It's been a week now since the presidential election, and surprisingly the world still stands. If you dig a little deeper into American history, you'll find that this isn't the first election fraught with controversy. Being an ignorant Brit, I found most of this out while playing President Elect: 1988 Edition, an update to SSI's 1981 game originally for the Apple II.
Like Power Politics, which I reviewed a couple of days ago, President Elect: 1988 Edition places you in the shoes of a campaign manager / presidential candidate who desires to be the leader of the free world. Being released about a year before election night, you can pit George Bush Sr. against Michael Dukakis potentially foretelling the Republican's massive landslide. If you're like me, you'll choose Clinton, Bush and Biden 'cos they're the only names you actually remember.
The minimalistic graphical interface here makes Power Politics seem colourful by comparison with the limited colour palate being a product of the technology at the time. All of the menus and choices are governed using the keyboard, with numerals being used to select the various options. Considering up to three players can play, each taking a candidate, I can imagine it being rather cramped gathered round the same keyboard. On the side, you can let the CPU control all candidates and watch it playout in from of you. I'm sure it was just as gripping as the 2016 elections.
While both games can be very daunting if you know nothing about it going in, President Elect takes it a step further by being almost impenetrable to foreign players. For example, states, names and cities are often required to be typed in. I'm pretty sure the average Brit can't name all 50 states let alone what their abbreviation is. There is a huge manual to accompany the game, but I found the segments detailing each election the most fascinating (who knew Nixon won the vote by the most points in history?). None of this is in the game, though it can be inferred if you read the stat heavy results with that in mind.
SSI may be known for deep and rich strategy games like Panzer General and Star Command but President Elect fails to captivate. The stats offer little in-game context and your responses appear to be disconnected from the outcome. It's also aged in the worst way possible making it a rather dull experience. Any title where the manual is more entertaining and informative than the game itself is worrying. For the most hard-core of political people only.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.
File Size: 9 Mb. Install Size: 12 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
President Elect: 1988 Edition is © Strategic Simulations, Ic
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me