Stop Skeletons From Fighting (real name Derek Alexander, formerly The Happy Video Game Nerd) is an American video game YouTuber whose videos include game reviews, retrospectives, and documentary videos covering major gaming events. He was sometimes on or off-camera joined by Grace Kramer, who otherwise helps with filming, writing, and producing the videos.
Originating as the winning entry for GameTrailers' 2007 "Outnerd the Nerd" contest, the channel began as The Happy Video Game Nerd, a Video Review Show that was a self-proclaimed ripoff of The Angry Video Game Nerd. Derek copied the style of AVGN right down to the opening theme song (at least for his early episodes)... and then he inverted it. He genuinely likes most games he reviews, as his specialty was to review old school games that he thinks deserve more attention. He reviewed mostly classic games as well as recent titles for the time, further setting himself apart from AVGN. The series was positively received for setting itself apart from the sea of other AVGN clones that flooded the internet at the time thanks to its more celebratory nature of video games.
In December 2014, Derek retired the Happy Video Game Nerd character and rebranded the channel as "Stop Skeletons From Fighting". It was around this time that Grace Kramer, who previously co-wrote and produced HVGN's 2014 April Fools' Day episode, joined the channel full-time.
Series that are part of Stop Skeletons From Fighting include "Past Mortem" (a series looking back at certain points in gaming history), "Punching Weight" (a look at unique games and video game accessories that are bizarre in a sense), "Re:Certified Classic" (reviews taking a look at older yet highly-regarded video games and whether or not they stand the test of time), "How the West Was Worst" (looking back at bad localizations from Japanese game companies, so far he has covered Konami and Capcom), and "Delisted" (showcasing digital games that have been pulled from online stores or forgotten about).
Stop Skeletons From Fighting provides examples of:
- Accentuate the Negative: Derek went full-swing into the negative with his review of Yooka-Laylee in a very pessimistic light with hardly anything he could find enjoyable from the game.
- A Day in the Limelight: Though mostly behind the camera and sometimes chiming in from off-screen, Grace sometimes joins Derek as a co-host and sometimes stars in her own videos.
- Awesome, but Impractical: The point behind the Punching Weight videos. Derek and Grace take a look at games that go beyond the technological or genre constraints of a console to deliver an experience not typically found on its platform; be it fully-rendered polygonal graphics on a Game Boy Advance title or porting Duke Nukem 3D to the Sega Saturn. Even if the results vary and not every title can be considered a success, they're something to be celebrated.
- Bowdlerise: Discussed. His "How The West Was Worse" video on Final Fight touches on some of the censorship Capcom did to the game when brought to America and subsequently ported to Super Nintendo.
- The Cameo: Derek actually appears in an episode of the AVGN proper (albeit long after he dropped the HVGN persona), among other creators in a montage in the Aladdin Deck Enhancer review.
- No Export for You: Discussed in the final (to date) "How The West Was Worse" episode which covers the Japan-only Rumble Pak versions of Super Mario 64 and Wave Race 64.
- Non Sequitur: So what are skeletons fighting about, exactly? And why should we stop them?
- A Rare Sentence: From I Can't Believe It's Game Boy & GBC 3D! we have, "This unreleased cowboy-dinosaur-alien first-person shooter on the Game Boy Color sure has a lot of story...now there's a sentence I never thought I'd say."
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Inverted, Derek is the more openly enthusiastic reviewer, while Grace favors a more reserved speaking style. She's more upbeat off-script and in streams, and when she's on Stop Skeletons From Fighting (with or without Derek sometimes).
- Shout-Out: The channel name was lifted from a Game Genie code book, more specifically a cheat code for the game Castle of Dragon (the effect is listed as "Stop skeletons from fighting").
- Spinoff: His 'Punching Weight' and 'Is it really that bad?' series of videos, usually featuring his friend Calvin or more recently Grace. They're all improvised, edited-for-length-and-highlight videos of Derek playing various games not featured on SSFF.
- Accentuate the Negative: Normally averted, but his reviews of StarTropics 2 and Mega Man 10 had this in spades. Also in the second half of his Eternal Darkness review and even more so in the second review.
- Affectionate Parody: One towards The Angry Video Video Game Nerd and caustic critics, right down to the opening theme song of his earlier reviews and parodying a few of AVGN's reviews. Unlike AVGN and other critics, instead of bringing up awful video games that are best avoided, he talks about overlooked and under-rated video games not many have played or heard of.
