Released: June 1990
US Cartridge ID: NES-ZM-USA
Supported Peripherals: Controller
ROM Size: 1 megabit
Mapper: UNROM (128k PRG)
Following in the footsteps of Sofel’s previous NES effort, Casino Kid, Wall Street Kid merges elements of the simulation and adventure genres into a distinctive and appealing amalgamation of the two, however off-beat. Developed in Japan during the famous “bubble economy” that sent the Nikkei stock index soaring from the mid-eighties through the early nineties, Wall Street Kid grants the player the opportunity to become a self-made millionaire. Echoing Japan’s optimism, America’s newfound confidence in the economy as a result of Reagan’s reforms made the localization and US release of The Money Game II: Kabutochou no Kiseki a logical choice. The Famicom game’s subtitle translates as A Miracle in Kabutochou; Kabutouchou is the Tokyo district housing the Tokyo Stock Exchange, much like Wall Street and the NYSE.
Wall Street Kid begins with the title character (who is never given a first name) meeting with the Benedict family lawyer, Larry. Larry explains that Kid’s extremely wealthy uncle has recently passed on. The Wall Street Kid is the only surviving heir to Mr. Benedict’s $600 billion fortune; as per his late uncle’s will, Kid has to prove himself worthy of the inheritance by establishing a home, a happy marriage, and successfully playing the stock market. Larry hands over $500,000 as seed money, and over the course of four months Kid must cultivate it enough to afford him the lifestyle expected of a Benedict. Complicating matters is Kid’s fiancée, Prisila, who requires expensive gifts to keep happy, and Kid’s health, which must be maintained through regular exercise. If he fails in any of the aspects, the game ends.
The Wall Street Kid’s quest for riches commences April 3, 1990. Each day begins with a read through the latest “Wall Street Times,” Kid’s primary source of information on recent news and the latest stock trends. The desk represents the primary interface through which the player can interact. Using his computer (an Apple Macintosh SE), Kid can buy and sell stocks, in addition to checking his portfolio and learning about the companies being traded. He can visit Ruth to take out bank loans (that must be paid back at the end of the month with interest), ask Connie for investment tips, or seek Stanley out for basic information about the stock market (providing a nice introduction for those that know little about the subject) via the pink icons lining the bottom of the graphic window. By selecting the flower vase, Kid can take Prisila out for some quality time, taking her for a picnic, a shopping trip at the mall, or to a carnival. Finally, clicking on the barometer provides Kid with his choice of working out at the gym, swimming, or going hiking. The clock on the wall will advance time to the beginning of the next business day.
All of Wall Street Kid‘s activities must be balanced between the benefit they provide and the amount of time they require. Each day lasts from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and each activity involves a specific time commitment. Hiking is great for Kid’s health, but requires a full day, whereas swimming, the least beneficial activity, can be completed in two hours. Furthermore, success at these activities relies on how thoroughly the paper has been read: if Kid suggests to Prisila that they go shopping on a day when the “Wall Street Times” runs a story about rampant muggers at the mall, she’ll get angry and refuse. Weekends are not spent at the office, but rather are focused on buying things for Prisila (a car, a dog, jewelry, etc.), and meeting the conditions of the will (buying a house, a yacht, and a castle). There are two holidays in the game (Memorial Day and Independence Day), and if Kid successfully woos Prisila, a week-long honeymoon, all of which reduce the potential number of days to earn money.
A reasonably complex and accurate stock market simulation lies at the heart of Wall Street Kid. There are four different types of stocks available (speculative, blue chip, cyclical, and growth), and paying attention to each type’s behavior is vital if Kid is to be successful in consistently buying low and selling high. All twenty available stocks are based on real-life companies, though they have been renamed to avoid using actual names. Having Boeing represented as “Boing” and American Express being renamed “American Depress” adds a lot to the humor in the game, sitting aside of the groan-inducing puns and word-plays that other characters (Connie, in particular) seem to favor. The goofy humor and colorful personalities of the people that Kid comes into contact with really sell the game, handsomely dressing up Wall Street Kid from what would otherwise be an over glorified spreadsheet with some great writing.
Unsurprisingly, Wall Street Kid‘s focus does not lie on the strength of its visuals nor in its music. Most of the in-game graphics, though cleanly drawn and full of color, are static drawings with text overlays. The music is extremely repetitive, though it suits the action
well and doesn’t annoy over the course of the game. With the absence of any reflex-based action, the game is entirely driven by menus and an arrow pointers, making the simple controls a nonissue.
Wall Street Kid‘s winning combination of personality and charm don’t entirely save it from becoming repetitive near the end, but it make huge strides in turning typically unpalatable game subject matter into an engaging experience that will appeal to those that enjoy thinking with their games.
|Wall Street Kid
|ザ・マネーゲームII「兜町の奇跡」(Za Manee Geemu Tsu “Kabutochou no Kiseki”)
The Money Game II: A Miracle in Kabutochou