July 30, 2011
Days Gone By: The People Who Make “Classic” Gaming a Genre
Many of you readers probably started gaming fairly early on. I’d be willing to bet many of you have quite a few good memories of a favorite game or console. Maybe you had a Nintendo 64, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time positively blew your mind. Maybe you had a Playstation, and you cried when Aeris died (There’s no “maybe” about the crying, you definitely cried. Don’t lie to me. I write things.) in Final Fantasy VII. Maybe you had a Dreamcast, and were a fan of Sonic Adventure. No matter what system, company, or generation you started with, you have some good gaming memories, as well as some not so good ones. Want to relive those memories?
I know of some guys who can help you live them all over again, with nostalgia and humor combining to make an excellent experience. Hopefully, you’ve already heard of at least one of these guys. If not, I apologize in advance for sucking all of your time away. It’s very difficult not to watch every episode by every person.
My personal favorite reviewer and reviver, who I’ve been watching since Episode 1, is James Rolfe, the Angry Video Game Nerd (or, if you’ve been with him for a while, the Angry Nintendo Nerd.) Of all the video producers on this list, the Nerd is probably the one you know. He goes back to some of the oldest consoles, and reviews some of the worst games from them with delightful vulgarity and gallons upon gallons of Rolling Rock (and for an episode, Yuengling). He hits the bad, the worse, the good but hard, and the absolutely atrocious games from almost every series. If you’ve never watched him before, you’re in for a treat. James has made more than 100 episodes of Angry Video Game Nerd, as well as quite a few board game reviews (under the clever name “Board James”) and pointed out many annoyances in everyday life in a just-as-delightfully-vulgar series called You Know What’s Bulls**t?. While you’re on his website, I recommend that you check out the video “Cinemassacre 200”, a sort of autobiography and autofilmography by James that best describes what he does and why he does it.
While James often finds himself trying to find the good in bad games, another character has found a way to find the bad in games that are often considered good. Make no mistake, most of his reviews cover the cream of the crap, but some of his longest and greatest reviews are of games that are classics in the mind of most who have played them: Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy X. He goes by the name Spoony, and he’s positively hilarious. All of his videos seem to tie together, with plenty of recurring characters, as well as complete non-sequiturs. He doesn’t only cover games; Spoony has taken potshots at plenty of movies, as well as provided legitimate, informative-rather-than-funny reviews on a number of topics, notably 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons.
Maybe you didn’t play a lot of games. Perhaps you were more into movies, or just all around pop-culture. Enter the Nostalgia Critic, who “remembers things so you don’t have to.” He’s taken pot-shots and low blows at some of the worst movies of the last thirty years, and also has a large number of movies under his belt. He has his share of running gags and recurring characters, but what makes him special is his ability to show up everywhere. He regularly attends conventions, and has appeared in videos with both of the previous producers on this list. He’s a really funny guy who has an uncannily good ability to toss appropriate clips from other films and shows into a review at just the right moment.
“Alright,” you may be thinking, “these guys are good at tossing some clips together for a video, but I want the full experience. I want someone to take me all the way through a classic, with hilarious commentary the whole way.” That’s… an interesting thought, to say the least, but you aren’t alone. Let’s Play is a genre of videos in which a commentator takes you through an entire game, talking the whole way through about the game, or in many cases, just whatever. There are tons of these guys out there (I’m working on becoming one myself), and quite a few good ones have made a name for themselves. However, my personal favorite LPer goes by the name NintendoCapriSun, a combination that could only be better if Capri Sun made bigger pouches so I wouldn’t have to make repeat trips to the fridge. Some of his most notable works are from the Mega Man series, but he’s touched on quite a few classic Nintendo games, spanning from the NES to the N64.
Lastly, but certainly not least…ly… is a musician who really stands out from the crowd. Brentalfloss got his start on Youtube by playing arrangements of classic game themes on his keyboard (he’s an AMAZING pianist), but he really took off when he set lyrics to the Mega Man 3 title screen theme. Since then, he’s made a number of videos with lyrics set to game tunes, and every single one of them will get stuck in your head immediately. This guy has put music, games, and humor into a blender and made a finer figurative beverage than any alcohol (it’s kind of hard to get drunk on figurative alcohol).
I only mentioned five specific guys, but there are plenty more people out there who do all kinds of videos, writings, and other works of art that make the nostalgia well up in you. Ready for an experience? Grab a beverage, plug your charger in if you’re on a laptop, and get comfy. You’re gonna be here a while. Here are your links.
Angry Video Game Nerd: http://www.cinemassacre.com
The Spoony Experiment: http://spoonyexperiment.com
Nostalgia Critic: http://thatguywiththeglasses.com