Mad About Mad Men

Mad Men: The Game
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Hello Time Wasters!

Mad Men season five kicks off in the UK this week, but if you can’t wait or you just don’t want to pay Rupert Murdoch for the privilege of watching it on Sky TV, then check out this 8-bit game of the show. Yes, it’s Mad Men the game and it’s free to play on YouTube.

The game comes from the Fine Brothers production company, which regularly chalks up of millions of Youtube views with its spoofs and shorts. Being a huge Mad Men fan, I just had to delay starting work when I heard about this one, just to see how Don and Betty Draper would look in 8-bit. Even the theme tune’s had the retro gaming treatment.

To be honest, there’s not much in the way of gameplay here, but it definitely fits into the Timewaster category and does so with humour and charm. The aim of the game is to boost the three essential elements Don needs to be the guy we love. Pete represents his confidence, Peggy gives him new ideas and Betty is there for inner peace. Each of these characters has their own chapter, which plays along the lines of a Choose Your own Adventure.

It takes less than 10 minutes to play through the whole thing, but there are three possible endings, depending on the order you play each chapter in. This game is for Mad Men fans only, as it’s rich in self-referential humour and thin on the ground when it comes to actual gaming. You will spend most of your time reading text boxes, the other 40 percent of your time will be spent laughing and the other 2 percent you may actually get to do something.

Don’t let the lack of gaming put you off because you’ll be repaid with lines like, "if this show didn’t take place in the 60s, I’d be concerned about our livers." This comes from Roger Stirling, as he and Don search for answers at the bottom of a glass of whisky. And all this is done to a backdrop of 8-bit graphics and music. And yes Don and Betty still look hot – even in retro gaming.

Each chapter has you decide what Don should do. Should he give Peggy a promotion or just pat her on the back, steal her idea and take the credit? In a race with Pete, should Don stop to take his shoes off before entering Burt Cooper’s office or rush in to ensure he gets there first? My tip is to choose the Don Draper way every time. And that means drinking, smoking, being a bad father and taking advantage of friends and colleagues.

Each scenario has its own amusing ending, so Mad Men the game is a definite must (for fans of the show), to brighten a dull day in the office. Sadly, it’s a bit of a let down as a "game" – once you’ve played once, you probably won’t want to play again, especially as you can just click a link to view the other endings. It’s more interactive marketing, than gaming, but it is funny and the best bit is you get to be Don Draper, so that’s a win right there.

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