Angry Video Game Nerd 1 and 2 Deluxe review: A fun and filthy good time

Freak Zone Games
Freak Zone Games /

Angry Video Game Nerd 1 & 2 Deluxe is a filthy and foul-mouthed fun time, sure to satisfy AVGN fans and retro gamers looking for a challenging action platformer that’s both modern and old-school.

Title: Angry Video Game Nerd 1 & 2 Deluxe
Developer: FreakZone Games
Publisher: Screenwave Media
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed on), PC
Release Date: October 30th, 2020

My review for Angry Video Game Nerd 1 & 2 Deluxe, a remastered compilation of both Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures and Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation, along with a few new levels and a new final boss, presented quite the challenge for one obvious reason: the extremely vulgar and suggestive language that embodies both the game and its source material.

Many older gamers like myself likely know who the Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN) character is. Portrayed by James Rolfe, this satirical character first gained prominence through videos on Rolfe’s web site,, as well as YouTube, thanks to his over-the-top retro reviews of mostly-terrible video games. The character uses a lot of filthy language and imagery that makes the videos definitely aimed for young adults and older gamers, but looking past the toilet humor and gratuitous use of the “f” word, one can see how Rolfe has often created a fresh, funny, and different perspective on how we can view video games.

The AVGN character’s popularity eventually resulted in a live-action film, all kinds of
merchandise, and his own licensed video game, Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures (AVGN Adventures), originally released back in September 2013 for the PC before later getting ported to the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS in 2015. The games sold moderately well, thanks to the focus on classic platforming mixed with modern gamer conventions. Its sequel, the not-so-subtly named Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation (AVGN 2), was only released on PC platforms, so it didn’t get the same amount of attention as the first one.

Angry Video Game Nerd 1 & 2 Deluxe not only combines both AVGN Adventures and AVGN 2 into one enhanced offering, it also adds a new final area that can only be unlocked once both games are completed. Both games have been updated with many new changes, though changes to AVGN 2 won’t be obvious to those who missed out on the PC original. However, for those like me who played AVGN Adventures on the Wii U, 3DS, or PC, the visual updates to the original game are much more evident as soon as you start playing. The graphics are perhaps the biggest change, as everything from the background to the incredible pixel sprites all look quite exquisite and charming. Parallax scrolling, animated backgrounds, and more detailed stages all add to the game’s graphical enhancements, looking gorgeous and retro at the same time.

Even if you’re not a huge fan of AVGN himself, you’ll likely appreciate all the video game and pop culture references nestled within every single stage, from being pestered by a firefly named Naggi (an obvious parody of Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) to fighting both Jason Vorhees and Freddy Krueger, bosses based on their NES counterparts. Of course, they are not actually called “Jason” and “Freddy” in the game. They are instead named “Bimmy” and “Jimmy,” a nod to Rolfe’s AVGN Double Dragon 3 episode, where he lambasted the game’s atrocious misspelling of “Billy” (one of the main playable characters in the series) as “Bimmy” during a cut-scene in the game (poor translations were very common for Japanese-developed NES games released in North America).

All the games’ main areas generally play like your typical side-scrolling action-platformer that’s reminiscent of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. The gameplay itself feels like a combination of ContraMega Man, Ninja Gaiden, and Castlevania all rolled into one. This gameplay is very appealing to older gamers like myself, but younger and more modern gamers who aren’t familiar with these classic 2D franchises may not appreciate the gestures or ingenuity as much. Fortunately, there are many modern additions to these games that should persuade more players to give Angry Video Game Nerd 1 & 2 Deluxe a deserving chance.

The game offers several difficulty options that can completely change the gameplay experience. For the sake of this review, I played the game on “Normal,” which gave me three hit points and infinite lives. However, the more difficult options (already unlocked at the start) include more punishing challenges such as limited lives, more instant-kill “death blocks,” and fewer checkpoints. The hardest mode challenges gamers to best everything only on one single life with no continues, which in itself may be a nearly impossible task, as the game is brutally difficult even on the lowest settings.

Depending on the difficulty, having infinite lives can be a blessing in this game, because there are so many ways to die in every level. Enemies and hazards can quickly zap away your health, not to mention the “death blocks” that kill you instantly just by touching them. Thankfully, each stage is littered with checkpoints, represented by modded toasters (based on the “Nin-Toaster,” an actual toaster customized into a fully-functional NES system, featured in several AVGN episodes). Respawning after death happens immediately, allowing players to try again without waiting through any monotonous loading screens. It’s not uncommon to die often in one section, especially if you’re trying to collect all the NES cartridges that spell out “N-E-R-D” in every stage (to my knowledge, they are just optional collectibles for completionists). On one level in AVGN 2, I died over fifty times at one specific part because I couldn’t get my jump timing right, but my need to complete the game at 100% compelled me to continue trying until I finally succeeded.

There are many differences between the two AVGN games, but the gameplay itself largely remains intact. In AVGN Adventures, for example, there are eight selectable stages, a la Mega Man. However, AVGN 2 has a map layout more akin to Super Mario Bros. 3, though different areas can be selected at any time. The stories were originally more different as well, but the second game’s story was somewhat changed to incorporate the first game’s story into a larger and more coherent narrative. It’s a satisfying story for AVGN fans, but just like old-school NES action games that inspired the game, most gamers likely won’t become invested in the game’s overall narrative.

