If last night’s presidential debate wasn’t enough live political satire, Mr. President!, a self-proclaimed “dumb physics game,” is now available on Steam. As the Steam page puts it (opens in new tab), you play as Dick “Rock-Hard” Johnson (Hi mom!), a bulletproof man sworn to protect the “most hated presidential candidate of all time” Ronald Rump. Sound familiar? The media is trying to assassinate the candidate and as his best bodyguard, you need to help Johnson take a bullet for the man. Throw your ragdoll body in front of a red laser sight in a series of bizarre environments stocked with breakable physics objects and save the candidate from an untimely death.
Johnson has to dive through piles of money, solid walls, and down stairs to keep Rump’s rump safe from bullets, bombs, and massive falling tacos. It’s not exactly subtle or tasteful—it’s hard to make assassination playful, no matter how you might feel about the subject, but turning the bullet-dive action movie trope into a silly physics game is actually a pretty good idea.
Even so, Mr. President! can’t pull it off. Levels quickly devolve into frustrating obstacle courses where simply touching a physics object sends Johnson into a falling hurricane of ragdoll limbs. One mistake means starting the scenario over, and while they’re short, jumping down two flights of stairs 20 times in a row isn’t fun. The buggy, unpredictable physics becomes a barrier to the joke: the slapstick physical comedy of trying to take a bullet in ridiculous, hyper-satirical environments.
But the wild physics are still worthy of a few laughs. I particularly liked the dirty dance session Johnson and Rump landed in after a close save.
No matter your affiliation, directed snark tends to brew discontent rather than stifle it, and Mr. President! doesn’t set out to settle any arguments, but if you still can’t resist, a portion of the profits are going towards charity.
What Mr. President! impressed on me most was that access to videogames and the tools to make them are widely enough available that smaller, responsive political games are becoming more common. I’m happy to see games get more political, to share the same fun, critical space as comics, essays, or SNL sketches, but political games might benefit more from rather than shallow slapstick violence.