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I would love to have been at the executive board meeting at a little software company called Sofel back in 1990. I just want to be the fly on the wall and listen in on the discussion that led to the creation of Wall Street Kid for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Why Sofel thought that the NES's core audience would be interested in a watered-down stock market simulation I'll never know, but here it is: Wall Street Kid.

The game begins with your family's attorney coming to you and telling you that your distant uncle, Mr. Benedict, has passed away and left you a hefty sum of money: $500,000. Your job is to invest that money and turn it into millions of dollars. Ideally you should also acquire a house, yacht, castle, and wife during your wild investment days. After the introduction your sent to an office. Enjoy this screen, because you'll be looking at it for the rest of the game. From the main office you can read the Wall Street Kid Journal to look for stock tips, use your primative computer to buy and sell stocks, call mysterious men for insider trading tips, or call your girlfriend and offer to take her shopping. Every action you perform causes the time to tick by, and at 5pm game time the clock resets to 9am and it becomes the next day.

Every morning you should check the stock reports to see how your portfolio is doing. Stocks available for trade include cleverly disguised versions of real life companies from the late 1980s: YBM, Boing, Yapple, and so on. There are little news tidbits to review, such as "Yapple has new product coming." Seeing this, you invest in Yapple only to discover that nothing ever happens with it. That's right, the stock tips and news blurbs are unrelated to the actual stock performance. At least, that's how it seems to me. The game never followed up on its stock advice. For the record, here's the complete list of companies up for trade:

The game could have been somewhat enjoyable if Sofel had included directions on how to play the stock market itself. Instead you were left to your own devices and only given hints like "Buy the stocks you think will grow." Gee, thanks. I'm glad I paid the mysterious tipster $500 for that advice. The game begins on April 1 and you have until July 28th to make $1,000,000. If you don't, the game ends. If you do you go on to the next section of the game which is exactly like the first except you're expected to make even more money. The game ends when you acquire the house, yacht, castle, and wife.

Why, Sofel, why? I rented this game several times because I desperately wanted to understand what the hell was going on with it, but eventually I gave up and turned to a more authentic moneymaking simulation: Vegas Dream for the NES. At least in Vegas Dream I had a chance of making a little pixelated money.

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