Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
a) too young to gamble, b) don't like losing huge amounts of money, or c) sick and tired of blasting things, Casino Games allows participants to try and fill their pockets in the glittering forum of a Las Vegas-style casino.
After entering your name, a nicely animated girlie at the information desk welcomes you to the joint, and asks if you have account with them. If not, she hands over $500 for you to play with (what a woman!). Clutching your wad, you can now trot over to the card table, show your wizardry on the pinball machine or go feed the one-armed bandits.
If you manage to increase your initial investment to $1,000 or more, you can return to the girl at the information desk who provides a 10-digit number, so you can rejoin the game at a later date with all your precious winnings intact.
Card blunts can practise their hand at Baccarat, Blackjack or Poker. The former two are played against the house (with a dishy female dealer), while selecting Poker lets you challenge one of four Sega-assigned opponents: Nancy, Janet, Dick or Charley, each of whom has a distinct playing style. The selected opponent is portrayed graphically during the game, sulking when you do well, and raising a smirk when you lose - but at least they can't give you any lip!
Standard rules apply to all three games, with cards being dealt automatically. Selections are made with a series of small menus and by selecting those cards you want to change with a cursor. The size of your bet is increased or decreased with a movement of the joystick.
Of the card games on offer, Poker is by far the most enjoyable since it requires a little more thought in building decent hands and betting accordingly. Blackjack is less complex, but good for a few hands. Unfortunately, Sega's version of Baccarat provides little in the way of a challenge, since the computer handles most of your decisions: interaction is reduced to simply pressing the button to place a bet. Great for lazy card players, though.
(Image caption) So, you've decided to play poker, and chosen Charlie as your opponent. A skillful bit of playing and Chaz is $205 short and looking a bit glum!
The pinball machine provides some light relief from the other games in the package since you can't actually win any money on it.
However, there's always that top score to have a crack at...
Before starting, one of three table angles can be selected, effectively increasing the return ball speed.
The game begins when the first ball is launched from a typical spring-loaded plunger. This constantly moves in and out, and the ball is catapulted into play by pressing button 1, with the strength of the shot dependant upon how far out the plunger is released.
Button 2 actuates the right flipper, and any movement of the joystick activates the left. The table can be nudged by pressing button 1 during play - but use it too much and the 'TILT' sign appears, and your current ball is lost.
All the normal pinball- type bonuses are in evidence, with bumpers, roll-overs and targets, and the current high score appears at the top of the screen. Although it's a far cry from the likes of Sega's coin-op Time Scanner, the pinball machine does provide a challenging game. Only the lack of graphical variety should cause you to start yawning.
(Image caption) The pinball table provides a swift way of spending your cash.
The one-armed bandit is quite realistic in that it provides a good way of blowing all you hard-won loot in one go! The machine can accept tokens of 1, 5, 25, 50 or 100 dollars each time, allowing you to gamble as much or as little as you want.
As many as nine tokens can be entered per turn, allowing you to bet on each row up to three times; a win on any row then receives a triple payout. Betting on all three rows increases the chances of a cash return - but of course, there's more to lose that way.
Once the machine is loaded up, a jab of button 1 pulls the arm down and sends the reels spinning, accompanied by a realistic chunking noise. When a winning sequence appears, the tray fills up with tokens which are quickly snatched away by a disembodied hand.
Full-time fans of slot machines might be disappointed to find that the one-armer portrayed is of the old 60's style, with no nudges, holds, bonuses, flashing lights or reaction tests to be found down your local arcade. It's appropriate to the casino in question, but would have benefitted from being brought bang up to date.
(Image caption) It‘s only a cherry, but with a $25 bet, you're $75 up!
(Image caption) Having blown all your cash, a brilliant end scene shows the look of horror on your gambler's face with the realisation that he’s gone bankrupt. He then slinks off through a darkened street, as a scrolly message tells him to give it everything next time. Some help!
▲ Great animation on characters, the pinball table and the slot machine.
▲ Neat and colourful static screens throughout.
▲ Gorgeous end sequence.
▼ The card playing sequences are tidy, but a bit unimaginative.
▲ Loads of different ’sleazy’ gambling tunes and jingles.
▲ Sound effects are all pretty good, especially the slot machine and pinball.
▼ Only Poker requires any real thought or strategy.
▲ Great fun for solo Poker players.
▲ Added incentive of winning money, enhanced by the account system.
▲ A great game to bang in for a quick, no-hassle session.
▼ Limited variety with only five different games.
▼ No two player option.
A nicely implemented compilation of games which suffers slightly from a lack of variety. It's strange that there's a pinball machine, but no roulette wheel. Best suited to the occasional gambling fan, or as a break from mindless blasting.