- "He's the angry Atari, Amiga, CD-i, Colecovision, Intellivision, Sega, Neo Geo, Turbografx 16, Odyssey, 3D0, Commodore, Nintendo nerd."
- —Kyle Justin
The Angry Video Game Nerd (abbreviated as AVGN, occasionally shortened to The Nerd) is the titular character and name of a series of farcical retrogaming video reviews by James D. Rolfe. The show revolves around retro game reviews that involve acerbic rants against the particularly low-quality or poorly designed video games, generally being 8-bit video games and usually also featuring licensed characters. The series began as a feature on YouTube, and later joined ScrewAttack Entertainment, which would later have three of its features, including the AVGN, transferred to GameTrailers exclusively. The show was formerly known as The Angry Nintendo Nerd as early AVGN episodes had Rolfe solely reviewed on Nintendo Entertainment System hardware, particularly its games. This title that was abandoned to evade legal issues due to the Nintendo trademark, and that the show had diversed when Rolfe began to review on non Nintendo hardware and games.
The titular Nerd character is an ill-tempered and foul-mouthed video game fanatic. He derives comic appeal from excessive and inventive use of profanity, frequent displays of explicit gestures, and heavy consumption of beer, particularly Rolling Rock or Yuengling, to "soothe the pain".
A particular characteristic is his favorable comparison of extremely repulsive and painful, usually firmly scatological, acts to playing the games he reviews; the opening theme song, for example, states that "he'd rather have a buffalo take a diarrhea dump in his ear" than play any of the games he reviews. Varying amounts of physical comedy are mixed into the verbal abuse.
- The series began with a short review of the NES game Castlevania II: Simon's Quest in 2004. Rolfe decided to make another video which was supposed to be the last, because Dr. Jekyll was his most hated game. At the time, he was drinking the beer "Rolling Rock", and this became a trait of The Nerd, so he decided to use it in later videos. The videos were produced and published on Cinemassacre.com. In 2006, the videos were put on YouTube under the name of "Angry Nintendo Nerd". He later changed the name to "Angry Video Game Nerd" to prevent trademark issues.Along with the name change, the Nerd soon diversified, reviewing games on other platforms such as the Atari 2600, Super Nintendo, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Nintendo Virtual Boy, the Atari 5200, the Vectrex on his Star Trek special, the Intellivision and ColecoVision systems in a special two-part episode, the Sony PlayStation on one occasion (its version of a game based on Independence Day), the Nintendo 64 (and the game Superman 64), the Commodore 64 for both the Superman and Batman reviews, the VIC-20 for the Dracula review, the Atari Lynx in the first part of his Batman review, and the Philips CD-I. Along with reviewing games, some episodes have featured other video game-related items, such as the Power Glove, the U-Force and other NES accessories, the two Genesis/Mega Drive add-ons (the Sega CD and the Sega 32X), movie reviews of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and The Wizard, and a tribute to Nintendo Power. He also references video game culture in a reenactment of the retro console wars in one video in a Wii tribute.
- Rolfe has stated on his website that the first videos he made were "just a joke" and he had no intention on making them public,instead showing them only to friends. After two years passed, Mike Matei suggested he put it online. They soon did, and since then, his reviews have become increasingly popular and have developed a large fanbase.Rolfe's videos grew longer, soon turning into an actual series complete with title cards, an intro song and official merchandise, two versions of t-shirts, and the AVGN Volume 1 DVD (2004~2006 episodes), followed by the recently released Volume 2 DVD (2007 episodes).
- - After his fourth online review on YouTube, ScrewAttack invited him to have his own section on their website and has since been employed by MTV Networks' GameTrailers.com. Since then, his videos are GameTrailers exclusives.
- - While full-length episodes are now no longer uploaded on YouTube, trailers for new videos are still being uploaded. Each trailer links to the full-length video on GameTrailers. Now, Rolfe has been beginning to upload older videos uploaded only on GameTrailers, but he uploads only trailers for the newer ones.
- - Rolfe's YouTube account was suspended on May 19 2008, due to an alleged copyright claim by GameTrailers on his trailer for the reviews of the Spider-Man games. Ironically enough, however, GameTrailers' YouTube account was also suspended on the same day due to a copyright claim allegedly by its own company. Rolfe's account was later reinstated the following day. The cause was due to a mix up with one of the GameTrailers staff on what videos to report.
Occasionally, "special guests" based on famous film and television characters make appearances. These guests often provide additional commentary on the games and mock the Nerd's anguish, becoming increasingly foul mouthed and derisive as the episodes progress. The guests typically meet with unfortunate ends.
Most of the characters are played by Mike Matei, who also illustrates the show's title cards. His roles include Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Bugs Bunny, Leatherface, Chop Top, Mike Myers, the Cowardly Lion, a Klingon, a Metron, the Joker, and Frankenstein's monster.
