For the next in my series of gambling game reviews, I decided to tap the 16-bit well one more time and go with a game somewhat similar to Caesars Palace:.
With Vegas Stakes.
Readers will find that this game isn’t terribly different in terms of gameplay, overall, but there is a little bit more in the way of interaction with other characters as compared to Caesars Palace.
For one thing, remember that the Sega Genesis version of Caesars Palace did not have any interaction with NPC’s (Non-Player Characters) whatsoever, and that the interaction with NPC’s in the Super NIntendo version mainly consisted of them giving you poor gambling advice.
RELEASE YEAR: 1993
NAME OF JAPANESE TITLE: LAS VEGAS DREAM
GOAL: Turn $1,000 (starting bankroll) into $10,000,000
The first major difference with this game is that there is a more clear way to, ‘Win,’ as the player has a goal of getting a $1,000 bankroll to $10,000,000. If the player busts out, we see a quick visual of the player character leaving whatever casino he is at and showing his empty pockets.
Unlike Caesars Palace, this game consists of multiple casinos and enables the player to go from one to another. Very little is different about any of these casinos aside from the basic aesthetics, though the casinos that require a bigger bankroll to enter may also have higher limits.
That’s maybe one interesting thing shared by this game and the Caesars Palace game. With Caesars Palace, a player needed to have a certain bankroll to even enter the high-limit area. In the case of this game, the player must have a certain bankroll to enter certain casinos.
As we all know, there’s no bouncer standing around at the entrances of Vegas casinos checking to make sure the player has at least some minimum in cash on hand...so I wonder if anyone played this game in the early 90’s before the Internet boom and, perhaps never having been to Las Vegas or Atlantic City, thought that was a variation of the way that some casinos actually work? I’d bet at least one person thought that---me! In fairness, I wasn’t even ten years old when I first played this game.
Games consist of Blackjack, Poker, Roulette, Slots and Craps.
One thing that this game got right, compared to Caesars Palace, is that the player cannot buy lottery tickets! That was a pretty silly thing included in Caesars Palace, when one considers that the State of Nevada has no lottery. As mentioned in the review for that game, it wasn’t originally Caesars Palace and was only branded that way for the U.S. version with some corresponding changes to aesthetics and a different picture in the intro.
There are a total of five casinos that the player can visit with Laurel Palace ($100,000) requiring the highest bankroll to enter.
Casinos And Games
The game starts with the main character and four friends in a muscle car making their way to Las Vegas. The five characters get into a conversation as they make their way through the desert with one character complaining that he is tired of being in the car and is anxious to get to Vegas and start gambling.
One female NPC tells the player what games are going to be available when they arrive at the casino. Another female NPC says she is going to hit the poker room and make their money there whilst a male NPC says he hopes he doesn’t lose his shirt like he did last time.
This scene and the intro to the game (with a little theme song and pictures of the games) were reasonably well done for the 16-bit era. Pictures of the characters appear on the screen along with text boxes of what they are saying and it’s honestly pretty well done by 1993 standards. This was still the time that you wanted to rent games before buying them because designers still weren’t shy about releasing games that were completely broken.
And, unlike modern games, if it was broken---it was just broken. It’s not like they could release a patch for a game that is downloadable online back then.
The car will then pull up to the, “Golden Paradise,” casino, which is very clearly meant to represent the Golden Nugget. At this point, the player will be asked to check into the hotel and write down his/her name (you can be a Ms. or a Mr.) which is a reasonably creative way to incorporate a name selection screen into the game.
After checking in, the player is shown up to his room, which is pictured as a suite with a living room and the player (unseen) standing near the edge of the bed. At this point, the player can choose to have one of the NPC’s (from the car) accompany him or her to the casino.
After selecting a character to accompany you, you may then choose to either go back up to the hotel room, or play one of the casino games. The player starts, naturally, in Golden Paradise casino. Here are the options available at this casino:
|Roulette (Double Zero)||$20||$250|
|Seven Card Stud||$20||$200|
The player can try to wing it at the Roulette Table (it’s easy enough) or the NPC who accompanied the player can tell the player the payouts for any of the available bets via the Select screen. The player may also use the Select screen to ask for, “Advice,” from the NPC, which might always be wrong. It might be right sometimes, but after a few attempts, the NPC never was able to predict the winning number.
If you are at Golden Paradise, then the only slot machine game will be a simple five-line game called Golden Sunrise, regardless of what denomination you pick.
The Blackjack game is an extremely simple 3:2 Blackjack in which the dealer must stand on all 17’s. The game does not specify the number of decks used. The player may double any 9-11. The player may also split to two total hands. With optimal strategy, the House Edge is about 0.112%.
The Craps game is fairly standard and the player may take up to 10x odds. You just want to make sure not to, “Overbet,” either of the Lines because the Odds Bet still may not be more than Table Maximum.
