Everyone dreams of someday winning it big and living out the rest of their lives in luxury. And there isn’t any place better to realize that dream than the wonderful city of Las Vegas! Even without the promise of wealth, gambling video games have always been around. Today we’re going to take a look at one of my favorites of them from back on the NES, Vegas Dream.
I don’t think I ever actually won a game of Vegas dream before. I would usually end up having to take a walk of shame home a penniless loser. But that never really mattered to me. I still remember it being a fun game to play, primarily because it had such fun interactions throughout the game. So join me in Vegas and let’s see how well this game holds up now.
The game starts out simple enough. You arrive fresh off the plane in beautiful los Vegas with $700 in your pockets, and hopefully a bit of good luck. The casino you end up staying in has a fairly limited selection of games to play, only four in fact. You can choose to play Blackjack, Roulette, Slot Machines, or Keno.
We’ll start our night off with a little Blackjack. Of the four games available, it’s kind of surprising that it’s the only one that isn’t entirely luck based. For those who might not know, the object of blackjack is pretty simple. You’ll be dealt two cards with the option of asking for more. The basic goal is to get your hand to total up to 21 without going over. Whoever is the closest to 21 wins.
Despite it being the only skill based game available, it still feels like it’s unfairly rigged for the dealer to win. Nearly every hand the dealer ends up with an exposed face card, or they end up perfectly at 21. Of course, when you control the deck, it’s not surprising they can get all the best cards. So you know what, let’s move on to the next game.
Roulette is a much easier game to play. Just guess what number you think the ball will land on, and if you get it right, you win. Of course, there are a variety of options that are more or less risky. You can place relatively safe 50/50 bets by guessing if it will be red or black, or even or odd. You can also go risky and bet the exact number that will come up. It’s really risky, but it will have a huge payout. Then you can bet just about anything in between.
Damn you ZERO!!!
Roulette will usually end up being my go to game since the 50/50 odds make it relatively safe, while quickly increasing my money with some high stakes bets. But we have 2 more games to check out, so let’s move away from the roulette table for now and see if we have better luck somewhere else.
The slot machines are roughly what you would expect them to be. You can pick a variety of price points ranging from $1 spins all the way up to $100 spins. Of course, the higher the price, the bigger the payouts. You also get the option to play only the center line or you can pay extra to play the top and bottom lines as well.
Ignoring the fact that virtual slot machines are inherently rather boring, the biggest problem I have with playing the slot machines is the fact that you can’t win anything with diagonal lines. Without the diagonals, it’s virtually impossible to actually win anything. The whole time I was playing I barely won anything other than the single cherry in the first column. And even then it’s winning at a loss, since that only pays out 1x my bet, but I paid 3x to get all 3 lines. So we’re moving on from the slots to our final game.
The final game, Keno, is most similar to your standard lottery drawings. Or more precisely the quick draw games you may have seen at some restaurants, bars, or even bowling alleys. You pick between 1 and 15 numbers, after which point 20 winning numbers will be picked at random.
Generally speaking, you need to have at least half your numbers win before you can break even with your card. Of course the more matching numbers, the more you’ll win. This game is by far the most random of all the games available, and because of that it has always been my least favorite or the selections. So we’re not going to spend much time here.
With only 4 games to choose from, you would probably expect things to get boring pretty quickly. However, that is where this game really excels. While you’re playing, you’ll occasionally be prompted with a random event. You can choose how to react to these situations however you like. Personally I choose to go along with all of them just to see what will happen since every situation has a 50/50 chance of going good or bad. For example, I have the option to give $200 to this random stranger or to ignore them entirely.
Regardless of what you choose to do, you’ll hear how things went on the nightly news. In this case, my random act of kindness was later rewarded with $1000 when that woman won it big. So it’s a good thing I offered to loan her the $200.
However, not every situation will end up pleasantly. In another instance a waitress was walking by and accidentally spilled the drinks she was carrying onto my jacket. She felt so bad that she offered to take my jacket and have it cleaned for me.
Unfortunately I found out later on the news that she was actually the thief. By giving her my jacket, she ended up stealing my wallet, and with it half of all my money. You win some, you lose some I guess. That’s what makes these situations so much fun.
There are also times when you’ll be challenged to some private high stakes games with other casino guests. Sometimes you’ll use the Keno board for a simple game of high or low. Or maybe you’ll have a simple Red or Black guess at the Roulette table. These are another fun diversion from the normal gameplay.
Of course, this is Vegas, so if you end up with a bad streak of luck, you’ll quickly find yourself penniless and ready to walk away in shame. However, the game offers you up one last chance before your game over. You’ll get a spin at the slot machine for some really high winnings on the line. Sometimes you might just get lucky and be able to head back to the floor.
While in real life you would probably play until whatever random point in time you feel you’ve had enough, this game does have a definitive winning condition. You start off with $700 with the ultimate goal of not leaving Vegas until you’ve managed to win $10 million dollars. You’ll have to make some huge bets if you ever plan to make that kind of money. Thankfully there’s a little trick I picked up on. The game has a password save system so you can come back some other time right where you left off. I just wrote down the password and bet it all on even at the roulette table. If I won I would get a new password, if I lost I would load up my old password and try again.
Gameplay – 8 / 10
All of the games play as well as you would expect them to. Sometimes it feels like the game cheats, but that might just be because the games are naturally hard to win. Honestly the only thing I can think to complain about is the fact that Blackjack doesn’t total up the cards for me, I have to actually do the math myself. Of course that’s a minor issue, which is easily overshadowed by the fun random situations that break up the otherwise repetitive gameplay.
Graphics – 8 / 10
There wasn’t anything too graphically intense to be shown in the game anyway, so there’s not really anything to criticize. I’ve always been relatively happy with the graphics of the game.
Audio – 7 / 10
The audio is ok, but it can get a bit repetitive and annoying after a while. Also some of the music is a little bit too high pitched at times for my taste.
Story – 8 / 10
The $10 million dollar goal is a bit high for someone heading to Vegas with only $700, but that’s hardly the main focus of the “Story” of the game. The “Story” is all the little situations that present themselves while you’re playing. The fact that every situation has a winning or losing outcome makes them even more fun. You can’t just memorize “Don’t trust the waitress when she spills the drink” because there’s a 50/50 chance that waitress is a normal and honest waitress. So technically speaking, the story is different ever time you play it. For me, I had a call my grandfather had died, leaving me $6000 in inheritance. I helped a woman who later returned the favor when she won big. But then I lost half my money with the fake waitress stole my wallet.
Total Playtime – 0h 47m
I technically cheated just so I could see the good ending. Doing that, you can beat the game pretty quickly. If I played a bit more conservatively though it would probably take much longer.
Total Deaths – 0 Deaths
I know I was playing high stakes games, but not anything life or death.
Overall Score – 8 / 10
I really love this game. I’m not much of a gambler in real life, I simply don’t have that much luck, but I do like the occasional gambling video game like this. This one is probably one of my favorites because of all the little situations that come up. They really break up the repetition and help keep the game from becoming boring. Everything in the game plays well, but I can’t really ignore the fact that there isn’t much substance to the game. If there were more games to play it might have held up better. Particularly more skill based games like poker for example. However, the game as presented is very well made, and I still like it after all these years. If you’re interested, you can easily pick up your own copy of the game for less than $10, so why not pick it up and see what happens to you in Vegas. Better yet, the game does offer 4 player co-op, so you could easily make a game night out of it.
More often than not, this is how my games ended. Sadly walking home without a penny.
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