Leonardo DiCaprio, famed Hollywood actor, doesn’t have an Oscar. This Trivial Pursuit question has ascended into tired meme status that will never die, and it’s especially alive this Academy Award season. Now you can play this dumb joke as a video game in Leo’s Red Carpet Rampage, which in a surprising twist worthy of its own Best Screenplay nod, is better than anyone could have expected.
Capitalizing on all aspects of the Academy Awards circus and the accessibility of retro-style games, digital studios the Line and the Electric Theater Collective have come together to make a sleek and well-made flash game evocative of vintage Nintendo where you control Leo running like hell after an ever-elusive Oscar.
Players alternate between the “G” and “H” keys to get Leo running and use the spacebar to jump over paparazzi like Super Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s a clunky layout that leads to some serious carpal tunnel, but in the game’s most crucial moments — yes, they happen — it only adds to its dizzying speed and intensity.
In between runs on the red carpet, Leo will be challenged to outlandish quick-time events that spoof everything from DiCaprio’s career (like the Lamborghini crawl in The Wolf of Wall Street) to jabs at the Hollywood complex. “Spot the Black Nominee” is an actual challenge riffing the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. I failed. I don’t think there actually were any, which would be the point.
After every intermittent challenge, the primary red carpet run will add variants like pitting Leo in a direct run against other nominees, like Matt Damon in a NASA suit and Michael Fassbender wearing a black turtleneck and dad jeans. Yes, these are The Martian and Steve Jobs riffs, and it’s legit really funny to see in action.
The game’s visuals are immediately recognizable to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World or Hotline Miami fans, or basically anybody alive playing Nintendo in 1992. The pixelated graphics and chiptune sound effects are very common aesthetics for interactive spoofs of this nature, but the nostalgic charm really adds to the oddly cartoonish reality that is 2016 pop culture.
If you told me a game about Leo’s chase for an Oscar would be in any sense of the word “fun,” I wouldn’t have believed you. But for a five-minute distraction, it’s worth keeping on a separate tab until you clock out.
Enjoy it while it lasts, too. Whether or not The Revenant is worthy enough to finally kill this joke (My two cents: It isn’t), Leo’s Red Carpet Rampage is bound to be snubbed and forgotten when the Best Indie Games of 2016 comes around.