Remasters are no longer a new trend in the world of video games. They are, however, a trend that proves itself to be popular among gamers and profitable for publishers. Sometimes all a game needs is a higher resolution, some minor tweaks, and to be released on a newer console in order to stay relevant in the public’s eye. Some of those remasters are better than others, and oftentimes the original release can remain as the preferable way to play one game over its supposed “upgraded version”, but the fact remains that remasters are a trend that is here to stay.
There is a differentiation however between a remaster and a remake of an existing game. A remake, like Crash Bandicoot: N.Sane Trilogy or Spyro Reignited Trilogy, may be based on the same game audiences knew from before, but they’re built from the ground up with new code, graphical assets, physics, and even a new engine. A remaster, like the various HD collections which came out in the early 2010s, or Sonic Colors Ultimate which came out recently, are mostly the same game with most everything just retouched to take advantage of new and more powerful hardware.
With all of that established; I want to make it clear that Angry Videogame Nerd I&II Deluxe (AVGN) is a remaster. It includes some changes, which we will get to, but it is important to note that this package of both games is a remaster and NOT a remake. Not only is it advertised as such by its developer, FreakZone Games, but it also appears as a remaster on the surface. If you played the original games back when they came out you’ll notice some of the differences for sure, but they’re all the same in terms of gameplay.
To those who have never played the games, AVGN is a remastered compilation of the two side-scrolling platformer-shooter games: Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures and Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation. Both games are based on the popular web series, “The Angry Video Game Nerd”, created by filmmaker James Rolfe. The games place you in the shoes of the foul-mouthed nerd as he’s sucked into the world of the terrible games he would usually tear apart and destroy on his show.
As the Nerd, you can run, jump, and shoot in all eight directions as you navigate through levels that are supposed to frustrate you with the same obstacles which would frustrate the Nerd in his videos. Along the way, you’ll meet some of the Nerd’s friends and find his stuff, which will grant you new abilities in order to find more hidden goodies and navigate levels more easily. In that basic sense, the games are the same as they were back when they were first released in this remaster. It’s the differences however that make them an interesting topic of conversation.
Both games have easier difficulty settings for starters, no doubt a response to the overly punishing challenge in the original releases. The first game also added the “N,E,R,D cartridges” which weren’t in the original game and were initially only in the sequel. The death screen in which the Nerd would make a rude and graphic comment, regarding how much he hates the game, has been removed. The cameos from the original release, which would give you power-ups if you were to find them, are now appearances by a future Nerd. The final boss, Fred Fucks, now has an updated sprite that resembles the late Gilbert Gottfried, who played the developer in a newer episode of the show.
The second game saw the same kind of visual alterations in this collection. Most notably is the change of the Nerd’s rival character from Channel Awesome’s The Nostalgia Critic, to the same Fred Fucks from the first game and his updated sprite. The battles function the same way and Fred’s dialogue matches Critic’s, but it is still a noticeable change. In addition to that, characters from “Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie” which were featured in the original release are replaced with other creations.
Despite the changes I described, there’s nothing that makes AVGN I&II Deluxe more than a remaster, at least on the surface. There are interesting alterations to be sure, but nothing else was dramatically changed. If you liked the originals, you’ll enjoy the remasters. If you didn’t like the originals, nothing here will change your mind. But then comes the final chapter, which features three new levels and a new boss fight that were never seen before in any of the games. They may not change the game completely, but I was surprised to see what I believed to be a simple re-release featuring new content as a surprise to fans of the originals.
Remasters may not be as enticing or exciting as a game rebuilt from scratch with everything upgraded. It doesn’t mean, however, that a game can’t feature some extra content for those who experienced a game before and are interested in reliving it. They’re not going to change the opinion of those who didn’t care for them in the first place, but they could give those who liked the originals a lot more than just a visual upgrade. Different visuals and takes on scenarios to compare and contrast, even new levels which were never there before, can all be part of the package. A remaster can be so much more than just a cash grab if the people behind it are passionate. Maybe we’ll get to see more of such examples in the future.
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