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Dennis the Menace (SNES) - Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN)

(A black-and-white Dennis the Menace-themed opening for the AVGN plays, set into a SNES Dennis the Menace boss music.)

The Nerd: I think, in my opinion, the Super Nintendo has the best library of any game console: Super Metroid, Mega Man X, Castlevania IV, SimCity, Pilotwings, F-Zero, Final Fantasy III, Chrono Trigger, Donkey Kong Country, Mario World, Mario RPG, Mario Kart, Zelda: Link to the Past, EarthBound- you just can't top it. So, it had a lot of good games. But if you dig deep enough, if you sniff hard for that diarrhea dookie, you'll find rare, putrid shit-crusted gems such as Wizard of Oz or Lester the Unlikable, and if you really want to get down to it, Hong Kong 97, but that doesn't really count because it was just a ROM for the Super Famicom only, and it wasn't even really much of a "game" at all. So, it's been a while since I dedicated a full episode to a Super Nintendo game, so let's break out Dennis the Motherfuckin' Menace... to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.

It was based on the 1993 movie, Dennis the Menace, which was based on the '86 cartoon series, which was based on the '59 sitcom, which was based on the '51 comic strip, that by some total coincidence, came out the same exact day as another comic titled Dennis the Menace in the UK, which later became known as Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, just to offer some distinction. Such as, this game [The Wizard of Oz] is shitty diarrhea, while this game [Lester the Unlikely] is shitty diarrhea and puke. I mean, I gotta admit, I never knew Dennis had a British twin. Two comics both about a troublesome boy, both debuting the same day? And if you're from the UK, you'll call the one that I'm talking about the other Dennis the Menace, and vice-versa, so it's like two separate fuckin' dimensions!

Yeah, two dimensions separated by an ocean. And speaking of ocean, the game was created by Ocean, the same fucknuts who brought you RoboCop 2 and Addams Family on NES. Geez, course it was them. They're like the British version of LJN. Oh and because of this whole British vs. American Dennis the Menace thing, the PAL version of the game is simply titled Dennis without "The Menace". But even with the name confusion, both Dennises led to their fair share of TV series and movies, but I'll always best remember the '86 Dennis the Menace cartoon show.

And from what I saw, the characters seem to peak in popularity around the time the '93 film came out, which was one of several films about mischievous young boys riding the wave of Home Alone. It was all about traps, pranks, and toy weapons. When you look at the evolution of action movies, beginning with westerns, you'll notice how the main choice of weapon always changes. In the 50's and 60's, it was all about rifles. In the late 70's and 80's, it was lasers. But as soon as the '90s hit, it was slingshots and squirt guns.

(The Nerd inserts the game cartridge into the Super Nintendo and turns it on.)

The Nerd: Alright, let's start this garbage up. You notice how I already declared it garbage before the review even begins? Yeah, that means we already hit bottom. Our face is already in the toilet bowl, and the only direction now is to force our way down into the septic tank. I'm just sayin', it's gonna suck. Please expect no positivity.

Dennis: Hey, Mr. Wilson!

The Nerd: The first thing you need to do when you turn this game on is go to the options and give yourself nine lives. You're gonna need 'em, because this game is hard as fossilized dinosaur dick. It's a non-stop shit storm. Everything you see wants you dead. It's filled to max capacity with enemies and hazards. I usually can't make it ten seconds without getting hit! Traditionally, the character Dennis keeps annoying his neighbor, Mr. Wilson. Even though Dennis means well, he always ends up causing huge problems for Mr. Wilson. He was like the original Steve Urkel, and in that same regard, it seems the game is just as troublesome to the player. So they got that right.

The first level has you running through the hallways of Mr. Wilson's house, now the halls just keep going on and on. If this was a real house, it would take up an entire block but only be about ten feet wide. Imagine living next door to this monstrosity. Also, does Mr. Wilson's house have some kind of poltergeist? An infinite amount of records are flying off the record player, teacups, bowling balls, boxing gloves, and even suppositories try to kill you. He also owns a million purple cats. The Tiger King's got nothing on him. His attic is infested with spiders and these creepy-ass bats that look like they have human faces. And his main concern is Dennis? Why hasn't this poor guy moved out by now? Move out of this haunted fucked-up house! And not just move out, but call the vacuum cleaner guy from Breaking Bad to hide his identity. Start a new life!

And considering how many platforms, extra beds, cabinets, and needless household objects, I haven't seen a single bathroom. The weapons suck. You start off with a squirt gun that doesn't do diddly dick. Sometimes it freezes enemies for a second, but most the time it does absolutely nothing. At least it's better than the cane in Jekyll and Hyde which does worse than nothing, it gets you dangerously close to enemies or even riles them up to attack you. So while the squirt gun does nothing, at least it's better than negative nothing. And that's a positive way to look at it, right? Well, the negative side to that is there's no such thing as negative nothing. Am I sure about that? I'm positive.

