Saturday, March 5, 2011

303 - Grumble, Grumble #13.1 - Initial Thoughts on AVGN 100

What you are about to read (after the break) is the entirety of the video log script that I had written shortly after viewing the recent 100th episode of the Angry Video Game Nerd show, which covers the Robotic Operating Buddy. It reflected my personal thoughts regarding the release after a couple viewings. If you've read the post below, you'd know my feelings on the matter... but here's some more details.

I did an audio recording dictating the script, but it ran way too long and at the same time, it did seem a bit harsh after only a couple viewings. Although make no mistake; I offer no apologies for offering an honest opinion.

I am eventually going to do a vlog on the matter, but that won't be for a couple days. In the meantime, enjoy this huge-ass wall of text.

Just a word of warning; if you are a fan of the individual I am about to talk about and can't stand negativity of any kind, kindly see yourself click the Back button on your browser because I am going to be particularly brutal. Especially as it pertains to an individual who I have followed for six years but chances are that will not be the case anymore. I don't hate the person; I wish him all the best, but I hate this latest product that he has put out... primarily because it's not good.

The Angry Video Game Nerd's 100th Episode was just posted a short while ago and what was it about? The Robotic Operating Buddy... or ROB for short. And what's this? He's EVIL? A threat to be wiped off the face of the Earth. Wow, what an utterly original concept! I'm sure NOBODY's thought of that before!

Good lord... this is stupid. You know, I want to bring up another individual who did a 2-part video on ROB The Robot a couple years ago. People seemed to crap on that video for being terrible. You might have heard of him; he goes by the Irate Gamer.

No... don't start with that. I bring him up to make a point, not to start another round in the feud that nobody cares about anymore. I don't care who started before who or who copied who. I honestly don't care and I don't want to know. So if you're going to comment, please stick with the subject as pertaining to this video and not the eternal fanboy bitching that has been prevelant elsewhere. I don't want to know.

To recap, Irate Gamer spends two videos talking about the two games, talking about ROB, there's something about a Party Button - which, I know a number of people hated it, but I thought it was a cute gag - and at the end of the video, ROB turns out to be an evil sentient automoton, attempts to kill IR, who deflects one of the laser's with a mirror which destroys ROB. It is perhaps one of his better 2-part videos... I'll leave it up to you to determine the context because I am not going to humor you. Suffice it to say that watching that ROB piece did garner a couple of chuckles from yours truly. Whether it was for the right reasons or wrong reasons is completely and utterly irrelevant because a couple of chuckles from an Irate Gamer production is more than what I got from an AVGN production that dealt with the same subject matter.

The 100th episode of AVGN seems harmless enough until ROB showed and talked, berated the Nerd for confusing gyro with gyro, turned his entire collection of games into multiple copies of Gyromite and Stack Up, and ending with the most hackneyed, depressingly awful fight sequence ever conceived on internet video since Kickassia's brand of hackneyed, depressingly godawful fight sequences... which means the 3rd Anniversary is automatically looking up. I mean, this episode was just filled with stupid, stupid, STUPID stuff. Starts off the video by saying he hates being surrounded by shitty games, then ROB comes along with the promise of replacing all the shitty games with just two games, and then he's like "NO MORE SHITTY GAMES?! DANG! WE CAN'T HAVE THAT!" Yeah, god forbid that a robot would come along and take away all the shitty games that you were just bitching about FIFTEEN FUCKING MINUTES AGO!

The thing with the Robotic Operating Buddy is that there isn't really much to say about it other than discussing its role in cementing Nintendo's position in a video game market that had fallen on its ass in the mid-1980s. How it was originally marketed to be a toy rather than a video game because video games were held in such low regard at the time after the debacle of the gaming crash. On how it was basically a trojan horse to re-introduce a then-new generation of video gaming and how it was quickly disposed of afterwards when the video game market was once again flourishing under Nintendo's watchful eye. That's all it was meant for. That was its goal. If ROB was intended to take over the world, then why are there only two video games that support the thing? Its only object was to be the gateway between the jaded consumer and the new world of video games and in that respect, it succeeded tremendously.

I'm getting off track here. Here's the deal; the AVGN episode covering the Robotic Operating Buddy is not only an unnecessary addition, but offers nothing new to the table that hasn't been done before. The robot has its own personality? Been there, done that. The robot is posed to take over the world? Been there, done that. It's cool to hate the robot because of how slow and cumbersome it is? Been there, done that. Glorified, ego-stroking, clusterfuck of a final mega-battle? GOOD GOD, BEEN THERE, DONE THAT! How about the robot acting almost the same way as the Nerd does, rambling and swearing and acting like a moron? You know, just like every other guest caricacture that appears on an AVGN video!! Hey, there's a concept they try out; getting a guest character that acts differently for once?!

