Have you ever wondered what Super Mario would be like if the game was less well designed and more patriotic? The National Republican Senatorial Committee has you covered with "Giopi: 2014 Mission Majority," a game featuring a well named elephant (Giopi — get it?) dressed like a frat boy on the Fourth of July.
Giopi's life is in your hands. You have four lives and two and a half hours (per round) to battle the liberal obstacles and villains separating you from total domination of the Senate, or at least 51 percent domination of the Senate.
As a video game, Mission Majority isn't that great. Depending on how good you are at video games (I am not good), your game experience will either be straightforward and frustrating, or you'll get stuck in level 3 and have to ask one of your co-workers what happens in level 4 so you can finish writing your article.
The Wire's Kevin O'Keeffe thought the game's physics were off. "The art design is as bad as the physics – it's all like a cheap Mario knockoff, but without any of the fun," he said. "I can't imagine any conservative voters loving this, either, because beyond the easy chuckles of the weird anti-Democrat soundbites, it's just a frustrating experience."
The Wire's David Sims was equally unimpressed. "Running and jumping on things stopped being fun in 1981! And why have two villains (the tax guys and the...guy throwing stuff?) when they both do basically the same thing? Where's the political theater, GOP? Where's the gamesmanship?"
It turns out Mission Majority is a subtle game with little room for much theater. The jokes — famous to obscure quotes from Democrats and partisan quips — aren't laugh out loud funny so much as "oh, yes, I remember Bill O'Reilly discussing that on Fox News last fall." As for gamesmanship, the GOP has a very straightforward plan to unlock the Senate.
Each round has three keys, and you have four lives to retrieve them. You can die by falling into bottomless pits — possibly a metaphor for the kind of "legitimate rape" comments that can derail a campaign — or bumping into one the game's liberal villains. What kinds of villains? Well, there's the Mudslingers:
The "empty rhetoric" the Mudslinger hurls is The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza making a point Republicans have made over and over — that Obama has a competency problem. While discussing an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that showed a growing number of Americans didn't think the president was up for the job, Cillizza said:
...the reality is there's a Democrat in the White House. And I think he does struggle under that sort of broad competency umbrella...
Unlike other Republican strategists, the NRSC hasn't been afraid to make Obama's competence a midterm talking point. What the game leaves out is what Cillizza said right before — if a Republican was in the White House he or she would be dealing with the same problem.
And there's the "job-destroying" Taxer:
Taxers shout out Democrats' greatest gaffes when you land on them. For example:
- "If you like you doctor, you'll be able to keep your doctor." (Also, "if you like your health plan you can keep your health plan."
- "You don't have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate."
- "You didn't build that."
- "What difference at this point does it make?"
- "There's no towel service."
And that brings us to the real problem with the game. The "towel service" gaffe is from Bruce Braley, the Democratic senate candidate in what The Daily Beast called "Iowa's ugliest senate campaign ever" and definitely it's most bizarre. The fact that a moderately well known candidate's embarrassing remarks are being presented along side Republican's favorite screw ups (including a Politifact lie of the year) shows who the main audience is for the game. The problem is, the same people who will find that joke funny and care whether Joni Ernst beats Braley are either 1) Iowans or 2) Republicans. That latter group is probably too old to spend the afternoon playing video games.