Mario was once a working class icon. Armed only with a pair of activewear overalls, mouthfuls of reality-bending mushrooms, and the irrepressible drive of a plumber with a problem to solve, the Nintendo mascot showed the children of the world that evil—especially evil that takes the form of bipedal turtle-dragons—can be defeated by anyone with enough tenacity to push ever forward and a conspicuous lack of fear that any future drug tests will come up positive for performance-enhancing fungi. Now, though, Mario has become a corporate stooge, forgetting his roots in order to chase ever-larger sacks of gold coins as a competitive racer, professional golfer, or mercenary fighter in an insurgent cartoon militia.
In an effort to replace the debauched Mario with a better sort of hero, a game development group called Gamedevs For Bernie has released a throwback platformer called Super Bernie World.
The game’s trailer gives a good overview of what to expect, showing off the adventures of a tiny pixelated Sanders as he campaigns across screens filled with dastardly enemies like MAGA hat-wearing goombas and Mitch McConnell-shaped turtles. Lil’ Bernie can pick up items like a wedge of Vermont cheddar to grow taller, Democratic Socialist roses that work like Mario’s fireballs, and an invincibility power-up in the shape of a raised fist. Along the way, he collects votes shaped like coins.
It consists of four different worlds, spanning 11 American states, ruled by a quarter of “Republicans in their castle lairs.” Before each one begins, anime portraits of that Republican and Sanders himself have a short dialogue on policy, drawn from real quotes. World 1's Ted Cruz says he doesn’t “think it’s government’s job to find health care for people,” and Sanders responds with facts about Medicare For All’s cost and life-saving potential before the level begins.
Super Bernie World is available on Itch.io and Steam. It’s completely free, presumably because, like universal access to health care, being able to enjoy games about pint-sized Vermont senators should be a basic human right.
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