President John America Saves America

Politics really should be left out of gaming.  And yes, I did bust on Michelle Bachmann twice this week.  But that wasn’t making fun of politics.  That was making fun of the mentally handicapped.  Big difference.  In general though, politics is just too much of a powder-keg topic.  Gamers are already high-strung enough without throwing something into a conversation that even the most balanced families have banned from the dinner table.

I wasn’t sure at first if President John America Saves America was a parody or not.  It’s so over the top with anti-Obamaisms, xenophobia, and atypical redneck pseudo-patriotism that I didn’t know what to make of it.  Perusing the game’s Facebook page leads me to believe that the sentiment shown in the game is actually sincere, especially a bit where the developer busts on Obama for not dealing with the Mexican drug cartels.  Right, because that stuff wasn’t going on during the eight years George W. Bush was president.  Uh huh.  So either the guys behind this are pulling off dead-pan humor a little too well or this game actually is the work of the types of irrational Teabaggers that caused me to leave the Republican party a few months back.  Either way, the game’s theme is incredibly obnoxious and only the types of people on Sean Hannity’s mailing list will find any amusement out of it.  So let’s drop the political talk and focus on the gameplay.

John America is a simulation game that occasionally sprinkles in some light side-scrolling shooting.  You play as this Arnold Schwarzethingie-like dude who just got elected President of the United States.  The country is in bad shape because, Heaven forbid, a black guy was in charge for four years and it’s a miracle there’s anything left of our once pure-blooded nation.  So you have to go around the world, buying supplies low and reselling them high to pay off our national debt.  A debt that we mostly have Ronald Reagan to thank for, but shhhhhhh, don’t tell the Tea Party that.  It makes them cranky, especially before their nap time.  Okay, I swear I’ll drop the politics now.

You know, if not for the grating message the game tries to send, this would actually be a fun little title.  That’s what I would say if John America wasn’t an unintuitive nightmare.  It tries to be a fast-paced simulation game, but everything about controlling it is so slow and clunky that it becomes a complete disaster.  You move around a map of the world, pointing at various countries.  You have to hold the trigger buttons down to enter a menu where you can choose to buy or sell supplies.  From there, you have to click on the country you want to deal with (Africa counts as one country, which will only serve to further confuse Sarah Palin) and use the trigger buttons to move supplies back and forth.  The problem is it’s too time-consuming to find out what every country charges for stuff.  Some kind of list would be handy, instead of having to fly around from country to country to check out the current exchange rates.

Occasionally, a country (or continent, whatever the case may be) will have a little icon pop up requesting aid.  In order to help them, you have to fly to the right side of the screen, click an icon that corresponds to the type of aid they want, and then go click on the country that needs it.  This system fucking sucks.  The icons appear and disappear so fast that you literally have to react the moment they appear.  But once you actually click the country to send them aid, an airplane flies out of the United States to bring them the shit they need.  The only thing is, it actually doesn’t fly straight to the country that needs it.  It flies around, makes a U-turn, and then drops the package off at the designated location.  So, for example, if you try to send food to Mexico, the plane will leave the States, fly over Europe, and then swing over to Mexico.  By time it gets there, the icon is usually gone.  It’s stuff like this that makes me believe maybe the game really is a parody, because everything here is as inefficient as humanly possible.  Yea, Obama might be black, but I bet he knows how to fly non-stop to Mexico without going 5,000 miles in the wrong direction.  Sorry, I can’t resist.

You can also try to schmooze or strong-arm countries into giving you better exchange rates from time to time.  This is done with a meter that bounces back and forth at a speed that’s determined by how much a different country loves or hates America.  It only seemed to give me a marginally better exchange rate, but half the time I would try to do it, I would somehow get booted back onto the world map, even if I stopped the meter in exactly the right spot.  There’s a lengthy tutorial but I still had no clue what I was doing half the time.  Things just progress too quickly and any moments of clarity that I was able to gleam were thwarted by not possessing the God-like reaction times that are required to pull off certain actions.

From time to time, a terrorist will pop up on-screen.  If you click on him, you enter a side-scrolling action scene.  In order to really play this, you need to unlock various gizmos and weapons.  It takes way too long to save up enough cash to unlock these things, so if you click the dude you end up just flying around and getting shot at.  When you do get weapons, all you’re left with is a really horrible shooter with poor collision detection and unresponsive controls.  I’m not sure why they even bothered with it.

You win the game by eliminating the national debt.  Consequently, you lose the game if you piss off the rest of the world enough, at which point they all just nuke us back to the stone age.  This can be accomplished by bombing or invading other countries.  I never really came close to winning the game.  John America proved to be one of those rare titles that I just gave up on.  The controls are horrible, the layout confusing, and I couldn’t help shake the nagging feeling that I was somehow contributing to the fall of my own country by playing it.  I don’t know how President John America plans to save America, because it’s a completely incoherent mess.

I hear the Republicans have it eyed for the 2012 Vice-Presidential nomination.

President John America Saves America was developed by Maverick Games

240 Microsoft Points approved this message in the making of this review.

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

2 Responses to President John America Saves America

  1. Pingback: Let Us Talk Pricing, Shall We? « Indie Gamer Chick

  2. drake1993 says:

    politics . i hate politics . that said not all tea’s are overly zealous nutters . why do you think it fell apart . its like joining a big riot walking a bit then realizing you ended up in a gay bar you turn around and go back to what you were doing. that said….. i hate politics …and taxes -_- damn dirty taxes

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