Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dow Plummets - Stock Brokers Shoot Tanks

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost another 420 points today. Oh if only someone made an arcade game about stock brokers jumping out of Wall Street buildings where it was your job to position a trampoline below them to bounce them from certain death into a waiting ambulance - how awesome would that be?!  Well not that awesome it turns out - but in my never-ending quest to play every arcade game ever made now seemed the perfect time to hit up "Wall Street".

Wall Street was produced by Century Electronics in 1982.  What?  Never heard of Century Electronics? Well not many have, although it's possible that some of our European readers may have played the Ocean port of one of their other arcade games - Hunchback. Their body of work goes quickly downhill after that though.

There are two different levels in Wall Street - creatively named "City" and "Maze". "City" is the only level that makes any sense - it's not much fun - but it makes sense. In the City level you maneuver a safety net / trampoline left and right to catch stressed-out guilt-ridden stock brokers that have leaped to their deaths. You position the trampoline under them and they bounce off at varying angles and heights depending on how they hit the trampoline. You can continue bouncing them around for points but if you can position it so that they hit near the right side of the trampoline you can bounce them over into the waiting ambulance for big points and one step closer to completing the level.

I guess it is a bit of a cross between the arcade games Kick (aka Kick Man) and Clowns. Or - a complete and utter ripoff of the old Nintendo Game & Watch "Fire" where you are saving people jumping from a burning building. From what I read online Fire came out the year before Wall Street.

If you're able to unwisely save enough of the slimy brokers before the Dow Jones Index reduced to zero you move on to level 2 - "Maze" (I hope the guy that came up with these names got a bonus that year).  Maze is where the game really falls apart. You are now the stock broker (I think) and apparently after being saved you a) discounted the promise you made to God on the way down of being a better person and b) determined to make your money back as quickly as possible.  So you are running around a maze to find bags of money - people's savings that you bilked them out of no doubt - that you must pick up and deposit in your safe. Unfortunately for you, the military has had quite enough and instead of a fiscal bailout have decided to simply kill you this time. And they're done screwing around so they send out a battalion of tanks to do the job, but luckily you had the foresight to bring your anti-tank RPG with you to work this morning so you're good to go. In true Tutankham fashion you can only shoot left and right, not up and down, but it's quite easy. This is a complete throwaway level.

If you're wiley enough to grab all the money in the maze and not get killed by the tanks well then it's back to level 1 for more "City". And actually the second round of City is a little better as multiple brokers start jumping off the buildings at the same time, so it gets more challenging and almost even a little fun. And rescue helicopters start making an appearance on the third time through the City level that you can try and land the brokers in, but I lost interest in the game before I was able to get that done.

And oh lord the music. Grating bleep bloop renditions of Oh Susanna, Dixie, and what I'm pretty sure is Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (..they go uppity up up, they go downditty down down - am I the only one who knows what song I'm talking about here?)  The music made me want to jump off a building myself.

So... I had to play it to rate it and check it off my list because it's what I do, but I certainly wouldn't advise you to make the same investment. My rating? A lowly 4.0.

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gnome said...

"Unfortunately for you, the military has had quite enough and instead of a fiscal bailout have decided to simply kill you this time."

Ah, yes reading this kind of thing definitely makes for a fine way to begin ones day.

As for Dow Plummets, well, it might be rather meh, but you can't say it doesn't earn surrealism points.

Excellent write-up, just excellent. Oh, and I did love Hunchback on the Spectrum, though only recently (retro Gamer 92 I believe) found out it's an arcade port.

MadPlanet said...

Thank you kind Gnome. Darn Retro Gamer - always scooping me on the arcade stuff! I had a feeling you might have played Hunchback on the Speccy or BBC Micro.

As far as Wall Street goes - yes, it certainly does get extra points for surrealism. Odd little game - particularly since I think the stock market was actually doing well in the early 80's until it crashed in '87.

Fallguy40 said...

The part of the game I don't get is who would want to catch these guys while they were trying to leap to their deaths?

MadPlanet said...

Looks like either fireman, police, or the paramedics from the ambulance. I think those guys are professionally obligated to save everybody - even lower life forms like stock brokers, lawyers, CEOs and the like.