(to the tune of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town)
Kyle: He's playin' some games
The worst he recalls
He's gonna find out which ones suck the most balls
The Angry Video Game Nerd is here.
Oh, he's makin' a list
And checkin' it twice
He's gonna go home
And eat chicken and rice
The Angry Video Game Nerd is here.
He hates the games that stink
He knows which games to break
He just might even hate them all
Cause he's mad for fuckin' sake!
You'd better watch out
Don't give these games a try
You better not play 'em
He's tellin' you why
The Angry Video Game Nerd is here.
The Nerd: Back in the 80's, our parents didn't order our Christmas presents online, because the Internet didn't exist yet. Back then, it was all about catalogs. Every major department store, like Sears and JCPenney, would put out these holiday wish books. So, every year, it was a tradition to browse through these books and circle all the things that you wanted Santa to bring you. Hmm...
The Nerd: Everything you could possibly imagine was in these books. There were video games, of course. You see all kinds of crap like the Roll 'n Rocker, and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde for $39.87?! That's criminal.
The Nerd: Speaking of prices, it's funny that at some point, the NES and the Atari 7800 were both the same price. For the 7800, it says it has "super responsive joysticks" because they knew the Atari 5200 controllers were pieces of shit (an actual piece of shit appears in the Nerd's hand). Yeah, having a responsive controller is kind of a necessity, wouldn't you say?
The Nerd: Also, Super 8 cameras and VHS cameras coexisted. A new VHS camera could cost a thousand bucks. Yeah, being able to record yourself with actual footage was a luxury. My family always had to rent one.
The Nerd: There were action figures, you had Ninja Turtles, Inhumanoids, The Real Ghostbusters, as well as the other Ghostbusters that nobody gave a shit about. There was the giant G.I. Joe aircraft carrier, all kinds of toys, EVERYTHING.
The Nerd: You can tell that the people who photographed these action figures didn't know anything about them. Like, why are Lion-O and Mumm-Ra riding together in the Thundertank? And why is "laser" spelled with quotes? Did Dr. Evil write this?
The Nerd: I can't do these books justice. I highly recommend that if you can find one of them, take a look through. It's really a trip. When I say everything was in these books, I mean literally EVERYTHING. Science stuff, horses, jewelry, lingerie... You turn from a page with kiddy stuff to see tobacco. These books were mostly for kids to tell their parents what they want, and there were even coloring pages in there. But then there were things like knives and guns. That's terrible that a kid would be flipping through and see that! You'd go from a page that has all kinds of kiddy sleeping bags, and right on the other side of the page is a gun cabinet! Right underneath the Mario sleeping bag is an assortment of guns! And there were lots of them!
The Nerd: Back to the video games. A lot of times, the descriptions were questionable. For Zelda, it said "Gather crystals to stop warlords." That's the worst description to Zelda I've ever heard. Karate Kid on the NES had the wrong screenshot. Where'd they get that from? That's not The Karate Kid. For Ghostbusters on Sega Master System, it says "Scare up some fun". Oh, you bet. And it retains the typo Gorza instead of Gozer. Then we get to the Tiger games... oh, my. "You're at the wheel for all the high-speed thrills of real racing!" "Full of exciting action," "True-to-life graphics and sound effects." ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!
The Nerd: There was no telling if the games were good or not. If it made it into the same catalog as Zelda, you assumed it would be awesome! Like I mentioned, this was the B.I. era, Before Internet. There were no online game reviews to tell you when a game sucked the big one. It was all a crap-shoot. All you had was a screenshot, a weak description, and sometimes word of mouth. We would usually gravitate towards games that had some kind of reputation.
Skate or Die
The Nerd: Skate or Die was one of those; a game dedicated to skateboarding and hosted by Rodney Dangerfield with a mohawk. Even if you didn't know anything about skateboarding, you wanted to be part of the culture. You wanted to be hip. Just as essential as it was to wear bright neon colors and listen to glam rock, you had to at least try to skateboard. If you weren't good at it, you'd fall on your face and hurt yourself, then you go play this game, and punish yourself even more. All you do is fall, fall, and fall. The only way to play decent at it is to master its awkward controls. It's like teaching yourself to walk backwards on a tightrope. And once you do get good at the five mini-games, you realize that's all it is. Two different half pipe competitions, jousting, and a time trial and a race which are so short, you can finish them in less than a minute. Almost every kid had this game in their collection at some point. It had cool music, a catchy slogan, and signified everything that was rad about the 80's. But the game was fucking shit. Shit that we held with passion. Skate or Die? Looking back, I wish I chose the latter.
