The Angry Video Game Nerd (2004-Present)

This Game Sucks…

The reviewing of poor media products on the internet has become a whole genre of comedy in itself. Movies, video games, anime, comic books, music, etc, all have dedicated reviewers who will pick them apart and criticize all in the good name of entertainment. One of the most famous perpetrators and originators of this genre within the cyberspace of the internet is none other than The Angry Video Game Nerd. The Nerd (James D. Rolfe), is a foul-mouthed, short-tempered retro gamer, destined to review as he would call them, “sh***y f**king games”.

The Nerd’s trademark humor is comprised mostly of strong profanity and over the top comparisons to describe how awful a game is, i.e. “This game is so hard it would actually be easier to outside in a thunderstorm and dodge rain”. It’s an acquired taste but trust me when I say there are few times in my life in which I laughed as hard when I first discovered this guy and watched his Ghostbusters review back in 2007.

This is partially due to many of the games he reviews being so horrific they almost review themselves but also because of James’ charisma as a performer. Let’s face it, almost everyone who goes on the internet and makes videos in which they try to entertain or inform (including top subscribed You Tubers, although I won’t name names) are either dull or are trying to force a personality onto themselves. James, on the other hand, is just a complete natural. He’s always an absolute joy to listen to and makes the art of appearing on camera and reviewing media (whether comically or straight) seem easy. However, James is first and foremost a filmmaker and thanks to this The Angry Video Game Nerd had considerably greater production values than most other internet content. Frankly, the guy is one of my personal heroes.

I still continue to enjoy new episodes of The Angry Video Game Nerd. I’m glad James now only makes several episodes per year, whereas at the height of the series productivity we had two every month. Some of the more recent episodes are among some of the funniest he’s ever done, not bad for something which debuted on YouTube 9 years ago. I just hope he will keep the character in this state of semi-retirement. With The Angry Video Game Nerd, James Rolfe managed to create something totally original. Countless imitators will come and go but the original will never be topped.

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The Nostalgia Critic (2007-Present)

“What Happened To You Man? You used to have strong plentiful balls”: Ma-ti – Battlefield Earth Review

Back in 2007, an episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd involved the titular character reviewing the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. This was a change of pace to his regular videos as he would normally only review video games, however, I particularly loved this one video and wish he could have done more like this, or that someone would come around and be The Angry Video Game Nerd of movies. In a number of respects, this was The Nostalgia Critic (portrayed by Doug Walker). This is what first attracted me to the series when I first discovered it in 2009, and after watching a few episodes I was hooked. The series debuted on YouTube in 2007 before moving to Doug Walker’s own site That Guy With the Glasses.com (later re-titled Channel Awesome), a website which showcased of people involved in the increasingly popular genre of satirical reviews.

That Guy With the Glasses wasn’t entertainment being churned out by a corporation or by Hollywood executives, it was entertainment for the people by the people with no concern for financial gain but creating content purely out of passion which could be shared with a mass audience thanks to this thing known as the internet. I had my own aspirations to be on TGWTG, of course, nothing ever materialized, but to even be a follower of the site it felt like being part of something truly special and unique. All the great personalities the site had to offer; Spoony, Angry Joe, Todd in the Shadows, Linkara, Paw, Film Brain – the list goes on. Online videos like these have more heart, soul, and personality than contemporary Hollywood blockbusters or anything currently on TV.

But let’s talk about The Nostalgia Critic. Doug Walker was a natural comedian, he made the art of reviewing while cracking jokes, pop culture references and comedic over reactions look easy. Surf Ninjas is my favourite NC review, I have watched a good 30 times; a masterpiece of sarcasm. I remember I used to stay up on Tuesday nights to see each new video as soon as it was uploaded and I considered Doug Walker to be one of my comedic influences.

