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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Retro Review Tuesday: Vegas Stakes


Nintendo is a company that never ceases to surprise us. Amidst all the Mario, Zelda, what have you, you forget that they do indeed have other great games. And one of those other titles would be Vegas Stakes. Perhaps you're not in the mood to save this princess, or that one. Perhaps you just want to tell both of them to figure it the hell out, and relax over in ol' Vegas, trying your luck on Poker, Roulette, Craps, Blackjack, and of course, the Slots. A real "just sit down and play" kind of game, Vegas Stakes offers the fun and interaction that [their interpretation of] Las Vegas has to offer. Place a bet, buy a lottery ticket, insert a coin, get your pocket picked, do it all in this very fun, classic gambling simulation.


The premise for Vegas stakes is five friends headed out together on a long planned trip Vegas. The main character is whatever you put your name in is , we played as Mr. Cooteller (No I don't why we named ourselves that either). I'm not sure of the motivations of your friends, but your completely reasonable and rational goal is to turn your 1 thousand dollars in to 10 million dollars before leaving Vegas. The game doesn't end until you hit that goal or spend every last dime trying.

This probably the worst approach to gambling
Controls are very simple. This is one of the few games that supports the SNES mouse and obviously we all know how to use a mouse. If you use a control it's not much different as you only use 3 buttons anyway. They're responsive enough, though it honestly doesn't matter much as it's not an action oriented game.

Graphically it's pretty dated. The graphics aren't bad, but they reek of the early 90's limited Palette VGA "realism" graphics that are more commonly seen in PC games of the era. They were mind blowingly realistic at the time, but not so pretty by today's standards. However this game does feature some of the best facial expressions on NPcs in any game ever. Johnny's smile is my personal favorite.

Keep an eye on Silver, He may have beat the Elite 4 when he was 10 but life's been hard since then and he's a desperate man.

Soundwise it's memorable if not a bit repetitive. Each Casino has it's own theme song that you'll constantly be hearing in the background. the songs correspond to theme of each casino IE the Buffalo head has a western song playing and the Laurel Palace has a generic "classical piece". In my opinion the best music is easily the electronica in the 2020, though I'm rather fond of Laurel Palace's music as well. Regardless of which music you personally prefer, it is probably going to get annoying after awhile as it will play no matter what game you're playing and there's no way to turn it off.


Cliff's right to be irritated 5 people is too many for a car trip in this car.

You start off in the car with your friends all having a conversation about how excited they all are to be going to Vegas. Once you make it to the hotel you put in whatever name you choose and head up to your hotel room. From the room you can choose one of your friends, Cliff, Maria, Isabelle, or Richard to go out gambling with. We always choose Richard because he's so cute and non-threatening. Whomever you choose will give you info about the locations and games.When you want to take a break from gambling or just get tired of looking at whomever you've gone out with you can head back to the hotel room. Here you can save your progress and choose a new friend to go out with. Once you're prepared to hit the strip, you get 4 Casinos to choose from each with their own theming and table limits.

The Hideway: The Casino equivalent of a dive bar. This is the cheapest Casino you'll find with $1 minimums and $50 maximums. You won't lose a lot , but you won't make a lot. This is probably only a good bet if you've spent almost all your cash elsewhere.

Richard just doesn't appreciate a good deal

The Golden Paradise
Your standard generic looking casino. This is the Casino your hotel is in and the one you start off in. It's right in the middle, not to high and not to low. Table minimums at $20 and the maximum $250. Definitely a good starting point to amass your vast fortune.

The Buffalo Head: The wild west, Vegas style! It's another middle of the road casino, with slightly higher minimums at $50 and Maximums at $500. Another good spot to start off amassing your fortune.

I'm a little sad there's not actually a Casino with this aesthetic

The 2020:
Futuristic post apocalyptic sci-fi gambling. This is the last casino you can visit before reaching your high roller status. The table minimums start at $100 and go to $1000. This is probably going to be where you're going to make it to high roller status, but you're going to want to avoid it until you've got a good cash cushion built up or you'll eat through your cash in short order.

Once you've effectively gambled your way to $100,000 you're elevated to High Roller Status and you'll get new swanky hotel room and you gain access to the Laurel Palace.

The Laurel Palace: The creme de le creme of casinos with ornate detailing including marble statues on the slots. Even though you can gamble here as soon as you've reached $100k, it's a better idea to wait until you're at around half a million as the minimum starts at $1,000 and there's no limit. It's very easy to blow through money here, but when you hit, you hit it big. Once you're at a million or better you'll probably be constantly playing here if you want to make any real headway towards your $10 million goal.

Of course you don't make money just hanging out in Casinos so you've got your choice of 5 games which you can use to make your fortune.

There's a joke in here about how a BJ is always a win but I'm too classy to make it.

Black Jack: Your standard rules game of 21. Beat the dealers hand or get 21 to win. You won't make a lot of money playing BJ, but your odds are pretty good.