The Seven Card Stud game consists of four other players who each start with $10,000 on the table. The ante is $20, as is the minimum bet, whereas the maximum raise is $200. This is probably the worst game on this video game just because of how unbelievably slow it is. If the player character folds, he must wait for the hand to complete and there’s nothing that makes the process go any faster than were the player in the hand.
Other casinos in the game are, “The Hideaway,” which your friend will describe as a, “Last Resort,” Buffalo Head, The 2020 and Laurel Palace.
At Buffalo Head, slots start at $5 and go up to $100. Minimums on other games run from $50-$500, but other than that, there is no difference. The only aesthetic differences are in the felts and the main screen, which depicts an Old West themed casino.
Slots range $25-$500 at the casino called The 2020 and the main screen for this one has a futuristic tech atmosphere.
In order to get into Laurel Palace, the player must have a bankroll of $100,000. When that happens, “Congratulations,” will appear on the screen and the player will be informed that they are now a high-roller and are being comped a room at Laurel Palace.
Could you imagine something like this in the context of real casinos? You’d have a bunch of player development people trolling the casino floors in all of the lesser casinos, and then as soon as a player has a bankroll of $100,000+ (which the player development guys somehow know) they immediately whisk that player away from that place and to Laurel Palace---which I am pretty sure is meant to represent Caesars Palace.
One major difference between this game and the Caesars Palace one is that the player will be involved in various interactions---almost constantly---with non-player characters.
Do you remember that time you were playing slots and some random girl came up to you and asked, “Do you remember me?”, and when you answered in the affirmative, she gave you $2,000 for no reason?
Yeah, me either. I guess Vegas was a lot more friendly in the 90’s.
Anyway, there are all sorts of interactions that will frequently lead to the player either, ‘Winning,’ or, ‘Losing,’ money. Here are a few examples:
1.) Either a man or a woman will come up to you wanting to sell you a diamond for $5,000. You will be given the option to flatly turn them down (though they will still reduce the asking price) or to make them a different offer...which you do by putting the amount in what would usually be the bet window.
In either case, you’ll either haggle back and forth (or just keep turning them down until they finally leave) and eventually agree to buy it for some price---or they won’t like your offer and refuse to sell it.
I have found that you can get them to sell it for anything in the range of $2,000-$2,500 as long as that is your final price. After this, one of two things happen:
A.) Someone will be along shortly after and will offer you either $5,000 or $10,000 for the diamond. You say yes and the game declares that you, “Won,” whatever your profits on the diamond are.
B.) Someone will be along shortly after and say, “That is a nice imitation diamond,” and offer you $100 for it. If you attempt to accept, then they will laugh and say, “It’s made of glass,” and pay you nothing for it.
In ten tries, believe it or not, my results were a 50/50 split. It’s a limited sample size, but if that holds, then buying a diamond from a complete stranger (in the context of the game) has a quite profitable expectation.
2.) Someone will say they are down on their luck, lost their fare to get home and will offer to sell you a watch for $200.
In five attempts, the only result I had was someone coming along, declaring it a, “Nice Watch,” and offering me $1,000 for it. My advice is to always buy the watch for $200 until something contrary to my experience happens.
3.) Someone will come along saying they need $100 for an emergency surgery for their daughter. I guess medical care was much cheaper in the 90’s.
Anyway, this one is always a con and, shortly after, a cop will be along to warn you that people are going around and telling that story.
4.) Someone will offer to wipe a smudge off of your shirt.
-If you accept, then you will either be pickpocketed---or, the person will come back and thank you for being so nice to them. They will either give you a lottery ticket (that always wins) or anywhere from $200-$10,000 they said they won on a slot machine.
My sample size trying this was limited, but I think it’s worth a try if you have an extremely low bankroll. If your bankroll is more than $2,000 (it’s $1,000 to start), then I would be cautious. Anytime you get pickpocketed, you lose half of whatever you have.
5.) Someone will come along and ask if they can watch you play to get some, “Pointers.”
-If you accept, then they will either pickpocket you, come back and say that they lost or come back and say they won $15,000 whereupon they will give you $5,000.
Overall, I think my suggestion would be to go ahead and do this if you are low on bankroll anyway. It seems a pretty even split on these outcomes.
6.) Your acquaintance will sometimes say he/she is going to the sportsbook (which you, the player, cannot access) and ask if you want to make a $500 bet. If you win, it will be at 2:1 Odds and you will receive $1,500 ($1,000 profits), but your team almost always loses. Limited sample size, but my team lost six of seven bets.
7.) The, “Do you remember me?”, thing mentioned above. You always want to say yes to that one, again, in my experience.
8.) On slots, sometimes a female attendant will come and ask if she can, “Check the meter.” If you say yes, then she will thank you for letting her do her job and inform you that she left you some credits (always enough for one full five-line bet, regardless of denomination) for you on the machine.
There are a few other interactions that pop up less frequently, but I’ll leave those for you to discover if you decide you want to try the game out.
