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The King of Chicago (Amiga) artwork

The King of Chicago (Amiga) review

"Prohibition in the Windy City: the good old days of bootleg booze, blazing bullets, and beautiful bitches. Just the sort of place where even a simple "legitimate businessman" such as yourself could one day rise from its blood-soaked gutters and claim his rightful place as the King of Chicago."

Prohibition in the Windy City: the good old days of bootleg booze, blazing bullets, and beautiful bitches. Just the sort of place where even a simple "legitimate businessman" such as yourself could one day rise from its blood-soaked gutters and claim his rightful place as the King of Chicago.

Unfortunately this coronation of carnage is both a short and incredibly simple one – other than a few action sequences the game mostly consists of your character talking to his goons followed by a series of choices on how to advance the plot, just like one of those old choose-your-own-adventure rags. The beauty of this story, however, is that it's so randomized that no two playthroughs are ever going to unfold in quite the same way. Other than adhering to a basic narrative all the various scenes are randomly selected, while the other characters' loyalties and reactions to bribery or outright threats are always in doubt. Just because you were able to buy off the local alderman with a few greenbacks and that olive oil charm the last time doesn't mean he'll always come so cheap or even remain trustworthy in the future.

Of course you'll first need a way to wrest control of the gang from your aging, overly cautious boss – you might be able to force him to step down peacefully, but should the Old Man's retirement instead derive from the smoking barrel of your .38, you’d better have previously worked out a deal with cagey lieutenant Ben or it's going to be a short reign. There are several ways to successfully complete the game: amass enough cash or hired muscle and you can squeeze out the competition by taking over City Hall through a crooked election, but if you're willing to plow through your enemies’ territory with Thompsons blazing and deliver a few properly timed firebombs through their windows, the terrified locals will eventually swear fealty to their sadistic new puppetmaster. Unless any innocent civilians get caught in the crossfire, that is, in which case the only throne you're going to be occupying is the electric chair.

Should you fail at being a banker or a brute, your money-devouring moll might even be able to cozy up to your principal rival and tempt him into a trap, assuming she's not too busy with her incessant requests for pricey hats, sweet-ass Bentleys, and a fist in the mouth – but like the title card says, "She's already betrayed one man. Why not two?" The myriad number of potential scenarios this game has to offer are what make it well worth playing again instead of quickly ending up like so many of your inconvenient associates.

If you don't enjoy atmospheric Cinemaware adventures because they're older than dirt, turn back to extreme volleyball.

If you decided it's good to be the king, you're probably some sort of shifty old-school Amiga gangster. Congratulations! Go directly to jail.


sho's avatar
Staff review by Sho (November 08, 2009)

Sho enjoys classic video games, black comedy, and poking people until they explode -- figuratively or otherwise. He also writes a bit.

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