Father time has grabbed a switch off the tree and delivered a proverbial beat down to Vegas Stakes. When it originally came out for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1993, this collection of five parlor classics was one of just a few gambling compilations available for home consoles. However, now that Nintendo has made Vegas Stakes available once again on the Wii's Virtual Console service, there are a near-infinite number of gambling collections out there for a multitude of platforms, and most of them provide a wider selection of casino staples than the ones included here.
Vegas Stakes serves up five casino classics: Black Jack, Craps, Seven Card Stud Poker, Roulette, and Slots. In the single-player mode, you work your way up through five different casinos with the overall goal of banking $10 million. Four save spots are included so you can maintain your progress across multiple play sessions. There's also a competitive mode for up to four players that lets you and your friends bet against one another in four of the five games. Poker isn't available in the multiplayer mode because the developers most likely felt it would be pointless when players would be able to see each others' cards.
There's nothing especially good, bad, or noteworthy about the renditions of the games included here. The rules are standard and the computer opponents seem somewhat smart. The no-frills look of the cards and chips also gets the job done. If you don't know the rules of a particular game, you can press the select button to bring up a guide book and general tips. Random calamities sometimes befall your computer-controlled friends in the single-player mode, and you can choose to help them out in return for a potential reward later. Beyond that wrinkle, Vegas Stakes lives and dies on the strength of its five included games. This means there's a good chance you'll quickly be left wishing there were more poker variants and slot machines from which to choose. No offense to Seven Card Stud fans, but every hand takes forever to play out.
Cheesy elevator music and realistic sound samples provide the auditory backdrop, while washed-out digitized photos of people and casino scenes provide the window dressing for the whole shebang. The cards, chips, and tables are plain, but all of the markings and betting spots are perfectly legible. The slapped-together look of random photos and simple dealer animations is crude by today's standards. However, they're no worse than the majority of cheap or free gambling downloads currently available for cell phones and on Flash-based gaming sites.
Therein lays the rub: Thanks to the Internet, you can easily point your Web browser to numerous sites and play all of the games included in Vegas Stakes for less than the cost of this Virtual Console download. In many cases, you won't have to pay a dime. As such, unless the Wii is your only outlet for faux gambling, there is no reason for you to bother with Vegas Stakes.