Overall, these interactions are not only profitable (as long as you’re careful) they actually help a lot with building your early bankroll.
The first downside to the interactions is, obviously, that some of them lead to being pickpocketed and losing a massive amount of money.
The second downside to them is that the frequency is ridiculous anytime you start a new game. Whether it be slots or Table Games, you’ll usually have an interaction every 3-5 hands/spins.
The good news is that the interactions do not take long to resolve, money-wise, as the resolution will typically come after the next hand/spin played, though the resolution sometimes takes two spins to happen.
Anyway, interactions add a little something interesting and sort of funny to the game, (as opposed to the Caesars Palace game, which is just playing the games) but would be better and more enjoyable if they were less frequent.
One thing that I noticed is that, the longer you stay on the same game (in the same casino), the less frequent the interactions will become. However, as soon as you switch games/casinos, they end up being ridiculously frequent again.
Controles And Games
The controls for this game, in terms of betting, are better than those of Caesars Palace. Rather than having to click on individual chips a bunch of times, the first thing that the player does is use the directional pad to go to where he or she wishes to bet, then hits the action button, then uses the directional pad to input any amount that the player wishes to bet (within table limits) and then clicks the action button again.
For slots machines, the player just clicks the action button to insert coins---which will automatically be the correct denomination for the machine.
As opposed to taking as long as a minute to bet something like $10,000 on the Caesars Palace game, at Laurel Palace in Vegas Stakes (no Table Maximums), you could theoretically bet exactly $178,922 on Black-29, on Roulette, in a couple of seconds.
One other thing that Vegas Stakes doesn’t have is the actual physical act of walking from game-to-game in the casino. Opinions might be mixed on that absence, but I consider that aspect of the Caesars Palace game to be somewhat pointless. With Vegas Stakes, players will just choose what casino and game they want from a menu controlled by the directional pad and action button.
In any event, I would rank the controls for this (and it’s basically an apples-to-apples comparison given consoles and release dates) as much better than Caesars Palace.
Winning The Game
I can tell you how to win at any casino game:
The first thing that you have to do is have the ability to create, “Save states,” which would basically be a time machine, and simply go back in time whenever you lose.
The second thing you have to do is, having developed time travel, to be able to go back in time and physically occupy the version of you that was already there, rather than being a version of you that had lived until some point in the future.
Anyway, you can master these two things in this game. Just make some relatively low probability high-paying bets for about half of your bankroll each time (I did this on Roulette because it’s easy to get a lot of money down on correlated---i.e. Same few numbers---results) and then return to the hotel room and save your game if you win.
If you lose, just make sure you lose all of your money which will cause you to, “Game Over,” and then return to the title screen, go to, “Continue,” and load the game as if you had never lost.
If you reach $10,000,000, then you’ll have won the game. I will say that the result of winning the game is far from epic and it’s not really worth doing, even if you are going to cheat. I won’t spoil it for those of you who might be determined to find out how lackluster it is on your own, but I promise you’re not missing anything.
Or, you can try to turn $1,000 into $10,000,000 legitimately, but screw that.
This game actually holds up extremely well when you consider that it first came out in 1993. If you want to play it for yourself, then you can visit here.
I will say to play it at your own risk because I don’t know what the legalities of that are, considering copyright laws and everything. My understanding is that one can legally play emulated games in the event that one had previously purchased and owned the original game, which I had, even though I do not have the physical cartridge anymore.
The slot game is a simple five-line affair that is okay. Compared to what you can find online for free these days, I would say that the Blackjack and Craps games would be considered terrible (and ridiculously slow) now, but were quite good for the time.
Roulette is the one game on Vegas Stakes that’s probably about as good as anything you could find online today. The reason for that is the ease of betting whatever amounts you want to in the top half of the layout. It’s probably not more difficult than using a mouse and visual chips to do it.
One thing that would be nice for online table games is if you could have the option of simply typing in the amount that you wish to bet somewhere and having the appropriate chips appear on the table (instantly) for you. Like I said, making bets involving several chips was a serious pain in that Caesars Palace game, but they came up with a great workaround for that here.
They only areas that deduct from this game’s scores in any real way are that the interactions are too frequent (one could also critique them for being ridiculous and unrealistic, but that’s obviously intentional) and that the Seven-Card Stud poker game is so slow as to be unbearable. The worst part of the Seven-Stud game being you have to sit through all of the other players’ actions (though, I guess that is technically realistic) after you have folded.
In the context of 1993, I give this game a 9 out of 10.
In the context of today...I have to rank it better than Caesars Palace. The off-the-wall interactions add more to the game than they take away from it. Beyond that, the Roulette game on here is one that I would consider, “Basically playable” as a free online game today.
So, by today’s standards, I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 10.
Either way, if you’re a kid with an interest in gambling-related stuff living in the Midwest in the 90’s, then it’s an even better game than Caesars Palace for the Sega/SNES.