The Nerd: Then there was Bad Dudes, or "Bad Dude" as this wish book called it. Just the name "bad" meant that it had to be good! More proof that we had everything screwed up. It's a monotonous button masher with choppy movement, lousy hit detection, and back-ass controls. It's another one of those games where B and A are switched, meaning B is jump and A is attack, and you know how it should normally be. Sure, it was early in the age of beat-'em-up games, so at the time, it was awesome and macho. Playing this game was a symbol that you were a real man. But it hasn't aged well. It just makes you wanna play Final Fight 3 instead. Still, it has a legacy and has one of the most famous opening screens of all time: "Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the President?" Bad... what was it with that? Maybe we could blame Michael Jackson for making the word "bad" so awesome. But we should never listen to Lucas about the Power Glove. In some cases, "bad" really meant it.
Bad Dude: I'm bad!
The Nerd: One that's always been on my personal hate list is Karate Champ. This is one that was just as horrible back then as it is now. It's an early example of a one-on-one fighting game, but GOOD LORD, did they fuck it up. In all the years I revisited this game, I have never figured out how to consciously do any of the moves. I just mash buttons and see what happens. The instruction manual tries to make sense of it all, but it's way too complicated and there's nothing intuitive about it. Hitting your opponent happens at pure random. Most of the time, you miss. It's not like he's blocking, your fists and feet are going right through him, as if you're fighting a ghost!
The Nerd: It's hard enough to hit your opponent, but it's even more difficult to keep yourself facing him. It seems like there's certain moves that turn yourself around. Why would the game allow you to face the other direction? Rarely have I ever been able to do the same move again to reorient myself, so I usually end up jumping all over the place just to get myself back in the proper direction. Turn around! UGH! These controls are on the same level as Conan, Winter Games, and Dark Castle, but on closer evaluation, I think it beats them all. The worst fucking controls in existence. And there's no variety, except for a bonus stage where all kinds of shit flies at you. It's a hopeless situation.
The Nerd: Other than that, you fight the same opponent the whole game. In fact, there's no difference between the two characters. It's the same guy fighting the same guy for all eternity. Sure, the backgrounds change, but it doesn't affect the gameplay at all. Even the characters don't seem to exist in the same dimension as these backgrounds. No matter the perspective or the lighting condition, they remain unchanged. How a piece of junk like this got released will always be a mystery. Even as a rental, it was a waste of time.
The Nerd: Well, in the tradition of wish lists, my fans have had a wish list of their own of games they've been wanting me to cover. So, it's time to answer some of those requests. Let's reach into the stocking, dig underneath the lumps of coal, and go straight for the shit nuggets. The requests I hear all the time are the bad Sonic the Hedgehog games. (The Nerd thinks about it for a few seconds) What bad Sonic games?
Bad Sonic The Hedgehog Games
(game footage from "Sonic 2" is shown)
The Nerd: The Sonic the Hedgehog games were awesome! It was Sega's flagship franchise. Even though it didn't have as much variety as the Mario games, it made Nintendo fans turn their heads. Sonic 2 ("Sonic the Hedgehog 2") was the game that made me buy a Sega Genesis. These games boasted fast scrolling action, colorful graphics, and delightful music. The character was hip and cocky, and it was so much fun to make him run and bounce all over the place. So what are all these bad Sonic games that everyone's talking about?
The Nerd: Well, I took a deeper look. Here's Sonic Blast on Game Gear. (groans) There's no blast processing with this one. (Sonic goes through the loop, and the Nerd strains) Come on, come on, come on! Sonic Blast? Should've been called Sonic Slow-Ass. Not much else to say, just a poor man's version of Sonic.
The Nerd: Then there's Sonic Labyrinth. This one experiments with a 3D perspective, but fails. The controls are messy, Sonic's walk is tedious, and doing the spin move only sends him ramming into a wall. Unless you get it down just right. Anyway, these are portable games, what do you expect? This is back when the convenience of taking a game with you on a trip often meant compromising its playability.
