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I played a game where you help a Donald Trump cat run for President

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And it's awful

Right now in my Destructoid email, I have roughly 25,000 unread emails. It’s quite the eclectic collection of crap I’ll never read, from press releases in Japanese I don’t understand to the YouTubers who want us to know their video with 25 views is “blowing up” right now. Buried among those thousands and thousands of pieces of junk mail are emails from indie developers who want us to review their games. These are easy to ignore because most of them are for mobile games, which the Destructoid audience doesn't seem to care about. Besides, why should I spend my time playing those games when my life is perfect with Chris Carter assigning me all the JRPGs I can handle?

So I must have been out of my fucking mind when I contacted Oh, a Rock! Studios about its new game Cat President: A More Purrfect Union, releasing today on Steam and itch.io. No, actually, I wasn’t out of my mind. I saw the phrase “Cat President” and immediately thought of President Cat, the abysmally selling Wii game I was obsessed with for a good year or so. Fond memories of watching videos of that must have clouded my judgment.

Plus, politics, amirite? The current US election is ripe for mockery and a video game about cats running for President could be funny, couldn't it? Making fun of Trump, Clinton, Ted Cruz, and Dr. Ben Carson is like shooting fish in a barrel. I mean if Trevor Noah could do it, surely writer and YouTube “personality” Michael “Arglefumph” Gray could too. So I requested a review copy and booted it up on my Mac. An hour later all I could think about is which Arrested Development “I’ve made a huge mistake” gif would work best with how I felt about my decision to play this game.

Cat President: A More Purrfect Union is a visual novel game made in Ren’py. I can’t say if I’ve played a Ren’py game before, but I can say this is not the one I should have started with. In it, you are a young woman who gets a chance to be the campaign manager for one of six talking cats running for President. The entirety of the game uses photoshopped pictures, with the credits featuring a long list of Flickr accounts they originate from. Each cat storyline is about 10 chapters and has a good, normal, and bad ending, the good ending being they win the presidency and fall in love with you.

On my first of three playthroughs, I decided to campaign with Thunderpaws, the Donald Trump persona of the game. As ragtime and patriotic tunes blared out my speakers, I quickly realized this was not going to be even remotely close to what I thought it would be. Cat President bills itself as a comedy, but it’s the type of comedy that doesn’t have any of those pesky jokes to get in the way, like HBO’s Girls or Transparent. The story feels like it was written over a single weekend; first-draft material filled with puns that I’m sure sad subscribers to Cat Fancy would just ROTFLOL over.

The campaign season with Thunderpaws was a quick one, lasting only an hour. Every comment you’d expect about Trump and the elections process was present. Bald under his hair? Check. Loud, arrogant, rich, and pompous? Check. Only a few states matter in every election? That’s there. Poor debates? Yup. Fully voiced parody of Kelis’ Milkshake? Okay, I’ll admit I didn’t expect that one, but in my defense, that song came out 13 years ago. Not the oldest reference here however as it’s easily eclipsed by a few lines from A Goofy Movie and the predictable Rick Astley mention.

Maybe I was just asking too much of it. Cat President was made by a small team and Oh, a Rock! Studios prides itself on the fact it makes weird and sincere games. But while I can admit it’s sincere, I don’t think it’s all that weird. For a game about cats running the country, elections where only three states matter, human-to-cat transformations, white trash protesters, hairball throwing, hats, bunnies, and long division, it should be more of an oddity. I know how easy it can be to fail at writing something funny -- after all, I wrote this -- but after three successful campaigns I never really felt the game embraced its strange concept. Replace the cats with humans and it would have been largely the same experience. Hell, replace them with chickens, horses, Cthulhus, or Biker Mice from Mars and it would have been the same.

I know I got a review copy, but I can’t review this game. That would be unfair. It would be like having an art critic visit an elementary school to judge hand turkeys. I didn’t have fun playing Cat President: A More Purrfect Union and I’m not having a good time writing about it either. Lesson learned. From now on, I just play the games Mr. Carter tells me to.


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CJ Andriessen
CJ AndriessenFormerly known as 'Its About To Get Gay In Here'   gamer profile

Just what the internet needs, yet another white guy writing about video games. Full Disclosure: I backed Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. more + disclosures


 



Filed under... #cats #Mac #PC #Politics #Steam #Visual Novel

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