You know, I've been looking back on some earlier AVGN videos from back in the day, I'm talking 2006-2007. And I think that some of those videos, the 2006 videos especially, seem to hold out and are more entertaining to me because the concept of the AVGN, or at least how I saw it, was that it was basically a revisitation of some of our early childhood or teenhood frustrations with a number of video games. I remember having trouble landing the plane in Top Gun, I can recall the frustration I had with Silver Surfer, or Roger Rabbit, or even the original TMNT game on NES, which I happen to like and think rather highly of. It was a chance to revisit old memories without having them jaded by the passage of time. And that was what I got out of those old AVGN episodes, that was what hooked me on AVGN in the first place, it was the nostalgia of the whole thing. They weren't so much reviews as they were satirical relfections of days past and times wasted on ancient video games that haven't stood the passage of time. Perhaps most importantly, despite it all being an act, the early video feel genuine and I never get the feeling that the whole thing is exaggerated and played big. He keeps it low, adds a couple effects here and there, but it never feels over-the-top.

It's that kind of essence that allowed me to overlook some of the more dumb moments of the videos and enjoy them for what they are; fun lookbacks at terrible old games I'm pretty sure I heard of... and it's the very thing that's preventing me from enjoying the more recent AVGN episodes. That's not to say that I don't enjoy ANY of them - I actually liked the Star Wars episode he did the month prior and I did enjoy his Castlevania retrospective from a year or so ago. But there's a lot of little details that distract me from the experience. Little things, inconsequential things, such as acknowledging in-character that you get donations. I don't recall people giving me free video games when I was a kid; I usually had to trade some of my own... but then again, I don't recall being an unlikable prick either. Also, I don't recall having a beer robot or possessed NES cartridges or taking a dump on classic cartoon characters.

I don't mind the occasional guest character, but I do mind the frequent guest caricacture. If you're going to have an episode featuring Spider-Man or Bugs Bunny, then I would like for them to act like Spider-Man or Bugs Bunny... not a pale imitation of the Nerd. I would like the Joker to act like the Joker and not Motherfucker Mike... such a stupid name. I would like a Metron - the alien beings who appear before Captain Kirk after he refused to kill his Gorn adversaey in the original series episode "Arena" - to act like a Metron and not some drunken idiot. It seems that angry reviewers like to take popular characters that are well-known and put their own spin on them... their own spin being "have them act almost like the reviewer so that it'd be easier to portray."

This is generally why I don't like skits in video reviews; nine times out of ten, the skits SUCK. They're overdone, they're overexaggerated, they're poorly acted, and more often than not, they're used to fill time for whenever the subject matter of a video review doesn't merit enough things worth talking about. Most of the time, it doesn't make sense. All of a sudden, these reviewers apparently had the power to shoot lasers or are equipped with high-powered weapons to save the world in these utterly unbelievable... scenarios. Some people eat this up like hard drugs, others have some semblance of good taste.

Wow. I went WAY overboard on that one, didn't I? Back to the 100th episode.

For all the faults and flaws that the Irate Gamer's ROB The Robot possess - and they are present, don't get me wrong - ultimately, it's the more watchable video. I'm not saying that it's a particularly GOOD video, I'm saying it's more watchable. While the skits present are somewhat drawn out, they are kept to a minimum and for the most part, they're somewhat related to the subject matter. Perhaps most importantly, they're not completely distracting and off-putting. The final battle with evil ROB is thankfully kept short and sweet. And like I said before, I actually did get a couple chuckles out of this one - reasons being irrelevant. And I liked the Party Button gag - not so much the execution, but rather the idea that ROB is actually portrayed as something of a benevolent party animal and could live up to being a buddy even if he didn't play the games well. There's an idea worth looking into; a GOOD ROB The Robot who actually becomes friends with you. That's his name, after all isn't it?

With the AVGN episode, I didn't get a single laugh or chuckle out of the whole thing. If anything, I knew well in advance what was going to happen before it took place, and I didn't even see the trailer or comment spoilers beforehand. There was nothing new or original added to the proceedings, it was more of the same. The actual review portion of the video didn't really say a whole lot and it seems like they threw together a ROB episode for the sake of having another clusterfuck battle with the robot since that's apparently the one dead horse that hasn't beaten into submission enough already. This was a video that was twenty minutes long but felt a lot longer than that, especially considering that the actual review content lasts five or six minutes tops, with the rest of it being pointless padding. If people are going to claim that there wasn't really much you can say about a product - and I do acknowledge this, I said it earlier - then there was no real reason to make this a review, is there? To me, this could have been the AVGN: 100th Episode spectacular and done in a purely narrative format. No talking to the audience, no exposition, it's just you and the Robot. It could have gone something like this;

AVGN complains about all the shitty games and is tired of it all. He stumbles across Gyromite, never realizing that he had the game before, and pops it into his toaster. He fumbles for a moment, not knowing what to do and then ROB appears to save the day. So AVGN and ROB are playing Gyromite, AVGN agitated by ROB's slow movement. He decides to play another game and ROB suggests Stack-Up. They play Stack Up. AVGN gets bored, wants to play something else, ROB says no, the two argue, the two get into a fight, AVGN triumphs over ROB the Robot through some clever thinking... no need for overblown special effects or ridiculous costumes, keep it low key, keep it nice, keep it simple, stupid.

