Are They Worth It? The DVDs of the Internet #6 - Awesome Video Games Volume 1


By Shawn McMahon - Posted on 15 December 2011


If all goes according to plan (which when it comes to this site I find things never ever do) then you should be seeing a whole slew of these features going up in the coming weeks. Granted the speed right now is one entry every 2 – 4 weeks, which makes it very very easy to improve on the scheduling. Let’s get to the latest entry with a DVD I’ve actually been wanting to talk about for a good long while now.

This is Awesome Video Games Volume 1.

Pre-Amble

One of my favourite aspects of this series, and this is something I’ve touched on in a past entry, is going into the DVDs where I know next to nothing about the material. With DVDs such as Irate Gamer and AVGN, I already know the content going in so it’s the extra stuff that is of greater interest. With DVDs such as the previously reviewed Happy Video Game Nerd, and now Awesome Video Games, I went in with basically zero knowledge of the show itself. It’s always kind of exciting. You never know if you’ll end up with a pleasant surprise (such as HVGN) or a complete fucking disaster (the DVD I’m planning to review next).

Not only does Awesome Video Games Volume 1 fall into the former category, but is easily one of, if not the actual, most pleasant surprises I have stumbled upon so far.

The Content

Anyone who grew up in the late eighties and early nineties should be immediately familiar with what this show is trying to achieve. It focuses on two guys, Ace and Chet, who play and review all the “latest releases” for the original NES. It’s all done in true nineties style with lots of yelling, extreme close-ups and lots of words like “radical”, “cowabunga” and “tubular”. It’s the “holy shit fuck yea Nintendo!” presentation that was oh so common back then. Oh and also, the two leads know fucking nothing about how to play video games, hence the genius of the whole premise.

It really reminds me of the show Video & Arcade Top 10 that used to air on YTV here in Canada. You non-Canadians out there may be unfamiliar with the show so I would definitely try and YouTube at least a couple of clips to get an idea of what I’m talking about. The show (which I was recently shocked to hear ran up until fucking 2004!) was sort of a pseudo game show mixed with a typical video game tips and tricks show. Four kids would play a usually terrible video game in an effort to win terrible prizes while the hosts stumbled their way through video game centered dialogue they obviously didn’t grasp. Their banter was terrible, there were frequent mistakes, and the tips almost never amounted to more than “press the B button” or shit you can read in the instructions or on the back of the game box. Oh and they were also WAY FUCKING EXTREME! Awesome Video Games is that, only intentional.

The episodes are usually a mix between the characters playing the game, and providing “helpful” tips along the way. There’s also the character of Dad (never given a name) who jumps in with frequent non-sequitors and a running joke about taking out the trash. I’ll admit I wasn’t terribly fond of this character in the beginning but by the end of the run, he had some of my favourite moments, and during my second run through the episodes, I was on board from the very beginning. An almost subtle running joke about how he not so secretly despises one of his kids is never not funny. The three actors give it their all and are clearly having a fucking blast doing it.

The set features episodes total, including:

Super Mario Bros.
Duck Hunt
Friday the 13th
Pictionary
Double Dragon
Turbo Tips
Rob the Robot
Halloween episodes
Golf
Dr. Mario
Paperboy
Game Genie
Nintenzone
Power Pad
Bad Dudes

I was completely on board with this show the second they showed the game play footage in the Super Mario Bros. episode and the central concept of the whole thing was revealed. You would think eventually the joke would get old but they keep finding new ways to present it. Plus not every episode follows the same formula of two enthusiastic guys who suck at games, such as Halloween, Golf, Dr. Mario, and actually a whole slew of others which take everything in a completely different direction. My personal favourite is the Game Genie episode which is actually a pitch perfect send-up of shows like Saved by the Bell and just about after school special from that era.

Also worth noting about this show – it’s completely G rated. Nary a curse nor sex joke to be found anywhere here. I respect the fuck out of that because as you can see, I am not capable of writing G material. It’s rare to find that in any sort of video game based web show so infinite kudos’ to these guys for pulling it off, and pulling it off really well.

Overall the show is just a goddamn delight. It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s ridiculously upbeat, it’s just a whole lot of fun and I devoured this show, watching all of the episodes (just under three hours worth) in only two sittings. Even cooler? My wife was with me the entire time. So yes, this is one for everybody.

Oh and did I mention it has the catchiest fucking theme song I’ve ever heard? Once you hear it a single time, enjoy having it caught in your head for the next FOREVER!

Presentation

First off – love the DVD art. It’s a replica of the first era NES cartridges and it nails it down to the finest detail. Plus it’s signed! First time I’ve had that so it deserves a mention here as well.

What I really want to highlight here are the menus because holy shit. You get 8-bit representations of the characters running through level 1-1 of Mario. If you choose select an episode you see an animation of them running and jumping down a pipe into world 1-2. There you can maneuver from pipe to pipe to select your episode. Then shit gets even better. Each episode menu uses the title screen from the featured game. Then once you hit start, you are given a quick animation of the characters running around inside that particular game. I didn’t even find out about these until after I watched all of the episodes but I proceeded to fire up each episode individually just to watch these little sequences.

Not only the best menus I have seen during this feature, but some of the best DVD menus I have ever seen in life ever.

Audio/Visual

I….I don’t even know anymore.

Bonus Content

Usually I would list all of the features you get but you know, that would take forever because there is a whoooooole lot of stuff here. In fact, there is an entire second disc that is loaded with bonus content.

On disc 1, you get bloopers for each episode which are interesting if only to see just how many god damn takes it sometimes requires to get a shot correct. It’s almost ludicrous how long some of these go on for. There’s also a running commentary by everyone involved across all of the episodes which stays entertaining despite the nearly three hour run time.

Moving on over to disc 2, we get Super Story Mode which is actually the same commentary track from the first disc but with a picture in picture view of the commentators. This is definitely the way to watch this.

On top of that, each episode comes with its own list of bonus features, which is why I refuse to get into this in fine detail. Needless to say, there is a whole lot of stuff here. This content ranges from behind the scenes stuff, some deleted scenes, bloopers or just random shit like a montage of every time somebody yells in an episode. I won’t say it’s all worth a watch (some features even the creators admit will be very annoying) but there’s definitely some good stuff here.

Is It Worth It?

Totally. If you have even a glimmer of nostalgia for this era (or like me you used to watch a shit load of Video and Arcade Top 10) you should definitely check this out. The show is great and there is a whooooole lot of bonus content that will take you a good many hours to make your way through. All this and the DVD is only 18 bucks. Seriously go buy it. I’m silently judging you the longer it takes you to go do it.

For each of these reviews I will be showing at least a part of it to my wife in order to get a quick perspective from someone who is not that familiar (if at all familiar) with the material.

What did my wife think? - "That was a lot of fun! I would totally watch more of that!" 

John Francis Pannozzi's picture

You should add the tag "are_they_worth_it" to this article.

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