Freddy Krueger is played by James Rolfe with Matei taking on the role when both were in frame. Also, Kyle Justin played both Spider-Man and Cousin Itt in separate episodes, which were accompanied by him performing the theme songs from Spider-Man and The Addams Family, with reworked lyrics. Justin was also featured in the Battletoads episode as himself.
Some episodes have a basic storyline inspired by the plot of the game or movie being reviewed. In these cases, guests are used to play the episode-specific characters. In the Halloween review, Michael Mulvey and Lil' Liam Mulvey, wearing Optimus Prime and Swamp Thing costumes, respectively, play the parts of the neighbor's trick-or-treaters. Nicole Mulvey plays the neighbor. In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre review, Jimmy Jim Slugg appears as the hillbilly.
In The Nerd's take on A Christmas Carol, Stuttering Craig and Handsome Tom, co-founders of ScrewAttack, appear as the Ghost of Christmas Past and the Ghost of Christmas Present, respectively. A Dracula sprite from Castlevania II: Simon's Quest represents the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
The Angry Video Game Nerd theme song was composed by independent musician Kyle Justin. The lyrics were the work of both Justin and Rolfe. Some of the lyrics come from comments made by Rolfe in his review of Back to the Future.
The original version of the theme song, which refers to the titular character as the "Angry Nintendo Nerd," features only an acoustic guitar. The second recording is similar to the original but features a more refined performance and an extra lyric at the end referring to the "Angry Video Game Nerd." This version of the theme song was used in the Sega Master System Rocky review, quickly displaced by the third version, then used again in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre review. The third version, which debuted in the "Atari 5200" video, features an overdriven electric guitar and drum set. This version significantly expands on the original song, adding more verses, choruses, and new music. However, a pared-down version, similar in structure to the second version of the theme song, is normally used. The full version is only featured in the Sega CD review and on the DVD set.
The theme song has been covered by fans in genres from heavy metal to chiptune. Rolfe occasionally features a vocal or instrumental cover of the theme song in lieu of Kyle Justin's version in the main titles or end titles of a video. The cover by Dustin Aßmuteit is featured as an extra on the first DVD set.
In addition to the Angry Video Game Nerd theme song, several songs have been parodied in Angry Video Game Nerd episodes, including "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (both "Bible Games" episodes), the Spider-Man theme song ("Spider-Man"), and the Addams Family theme song ("Fester's Quest"). "Nintendo Power" features a cover of the theme song from Nintendo Power commercials, while the Intellivsion and the ColecoVision reviews feature a cover of Foreigner's Double Vision. All of these songs have been performed by Kyle Justin.
The scores for Angry Video Game Nerd episodes are culled from a variety of sources, including film soundtracks, television soundtracks, and pop music. Some episodes, including "Friday the 13th" (DVD version only), "Nightmare on Elm Street" (DVD version only), "Rocky" (DVD version only), "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Halloween", and "An Angry Nerd Christmas Carol" have necessitated the composition of original scores, some of which reference Kyle Justin's theme song. Musician Chris Holland has contributed several rock songs, including covers of the opening song from Mickey's Christmas Carol by Irwin Kostal, the Theme from Star Trek by Alex Courage, and the march from Superman by John Williams.
The show also makes use of original animated characters to add commentary or advance an episode-specific plot. The review of Master Chu and the Drunkard Hu uses a character called "Shit Pickle" to comment on the game play. In the The Wizard/Super Mario Bros. 3 review, the Nerd calls upon the "Super Mecha Death Christ 2000 B.C 4.0 Beta" to assist in the destruction of a demonically possessed Super Mario Bros. 3 cartridge. This character is a combination of Jesus, robotic components, assorted weapons, and a tank. Both Shit Pickle and Super Mecha Death Christ are originally from Rolfe's film "The Wizard of Oz 3: Dorothy Goes to Hell" and are voiced by James Rolfe and created by Mike Matei. Rolfe explained on his website that Super Mecha Death Christ was created as a spoof on the numerous Mecha-characters found in the Godzilla movies, such as Mecha godzilla.
The Angry Video Game Nerd vs. Nostalgia Critic
The Angry Video Game Nerd was involved in a satirical battle against a fellow Internet personality known as the Nostalgia Critic (played by Douglas Darien Walker). This fictional feud has been covered by Internet Superstar host Martin Sargent who interviewed Douglas Walker's character.
The feud began when the Nostalgia Critic posted an online video where he satirically expressed his disgruntlement at the AVGN for failing to keep his fans "under control". He railed against comments, written by the Nerd's fans, which the Critic sees as "unfair comparisons between the two of them." This began a series of tongue-in-cheek video responses between The Nostalgia Critic and Angry Video Game Nerd. When Rolfe first left an advertisement to The Critic's website, it flooded the Critic's server with over two thousand new unique visitors within the first two hours - with over 18,000 videos viewed.
Ultimately, James Rolfe and Darien Walker began to film videos together based on the satirical feud. The culmination of the rivalry, called the Final Battle, features a lengthy fight scene parodying popular films and cliches; in particular, The Matrix Reloaded and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The video also borrows elements from the Nerd's review of Super Mario Bros 3 including his "battle armor" and Super Mecha Death Christ. The entire "fight" takes place in the Nerd's room.
On November 18, 2007, the first AVGN DVD set was released. It includes all of the episodes up to the first Bible Games episode. Some material, such as movie clips from Back to the Future and Rocky, were removed to avoid copyright infringement and replaced with new material. The DVD includes extended versions of the "Wally Bear and the NO Gang!" and "Rocky" reviews as well as an original documentary, deleted scenes, and most of the videos posted exclusively on ScrewAttack.com. In all, the DVD set contains approximately three hours and 15 minutes of content.
According to Rolfe, the initial pressing of the DVD sold out in less than a week. In addition, there were 100 DVDs sold with James Rolfe's autograph on the front cover.
Around November 15, 2008, the second AVGN DVD set, which spans three discs was released. It includes the GameTrailers.com episodes from the Atari 5200 review to An Angry Nerd Christmas Carol as well as a scene from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III review, the trailers posted on YouTube, commentaries, outtakes (from the 2007 videos as well as some from 2008), and other material.
Cinemassacre's Shit Pickle (2007-2008)
Shit Pickle is a trilogy based on the original character "Shit Pickle" from Rolfe's and Mike Matei's The Wizard of Oz III: Dorothy Goes to Hell. Shit Pickle reappeared as a guest reviewer in "Master Chu and the Drunkard Hu." He was later given his own short series. Episode One introduces two new Pickle characters: Dick Pickle and Tit Pickle. Episode two introduces a family of monkeys that has a penchant for the phrase "Monkey Cheese" and uses non sequitor humor. Rolfe and Matei produce the episodes, with Rolfe generally doing the voice acting and Matei doing the animation.
|1||Shit Pickle||1:49||August 11, 2007|
|2||Shit Pickle - Episode #2 (with Monkey Cheese)||3:16||September 14, 2007|
|3||Shit Pickle - Episode #3||3:33||February 26, 2008|
You Know What's Bullshit? (2007-2009)
"You Know What's Bullshit?" is a series of short videos in which Rolfe angrily complains about seemingly inconsequential problems in a style similar to that of the Angry Video Game Nerd. Topics have included security labels, pennies]] and movies about penguins. Illustrations for "You Know What's Bullshit?" are made by Mike Matei.
On December 12, 2007, Rolfe's "You Know What's Bullshit?" penny rant was featured on CNN's "News to Me" segment.
The show went on a temporary hiatus after May 20, 2008, but a special Christmas segment released on January 12, 2009 promised the production of Bullshit videos on a monthly basis.
|1||Security Labels||01:05||May 6, 2007|
|2||Pennies||01:04||May 13, 2007|
|3||Shoelaces||01:16||May 28, 2007|
|4||Movies about penguins||00:51||June 4, 2007|
|5||Lack of pens at post offices||01:03||June 17, 2007|
|6||Paying restrooms||01:11||December 7, 2007|
|7||Temperature||01:22||February 8, 2008|
|8||Printers||01:22||May 20, 2008|
|9||Christmas decorations in January||01:49||January 12, 2009|
Video Game Movie Quote of the Week
Rolfe produced four episodes of ScrewAttack's Video Game Movie Quote of the Week segment in his Angry Nerd persona. They have been collected for his JamesNintendoNerd account during July 2007. Each episode contains a short clip with an obscure quote from a video game-licensed film.
- Angry Video Game Nerd website
- Angry Video Game Nerd forum on ScrewAttack
- ScrewAttack.com official website
- GameTrailers.com's ScrewAttack section
- CineMassacre.com official website
- See Also: Popularity Section
- Vin's Interview
- 411 mania interview
- The Movie Buffer
- +N Magazine Interview (Swedish)
- TigerWeekly Article
- The Angry Video Game Nerd on Internet Movie Database
- James Rolfe on Internet Movie Database
- The Angry Video Game Nerd on Myspace
- Mike Matei on Internet Movie Database
- Kyle Justin on Internet Movie Database
- Angry Video Game Nerd illustrator Mike Matei's DevantArt gallery
- James Rolfe's Spike Movie Reviews
- Radical Corner- Interview with Mike Matei