Another large difference between the two main games are the hidden playable characters. AVGN Adventures has three additional playable characters, each with different abilities that can be switched to at any time during gameplay once found: Guitar Guy, a fedora-wearing skeleton with a guitar that can send out soundwave attacks which can go through walls (based on Kyle Justin, the musician who composed the official AVGN theme song, as well as appearing in several notable AVGN episodes); Mike, a normal-looking guy who can high-jump, wields a “lightsaber,” and can find hidden blocks that hide power-ups or secret areas (based on Mike Matei, the Watson to Rolfe’s Sherlock, largely responsible for helping to co-create and launch the AVGN character); and Bullsh*t Man, a “poo-headed” being that double-jumps and shoots out fecal projectiles (based on Rolfe’s character from the “You Know What’s Bullsh*t” web videos). These hidden characters are not easy to find, but their abilities are very helpful when navigating the treacherous stages.

Unfortunately, AVGN 2 doesn’t feature any hidden characters, instead opting for an “upgrade” system that feels similar to the armor capsules from Mega Man X. These upgrades are very well-hidden, but thankfully appear to be optional. They were originally required to get the game’s “good ending” in the original version, but I’m not sure if it applies to this version as well. Unlike the N-E-R-D cartridges, these upgrades are difficult to find. The only upgrade that I really used often was the “cape,” since it offers the ability to slowly float after a jump. Fortunately, you can replay any level, and once you obtain an upgrade, you can quit the level immediately without losing it. This doesn’t quite work the same way when collecting the N-E-R-D cartridges though, as you have to reach a checkpoint once you obtain one, otherwise, the game doesn’t give you credit for it.

The music deserves to be specifically mentioned because it’s one of the best and most upbeat synthesized soundtracks to come out in the last decade. Along with a great rendition of the AVGN theme in chiptune form, the original music has a great sound that feels like a cross between hard techno and percussion-heavy funk. In fact, the game’s soundtrack is being released in a vinyl format, an uncommon feat for an indie game. If you’re a fan of hard-hitting retro video game music then you’ll certainly appreciate the game’s incredible and very catchy soundtrack.

I originally wanted to discuss the levels in detail, but due to some of their colorful, yet
potentially offensive nature, I feel the need to be as nondescript as possible. The stages range from a neon Tokyo-like city complete with kaiju monsters battling in the background, an obligatory winter level filled with Christmas trees and evil snowmen, to an Atari inspired nightclub filled with pixelated nude dancers, and even Hell itself, where you can ride a giant laser-shooting shark. I really enjoyed the brave and daring level design, aside from the sewer levels, which felt very “plain” in contrast to the game’s other areas.

If you’ve seen many AVGN episodes then you’ll likely get the many references and Easter eggs that are packed within Angry Video Game Nerd 1 & 2 Deluxe. The level design is brutal at times, but it feels like it has a nice balance overall, with only a couple of exceptions. For example, there’s an auto-scrolling that has several lightning bolts with seemingly random patterns, making it a very frustrating area to complete. Thankfully, there aren’t many sections like this, which shows that the game design largely gets it more right than wrong.

Even though you’ll likely die very often, the game itself isn’t that difficult on the easy and normal difficulty settings. I completed AVGN Adventures in under two hours, and AVGN 2 took less than three hours. The final area is composed of three new levels and a final boss, all of which are, rather appropriately, extremely tough and punishing to finish. Yet, that feeling of joy when you finally beat the entire game is intoxicating, a nostalgic one that I experienced as my younger self whenever completing hard games like Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man 3, or Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. There’s some replayability to be found in collecting every hidden character, upgrade and N-E-R-D cartridge. However, unless you enjoy replaying the same game under more difficult conditions, you may get bored with it after your initial playthrough.

Angry Video Game Nerd 1 & 2 Deluxe certainly isn’t for everybody, especially young gamers or those sensitive to the game’s over-the-top violence and foul-mouthed toilet humor. However, if you’re an AVGN or retro gaming fan like me then there’s plenty of great things to love about it. The humor is hilarious and spot-on, the soundtrack is amazing, and most importantly, the gameplay feels like something you’d find on a high-quality NES or SNES game back in the day.

Modern gamers may not appreciate everything that the game is trying to convey, but there is so much to enjoy past any perceived flaws. To put it another way, I would consider this the indie- equivalent video game to the comedic film The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!: It’s funny, full of obvious parodies inspired by a love for the original source material, and clearly made with passion for a particular audience in mind. A great indie game for those who like an old-school challenge, Angry Video Game Nerd 1 & 2 Deluxe is a fantastic alternative for those craving something different in the Switch library.

8.5. Clearly inspired by old-school action platformers, <em>Angry Video Game Nerd 1 & 2 Deluxe</em> presents two beautifully remastered games complimented by a rocking soundtrack. The game’s vulgar language and brutal difficulty won’t appeal to everyone, but retro gamers and AVGN fans will really appreciate everything this game has to offer.. FreakZone Games. . Angry Video Game Nerd 1 and 2 Deluxe

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.