The Angry Video Game Nerd has been around for a long time, and I’ve been visiting some of his stuff again. It just slays me! I’m glad to see he’s gotten the attention he deserves. The dude put(s) a lot of effort and thought into making these videos, even the early ones. And beyond that, his reviews and expertise with regards to video-game culture is some of the more insightful and engaging you will come across.
So his stuff is certainly poignant — but not just because he’s funny and exaggerating the excited, critical “nerd” angle, but because he’s saying what I think is some important cultural shit I’ve touched on before, here at CRM Industrial Corp. Some of the games he reviews, film adaptations like Ghostbusters and or Back to the Future or Karate Kid — were pretty much scams. I think if you do not give a flying fuck about a game to the degree that it is unplayable, and then push it out the production window super fast to make an easy dishonest buck off of uncynical kids by it, you are a scumbag. Goes without saying, right?
An adult consumer would (presumably) know better and be honest about where their own dollar goes, but a kid? I remember buying Batman Returns for Sega Genesis as a kid without knowing anything much about it beyond that it had Batman. It was… tolerable. Not a very good game, but it had some fun aspects. The thing is, I almost bought Revenge of the Joker (which the AVN covered here), and that game is all sorts of fucked up. And I almost bought games that were even worse, where even my dad had to step in sometimes (despite knowing not a fucking thing about games whatsoever, nor thinking they had any cultural worth) and refuse to buy a game because he knew it was pure 100% scheme and kultur-crime.
I think making intentionally shitty games you don’t care about, with a franchise kids love, is one of the more depraved things you can do in modern capitalist society. It’s basically soft child-abuse, but also soft-crime against culture. You are actually ripping people off who are not developed enough mentally to even know any better. I understand — it might sell, you might make some money, and I just “don’t realize the business side of things”.
Nah, that’s horseshit. Let me put it this way: that kind of rationalizing and cheap opportunism is what all the financiers were doing in the housing bubble 2+ years ago — pushing mortgages on people who didn’t understand or deserve them, and then intentionally making money off of that ignorance. And then those same sellers were investing in risky mortgages in the last housing bubble because, even though it was economic sewage, it stood to make them some easy money. So fuck all that – quick easy money is for sewer scum; always has been, always will be, and it always ruins the economy and culture in the long run.
Yet I should point out, lest this incredibly important sound bitter or unreasonable, that a lot of the shitty games out there were often more naive or oblivious or miscalculated, rather than nefarious in design. Some of it is just uncalibrated experimentation, like Legend of Kage, Buck Rodgers, Solar Jetman, or say… the original Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy. The latter two shaped up to be important games that were actually good, but at the beginning they weren’t scamming kids to buy into what they were doing (which were actually pretty original ideas in the first place, despite being implemented poorly, and much better already than some junk like Legend of Kage). And a lot of sequels were also just attempts at innovation or changes which fell short or didn’t take the time to be thoroughly tested (Castlevania II, Ninja Gaiden III, Double Dragon III).
But! Even if this shit is only being revealed in hindsight, kudos to the Angry Video Game Nerd. I remember games like Shaq-Fu getting decent reviews in magazines that I read as a kid (even gems like Game Players!), who were basically paid or endorsed to not shit all over a high-financed game. In this area, GamePro was often the worst, with arbitrary ratings systems, impersonal articles written by fake personas that the staff writers could hide behind (you could tell it didn’t fucking matter who wrote any of those, Sushi X might as well have been Scary Larry), and more ads than any of their competition. I think the kind of honest criticism the AVGN puts up is entertaining cultural polemicism, like what real film criticism should/could be.