Something like that... would work. I'd watch something like that. But instead we get the same old shit all over again.

You know who I enjoy watching as far as the angry reviewing cycle goes? The Plinkett Reviews from RedLetterMedia. Hour long reviews of movies by an allegedly 118-year-old convicted rapist who is upset by the terrible movies he had to sit through, most notably the Star Wars prequels and the four movies featuring the cast of Star Trek: The Next generation. What I like about the reviews is just the amount of content and detail that he covers - going to great lengths to exploration any and every flaw he finds upsetting or disturbing - and yet for all the information that he drops on your lap, he presents it in a way that doesn't seem boring and some of his jokes and gags are pretty funny and on topic. The review pretty much dominates the video run time with no need for necessary padding such as pointless narratives. The narratives that are added into the review usually take place towards the tail end of a video and don't play a major role during the actual review themselves. So if you don't care for the story about the vengeful hooker out to get Plinkett, you can stop the video then and there and move on to the next one. And the funny thing is that I actually like the narrative here. a hooker's been wronged by Plinkett, she escapes, and she's out for revenge. She manages a machete along the way, but for the most part, it's a simple affair. And Plinkett isn't some nerd with supernatural powers or weapons of mass destruction that seem to pop out of thin air. He's just a really old guy who rapes his cat. It's a grittier and probably more believable scenario than heading into Mortal Kombat with a fucking toy robot.

The thing with the Plinkett reviews is that it's a given that people have crapped all over the prequels and any further review on the matter is pretty much pointless, but these reviews come along and add something new or bring certain aspects under a different light. Even with the TNG movie reviews which are only about twenty to thirty minutes long, there are enough aspects and observations within the runtime that adding extra skits aren't necessary and would only distract from the overall product unless it's done well. For that reason alone, I don't have a problem calling Plinkett a competent reviewer.

In contrast, the AVGN episode of ROB The Robot pretty much regurgitates what has been said before by countless other people and rather than using the twenty minute running time to dwell into more interesting aspects of the Robotic Operating Buddy, we get glorified padding that is overbearing and ultimately renders the actual review portion of the video to be entirely pointless. The video was just terrible... just terrible.

Just before recording the audio for this VLOG, I noticed some chatter on Asalieri's YouTube channel who essentially agreed that AVGN's ROB video was not up to snuff and that IG trumphs the Nerd in this subject matter. One of the posters says that while the AVGN episode not up to snuff, to call it an INFINITELY WORSE effort than Irate Gamer's episode is a bit mean. I decided to follow up this with a wall of text of my own and I'll just repeat here;

No, I don't think it's hasty or mean at all to say that IG's ROB video is better than AVGN's ROB video. I think it's the truth. And if you enjoyed parts of it or even the whole thing, good for you. I'm glad you got some enjoyment out of it. But like I said in a previous comment, this practically tore my soul away. It depressed me to no end. In fact, this could very well be the one that kills off any interest I had remaining in the AVGN series. And this is coming from someone who has been following this series since its online debut in 2006. Even when the quality started to wane and I began to lose interest in the genre, I'd still watch some AVGN. But now...? Why bother? It seems that for the 100th episode, he decides to go down a path others have gone... and fail so miserably that it hurts.

Whatever remote sliver of credibility AVGN had as a reviewer DIED with this video. Whatever spark of creativity that was present with the AVGN series DIED with this video. There is no way in hell anyone can convince me that James Rolfe has the creative drive to push the series to new heights when, for the 100th episode, he opts to rehash the "Evil ROB" horseshit that has been DONE TO DEATH already. It's especially telling when the Irate Gamer does a BETTER job with exposition and narrative for a NOTHING episode than Rolfe did for his hundredth. This episode makes the Crazy Castle episode seem like Citizen Kane in comparison!

And if this crap is what he considers to be a worthy 100th episode, then I absolutely DREAD what he has in store for the upcoming AVGN movie.

I guess I should end this on a positive note... so I'll just say that out of all the video game reviews that James Rolfe has done, my favorite is his review on Ghostbusters for the Xbox 360. Why is that review my favorite? Easy... because it's the only real video game review he's ever done...Later.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it real and keep it clean.