The debut title from new developers ‘Fine Gael Digital Task Force’ is a flash platformer, in the vein of the superb ‘Super Meat Boy’ but a little slower paced. Players control Fine Gael (Irish political party) leader Enda Kenny, and we are treated to the voice talents of Seán McShiurtáin as the politician. The game is based around Mr. Kenny attempting to gain votes, each of which is represented by a Fine Gael logo, while avoiding opposition politicians, traffic cones and moving platforms. In order to get a high score though, all the opposition must be defeated, by means of Fine Gael (ninja) star, and having the ‘5 point-plan for economic recovery’ enacted. It’s only one level, but it’s quite tough, due to the number of hazards and various goals.
The game is, unfortunately, beset by issues. Collision detection is horrendous, as landing anywhere near the cones leads to death. Jumping has no consistency, and making it over any gaps is purely based on luck. The throwing of stars only works on around one out of three occasions, and never when it’s needed. Gameplay is so hampered by these flaws, and the hideous level design, that it’s almost as if the game was hastily produced in an extremely cynical manner.
The graphics aren’t awful, as flash games go, but they are blocky and uninspired, though a somewhat accurate reflection of Ireland. The character design is awful though, with each politician little more than an unidentifiable blob. The human heads on tiny cartoon bodies are slightly disturbing, and there is an awe-inspiring lack of creativity in the visuals as a whole.
The sound effects are even worse, with a repetitive jingle being played at all times and some even more awful snippets of sound. ‘On yer bike’ and ‘Tax that’ are repeated ad infinitum, and still the music tortures the player’s ears with its sheer offensiveness. The complete lack of effort here is shocking, really, considering the work put into the gameplay. Listening to the poor voice actor imitate lines that were seemingly recorded through the microphone on someone’s laptop is a special kind of nightmare, with a repetitive jingle. To his credit though, when delivering the line ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ he becomes a rather reasonable Jedward impersonator.
The most interesting element of the game then, is the bizarre element of controlling a murderous politician, seemingly on a mission to kill all opposition. It is possibly a retro-kitsch nod to the Blueshirt era of the political party. If not, it is altogether intriguing. With a lack of obvious plot, it seems that Mr. Kenny merely wants to destroy all those who oppose him, either with physical ninja stars in his party colours, or with some sort of metaphorical propaganda based weapon. The latter seems more likely, due to the nature of Fine Gael’s media campaign, with flash games, an e-card creator and YouTube videos. With these tools they will crush their foes and gain election, perhaps.
On the other hand, the death of opposition party members in a pile of ashes, with a sign appearing above their now-cremated remains saying “Bye John Gormley” (or whoever happens to be on the receiving end of Mr. Kenny’s wrath) makes it hard to assume that the goal is merely to propagate ideas. The very nature of the killing, and the cold one-liners mentioned earlier (tax that) seem to indicate that Mr. Kenny has taken it upon himself to become Ireland’s answer to the ‘Governator’ Arnold Schwarzenegger, but based more on his role in ‘Commando’ than as a political figure.
It is perhaps most interesting that the game is fraught with technical errors, as it seems almost impossible to finish the level and achieve all the goals set out in the objectives. Maybe this is an ironic or existential argument put forth by the creators, allowing us to meditate on the futility of Fine Gael’s policies, or perhaps it is truly just one of the most poorly designed and ill-conceived pieces of political propaganda ever produced. Might this reviewer suggest that if Fine Gael cannot get this game working, then their stated aim of getting Ireland working may be far more than they have the means to achieve.