Various ex-fans of The Nostalgia Critic have different dates as to when he went downhill, so I can’t speak for everyone, but for me personally, 2011 was the beginning of the end. Right from the start of 2011, the cracks were showing. Sequel month was a lazy idea, just rehashing previous review source material, but I presumed this would just be a minor blip. Despite a few good videos over the following year, the quality had declined. Also while I absolutely adored the two year anniversary special Kickassia, the following anniversary special in 2011 Suburban Knights simply wasn’t funny, not to mention it felt like a very anti-climatic follow up to Kickassia in which they made the special in cooperation with an actual micro-nation. Going from something as large-scale and ambitious as that to a special filmed is suburban neighborhood felt like a bummer. When Star Trek month rolled around in January 2012 I gave up. Now at this point, The Nostalgia Critic’s video wasn’t awful, but more so just really boring.

I was glad when Doug brought the series to an end in August 2012 and began a new project called Demo Reel. Perhaps Demo Reel had potential but what I have watched of it is seriously dull; although at least it was something different and showed Doug didn’t want to be The Critic all his life. However, due to the failure of Demo Reel Doug revived The Nostalgia Critic. I haven’t seen everything he has done since the series revival but what I have is unbelievably awful. For this review, I had to try and watch more recent videos of his which I hadn’t seen, and doing so was the biggest chore, such a contrast to his older work which had such a natural progression and the best of which were consistently funny from beginning to end.

A rundown of the problems with The Nostalgia Critic beginning in 2011 and spiraling out of control in 2012:

Firstly he started going to way of MTV, he’s become The Nostalgia Critic in name only. This problem began in October 2011 when he reviewed Exorcist II: The Heretic and Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2; two films totally outside of his territory as there’s nothing nostalgic about them to the Critic’s target audience. He once had cut off date of 2000 (aside from the odd exception), however now it’s clear he’s run out of nostalgic movies and TV shows from his time frame and now reviews whatever he wants. He was at his best reviewing stupid and nonsensical Movies and TV shows from the 80’s and 90’s; that was the kind of material that worked best with his brand of humor.

His jokes are now forced beyond belief, an example? In his Top 11 F-Ups Part 3, he makes a joke about how people get the titles of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith mixed up. Not only is this joke shoehorned in out of nowhere, it’s creating a situation that doesn’t even exist. However it’s bad enough when a joke is unfunny and forced, it’s even worse if it goes on for ages. I don’t mind long jokes if they’re done well as Doug himself has done so in the past such as the dream sequence in the Junior review. For an example of a joke which goes on for an eternity; the “Allen” gag in his Jurassic Park III review. I was in a state of disbelief and non-existent laughter at just how long it lasts. I could make a huge list of the individual jokes in his new videos and why each one doesn’t work.

Other reviews are simply unpleasant, hateful and mean-spirited. In his review of Eight Crazy Nights, he had recurring gag throughout the video making fun of Happy Madison fans as lowest common denominator yokels. Regardless of how terrible Happy Madison films are, I did not start watching this guy’s videos in the first place to see such mean-spirited gags such as this.

The other major source of increasing annoyance is the lack of research he does for his videos. In his Patch Adams review he clearly has no knowledge of film’s subject matter, or in his Jurassic Park review, he criticizes the science present in the film and even has a sketch about it despite having no apparent knowledge of it. This brings me to what annoys me most of what the critic has now become. He’s become a self-righteous know-it-all jerk, and not in an intentional self-aware funny way. His review of Patch Adams is just one huge snob fest, while in his reviews of generally well-liked films (Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Matrix), he parades like his opinion is fact even though his criticisms on these films are just stupid nitpicking. There was once a time when watching a Nostalgia Critic review was simply fun, now it’s about having Doug Walker’s self-righteous, poorly researched, incorrect or simply illogical statements shoved down your throat. The dividing line between Doug and his fictional creation is becoming increasingly blurred; in his Top 11 F-Ups Part 3 he makes a list entry related to videos he made speaking as himself and not the Critic.

Since Demo Reel failed the people Doug has hired to appear in that show are now regulars on the revived series of The Nostalgia Citric, and none of them of any charisma; it makes me miss the days of Ma-ti. His new videos also look too sterile and washed out; what happened to that warm inviting yellow background?

He’s also stopped using creative title cards and instead now uses lazy photoshopped title cards; ironic considering in his Drew Struzan tribute he criticized movie studios for using lazy, uninspired photoshopped movie posters. Also, all these new title cards have an exaggerated facial expression from Doug which is increasingly obnoxious. I’m sure there are many other problems I could mention, but trying to watch his more recent videos for the sake of this review is excruciating with how bad they are.

Then there’s his NC: Editorials. These annoy me for two reasons. Firstly it’s the constant retreading of this mentality that you’re simply blinded by nostalgia if you dislike some aspect of contemporary popular culture. Secondly, they’re pretentious, giving an over important emphasis to questions no one was asking the answers to (Is It Right to Nitpick? Why Do We Love Stupid?), or questions which have obvious answers (Have we gone too deep into CGI?, Why Is Tom & Jerry Genius?).

I can’t comment on the current state of other TGWTG contributors as I gave up on the site as a whole long ago (expect Todd In the Shadows who is the only one I still watch), but I know some of the longtime members such as The Nostalgia Chick, Oancitizen, Phealous, and Obscurus Lupa are no longer there.

When writing this review I was wondering if it was a mistake to undertake as I much prefer to write reviews of stuff I love instead of contributing to an internet full of negativity, but this show used to mean so much to me and bring me such joy, now it does the complete opposite. I have witnessed two things in my life degrade from being something I loved so dearly to becoming one of the worst pieces of so-called “entertainment” I have ever seen – The Simpsons and The Nostalgia Critic. It’s hard to watch his old videos now without thinking about what a joke he is now. Congratulations Doug on destroying your own creation.

Todd’s Pop Song Reviews (2009 – Present)

Review Brilliance

Of the internet reviewers spawned from the satirical reviewing site That Guy With The Glasses, I consider Todd In The Shadows to be one of the very greatest productions the site offers. While other reviewers on TGWTG mostly focused on movies, video games and anime etc, Todd brought the much-needed sector of reviewing popular music to the site.

Todd Nathanson began producing videos on YouTube and eventually was accepted onto TGWTG.com and found new spread popularity on the site and I don’t think this could have happened at a better time, due to this being the period when the likes of Lady Gaga, Keh$a and The Black Eyed Peas where beginning or already had been dominating the top 40 pop charts. Pop music needed criticism and analyses more than ever, and that’s where Todd comes in.

A standard episode of Todd’s Pop Song Reviews involves an analyses of a recent U.S Billboard Top 40 pop song, a bad one of course. Each episode begins with a piano cover of the song which about to be reviewed, followed by an introduction to the song and the artist behind it. The songs themselves are pulled apart, with deep analyses of the lyrics (often pointing out how they don’t make sense) and often comments on the music video itself, followed by a final conclusion of the song. Each episode is filled with jokes, gags, and one-liners mixed in with the review itself but is all perfected flawlessly making Todd’s Pop Song Reviews both a hilarious and insightful look into the world of pop music. The guy is one hell of a comedy machine and you can get quite the music education from his show.

However, I still have yet to mention possibly the most important aspect of the series. Like many other internet reviewers, Todd has a gimmick. The simple genius that we don’t know that he looks like due to wearing a hoodie and being unlit within the shadows he inhabits. I love the mystery of not knowing what his physical appearance is and it’s also quite a romantic idea in itself. Todd has to communicate primarily through his voice and he certainly has a voice which does just that; clear and audible, pleasant to listen too, and strong enough to get his points across. Todd’s Pop Song Reviews is one the finest review shows the internet has to offer. Todd Nathanson isn’t a household name but I can call the guy one of my heroes.