"The 12 Days of Shitsmas" episodes (with Play All)
- "Tagin' Dragon" (3:50)
- "ALF" (4:02)
- "CRAZYBUS" (4:06)
- "Ren & Stimpy: Fire Dogs" (5:16)
- "Rocky & Bullwinkle" (4:06)
- "Mary-Kate & Ashley: Get a Clue" (4:16)
- "V.I.P. with Pamela Anderson" (4:53)
- "Lethal Weapon" (4:38)
- "Porky's" (6:02)
- "HYPERSCAN" (6:32)
- "Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure" (11:29)
- "LJN Video Art" (8:42)
Episodes
- "Hong Kong 97" (12:30)
- "Darkwing Duck" (13:21)
- "Seaman for Dreamcast" (16:57)
- "The Crow" (9:42)
- "Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero" (10:02)
- "Mega Man Games" (25:05)


There is a “Play All” for the disc which plays the 12 “Shitsmas” episodes and the 6 following episodes in order. There is a “Play All” for just the 12 “Shitsmas” episodes, but there is no “Play All” for the standard episodes. An episode selection screen is available if a viewer would like to watch a single episode only.

All the episodes are uncut, including the Charlie Brown footage in the “Seaman” episode, but as stated, the “Seaman” episode has a single “subliminal” frame in the episode that was not in the original YouTube/Cinemassacre upload.

Audio

English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
The original stereo track is presented in Dolby Digital. Dialogue is mostly center based in mono while sound effects and music are spread out on the left and right tracks. In the “Hong Kong 97” episode there was a little distortion in the audio but besides that all other episodes sound great with good audio levels including the rants being clearly heard.

There are no subtitles offered for the episodes or bonus features.

Extras

All the extras on the “Season 9” set are offered on a separate single layer disc:

DISC TWO

"Adventure Island" NES marathon charity event episode (5:12) (November 8, 2014)
Shot as part of Pat the NES Punk’s yearly charity event featuring a variety of gamers, the Hudson game for NES “Adventure Island” is played. It’s a fun classic that does have its share of frustration.
in anamorphic 1.75:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Danny Sullivan's Indy Heat" NES marathon charity event episode (4:41) (November 11, 2015)
Another short made for Pat the NES Punk’s charity, this one features the NES racing game starring NASCAR racer Danny Sullivan.
in anamorphic 1.75:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Nerdy Challenges" documentary (34:08)
Rather than doing specific audio commentaries for this season’s episodes, James Rolfe and Mike Matei individually talk about the episodes made from the good ones to the not-so-good ones. Discussed about are the lengthy time it took to capture footage for “Seaman”, the reason to do 12 mini-episodes for the “Shitsmas” episodes, how the fake wall created for “Mega Man” would not break as easily as expected, and more.
in anamorphic 1.75:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Season 9 Outtakes (10:20)
A series of outtakes are presented here in uncut form.
in anamorphic 1.75:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"AVGN Script Collection" featurettes
- Part 1 (30:55)
- Part 2 (25:17)
- Part 3 (25:30)

With the Cinemassacre Charity Auction for Shriner’s Hospitals in 2016, many props, scripts, and other memorabilia were auctioned off including original AVGN scripts and notes. James Rolfe and Mike Matei sit and sift through some of the old notes before they are about to be given away to fans. They laugh hysterically at some of the old notes, the coffee stains, the drawings, and some of the memorable lines and scenes throughout. There’s rapping, memories of the nerdiest moment ever at a strip club, and a script note with probably the filthiest line ever written for AVGN - but not used in the actual episode.

"Console Setup 2016" featurette (12:51)
As shown in the “Mega Man” episode, AVGN finally upgraded to an HDTV, and Rolfe shows off his newly organized gaming setup via iPhone camera.
in anamorphic 1.75:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

While there were lengthy extras on this set, it is unfortunate that extras such as convention appearances or bonus episodes weren’t included - such as the “James & Mike Mondays” episode of “Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure” or the “13 Dead End Drive” episode of “Board James” which was the follow-up to the “Sub-Zero” Halloween episode. Regardless, it is a generous set of extra features.

Packaging

The re-released season sets 1-8 and season 9 have continuous spines which if lined up create the full artwork, similar to that of "Dragon Ball" comics, Oscilloscope Laboratories DVDs, and the “Star Trek” I-VI VHS boxset.

Overall

“Angry Video Game Nerd: Season 9” is filled with great laughs, cursing, and retro gaming madness, and the 10th anniversary episode was one of the most ambitious productions done in the series’ history and gladly it wasn’t the end of the series. The DVD presents great picture and audio on the episodes with very good extras, and even though the episodes can easily be seen on the Cinemassacre site and the YouTube channel, for fans of the series and physical media it comes very recommended.

The Show: A Video: A Audio: A Extras: A Overall: A

 


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