To start 2019, Clive Palmer has done two things that have horrified me: texted my mum and released a mobile game.
When mum received the unsolicited text message to vote for Clive Palmer’s United Australia party, she happened to be pouring herself a cold glass of Chardonnay.
I had a similar compulsion to pour liquor down my throat when I was asked to try Palmer’s mobile game for this article. But I’m a professional writer with a practised set of ethical standards – so I only had one shot of whisky before discarding them and downloading the app.
The mobile-exclusive game, released yesterday, is called Clive Palmer: Humble Meme Merchant. The game is 2D a side-scroller in the vein of Super Mario Bros., except instead of playing a cute little Italian plumber named Mario you play a fat, not-so-cute politician named Clive Palmer.
As Clive, you run across the screen from left to right, avoiding obstacles and enemies and collecting biscuits along the way. Enemies include a finger-waving Ray Hadley, a Kafkaesque Bill Shorten with a cockroach’s body and various other politicians and political commentators.
There are buttons to move Clive from left to right and make him jump, something I assume he hasn’t done in many years. As you move through the level (the first is set in Townsville, but you can unlock each Australian capital city) you pass United Australia Billboards and “Fake News Corp” Airplanes.
The only shred of entertainment offered by the game is its soundtrack of Clive Palmer-related cover songs. A parody of Culture Club’s ‘Karma Chameleon’ sings “Palmer Palmer Palmer Palmer’s worth a billion / He’s got 12 boats / And he needs your votes / he doesn’t like liberal, labour or the greens / he likes pies and cream”.
So how is it as a game? Really hard actually. It’s like the Flappy Bird of political side-scrollers, though its difficulty comes less from game design brilliance and more from poor controls. The game is difficult to control, the music becomes swiftly annoying and the faux self-deprecation is enraging.
Clive Palmer: Humble Meme Merchant is a meme, but there’s nothing humble about it. It reeks of your cringey uncle who so desperately wants to be cool. It may as well listen to The Offspring, wear T-shirts with slogans like “Cool story babe, now grab me a sandwich” and make inappropriate jokes about taking drugs at music festivals.
On the Google Play store, the game is described as “the most relevant Australian mobile gaming title of 2019, showcasing the corruption and shortcomings of our current leaders.”
It certainly shows the shortcomings of one Clive Palmer. Clive needs to stop trying to show how young and hip he is – he’s becoming the human embodiment of the Steve Buscemi “how do you do, fellow kids?” meme.