You grab a slingshot at the beginning, but it also sucks. It shoots like two feet in front of you and hits the ground. There's also a peashooter in the basement. That's the weapon you want, but it's a massive hike to get it. The path to it requires some serious pinpoint platforming accuracy. If you mess up, you have to run all the way back and start over. They make sure the path you need to be on is the most convoluted, out-of-the-way path possible. And it doesn't help that there's a million things trying to kill you at every step. So I'm just running around and– Holy shit! It's Mr. Wilson himself. Out of nowhere comes this freaky giant Walter Matthau who charges at you and takes you away. If he catches you, it's instant death. That's right, Mr. Wilson finally did it. He killed Dennis the Menace. So who's the real menace? Can you look more menacing, man?

The Nerd: (sighs) I gotta say, this is the type of game where you play the first level, run around like an idiot, finding doors you can't open, things you can't jump on, items and platforms you can't reach and get so stressed out, you give up and turn the game off. Yeah, it's one of those. For the longest time, I could even figure out what to do. Well, it turns out the object of the game is to collect four coins and find the end. That doesn't sound hard, but trust me, it is. Every level is a sprawling labyrinth and there's no indication of where the coins actually are. You just have to run around aimlessly for what feels like an eternity. It's like trying to find pieces of broken glass in an Olympic sized swimming pool, and needless to say, the reward is rather painful. Sometimes you can even see a coin, but have no idea how the fuck to get it. Everything in the level looks the same and all the enemies respawn, so it's hard to know if I ran through that area already. Most the time I'm running in circles and have absolutely no idea.

Oh, and of course there's a time limit and it ends up being the biggest antagonist in the whole game. You have 999 seconds which ends up being a little over 15 minutes but if you die, the timer doesn't reset, no. And if that reaches zero, you lose all your lives and have to continue. This really blows ass because you have to start the entire level over, all your progress is gone and 15 plus minutes of your life wasted. And each stage is split into four or more levels so it takes roughly an hour to complete one stage. If you continue and have to start over, it could take even longer. Most the time I forget where the Hell I went to find the coins, so I end up having to scour the entire level again. It's such a tedious process that I honestly can't understand how anyone would find this fun. The park stage is six levels long. You have four regular levels and two auto-scrolling levels. Fuck these auto-scrolling levels. These are a nightmare. If you make one mistake, one mistake, you're done for.

Enemies are everywhere. There's squirrels launching nuts, invincible owls, birds, bouncing balls, and swinging sacks. While dodging all this shit, you also have to make sure the dog stays close because you need it to make certain jumps. If you fuck up in any way, you have to start the entire thing over and like everything else, these levels go on forever. The feeling of getting far into the level only to lose is maddening. This level goes on for about five minutes and that's if you don't die. If you do die, it could go on 20 minutes or more. Now think about that. This is only the third level in the game and I've been playing for 45 minutes and this game has over 20 levels. I'm not joking.

The level design is an asshole-ish anomaly of astrological proportions. Whoever is responsible for it, obviously hates anyone who plays video games. There is absolutely no reason a game based on Dennis the Menace should be this hard. Fuck Contra and Ninja Gaiden, Dennis the Menace makes those games look easy. It's like they didn't want anyone to play it. It has no purpose except for sadistic shit seekers like myself. Even after you beat this, there's no comfort, because you still have to play through four more levels in the park stage. The music just drones on and on and it's permanently burned into my memory.

Each level ends with a boss fight that requires no skill, just the patience of a fuckin' saint. The first boss is this deranged girl on a swing. Just when I thought things couldn't get any freakier. I mean look at her face! She has this exaggerated Ren and Stimpy style expression! You just have to keep shooting her while dodging the mouse and an acorn, and when you beat her, she flies off and dies. Now all that freakiness aside, this was just a regular girl swinging on a swing. Dennis the Menace? More like Dennis the Murderer!

(A clip of the Dennis the Menace parody from The Critic is shown.)

Dennis: Hey, Mr. Wilson!

Mr. Wilson: What do you want?

(Dennis draws two UZIs and does a drive-by shooting at Mr. Wilson and his house.)

Mr. Wilson: That kid is a pain in the ass!

The Nerd: The boss fights are all pretty much the same, shooting something while dodging shit. The bosses take a ton of hits to kill and every time you hit them, they're invincible for a few seconds, so it just eats up more of your time. After the park stage, you go to the boiler, there's acid dripping out of pipes and steam shooting everywhere. There's also these little fire people walking around that are invincible. Your slingshot and pea shooter don't do a thing to them. And I know you're thinking; "This is a perfect time to use the water gun". Water to put out fire? Well, that would make sense, right? But, of course, it doesn't do shit, just freezes them. This just baffles the shit out of me and really coils up my colon. Why the fuck would the water gun not hurt the fire people? There's no reason to even have it, there's no reason for anything in this game, it's just bullshit meant to frustrate and confuse you.

