Relive Bob Woodward's Epic Swordfight With H.R. Haldeman In 'Watergate: The Videogame'
For someone who spends the day sitting at a computer with NPR playing in the background, Yr Doktor Zoom doesn't actually use many NPR stories as the starting point for his Wonkets. Today, an exception: We heard this thing on the radio t'other day and knew we would have to write about it, because A) Watergate and B) Video game (video game stories have been good to us), not to mention C) "Timothy Leary shows up with drugs and you get in a fistfight with Nixon." Wonkers of all ages, regardless of whether you even like video games, with their gratuitous violence and furries, you owe it to yourself to try "Watergate: The Videogame," which can be played online free for nothing, requires no downloading, and if you get stuck some goofballs have even made a walkthrough already. (A "walkthrough" is a thing for videogames that helps you differentiate your ass from a hole in the ground, for example "Carl Bernstein" was Bob Woodward's "walkthrough.")
The game is the creation of one Samuel Kim, who explains that he put it together in about six months after breaking up with a girlfriend:
I holed up in my apartment with a laptop, a dog-eared copy of All the President's Men, and three books about game programming. Half a year later, I emerged from my hermitage with the completed game and a severe vitamin D deficiency.
The design of the game is ambitiously primitive, your basic point-and click stuff where you have to go from one static location to another; not a lot of "pew-pew-pew!" here. You are Bob Woodward, a rookie reporter at the Washington Post, and Editor Ben Bradlee calls you into his office with an assignment: find out what's up with this break-in at the Watergate Hotel, and why a Miami prosecutor, Martin Dardis, is investigating the suspiciously large checks recently deposited into one of the burglars' Florida bank account? The plot starts out more or less paralleling All The President's Men, but immediately starts getting weird, like when Ben Bradlee gives you "an Elvin Broadsword" (we assume that's misspelling as trolling). Or the aforementioned Timothy Leary vignette. Or the bit where you have to dig up the skeleton of Nixon's little dog, Checkers.
Samuel Kim has loaded Watergate: The Videogame with a frothy mix of political and media in-jokes that makes us suspect he may be a closet Wonkettarian (or he should be). For instance, there's this bit when you pick up a vital clue in the men's room (click picture to embiggen):
Yes, kids, this is almost certainly the first Charles Krauthammer joke in a video game. We are in a kind of sick twisted love with Samuel Kim, we think.
You don't really have to know anything about Watergate to enjoy this nonsense, and you don't have to be any good at gaming, either, except maybe (spoiler alert) in the final Oval Office showdown with Richard Nixon, where you have to be pretty good to beat him in a fistfight or he puts you in the paper shredder. We never managed to beat him, but we hear that if you do, your finishing move is to decapitate him with the First Amendment. The game can easily be finished in under an hour. If you "die," you are immediately restored to the previous decision point, so be sure you take the time to make some obvious bad choices like turning down the Watergate assignment or digging up the wrong grave so that you can be attacked by G. Gordon Liddy. All thumbs up, four stars, and winner of Best Video Game Based on A Good Book By A Guy Who's Shat On His Own Reputation Ever Since. We're hoping Kim does a sequel based on the Watergate hearings, where you get to be committee aide Hillary Rodham in a Lara Croft Womb Raider onesie, or Sam Ervin wielding the Gavel Of Maximum Carnage.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.