Ah, the democratic system. Nothing brings Americans together quite like the muck-raking, insult-slinging race to determine who will be the next recipient for the blame of a nation over things the President can’t really control. With the current race for the presidency in full swing, now seems the perfect time to look back at the best appearances by the President of the United States of America in the country's favorite past time: video games. Here, compiled in one handy, dandy list, are the five best Presidential appearances in video games.
4 Barack Obama Is On Fire! (NBA Jam)
Ever since NBA Jam graced arcades back in 1993, the series has made a name for itself with gravity-defying dunks, flaming basketball hoops, and oddball celebrity cameos. Everyone from the Beastie Boys to the creator of the internet himself, Al Gore, have stepped onto the NBA Jam court to play some B-ball. But in the series’ storied history, no secret character was better suited to put the hammer down than the unlockable character found in the 2010 iteration of NBA Jam: current POTUS Barrack Obama.
Barry Obama is notorious for his love of breaking ankles and hitting fadeaway jumpers on the basketball court, so it makes sense that the President would show up in NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, the most recent entry in the NBA Jam series. Obama joins the roster of Jam as a member of the unlockable Democrats team, where the POTUS is teamed with vice president Joe Biden (rocking a respectable 8 rating in two pointers), and Hillary and Bill Clinton (with Bill arguably getting the best stats on the team).
When unlocked, Obama and his Democratic cohorts can be pitted against the Republican team, which features a roster of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, and John McCain. Whether gamers wish to pit Obama and his dunk-friendly play style against the L.A. Lakers or Palin and Bush, NBA Jam makes the dream a reality. But considering Obama is the only POTUS to ever have a basketball court put up at the White House, he’s definitely no pushover on the court.
3 The Clinton’s Are Ready 2 Rumble (Ready 2 Rumble: Round 2)
While Hillary Clinton might be the talk of the town these days, it was Bill that had everyone talking back in the 1990s. Whether Slick Willy was making headlines for hooking up with the help at the White House, or for asking just what the definition of “is” is, Bill was the President people loved to talk about. But while the people loved to talk about the Clintons, there was one question that the public just couldn’t answer: If Bill and Hillary fought, who would win?
Thankfully, developer Midway was ready to put this age old debate to bed by including the husband and wife duo in the second entry in the Ready 2 Rumble series, Ready 2 Rumble: Round 2. Rounding out a roster that included the likes of Afro Thunder, “Big” Willy Johnson, and even the King of Pop (and one time Space Channel 5 character) himself, Michael Jackson, Bill and Hillary strapped on the gloves to throw down in the boxing ring.
Billed as Mr. President and The First Lady respectively, the Clintons could throw jabs, hooks, and haymakers at each other to the player’s contentment. Bill fought in Apollo Creed-esque stars-and-stripes trunks, while Hillary threw down in a smart business suit, but both Clintons could hold their own. Sure, it was ridiculous, but it gave credence to the idea that more political issues should be solved via flashy boxing matches.
2 Ronald Reagan Can’t Make Terrorists See The Light, So He Makes Them Feel The Heat (Reagan Gorbachev)
Love him or hate him, Ronald Reagan made a name for himself for being one of America’s most iconic presidents. While The Gipper might be best known for his “Reaganomics,” a new game is arguing that Reagan was more than just the POTUS; according to Reagan Gorbachev, ol’ Ronnie Reagan might have just been a terrorist-slaughtering machine.
While Reagan butted heads with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev countless times over the United States and Russia’s nuclear arsenals, Reagan Gorbachev posits that these two infamous political figures could cast aside their differences in order to mow down some no-good terrorists. In this Hotline Miami inspired co-op shoot-em-up, Ronnie and Gorbachev are kidnapped by military extremists, forcing the rivals to team up to escape, leading to plenty of shooting, stabbing, and Cold War jokes.
The tongue-in-cheek game, developed by former Fist Puncher developer Team2Bit, manages to sneak in some thought-provoking jabs at this dark time in world politics, while also allowing players to gleefully murder thousands of terrorists as these former world leaders. So - players learn more about the Cold War, all while teaming up with a buddy to engage in a good, old-fashioned, top-down murder spree. It’s a win/win.
1 JFK And Richard Nixon Team With Fidel Castro And Robert McNamara To Kill Some Zombies (Call of Duty: Black Ops)
Ever since the fan-favorite Zombies made first appeared in Call of Duty: World at War, it has grown into a unique quasi-spin-off with an ongoing storyline, reoccurring characters, and mythos all of its own. While gamers have come to know and love Zombie stalwarts such as Tank Dempsey and Takeo Masaki, the Zombies mode got some unexpected new protagonists in Call of Duty: Black Ops in the form of John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, teaming the former presidents with communist dictator Fidel Castro and famous Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to take down some flesh-hungry zombies.
In the Cold War-centric Black Ops, JFK, Castro, and McNamara all appear throughout the story, crossing paths with trigger-happy protagonist Alex Mason. Clearly, developer Treyarch regonized the potential of POTUS-lead zombie slaying, bringing the four historical figures together in a special Zombie map entitled “Five.”
“Five” is far from a serious affair, casting JFK as a quip-spouting zombie murder machine, having the POTUS rattle off zingers like “Consider that bill vetoed!” while mowing through the undead. Although Call of Duty has since brought the likes of Danny Trejo and Bruce Campbell to the Zombie mode, it was JFK and Tricky Dick that blazed the way for celebrity-based zombie slaying.
Abe Lincoln is the President against which all other Presidents are compared. With a list of accomplishments almost as long as his arm, Honest Abe left an undeniable legacy on this great nation of ours. But, according to 3DS title Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., Lincoln could have done much more than free the slaves and run the country during the Civil War; he could have driven a steam-powered mech in a battle against the ancient Cthulhu compatriot Shugguth in a war for the fate of the world and the magical land of Oz.
While many Nintendo titles are notoriously thin in story, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. goes barreling full steam ahead into its undeniably crazy plot. Abe, voiced naturally by beloved geek icon Wil Wheaton, pilots an airship called the Lady Liberty, which happens to serve as the base for an alien-battling strike force known as S.T.E.A.M. (short for Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace). Lincoln teams with Tom Sawyer, Tiger Lily from Peter Pan, and the Lion, Scarecrow, and Dorothy herself from The Wizard of Oz to battle the alien foe. This of course culminates in Lincoln utilizing the giant steam powered mech A.B.E. (Anthropomorphized Battle Engine) to win the war.
Sure, Honest Abe has shown up as a robot fighting for the racist, jingoistic ideals of Columbia in Bioshock Infinite, but it’s hard to top Lincoln’s off-the-wall crazy starring role in this criminally overlooked 3DS title.
What do you make of our list? Do you think that these games have done justice to their Presidential counterparts? Sound off in the comments below!