- April Fools' Day: He pulled a new prank on his fanbase for four years in a row:
- 2008: He posted an audio-only vlog ripping into the AVGN (originally titled "Sick to death of hearing about the Angry Nintendo Nerd") that was actually a parody of the infamous Armake21 vlog ripping into The Irate Gamer.
- 2009: The obligatory "Goodbye Forever" video, in which he announces his new rapping career. His band Starship Amazing even made an actual rap EP, which can be found here.
- 2010: He switched shows with The Gaming Historian, another Retroware personality. Derek talked about Shenmue, while Norman reviewed Ristar. This is also the only April Fools prank to date in which Derek does not break character, at least not explicitly.
- 2011: His friend and bandmate Calvin hijacked his show, and did an improvised quasi-review/playthrough of Chrono Trigger.
- 2014: The first episode of the meme-overloaded LIKECOMMENTSUBSCRIBESHOW with "Scare Cam" Cody and The Shitty Goose as they list the Top 10 NES boobs (at least two of the listed characters don't even have any) and start going to some really weird places.
- The Artifact: Inverted. As part of his gimmick as the Nerd's antithesis, he drank wine instead of beer. When he stopped drinking wine and noticed that almost nobody realized this, he decided to retire the title of Happy Video Game Nerd.
- Big "WHAT?!":
- Bizarro World: He presents himself as the exact inverse of AVGN; not only does he review retro games positively, but he drinks red wine instead of beer (at one point getting confused when someone replaced his wineglass with a beer bottle).
- Bowdlerise: In a special video produced before his review of the 2010 Splatterhouse game, HVGN explored the changes made to the original Splatterhouse — including the Bowdlerized elements — in its transition from the arcade to the TurboGrafx-16.
- The Cameo: A few.
- He has a quick appearance in The Nostalgia Critic review of Dragonball Evolution (filmed at Magfest, which he was attending).
- He also appears in the Board James review of "Loupin' Louie", a Live Episode filmed at PAX 2011, and is identified by an onscreen caption. It's the first time he has ever appeared in a Cinemassacre video, and Derek naturally joked about it being "the much anticipated AVGN-HVGN Crossover".
- Derek actually appears in an episode of the AVGN proper, among other creators in a montage in the Aladdin Deck Enhancer review.
- Caustic Critic: Played With. Normally this trope is inverted, as his reviews are generally positive in tone, but he also has very high standards for games, and won't hesitate to call out elements in a game that he doesn't like.
- Characterization Marches On: He started out aping the AVGN style as closely as possible, to the point that a few of his videos are directly "inspired" by specific episodes (the intro to Metal Storm was lifted from The Karate Kid; Nightshade is a riff on Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout). Over time, he's dropped most of the AVGN (and anti-AVGN) elements, and now all that remained by the time the character was retired was the name itself, along with a few props (the shirt and the wine).
- Dark Is Not Evil: The Happy Nerd wears a black shirt, as opposed to the Angry Nerd's white shirt.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "Good games are great because they're good." Gets the appropriate response from the 'guest star' of the episode.
- Divergent Character Evolution: The Happy Nerd started out with the gimmick that he was the opposite of the Angry Nerd, and many of his early videos are shot-for-shot remakes of the Angry Nerd's videos, only with him extolling a good game instead of swearing at a bad one. Now, he does his own thing, although he still dresses like the Angry Nerd and drinks at the end of every review (which is actually something the Angry Nerd has generally stopped doing).
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: He covered the AVGN theme himself, playing the guitar and singing modified lyrics. Later, his band Starship Amazing remixed the song, and eventually they composed and performed an original instrumental piece.
- Dramatic Pause: Every once in a while; often, he smiles creepily right after one.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: His earliest videos parody some elements of his inspiration, the AVGN. Eventually Derek gets rid of the skits, guest stars and wackiness and his reviews are more straight-forward. Ironically, much like the AVGN did ... for the most part. Derek doesn't always praise the games either, to which some viewers objected (see Exactly What It Says on the Tin below).
- Ensemble Dark Horse: In-Universe, his basic shtick is showcasing retro gaming's ensemble darkhorses.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Usually played straight but sometimes defied. He mentions in his review of Eternal Darkness that viewers comment on his name as if that's his only modus operandi and that he should be praising games all the time. Instead, he reminds them that he's just honest about games he doesn't like but provides constructive criticism (backed by personal experience shown in the reviews) as to why that is.
- Foreshadowing: Subverted for Halloween 2012 — he mentioned after his Elemental Gearbolt review that he had some unfinished business after which he turned his head to look at the Eternal Darkness game case present throughout the video. His next video: Ill Bleed.
- Freudian Slip: In calculating the score for The Sum of All Fears, Derek blurts out "NEGATIVE FIFTY" before correcting himself, explaining that the review score starts at +50 and works downward. This does not speak well for the forthcoming tally. (The final score was just shy of zero.)
- Halloween Episode: Much like the Angry Nerd, Derek likes to review horror-themed games in late October, as well as in May under the same logic as Christmas in July.
- Hurricane of Puns: The livestream of Razor Freestyle Scooter eventually devolved into a hurricane of video game-related scooter puns.
- Hypocritical Humor: At the end of his Metal Storm review:HVGN: Remember, there are way too many great video games out there to be so fucking angry all the time...
* *Picks up the controller*
HVGN: WHAT THE FUCK!
- Incredibly Lame Fun: The end of the Zombies Ate My Neighbors review.
- Mid-Review Sketch Show: There has been the occasional cut-away, especially with earlier reviews, but there is only one full-fledged instance of this trope: the Nightshade review (itself a blatant homage to Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout).
- Needs More Love: In-Universe, as its the point of the show.
- New Sound Album: Thatz a Rap.
- Nice Guy: Both how he portrays himself on his show and in real life.
- Nintendo Hard: Having grown up from the School of Hard Games, this guy will not be put off with Nintendo Hard.
- He did say, in his Enemy Zero review, that it was too frustrating (and one time that even he will say that Contra 4 is too hard), so he has his standards when it comes to difficulty.
- Nostalgia Filter: Averted and/or subverted; Derek proves that there really is some stuff in the past that is really good, some of it just got passed over.
- Played straight in his reviews of Mega Man 9 and 10. He acknowledges that he rated 9 — which helped kick off the recent Retraux trend — as highly as he did partly for this specific reason. Now that "all that's old is new again" is getting...well, old again, he was able to take off his nostalgia-tinted lenses for 10. He does stand by his original review for 9, though, and cites other reasons why 10 is a weaker game.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: While livestreaming 007: Nightfire on the GBA, Derek is amused when a review is found for the game calling it "The 3rd best GBA FPS."
- Pokémon Speak: Nekbone the sock puppet shouts his name every few seconds.
- Precision F-Strike: Nekbone, who normally only speaks by shouting his own name, shouts out "OH SHIT!" when confronted by Nightshade.
- Self-Deprecation: Derek notes that he is inferior to both James Rolfe and Kyle Justin.
Derek (November 2013): Mega Man can hang up his helmet, because we don't need him anymore...Derek (December 2016): Wow, that's embarrassing. Can't imagine how embarrassed that guy feels right now.
- "Keytars Are For Retards (So We'll Take Two)".
- This gem in his Past Mortem on Mighty No. 9 comparing to what he said on the project years before and after the Troubled Production came to light.
- Sequelitis: Invoked: Two of three of his negative reviews were sequels to games that he loves. He's also spoken poorly of several other sequels.
- Shout-Out: Other than his appreciation of AVGN, HVGN also gives shout outs to other YouTube video game reviewers, including Little Miss Gamer and Still Gaming.
- So Proud of You: The Angry Video Game Nerd is a subscriber to his account.
- Take That!: In the stinger to his Final Fantasy Mystic Quest video, he deliberately pronounces "NES" as both "Enn-ee-ess" and "Ness" just to "piss everyone off".HVGN: What are you gonna do about that, haters?
- Take That, Audience!:HVGN: You know Nightshade, some people don't like this game.
Nightshade: Like who?
HVGN: Some people (gestures at camera) on the internet.
Nightshade: (looks towards camera) *Beat* Fuck you.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: In-Universe. HVGN's chief argument as to why Zoda's Revenge was a worse game than its predecessor, StarTropics. He takes the time to point out that just as many people agreed with his criticisms of the game as disagreed with them.
- Trademark Favorite Food: While the Angry Nerd drinks beer to get through shitty games, the Happy Nerd drinks wine to celebrate good games.
- Video Review Show: A very rare example of a show that started out more sketch-heavy (naturally, given his direct inspiration), and has since moved away from that.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It was never explained what HVGN's mom (or a hallucination thereof) was doing in his house in the "Little Nemo in Slumberland" review.