The platforming really starts to rear its ugly head here. Every level is a maze of pipes leading up and all around and it's never clear where you have to go. If you miss a jump, be prepared to have to run through the entire level again. It's like the game was designed by a spoiled brat that wants nothing more than to piss you off, Dennis the Menace himself probably designed this. Every time I think this game can't possibly get any harder, the difficulty ramps it up to insane degrees. After the boiler, is the sewer. Of course, right? It's like a shitty game design requirement to have a sewer level. I've played a lot of sewer levels in my time, but nothing in all my years of gaming could prepare me for the sewer level in Dennis the Menace.

First off, when the fuck did this even happened in the movie? I'll admit, I haven't seen every episode of the cartoon, the sitcom, or read every panel of the comic strip, but I really don't remember ever seeing Dennis running around a sewer filled with shit snot, and demonic heads barfing out water. There's even ninja turtles. I'm not kidding. Dennis the Menace is fighting ninja turtles in the sewer. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried.

The first two sewer levels aren't even that hard, it kind of tricks you into thinking the worst is behind you. It isn't until sewer three where the game really turns up the diarrhea dial and makes you wish for oblivion. The entire level is a platforming piss-shower. Most a level is just a pit with tiny platforms and enemies scattered all over. There's even green shit bubbles that pop after a few seconds so you have to time your jumps precisely. Sometimes the bubbles won't spawn no matter what you do so you just have to jump and hope there's something there to catch you.

I spent my last two continues on this part, and when I saw that game over screen, I wanted to put my goddamn fist through the TV. I felt emotions. I didn't even know existed here. Anger and rage on a level that normal human being should never have to feel. I've had times where I was so close to shedding tears of rage. Two hours of my life down the fuckin' shitter, literally, the shitter. For the life of me, I just couldn't beat this level, and of course, I started the game back up and had to get all the way back.

Honestly, I hate to say it, but I was gonna resort to cheat codes, but there aren't any cheat codes. I was hoping for a level skip code just so I could start where I left off, but no, I had to run through Mr. Wilson's house again, the park, the boiler room, and the goddamn shit-smeared sewers again. I also tried to look up a walkthrough, because by this time I couldn't remember where in the fuck Hell all the coins were, but the only walkthrough I found stops at the third park level. The writer quit after four levels. I was able to get to this point without using a single continue, and I knew what to expect here. It's weird to admit, but after playing this game for so long, my skills were heightened to the point of gaming godhood.

But then I hit sewer 4, and it was like I ran into a brick wall at full speed. I died over 25 times on this level alone. Everything that I complained about in the last level is ramped up to 11. The entire level is platforming and fuckin' fish everywhere. Every time I get an inch further, I die and have to go back. It's a constant cycle of jumping, panicking and dying. This level itself is a circle of Hell, meant only for the worst of sinners. Eventually, I beat it, but at what cost? I was exhausted, and I just spent the entire day playing Dennis the Menace on Super Nintendo.

The boss fight is a giant fish with disappearing platforms. I lost all my continues by this point, and when I finished the fight, I only had six lives left, and the worst part is I still had a whopping five levels to go. I got to the second level in the woods, which is just another tree level like the park, and lost the last of my lives. I've been playing for almost three hours, twenty levels, and I got a game over.

Dennis the Menace: Hey, Mr. Wilson!

The Nerd: Well, that's it. I just can't take it anymore. I gotta see how this piece of shit ends. Earlier I looked up walkthroughs, but not gameplay, I found some screenshots. Oh, look who it is? Christopher fuckin' Lloyd looking like he's from the cover of Mad Magazine. He was the bad guy in the movie, Switchblade Sam, but I don't remember him tying Dennis' friends to a damn tree. First time I'm hearing about that shit, the game doesn't start with any goddamn story. The Nerd: (while The unnamed rock and roll music from whatever it is starts playing in the background.) I'm not restarting this shitty game just to see Suckbitch Sam roll by in a fuckin' wheelbarrow while some pixelated assholes stare at me under credits!

(The Nerd takes out the game cartridge from the SNES.)

The Nerd: This game sucks my ass with the Shop-Vac! It rivals torture devices like the rack, the pendulum, and the iron fuckin' maiden! And if I ever have to play this shit again, I'll cut my fuckin' hands off! I'd rather be waterboarded with week old diarrhea! I'd rather deliberately give myself splinters on my scrotum and then tear them out with my teeth! I'd rather snort a line of piss-caked cat litter than ever let this game soil my Super Nintendo again! Fuck every single thing about this game! And fuck everyone who made it! Fuck everyone who played it too, like myself! Dennis the Menace? More like DEN-ASS THE MEN-ASS!

(The Nerd takes out a slingshot and loads the cartridge on it.)

The Nerd: Hey, Mr. Wilson, you fuck!

(The cartridge flies through the game levels to the ending scene of 1993 Dennis the Menace, landing hard on Mr. Wilson's head causing to bleed.)




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