I know what some of you are thinking? I just want to play video games; why would I want to watch a show about them? Well, if you are like me, I LOVE video games. I love them. I have been playing them since I was a child and I can’t get enough of them…but sadly, I don’t really have time to play them. Yup, this modern man on the go really can only sneak in maybe a half hour or, if I am incredibly lucky and really have nothing to do, an hour a day. A lot of days, I really don’t play video games at all. Luckily, I have recently discovered some amazing shows on Youtube. They are produced by some really talented people who truly have a passion and a love for video games, new and old. Video games have never really been represented well in mainstream media, and whenever they do pop up, I hate to say the result has always been lackluster and never truly representative of the gamer culture (sorry G4, but I think you were a failed experiment). These shows, though, are for gamers and made by gamers. Some are intelligent, some are laugh out loud funny, and all are great and worth checking out! I know maybe many of you have already seen some of these, but I think that these people (who work very hard by the way) deserve as much publicity as they can. So without further ado…
1. Game Grumps
What is Game Grumps? Is it a podcast? Is it a “Let’s Play”? Is it two internet celebrities playing video games that they love and just shooting the shit? Well, it is probably a little bit of all three. Game Grumps is Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson (of Awesome Series fame) and Jon “JonTron” Jafari, both who were already pretty popular internet celebrities before beginning this project, literally playing through video games and commenting on them. It sounds simple, but it is actually pretty entertaining, due in no small part to the chemistry of the two “Grumps.” You can really tell that these two guys are great friends who truly love video games, and not just because video games are awesome on their own, but for that great feeling of brotherhood and friendship that can spawn from playing these games with a good friend. Each game they play is like a different experience, and granted, one of the faults I find with the show is that they often don’t complete the games they play (though they are slowly rectifying that), or that a lot of the time they will get completely sidetracked from talking about the game (though to give them credit, they have to talk for hours on end). I for some reason never get bored watching them play video games. Well, talking about it can’t do it justice: if you want to see what I am talking about, I recommend you watch them play Goof Troop for the SNES. It is literally one of the most hilarious sets of videos that I have ever seen, and one of the most captivating in that it really captures that feeling of friendship that I was talking about before. They argue, they joke, they laugh like crazy, and, best yet, they succeed in beating the game. So if you want, check out their Youtube channel, and no worries, they update with TWO new videos everyday, so you are never really wanting for new episodes.
As a side note, be sure to check out Egoraptor’s and Jontron’s individual channels as well; both update much more infrequently now that they have Game Grumps to work on. Jontron is an Angry Video Game Nerd style review show, but in his own heartfelt, zany, and fun style, while Egoraptor makes video game based cartoons as well as an interesting show called Sequelitis which looks at video games in reference to other games in their series (i.e. the Mega Man classic series vs. the Mega Man X series). Both are definitely worth checking out.
Chrontendo by Dr. Sparkle is a little known web show, mainly because each episode is well over an hour long and the show started on his blog/site at Archive.org rather than on Youtube. This show, though, is a fascinating look at the long history of the Famicom/NES by playing through, chronologically, their entire catalog of video games. He thoroughly reviews each game, gives a deep history of its developer, franchise, or source material, and he really digs into the odd bits of trivia with each game . His presentation is incredibly academic, but don’t worry; he really isn’t that dry and injects a very understated humor into each one of his reviews. He isn’t crass, vulgar, or loud like the Angry Video Game Nerd, but his videos are a must-see for those who are interested in the history of video games, as you really feel like you are getting an in-depth and thorough look at the video game industry in the mid to late 80’s. And if you like this series, he also has TWO sister series, Chronsega (for the Sega Master System/Genesis) and Chronturbo (for the Turbografx 16). The only real complaint with this series is that Dr. Sparkle takes a really long time to make and post new episodes, so if you get all caught up, be prepared to wait with the rest of us.
