While the Angry Video Game Nerd banishes the gaming demons of the past, all is not well in the present day. Video Game companies have gotten larger than ever, with millions of dollars spent on advertising, processing power and celebrity talent to push out over-produced carbon copies of franchises that should have died back in the AVGN’s era. Ben Croshaw was just another freeware game designer/author when he decided to take his talent for MS Paint and droll witticisms to youtube and the video game industry at large. The result is Zero Punctuation.
The title Zero Punctuation refers to Croshaw’s rapid-fire delivery of his video game reviews. After the first two reviews hit youtube, the show was picked up as a series by the Escapist, an internet based video game magazine. The deal resulted in 400 percent increase in the site’s traffic. While the British-born-Australian-based wit of the reviewer offers a certain sense of class to the show, it’s no the only reason Zero Punctuation works. Croshaw achieves the holy grail of criticism in any media. He assails the unassailable, and he makes it work. Take for instance the Smash Brothers Brawl review embedded in the post. Personally, I own the game and love it, but the two characters that generated the most hype, Sonic the Hedgehog and Solid Snake, are only available after slogging through a single player story mode. You will have put in so many hours to unlock those characters that you’ll win every time against your friends who don’t have the game. Your dream of having weekly Smash Brothers parties is effectively dashed. Even if you love the game, the logic behind that observation is impeccable
The only gripe I could have with Zero Punctuation is that Croshaw has a few biases against certain types of games, like Japanese-style Role Playing Games. He admits this, and he’s very fair about it, but he’s never going to be able to do a proper take-down of games like the Disgaea or Suikoden series. He doesn’t understand why those games are crack cocaine in binary code for some people. He tried to comprehend this in his review of “The World Ends With You” with amusing results, but I think we’ll have to be satisfied that he mostly focuses on the hubris of larger, more popular game genres. Lord knows the industry keeps giving him material.