Slots: You choose from 1 of 4 bet denominations. Depending on the Casino you get different machine style and a different choice of limits. Slots are probably the quickest and easiest means of making money also the easiest means of losing. Slots require no skills or planning just a lot of good luck.

Roulette: Another luck game. Bet on your lucky number and hope for the best. You can get the odds for each bet from whichever friend you've decided to go with.

Snake Eyes, You LOSE

A game of odds. Mostly toss the dice and hope for good luck. But there's a good amount of skill involved in knowing and playing the odds in your favor.

Poker: 7-Card Stud. The Most Complex game. You play with 4 other people random selected from the pool of 8 NPCs + 3 of your 4 friends (you can't play with whomever is with you) for total 11 potential players. Each NPC has their own unique playing style, bluffing style and tells. It takes a good amount of skill, research and luck to be successful. This is the most engaging and interesting game because of the other players and complexity of the game itself.

As if playing exciting Vegas games on your SNES isn't enough there are several random interactions with NPCs that happen while you're playing your games. In every case an NPC who magically knows your name will approach you and ask for something or offer something. Sometimes these are very good for you, sometimes they're very bad and sometimes they do a whole lot of nothing. They are however some of the most memorable and interesting parts of the game.

The Diamond: Occasionally someone will approach in need of money and asks if you're interested in purchasing a diamond appraised at $5000. You can make an offer for it, the lowest we've gotten someone to accept is $700. You can have one of two outcomes: The diamond is fake. After you've bought the diamond someone else will come along and offer you $100 for the diamond and tell you you've been conned. This is what happens roughly 9 times out of 10. The second, the diamond is real and someone will offer you $10,000 for it. In spite of the potentially high pay off this is probably a interaction best avoided.

I know Vegas is expensive by $200 for cab fare seems pretty high

The Watch: Someone will come along saying they need money for cab fare and asks if you'll spare $200 for a watch. As far we've seen this is always a safe bet. After purchasing it someone will come along and offer you between $400 and $1000 for it.

Sick Child: Someone will come along and ask you to help them paying for their sick child's bills. There are two outcomes, it's a con or it's legit. when it's a con right after you've given the money a police officer will approach you to tell you about a scam happening. If it's legitimate you'll get $200 back. It's only $100 so it's probably not going to hurt you unless you're just starting out, but the return isn't really great either. It's probably just best to say no unless you can't live with the guilt of not helping a child in need.

Oil Well: You'll be approached and asked if you're interested in investing in an oil well and you'll get double you investment. It starts off at $5000, but you can haggle it down to $3000. However, if you strike oil you still only get double back so you invest less, you get less. You can also strike water in which case you obviously lose your investment. It seems to be roughly 50/50 odds.

A three digit lottery ticket seems a bad bet for the casino frankly

Lottery ticket:
Someone will come up to you and ask if you're interested in buying a a lottery ticket for $500 that was a potential $10,000 payoff. Odds seems to be pretty good for this one, it's generally worth going for unless you're really strapped for cash. Sometimes when someone asks to wipe a spot on your shirt they'll give you a lottery ticket which will always win. The catch to this is they could be a pick pocket or they could do nothing.

Sports bet: Sometimes the person your with will say they're headed off to make a sports bet and ask if you're interested in making a $500 bet. If you win you double your bet. Odds seem completely random.

Check your meter: This only happens while playing slots, occasionally a casino worker will come by and ask if they can check your meter. You can send them away, but if you let them do their thing you'll get a free max bet pull on your slot machine.

Remembering the face: Someone will come up and ask if you remember them. Always say yes even if you've never seen them before that moment as they'll always give you what you for "being so nice" to them.

Returning the wallet: Whomever you're with will occasionally tell you that they found a wallet with cash and asks if you should keep it or return it. I suggest returning it not only because it's ethical, but because it can lead to a payoff much greater than whatever was in the wallet. Occasionally you'll get nothing, but it's a safe gamble given you're not out anything.

Even when doing high rolling gambling keeping tens of thousands of dollars in cash in your pockets is asking for trouble
In a class of their own are the loads of Pickpocketing scams. They include: twisted ankles, bad luck and a spot on your shirt. While the claim changes from incident to incident, in each of these cases the perpetrator will come up to you and ask for something that requires them to get close to you. Most of the time they'll be walking away with half you current cash if you decide to aid them. Sometimes however, they'll be legitimate and will reward you handsomely for your help. Depending on how much cash you're currently carrying around really depends on whether or not you want to chance them.

Overall you just keep casino hopping, playing the games and dodging the scams until you hit 10million. It's actually quite engaging and entertaining.


Vegas Stakes is so much more than your standard gambling game. Sure all the games are there and you are in Vegas after all, but it's the interaction of that sets things apart. Maybe modern gambling games include pickpocketing scams and intelligent unique poker players, but this was revolutionary for the time period and has managed to stand the test of time admirably. I haven't noticed any real decrease in fun factor from playing Vegas Stakes years ago until now. I'm still just as happy to spend a lazy afternoon of gambling, scams and quick money.


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