3. The Completionist
The Completionist is a web-series hosted by Jirard “Dragonrider” Khalil, and the premise is that for each show, he plays a game and completes it to 100%; not just beating a game, but doing everything that the game has to offer. It really provides an interesting look at the games he reviews (yes, it is still a review show), in that he shows every hidden nook and cranny of the video game. He will also look at glitches to quickly power up your character, what happens if you get 100% in the game, and a ton of other secrets. You really get a feeling that you are watching a distinct beginning, middle, and end of a game, which is very satisfying in a way. As well, the show highlights his pretty impressive gaming skills, as he really does 100% some seriously tough games, such as Super Meat Boy and Metal Gear Solid on the Big Boss difficulty setting. One of the things I really like about this show is that he is humorous, but is completely clean in his humor. The only show I really saw him use profanity in was the very first episode, but you can tell that he is still trying to find his own unique style. Every episode, as well, is punched up with humor by Jirard’s sidekick, Greg “The Mediocre-st” Wilmot, who every so often reviews a game himself, though is so bad at video games that he is never able to complete them. Jirard often has other internet personalities on the show as well, such as Jontron and Zane Alda. The good news is that Jirard updates pretty much every week, so you are never wanting for new episodes. It’s a fun, light-hearted take on video games, and it is neat to see the old games that I love beaten to 100%.
4. The ContinueShow
The ContinueShow is a weekly video game review show run by Nick Murphy, Josh Henderson, and Paul Ritchey, where they play insanely obscure video games and decide if they are going to “Continue” playing them again. One of the main draws this show has going for it is the humor. These guys are seriously funny: like, laugh out loud funny. The show really doesn’t dissect the games they play as much as play through the first bits of them and make fun of them, so it is a breath of fresh air from the other review shows out there. As with Game Grumps, you can really tell that these guys are the best of friends, and their chemistry when playing the games and responding to what they are seeing is top-notch. Plus, like I said, they play some truly strange and quirky games, so it is always a delight to watch their show and be surprised by what games have been made. This is almost the Mystery Science Theater 3000 of video game web shows. My only complaint is that, unlike The Completionist, they really don’t play very much of the game itself, literally just enough to get a general taste of the game, but I would trade that for some extra funny any day.
5. The Angry Video Game Nerd
Yeah, I am sure most of you knew he was going to be on this list somewhere. Yes, the Angry Video Game Nerd, the arguable grand-daddy of all video game web review shows. He has been making this series since 2004, and it is a fascinating series to watch in that it set the ground work and format for pretty much every video game review show after it. Jon Tron, The Completionist, and The ContinueShow can all be considered to be in the Angry Video Game Nerd style. The premise for the show is simple: James D. Rolfe, aka the Nerd, plays through a series of bad video games “so that we don’t have to,” and proceeds to rip the game to pieces. He is crass and vulgar, yet in a style that is somewhat endearing, as it feels like he is suffering for our sake when playing these bad games. The show is seriously funny, and it shows someone who is truly passionate about video games; he plays and captures every game straight from their original console, and his collection of games and consoles is truly breathtaking (it is literally a collection made over a lifetime). Aside from games, he reviews other pieces of gaming history, such as the NES Powerglove, the ill fated CD-I, and the Virtual Boy. He even has an Atari Jaguar and a 3DO console, both of which are incredibly rare and tough to find. He even reviews all the games in a particular category, such as games based on Steven Spielberg movies, all Superman games, or all the games about Godzilla. He updates fairly infrequently now, but his episodes are definitely worth checking out. One of the downsides, in my opinion, is that he can sometimes be a bit overly crass (in one episode, he takes a shit on Bugs Bunny), but his style in the more recent episodes is starting to move away from that. His videos are intelligent, funny, and definitely show a passion for video games that few people really have.
In the end…
There are a ton of great video game web shows out there, and my list here is definitely not representative of all the great web shows out there. If you would like some others, be sure to check out the Peanut Butter Gamer, Caddicarus, and one of my other favorites, The Game Theorists, who do insane research and opinion pieces that concoct crazy theories about video games. In the end, all these shows need fan support to survive, and they are truly worth checking out. So show your support people, check out the shows, subscribe to their channels, and “like” their videos so that more people will get a chance to see their work.