When the thrill of a casino meets the challenge of a video game, and entwines with the plot in its own unique way, the person with their hands on the controller knows they are enjoying a unique experience! Here, we look at a number of games that made this a reality.
GTA V / GTA Online
The Grand Theft Auto franchise has been a staple of all the mainstream consoles since its initial release on the original Playstation back in 1997. Its successors have been mostly well-received, with some going on to be best-sellers. The next generation brought the hugely popular GTA Vice City to consoles in 2004, and then in 2008 and 2013 respectively, GTA IV and V ensured a smooth transition between generations.
It was in the latter game that players first encountered Vinewood Casino, and the online version enables them to play a variety of games if they feel lucky. The range of games, from table games like Blackjack and Roulette, to Poker variants found in any worthwhile online casino, is impressive. Naturally, an entire online community has built around the GTA online casino games, with a myriad of hints and tips as to how players can win big.
Fallout: New Vegas & Fallout 2
The Fallout franchise has done more than merely entertain gamers. Those who immerse themselves in the game’s unique open-world setting, where key decisions alter the very fabric of each run, are led to question their own morality and ability to make calls. Some, for instance, will act with the greater good, while others will look out for number one and show no compunction towards killing off non-playable characters for the sake of self-interest.
Away from the mind games that this game ultimately plays, users can indulge in a number of casino games. Fallout: New Vegas features blackjack, slots and roulette as its minigame ensemble, allowing players to win and lose in-game currencies. The Fallout series also has its own card game called Caravan, which has some similarities to Blackjack.
Pokémon Red / Blue
The Pokémon series, as initially released on the Nintendo Gameboy, has enthralled multiple generations of gamers. The current-gen Let’s Go! series on the Nintendo Switch has shone in many ways, but only the earlier titles offer anything remotely like casino games. Celadon game corner features a slot machine where users can win up to 300 credits worth of in-game currency by matching three symbols.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
For those who grew up favouring the lightning-fast hedgehog clad in blue fur, Sonic 2 is unquestionably the breakthrough title amongst them. It built on every strength established by the original game Genesis / Mega Drive game, with deeper backgrounds, a greater range of vivid colours and a much-improved soundtrack to go with the new, revamped levels.
Casino Night Zone is the third level in Sonic 2, split into three acts. All of them boast neon signage, backdrops themed on slot machines and roulette, which become interactive if Sonic falls into a trap. There are plenty of casino-themed features designed to prevent Sonic’s progress to the final act of the Casino Night Zone, in which Sonic battles Dr Robotnik, who drives a spaceship that drops mines.
The whole battle takes place inside a giant pinball table, ensuring that Sonic has no means of escape until the rotund, bespectacled villain is vanquished! It was not Sonic’s first dalliance with casino themes either.
An utterly fantastic futuristic racing sim, in which hovering vehicles hit speeds of over 2,000 km/h of a variety of themed courses. ‘GX’ is the third instalment of the F-Zero franchise, immediately following SNES title F-Zero (1993) and N64 hit F-Zero X (1998).
The learning curve is easy enough to negotiate, with the Gamecube-exclusive GX featuring four difficulty levels and five different cups (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond and AX). The track known as Casino Palace makes two appearances – as the opening race of the Sapphire Cup (‘Split Oval’), and the third race of the Emerald Cup (‘Double Branches’).
Split Oval is the easier of the two, though there is an ever-spinning roulette wheel which dominates the background and can distract the less-experienced player. However, Double Branches really ramps up the tension, with the track splitting into two identical routes – one on top of the other, with cars on different tracks going roof-to-roof. The same casino-themed background features are retained, and the tricky ‘figure 8’ intersection is also a bit of a gamble, as cars often collide in the mix and destroy each other.
Starting life as a Nintendo 64 title in 1998, interactive board game series Mario Party has made appearances on every new Nintendo console since, proving particularly popular with users of the Wii console, which was geared towards interactive multiplayer games to obtain a competitive edge.
The first instance of a casino game in the Mario Party series arrived with 2002 Gamecube release Mario Party 4. ‘Goomba’s Greedy Gala board’ features a roulette wheel, whereby a player’s chances of winning are boosted by paying out extra coins to wager. A roulette wheel also features in Mario Party Wii, though just for aesthetic purposes.
Ten years on, a casino theme graced Wii release Mario Party 9, combining with the level known as ‘Space Zone’. There is a slot machine themed on Mario’s nemesis Bowser, alongside a luck-themed minigame.
The following year, in 2013, Mario Party: Island Tour arrived on the handheld 3DS. Its casino-themed feature is ‘Shy Guy’s Shuffle City’, which takes place on a giant casino table. Players move around the board by drawing cards, each of which have a different effect. Cards can be traded, but anyone possessing a Bowser card every third turn suffers a catastrophe!
The latest technology around embraces all forms of real-life experiences, translating them into the otherworldly realm of VR. The technology is in constant evolution, becoming ever more real with each passing year. Already, the lines between ‘video games’ and real money situations are becoming ever-more blurred, making the increased emergence of new, downloadable titles all the more inevitable.
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