Posted – August 24, 2016
Have you ever completed the Nintendo 64 version of Cruis’n USA? If you have, or if you saw a friend beat it sometime in the late ‘90s, you may remember that the game’s cross-country road race which takes you across the Golden Gate Bridge and through a redwood forest at speeds close to 200 MPH—ends up in Washington D.C., at the White House. Once you’ve triumphed, the camera pans upward and a farm comes into view on the White House roof. Cows and secret service agents surround your victorious car as it spins on a platform.
It turns out that the arcade version Cruis’n USA — the original — has a slightly different ending. In this version, before showing the roof, the screen flashes “Political Cartoon” for a moment. And once the camera’s panned up to the roof, a different cast appears: among the secret service and cows sits Bill Clinton, relaxing in a hot tub placed in the back of a pickup truck. Accompanying him are two smiling, bouncing women in pink bikinis — one a tall-haired blonde, the other: present-day Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The reason for the discrepancy was Nintendo’s interest in editing out racy and political content for the home video game audience in 1996. The Clintons and the hot tub were gone. So too was the ability to hit and explode cows and deer at high speed. And the gyrating woman who presents a trophy after each stage? She had changed outfits, from bikini top to t-shirt.
Nintendo also insisted on removing a more subtle political moment from the arcade game. In the N64 version, about halfway through the D.C. racetrack, you pass through a tunnel whose walls are plastered with $100 bills — pixelated Ben Franklins repeat endlessly as you scream by at 180 MPH. Another subtle commentary, it seems, this time on money in politics. But the arcade version had a different face grafted onto the bills: Hillary Clinton’s, smoking a cigar.
In 2011, Cruis’n’s lead programmer, Eric Pribyl, fielded questions about Cruis’n on Reddit, and identified the blonde in the hot tub as Gennifer Flowers, an actress and model who had made her affair with Clinton public in 1992.
In Cruis’n World, the 1996 sequel to USA, the hot tub reappears, again with Hillary and a blonde to Bill’s left and right, though this time they’re on the moon — for some “lunar hot tub lunacy,” as Jarvis put it. Hence Bill’s memorable line as the tub leaves the surface of the moon: “Hold on, Hillary!”
And in 1999’s Cruis’n Exotica, the third installment (tagline: “Get Exotic!”), Bill and his hot tub appear once more, though Hillary’s been replaced by a cow, and the bikini blonde to his right has gone brunette. A nod to the Monica Lewinsky scandal? Jarvis wouldn’t confirm it.
Revisiting the Cruis’n controversy turns out to be unusually timely, not just because of another Clinton’s bid for the White House. “Coincidentally we are working on a new Cruis’n game right now,” Jarvis wrote. But he downplayed the notion that a President Trump would be a natural fit for the hot tub. “Trump seems a little too angry to have Bill’s joie de vivre.” Of course, if Trump does win the upcoming election, Jarvis could see the Trump clan enjoying themselves in the presidential hot tub in “photogenic bliss.”
In the end, elements of Jarvis’s original joke turned out to predict certain elements of the future. The Clintons did maintain a small vegetable garden on the White House roof, and in 1997, after undergoing knee surgery, President Clinton did install a hot tub on the White House grounds.
Original ‘Censored’ News Article
Posted: 16 Oct 1996
N64.com has learned that Cruis’n USA, one of the premiere titles for Nintendo 64, will be not be a direct port of the arcade game, but instead will be heavily censored.
Driving your hot rods over animals, one of the more funny elements of the arcade game, also will be eliminated. In fact, Nintendo has removed the animals entirely from the game.
When gamers finish the arcade version, they’re greeted in Washington DC by President Bill Clinton, Hillary, and a couple of “friends” in a hot tub. That too will be scratched. There will also be some other unspecified things removed (probably a lot of the Easter eggs), although it isn’t clear whether or not the “hidden” cars, like the cop car and bus will be removed.
N64.com spoke with Cruis’n USA creator Eugene Jarvis, who’s also responsible for such arcade greats as Defender and Robotron, to get his opinion about these changes. “It seems like they don’t have any sense of humor. I don’t know what’s wrong with those people.”Source 2