Video Game: Shadow President

The "Simulation" of Presidential World Power. (Without the checks and balances to worry about).
"I hope you know what you're doing..."
Shadow President is a "Geopolitical Simulation" game, released in 1994, designed by Robert Antonick and Brad Stock. The game's scenario is based loosely around the early 1990's and the Cold War. Also, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait is another scenario included in the game that runs parallel to the main Cold War scenario. The game is somewhat like a grapical text adventure.

In the game, you play as the President of the United States of America and start off with your popularity at 50%, and part of the game is maintaining your popularity so that you can be reelected and therefore "win" the game. The game has a variety of statistics for each region, such as the "quality of life", the average income per person, the populations' primary concerns, and much more. (Not being reelected is effectively "game over".)

To make a long story short, some of your options/objectives are to maintain the budget of the United States, deal with diplomatic crises, send foreign aid optimally, and fight wars as necessary. Of course, you don't have to be benevolent if you don't feel like it and can try your hand at expansionism, such as attempting a take-over of the Americas, or drop some nukes on a few countries, but beware of your approval rating dropping too far or you likely will be Impeached or even assassinated.


This Game Provides Examples of:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Entirely possible to achieve, as demonstrated so succinctly right here.
  • A God Am I: For better or worse, you could attempt to play the game in this manner, but maintaining your popularity is part of the trick to this, if you intend to not get assassinated/impeached.
  • Alliance Meter: Your advisers are one way to get a reading of how "for or against" your nation, a country is.
  • Alternate History: Alongside the main Kuwait War scenario, there is a number of alternate scenarios — for instance, one in which Iraq was allowed to conquer Kuwait, and then went on to conquer Saudi Arabia (and Jordan).
  • Anyone Can Die: If the US goes to war with another nation, it is entirely possible for members of your cabinet to die. Commit one too many atrocities, and you can also die.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The Soviet Union seems to have a "hair trigger" in certain game instances, nuking a country for seemingly implausible reasons. For example, allowing Iraq to conquer Saudi Arabia has a chance of causing this reaction from the USSR; the USSR executes a nuclear strike against Saudi Arabia, likely starting a continental thermonuclear war between itself and Europe and/or China.
    • The USSR inexplicably nuked Japan in one game, which caused the entire world to constantly overthrow the USSR and to cause a cloud of fallout to settle over eastern USSR.
  • Artistic Licence Law: The balance of power in this game is a rather inaccurate. Short of assassination-of-player or "impeachment" (note the misuse of the term impeach), there is little the courts or congress can do to stop you toying with the fate of the world.
    • Impeachment in the U.S.A. is NOT the same thing as removal-from-power as the game believes.
    • The "power to declare war" is realistically restricted to the U.S. congress; in this game, there is no suggestion that congress has declared war before you order your troops to invade. This is especially noticeable if you send all of your troops into a region like it's a World War and nobody is able to stop you from doing so.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Nuclear strikes are probably not the best way to end wars or solve problems, and there is a good chance that you will get nuked too. Note that due to this game being open-ended beyond the goal of "stay popular", this trope depends upon what objective the player has in mind for the game.
  • Berserk Button: Recklessly launching nuclear strikes is a good way to cause nations to hate you. The radiation certainly does not not help either. Doing this against random countries for the hell of it may just cause you to lose all of your popularity, or worse.
  • Cold War: The primary scenario in the game starts near the close of the titular war. Russia is still referred to as the Soviet Union, however, and are just as armed to the teeth with nukes as you are. Even if you fired every missile at your disposal at them, they would still be able to send back a crippling retaliatory strike. In fact, in any armed conflict you engage in throughout the world, the Soviet Union will almost certainly be assisting your enemy.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: There are at least two ways to pull this off:
    • Nuke the sweet bejezus out of a small country who possesses no nuclear strike capability.
    • Invade such a country with your armed forces with or without nuking them first.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: There are possibly many examples...
    • Invading The Falkland Islands (British Territory) and succeeding in conquering it may cause England to execute a Nuclear Strike on the island in desperation.
    • Invading and taking over Cuba has a chance of provoking a similar response from Soviet Russia.
    • "Performing this action on your own country does not make sense. Fortunately, members of the press were not informed of your attempt."
  • Game-Breaking Bug: While normally a high GNP growth rate for your country is a good thing, letting it exceed 10% when going onto the next year may cause an information overflow error and prompt the game to display garbage data in place of not just your GNP growth rate, but also popularity percentage and even the pie chart showing what percentage of income belongs to what taxes. This makes maintaining your country's economy and your popularity impossible and may also cause other glitches to occur.
  • Invisible President: You are the President - though you are treated to an audio excerpt of George H.W. Bush when you exit the game. Political parties and affiliations are not mentioned within the game, though there are elections which you are required to win in order to have extended terms.
  • Nuke 'em: One of your options available to you.
  • Take Over the World: You can certainly attempt to perform this.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Some examples...
    • You can block trade with anybody at any time; this has the potential of turning an already impoverished country even more so.
    • You can act unethically, by backing rebellions in countries and pulling people's strings to make them commit acts of violence For the Evulz.
    • You can nuke and/or invade anybody (except yourself).
      • You can Carpet-nuke a country into oblivion.
      • You can conquer a country, install a new government, and conquer them again, for as long as your popularity and infamy will allow.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Dropping nukes on a country without nuclear strike capabilities will be met with a sharp decline in popularity, and increase your chances of being assassinated (if Congress doesn't impeach you, first).
  • Villain with Good Publicity: You can have a high popularity, while having a low "ethic" (Your moral rating).
  • What the Hell, Player?: Behaving ruthlessly may cause an adviser to call you out or even resign for your cruel behavior. For example, they may say that they hope you had a "damn good reason" for nuking a country, after taking the fallout into account.
    • Attacking a nation who lacks nuclear strike capability using your own nuclear strike(s) will cause pretty much the highest amount of condemnation from world nations. Even worse, you set a possible precedent for the liberal (read: reckless) use of nuclear weapons by anyone who possesses them.
      • Even the UI disapproves of such an action, especially if you drop several hundred or thousand nukes on the country: after selecting to commence preparations for the strike, the UI just says "Bad idea."
    • While using nukes unprovoked invokes this trope to its most extreme degrees, other more mild actions can cause a similar reaction. Suggesting any action that doesn't make much strategic sense will cause your advisors to question what you're thinking (though at least they don't question your sanity like when you suggest a nuclear strike), and any use of unprovoked aggression will receive the condemnation of at least some of the world and probably your population.