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American Dream (NES) artwork

American Dream (NES) review


"American Dream is the story of Pachio, a smiley little ball with hands and feet, who lands in America with $1000 and a goal of becoming obscenely rich. In the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, with its casino, Pachio can get do just that without working or paying taxes! AD is littered with casinos chock full of positive-payout gambling machines. Navigating them leads to New Jersey, where Al Capone awaits... "



American Dream is the story of Pachio, a smiley little ball with hands and feet, who lands in America with $1000 and a goal of becoming obscenely rich. In the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, with its casino, Pachio can get do just that without working or paying taxes! AD is littered with casinos chock full of positive-payout gambling machines. Navigating them leads to New Jersey, where Al Capone awaits...

...for a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. That's loaded in Pachio's favor, too.

No, American Dream doesn't make any great efforts at realism. The translation may be to blame for geographical details, but the RPG elements thrown in feel extraneous and rushed. There's humor in the foul-ups and the graphics, though. Pachio has many cute adventures, but he's just in the wrong genre.

AD has all the feel of a game that's rushed into production. Pachio starts in Brooklyn, where he finds a pass to get into casinos, and another--on an unmarked square--to get into VIP areas. As Pachio searches, he'll find $10 lying about, or maybe he'll be challenged by a slot machine or a gambler to a totally random fight. Gamblers ask if they'll be rolling odd or even, and slot machines ask for high-low. The machines grimace amusingly, but unfortunately after ten fights, it gets old. Pachio can flee but risks dropping cash.

Inside the casinos offers several rooms that accept different tokens. In each one, Pachio has a choise of four slot machines, where triple sevens give Pachio the big pot. Different little graphics spin around the three columns, from cocktail glasses to cherries to the bells, bars and crowns you see on real-life machines. Coins pour out if Pachio wins. There are only six machines before you start seeing ones from earlier rooms, so knowing which one is the best is not too bad.

Except you aren't shown how much certain combinations win. They're listed at the top--three plums, three oranges, etc.--but totals aren't. So it takes a while to pull a lever to find if a game is even worth playing. Even though triple-sevens alone assure a 300% payout, Pachio generally needs a buffer of small wins before hitting it big, and he doesn't get much input beyond trial and error. Since AD has a password system, anyone with a bad streak of luck can just reload and retry, but seeing all the possibilities on any one machine can take a thousand pulls. It gets tiring, even with warp emulation. Worse, when you stop the slots doesn't matter.

So AD falls into a pattern: visit casino, go to room where you get a 200 token buffer, slog it out til you win triple 7's, and move to a VIP room for higher stakes--or the next island if you have the cash. The outside world becomes less important: gamblers and slot machines increase the stakes, but special items that might add to AD's story disappear. Concentrating on the game made me half forget the cute scenes where Pachio finds ten grand on the ground, launches himself across a river in a cannon, gets mugged and booted across a river, is arrested for illegal firearms, are cute if arbitrary. I even zoned out the two-tone toupeed fellow gamblers and bunny-uniform cocktail waitresses. "Make me rich, already."

This is partially a failure of the game, having the occasional funny bit, but not enough to pull the player from the machines to the world outside, with glowing casino fronts and even cheerfully stacked slum buildings. It also involuntarily brings up disturbing psychological aspects of gambling; in the $100000 VIP room, I wanted the game to just give me triple sevens already so I could visit Capone. I felt almost entitled to win more quickly, simultaneously calculating the right payouts and invoking the law of averages. I guess even gambling rigged in the player's favor can be distressing.

Rating: 4/10

aschultz's avatar
Community review by aschultz (January 03, 2010)

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