I'm about as old as Watergate and it has had a constant and vaguely Oedipal influence on me. Dad was a newsman; I'm a newsman. Dad hates Nixon; I hate Nixon. Newsmen took down a president; my Dad's badder than the president. So I came to Watergate: The Game confident I could win with solid knowledge of the scandal.
I spent an hour in this point-and-click adventure looking for a goddamn phone so I could divert the obdurate receptionist at the district attorney's office so I could get to Martin Dardis, the Dade County investigator, and start blowing the lid off this mofo, just like Dustin Hoffman did in All the President's Men. Wrong. Turns out the pivotal moment of Watergate happened when Woodward and Bernstein sneaked past the desk while disguised as the Super Mario Bros. I still have no idea what the fuck the vacuum cleaner out in the hall does, either.
This is just one way in which Watergate: The Game, streamlines the drudgery of shoeleather reporting and fast-forwards you, often hilariously, to the pivotal moments of the scandal. For example, after telling Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee I had connected a Nixon fund raiser to the burglars (canonical—a true breakthrough in the story), the game not-so-subtly advised that I then visit the men's room. Where I found a porn magazine, and this clue:
Well, shit. If Charles Krauthammer can masturbate, that's an even bigger story.
Watergate: The Game, is by Samuel Kim, a writer and humorist featured on Funny or Die, McSweeney's and Comedy Central's web site. In an interview with Vice magazine's video game blog, he said Watergate grew out of a silly thought that Shadowgate, the old point-and-click adventure series adapted for the NES in the 1980s, should get a sequel called, what else, Watergate. And so here we go.
Kim admitted that he wanted to pay tribute to "old school investigative journalism." The trouble is, following through on clichés like "If your mother says she loves you, check it out," is boring as hell. As a reporter, I will say I wish conversations with official sources could be this forthright:
It's also why you can deliberately take side roads to failure, just to see what the hell happens. Punching out Bradlee or murdering a cab driver takes you directly to prison, and this suboptimal life outcome:
Note: You cannot eat another person. That returns this message:
But you may do this:
And also this:
You can also refuse to take the Watergate assignment, which opens up another alternate reality in which Daniel Day-Lewis wins an Oscar for portraying our greatest president:
I haven't yet finished the game—evidently there is an encounter with a hooker out on the Mall and a Punch-Out!! mini-game against Tricky Dick himself down the line. You may play it for yourself here.
Despite the liberties it takes in the name of entertainment and keeping things fast-paced. Watergate: The Game is an enjoyable trip back in time for young and old alike, and even educational on some of the pivotal moments in the scandal. And Charles Krauthammer's private interests. And it also offers this sage advice for budding young reporters: