Vegas Stakes is a gambling game released for the SNES in 1993 and later released for the Game Boy in 1995. The story of the game is that the player goes on a trip to Las Vegas with $1000 and the goal of the game is to visit 5 different casinos and turn the $1000 into $10 Million. Each casino has it’s own stakes ranging from $1 all the way to unlimited stakes in the high roller casino. The variety of different stakes allow for a variety of different play styles from players who want to be risky, to players who prefer to play it safe. However, if the player runs out of money then it is game over, which means unless the player had saved the game at any point then the player will start again from the beginning. I think not allowing the player to get into debt is a good thing because it could have made the game too easy to win and use the debt as an advantage rather than a mechanic.
The Vegas Games
Vegas Stakes features 5 different gambling games, which are all games that are featured in most Vegas casinos. The 5 games are Blackjack, Poker, Craps, Roulettes and Slot Machines. The rules of Blackjack are that the player needs to get a higher score than the dealer without going over 21 total. If the player gets an Ace and either a King, Queen, Jack or 10 then it is considered to be Blackjack. If the player beats the dealer’s score, then the player’s money will be doubled and if the player gets Blackjack then the bet is timed by 2.5. This particular game is one of the fun games to play and to understand because the game’s rules are simple.
The second game is 7 card Poker, which isn’t a common type of Poker. The type of Poker mostly played in casinos is Texas Hold ’em Poker. I sadly couldn’t understand the rules of this game because I found the rules very complicated and the game doesn’t explain the rules of the games very well. What this means is that if a player hasn’t played the particular Vegas game before, then the game can be very confusing to understand. Also, 7 Card Poker is the most difficult game to win because there is a lot of randomness to it and the opponents tend to have much higher funds then the player does.
Craps is another game that is very difficult to understand all the rules of, but once the rules are understood, there is quite a lot of strategy to the game. The goal of Craps is predict what number will be rolled by 2 dice, as well as predicting whether the dice will have doubles. The player can predict individuals number or sets of numbers, which really adds to the variety of different bets that can be played. What this allows is players who feel confident with the rules can mix up their bets, but also players who don’t know the rules as well can also play without being confused.
Roulette is the second simplest Vegas game to play in this game as the rules are very simple and the betting options make a lot of sense. The main goal of Roulette is to predict where the ball will land in a spinning wheel and there are a variety of different odds. The player can predict the specific number, the colour of the number, whether it will be odd or even and or it will be high or low. This allows the player to either be risky and predicted the exact number or cover a wide range of numbers with a higher chance of winning. I think this particular game is the most interesting as the variety of odds makes the players decide on the risk and the reward that they can gain from their bet.
The final game that the player can play and the easiest game that the player can play, which is the Slot Machine. The Slot Machine is the easiest to understand as all the items on the machine represents different money values and chances of that item appearing in a line. The player can pick from 4 different slot machines, which are different bet levels and then the player can pick between betting on 1 to 5 lines. 5 lines increases the chances of winning, but some lines are worth less than the bet that can be placed for 5 lines, which means the players can win less than they bet. However, the Slot Machine has the easiest odds of winning compared to the other games as the rewards for winning on lines are much higher for lower bets.
Overall, I feel that the variety of games on offer for the player to choose is simply not enough because the games can become stale and quite boring after a while. For example, multiple different types of poker would have been helpful because Texas Hold ’em is more well known than 7 Card Poker and also 5 Card Poker would have been another type of Poker that would have been a welcome addition. If there were 5 more games then the variety would have been perfect.
Graphics and Gameplay
The graphics of this game are pretty good and there is quite a good amount of detail on the design of the casinos. Each level of casinos has its own look and feel,from the cheap low roller casino looking like a shack, all the way to the high roller casino looking extravagant and detailed. Also, the interior of the casino represents the progression of the player and how much they have, which makes the player feel like that they progressing towards their goal. I think that the different casinos also offer the chance to learn games that the player may not understand yet in a way that won’t cost them too much money.
One of the more impressive things about this game is how much detail there is on the individual tables for the games. The textures look really clean and there is no pixelation on the tables, meaning that all the text on the tables are perfectly readable and isn’t too small that the player can’t read it. The game is also very colourful and doesn’t look boring and it feels like you are in an actual casino. The only difference that would have made it look even better is that it is only still images when you are choosing the game and some video would maybe have added to the realism.
There are player interactions with random people who show up and can ask the player a wide array of questions like asking for a little bit of money for an ill person or someone sitting beside you saying that they are down on their luck. The player can gain some more funds this way or sometimes lose the money they gave or have the person who sat next to them rob the player of half of their money. This interactions help break up the gameplay very well and make it feel a little bit more social rather than just being a pure gambling simulation. What this adds also is a chance for players who perhaps don’t have as much money to make up some lost money or add more funds to players at the beginning of the game.
The music in this game is quite good with a variety of jazz music and similar style music you would hear on the Las Vegas Strip. The music mostly does a good job of representing the casinos, although I feel that the theme for the final casino feels out of place, as it shows the hierarchy and status but compared to the other themes it feels Gregorian and too different. I do like the lounge themes for the mid range casinos, as these themes are quite laid back and easy to listen to and the in game volume makes these themes work quite well, as they aren’t too loud and you can hear the table or slot machine very well. The music also has the HAL Laboratory style of sound, which can be heard in game series such as Kirby and SimCity. The sound overall is quite good, but the last the casino theme feels so out of place and is lacklustre in comparison to the rest of the music.
Overall, Vegas Stakes is a good simulation of Vegas and is a good example of the colour palette that the SNES had at it’s disposal. The main problems are the lack of casino games that are in the game and the final casino theme feeling out of place. If there were more casino games and more musical variety, then this game would be a more solid game, but sadly it is only good and not great. The game is fun for what it is and it is in a genre that there wasn’t too many games released for at the time.
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