But rarely are U.S. forces cast as the bad guys. And rarer still do they do battle with a portly North Korean riding a unicorn.
"Glorious Leader," an upcoming offering for your PC and Android smartphone, allows you to take on U.S. forces as Kim Jong-un in a side-scrolling retro shoot-'em-up that will cause some flashbacks for 30-somethings who spent a few afternoons in front of an old-school Nintendo.
" 'Contra' and 'Metal Slug' were the two big influences," said Jeff Miller, whose Moneyhorse game-production company hopes to release "Glorious Leader," its first offering, in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Military gamers seeking the appropriate number of rounds for their M4 or realistic flight paths for ordnance should probably steer clear — "Glorious Leader" will lean much, much more on fantasy and satire than on weapons specs, Miller said.
"I'm not trying to stick close to military hardware," he added. "The Statue of Liberty is a giant robot who attacks you. ... There's going to be intentionally some stuff that is off with it; we're trying to think of it as if it's made by the North Koreans, and they seem to be wrong about quite a few things."
A YouTube trailer gives a glimpse into the game's less-technical nature: Kim on a unicorn, using its horn to impale enemy combatants; Kim on a zipline, shooting down paratroopers before they land; Kim pumping rounds of ammunition (represented by glowing white spheres, per 80s-game tradition) into a tank, causing it to explode.
One screen shot from the Moneyhorse press kit shows Kim shooting up CVN 79 — bad news for the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, set to be commissioned sometime around 2020. It's unclear how he got on board, but another screen shot shows "Dear Leader" riding what appears to be a narwhal through a minefield while holding what appears to be a submachine gun.
Oh, and a multiplayer option allows a second gamer to play as a tall black man with dyed hair wearing a red basketball uniform. For legal reasons, it could be anybody.
"I really wanted to walk a fine line with the satire, but I knew that not everybody would appreciate it," said Miller, whose work has been written up by several major media and gaming outlets. "But [the feedback has] been overwhelmingly positive. I've talked to about five soldiers who said they are actively serving or just finished serving and they said, 'This game is really great.' I haven't gotten anything negative from a soldier yet."
Gamers can visit www.moneyhorsegames.com or follow the company on Facebook to get updates on availability. Miller said the price hasn't been determined but will be "affordable," and that "Glorious Leader" could be the first part of a game trilogy.