Past presidents of the United States have appeared in video games more frequently than you might expect. And often, these appearances are strange or feel out of place.
Let’s look back at some of the weirder presidential video game cameos and appearances.
Why? Because today is a national holiday in the United States. Happy President’s Day. A time in the US when people think about all of our presidents and what they have done for this country. Nah! Just kidding, most of us don’t care about them. We do like getting to take work off or finding nice deals at stores!
The Conduit 2 - George Washington and Abraham Lincoln
The main reason I made this list in the first place is because of this wild and incredible ending. Spoilers for The Conduit 2, but at the very end, the game closes with a cutscene showing Abe Lincoln and George Washington, wearing power armour, jumping out of a portal to lend your character a hand. I’ve never looked up the context of this and I never will. This is perfect as is.
Codename S.T.E.A.M - Abraham Lincoln
Old Abraham Lincoln shows up again in the Nintendo published Codename S.T.E.A.M, a turn-based steampunk game where Lincoln leads the good guys against an alien invasion. In this game he is voiced by Wil Wheaton, you know, that annoying kid from Star Trek The Next Generation. (He’s also done a lot of other stuff since then, but when you get a chance to insult Wesley, you take it.)
Mercenaries 2 - Barrack Obama
Technically, when Barack Obama appeared in Mercenaries 2 via a small $US2 ($3) DLC, he was only a candidate and had yet to win the office. But, we all know history and Obama did go on to win, which means it was possible to play Mercs 2 as a sitting president for the eight years Obama was in office. Actually, no it wasn’t. This DLC only lets you play as Obama in a handful of special missions.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops - John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon
John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, appears in the single-player campaign of Black Ops. Which is fine and all. But his better and weirder appearance happens in the game’s zombies mode. The intro video shows JFK, Castro, and Nixon at a table in the Pentagon. Suddenly, zombies attack! Also, Nixon would later become president himself, so this is a presidential double whammy. (Also I will always laugh at the way Nixon loses his shit when hears something in the other room.)
NBA JAM! (2010) - George W. Bush and Barack Obama
It might be an NBA Jam tradition to include some political superstars in the game. But it is still very odd to see George Bush dunking. It’s really weirder to see Cheney running, dunking, or anything involving physical exertion. And Joe Biden is in NBA Jam 2010 and depending on how the Democratic primaries shake out, we could have three presidents in this one game.
Ready To Rumble 2 - Bill Clinton
Adding a president to a boxing game seems strange...and that’s the end of that thought. I don’t think there is any way to make this not feel weird or out of place. Funny? Sure. But still strange. Clinton in the game is referred to as Mr. President and is from DC. He also has a solid jab. Watch out folks, POTUS is Ready To Rumble.
Bush Shoot-Out - George W. Bush
If you played games on Miniclip.com back in the early 2000s, you already know about this game. It was one of the most popular games on the site back in the day and you can actually still play it. You will have to enable Flash to play it in your browser, but it works. (Until Flash is killed completely at the end of 2020.) The actual game is a simple point and click shooter with some decent art. One nice touch: You can shoot out lightbulbs and make rooms darker. A lot of big games in 2020 STILL don’t let you do that.
These aren’t the only examples of real-life presidents who have appeared in video games. But when they show up in historical games, where it makes more sense for them to appear, it isn’t as weird or funny to me.
If you want to read more about fictional and real presidential cameos, check out this older Kotaku post.