The Nerd: Then there's Sonic R on the Sega Saturn, which I've also been told is terrible. Oh man, they're right. It's basically a racing game, sort of a shitty version of Mario Kart. The steering is so unresponsive, and I can barely stay on the track. (Sonic veers off the route) OH, COME ON! COME ON! And I'm always afraid that it's going to glitch out, that I'm gonna fall through the boundaries and into the unprogrammed area of limbo.
The Nerd: Another one I've been told about is Sonic Shuffle on Dreamcast. That's right, the last of the Sega consoles, and a good console to go out with, but the same can't be said for this game. After you get through about 10 minutes of story footage and tiresome load screens, the game finally begins, only to bombard you with more text. Just as I thought, it's a board game video game, with some mediocre mini-games in between players' turns. Basically, this is Sega's take on Mario Party, but unfortunately it didn't turn out as well.
Shadow the Hedgehog
The Nerd: Another big request is Shadow the Hedgehog on the Nintendo Gamecube. A Sega game on a Nintendo console?! Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria! Sega and Nintendo were the biggest competitors of my generation! But times have changed. I don't even know who Shadow* is, and when did characters in Sonic games start carrying guns**? Once again, you have to sit through a movie before the game starts.
*(The character Shadow the Hedgehog was actually introduced in Sonic Adventure 2, released in 2001. He serves as the main antagonist, but was eventually made as an anti-hero in the Sonic series.)
**(Fang the Sniper, or Nack the Weasel, was the first Sonic character in the series to actually use a gun. This was only depicted in Sonic Championship, the last Sonic arcade game ever made, where he used a Popgun. Though in the Archie Sonic comic series, Fang/Nack had used an actual gun.)
(Editor's note: you can actually skip the game's intro and cutscenes)
The Nerd: It's pretty spectacular, but why is it always like this now? Is that what kids do nowadays, sit around and watch video games? You take control of Shadow, with Sonic following behind. You run, you jump, you shoot. It's pretty self-explanatory. I think it's much more fun than the other games, but I find it a little tough to avoid losing my rings all the time. This homing attack tends to get me killed, and I keep falling down pits! Other than that, I don't have much to say about it. I feel like I just awoke from a frozen sleep. Last I knew, Sonic games were in 2D, Nintendo and Sega were rivals, guns were for Contra, Sonic's nemesis was called Dr. Robotnik, now he's going by Dr. Eggman diddy-daddy villain formerly known as whatever?! WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?! This is about as new as I'll go. Sorry. I'm going back to NES, that's what I know best.
The Nerd: One of my biggest NES requests since day one is Where's Waldo? First, you have to be familiar with the books. They were incredible. As a kid, I stared at these pages for hours. The illustrations were amazing, and there was so much going on, it could keep your eyes busy exploring for a long time. Of course, the objective was to find Waldo, amongst other hidden things. Well, how do you take this (points to a 'Where's Waldo?' book), and turn it into an NES game? This is what happens.
(Shows footage of "Where's Waldo?" on the NES)
The Nerd: It's as if the pages of the book have been chewed up, digested, and shat out into 8-bit ass. How can you find Waldo in this? Where the fuck is Waldo?! He doesn't even know where he is. And that's all you do. You just move the square around the screen, and just hit the button if you think Waldo is in that area. Even if you do find Waldo, I still don't know which one he's supposed to be. It's really not hard, anyway, you can just keep trying every space on the screen, until you win. Only thing that happens if you pick the wrong area, you lose time on the timer. But it still seems like a better option to guess your way through the game, rather than actually trying to find Waldo with your own eyes. In between the stages, you're forced into watching Waldo walk from one place to the next, and he never walks in a straight line. He just wanders all over the place, like he doesn't have a clue where he's going. Why do we need this cutscene anyway? Couldn't we just go to the next stage?!
The Nerd: There's a few stages that are different, like finding Waldo in the dark, a crappy slot machine, and one of those indescribable shit shows that reminds me of that part in Terminator 2 on Game Boy where you have to connect the wires, or that fucking nightmare in Bill & Ted. And once you've completed all the stages, Waldo goes to the moon, and the game's over. I finished the whole game in 6 minutes. Imagine buying this piece of shit for $50. Nowadays, releasing a game this short would NEVER be excusable. Well, anyway, we have a lot more games to get through, so stay tuned for Part 2. I'm gonna go get the games. (walks around in different directions like Waldo in the cutscenes)