Sawbuck Gamer

Middle Manager Of Justice

Humdrum Heroism

Middle Manager Of Justice is as tedious as the world it satirizes.

By Ryan Smith • January 7, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

The mid-level corporate manager has long been the butt of jokes about the banality of office work and the mediocrity of the people who aspire to it. David Brent and Michael Scott, the fictional branch managers of paper companies in TV’s “The Office,” aren’t necessarily failures. But in a world where we’re constantly told to reach for the stars, they’re portrayed as small men lording over pitiful kingdoms.

In Middle Manager Of Justice, you’re an unnamed nebbish, a balding forty-something who runs a slightly more important kingdom in the form of a neighborhood superhero business. More corporate drone than Professor X, you prepare your squad of spandex-clad do-gooders not with Danger Rooms or sparring rings, but with step-in-to-my-office-please pep talks and training seminars. Juxtaposing the bloodless milieu of the office with the extraordinary life of super heroes is where Middle Manager Of Justice finds most of its humor. The heroes have a break room where they relax after defeating evil henchmen, and they research Kevlar unitards at their desks. Reaching a new level is celebrated like a corporate job promotion, with a meaningless new title and a cake.

But the biggest joke of Middle Manager Of Justice is on itself. There are crime-fighting segments, but the bulk of the game consists of you assigning heroes to train, rest, and sit at a desk while you passively watch progress bars fill up. In doing so, the game feels a lot like the work it’s parodying—boring, repetitive busywork.

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  • Effigy_Power

    This actually sounds fun, but of course Android is snubbed again…
    Or isn’t it?

    In general, why does the GS never review Android games? It really seems like there is no coverage at all. Curious, isn’t it?

    • http://gameological.com/author/derricksanskrit/ Derrick Sanskrit

      As an Android user myself, I’m familiar with this plight. As is the case with all apps, not just games, focus is still on iOS development because that’s where people spend money. That said, I do have an Android Sawbuck coming up and I had two last month.

      • Effigy_Power

        …which would be my bad for missing it.
        Last month is a bit of a haze, so… yeah.

      • George_Liquor

        I think the dearth of video game releases on Android has at least as much to with the difficulty of supporting as many Android devices as possible. iOS may be a frustratingly closed platform from the user’s point of view, but it has a nice, common software base and a comparatively low number of hardware configurations to deal with. A developer can write a game in iOS once and reasonably expect it to work without modification on nearly every iOS device.

    • The_Misanthrope

       It’s the worst sort of piracy…a CONSpiracy!

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        Theme Hospital was ported to Android, or so I’m told.

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      Good question! A lot of the iPhone games we review get Android ports after a couple of months—as this one will, according to Double Fine. It just doesn’t make sense to wait for the port (which may never come) before reviewing the game.
      In general, the most and best smartphone games come out on iOS first and Android maybe later. With occasional exceptions, of course. So a platform-agnostic approach tends to end up featuring iPhone games a lot more than Android games—kind of like how a computer-gaming site will feature a lot more PC games than Mac games, but not out of any ill will toward Macs (assuming the site is run by grown-ups).

      There is also, frankly, the matter of watching the traffic to see what readers like and making sure we run stuff that is of interest to a lot of our audience. The upshot is that the priorities for setting the Sawbuck calendar generally boil down to this:

      1. Browser games (where I see high interest)
      2. iPhone games (solid interest)
      3. Everything else (mild interest)

      That said, Gameological isn’t set up to worship at the pageview altar, so a thought-provoking game trumps all. We definitely have nothing against Android, and when I hear about an interesting Android game, I’m happy to feature it. Hope that answers your question!

      • Effigy_Power

        It does.
        I don’t have any insight into the Apple App-store and to be quite honest I don’t download that many games for my Android, but that makes sense.
        That said, I am still almost daily playing Triple Town.

        Makes sense, though it’s quite sad actually. There are a lot of Android devices out there and my own (Asus Eee Transformer) is really quite good for games, so I was wondering. Thanks for clearing it up.

  • http://twitter.com/RyanSmithWriter Ryan Smith

    Effigy,

    It’s not that fun, believe me. The concept is great, but the execution isn’t. It’s a lot of waiting for green progress bars to fill up.

    As far as Android goes, speaking for myself, I’ve had an iPhone for five years now and haven’t had an Android product until about a month ago.

    • PaganPoet

      That’s a bit disappointing, considering Double Fine is behind the excellent Costume Quest and Stacking.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        Also, you know, Psychonauts. Plus Tim Schaefer is pretty cool.

        • PaganPoet

          Which I’ve never actually played…. *shields self from onslaught of projectiles*

          Although it’s up on PSN now, isn’t it? I suppose I should get it, since I’ve heard nothing but great things about it.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          @PaganPoet:disqus: Play it. Play it now.

        • Effigy_Power

          I haven’t played it either, simply because I don’t do platformers.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          Honestly the gameplay isn’t that great, but the writing is hilarious and the level design is cool as hell. It still gets a little tedious at time, but it’s definitely worth a playthrough. I love 3D platformers though, and it’s definitely not in the top tier of the genre.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          @Douchetoevsky:disqus: I don’t know about that. I’d say only the Napoleon level and the Meat Circus approach any level of tedium. The rest of the game is pretty well-paced.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @Effigy_Power:disqus : I don’t typically do 3-D platformers, either (apart from Mario Galaxy, which is like an irresistible glazed cake donut of platforming), but I emphatically DO do bizarro kaiju-themed lungfish dream simulations, black-velvet barrio bull-fighting adventures, puzzle games involving manipulating the set-dressing for a demented children’s play, and plunger-assisted espionage set in a schizophrenic’s melting, malformed, paranoid conception of a 1950s American suburb.

      • http://gameological.com/author/derricksanskrit/ Derrick Sanskrit

        Real talk time. I actually quite like this game. Sure, I completely leveled up my manager before Christmas, maxed out the office and all its rooms before New Years and all eight of my heroes are so strong at this point that I hardly have to do anything at all in battle, but it’s still cute and lighthearted and well-polished. Plus, there are parts on the map that say “Coming Soon” so I’m sure there will be an update with more playability soon.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

       This seems like something worth covering and a good excuse to fire up an Android.

      http://www.gamespot.com/news/apple-rejects-ios-game-about-war-in-syria-6402103

  • Aurora Boreanaz

    “A new game from Double Fine!” YAY!
    “On iPhone.”  DAMMIT!
    “That sucks.” Monkey paw?

    • PaganPoet

      It also contains potassium benzoate.

      • HobbesMkii

        *stares blankly at @PaganPoet:disqus *

        • PaganPoet

          (That’s bad.)

        • HobbesMkii

          @PaganPoet:disqus Can I go now?