So I am pretty sure that most people if confronted by a SNES gambling game in an indy games store would most likely turn there nose up at it and simply walk on by, well in all honesty I might have done the same if not for the price tag on the copy I saw, it was £3 for the cart and manual, and as I review SNES games I thought why the heck not.
So Vegas Stakes, which is known as Las Vegas Dream in Japan, was developed by HAL Laboratory yes that Hal the creators of Kirby and it was released in1993 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System with a version coming out a few years later for the Game Boy. The game is one of a small number of Super NES titles which supports the Super NES Mouse, so if you have one of those (I do) and your desperate to give it something to do then this could be the game for you. This game is actually a sequel to a NES game called Vegas Dream which was actually one of the very first Nintendo games to be marketed to adults in the U.S.
The basic premise of the game is that the player has gone to Las Vegas with friends in an attempt to gamble with $1000 with the goal being to try to win $10 million. The cool thing is that this game doesn't just go with you picking a gambling game and then boom you've won, blah you have lost no it actually has some pretty darn good presentation, it has an intro featuring characters and a story, it has a certain charm about it which comes from the way in which it is presented. Your friends are seen as text talking characters portraits which have as realistic as a SNES could manage look to them. You see all of them at the start during the intro with them discussing there own money winning dreams, then you book yourself into the hotel, its at this point that you actually get to pick one of them to go into the casino alongside you as a sort of wing man.
There are Five casinos in the game starting with a basic joint
called The Hideaway up to a very exclusive establishment which requires that you have $100,000 just to be allowed in. Each one of the casinos has both a minimum
and a maximum betting amount, so you have to pick the joint which best reflects the kind of money you have and the sort of amounts your planning on gambling with currently. On the plus side each and everyone of these places has its very own visual design and background music
which gives it its very own feel but the bad part is that unfortunately you’ll find the same five games in every single one, which is a real shame it would have been a nice little touch to see extra games become unlocked in higher stake casinos.
So in this review so far I have basically talked about who made the game and the presentation but what about the actual gameplay, what casino games actually make up the bread and butter of this title? Well the 5 games you will be playing are Blackjack, Slots, Roulette, Craps, and Poker. They all work well enough but what you are going to get out of them largely depends on your knowledge of them and your love or hate for them. You do get rule lists and you can ask your current companion for advice which sometimes helps but if your a bit of a casino novice which I am you still might find yourself struggling a bit, I wouldn't recommend this as a game to teach you how to play. This is probably why I spent most of my time with BlackJack, Slots and Roulette because I never have been very good at understanding all the subtleties of Poker.
Something I found really unusual and cool in this game was the fact that strangers approach you and ask for money for various reasons, sometimes giving you what I would describe as a sob story and its up to you to decide if you want to help them or not. Now if you help you might end up profiting from it or you might end up being conned as they run off with your cash never to be seen again, so this is a sort of 6th form of gambling in the game and I personally found it rather cool.
So what do I think of Vegas Stakes overall? Well its hard to judge it when its on the same machine which offers us games like Zelda a Link to the Past and Mario World, the graphics are clean and inviting the game has excellent presentation but just being able to play 5 gambling games doesn't feel quite indepth enough, if I had paid full price for this on release I would have felt rather disappointed but I also couldn't call it a bad game. I think I need to give this game 6 out of 10, there is a lot right here but if you are interested then don't go spending too much you can probably get things like this much cheaper on more modern platforms but I do have to respect to having a lot of respect for this game, it really was so much more than I expected it to be when I purchased it.