Sofel is one of those oddball game companies. They were actually a technology / information systems sort of company that decided to dabble in games once they got hot again in the late 80s. Over a period of about six years they published a handful of titles, most confined to Japan, but the West did get ports of their Casino Kid games, the first of which was a kind of weird but ambitious and experimental game that fused RPG elements with casino gambling (and that I have a soft spot for even though it isn't very playable ... though it actually does play an OK game of poker).

Wall Street Kid is another effort along these lines, blending up a standard Japanese "time management" game with the day-trading of stocks. The backstory is hilarious and would get the game absolutely ripped to shreds in today's tryhard ultra-PC games media; you're a stereotypical blonde preppie type from some Old Money American family, who stands to inherit billyuns of dollars from a dead uncle. But in a plot twist that Adam Sandler would steal for many movies, you first have to prove yourself "worthy of the family name" by starting with $500,000 and making a profit with it on the stock market. Arbitrary timed goals are set for you, like first you have to raise a million dollars and buy a "decent house" within a month, then you eventually have to buy back the family's ancestral castle. You also have this real high-maintenance gold digger of a girlfriend who you have to placate with periodic expensive dates (always during work hours for some reason) and who often demands you buy her a certain gift on the weekend. And then you also have to maintain your health by periodically swimming, hiking or Even Lifting.

The list of stocks to trade is kept to a manageable 20 or so, and there's no advanced options or techniques -- you just try to buy low and sell high. To keep this from being a matter of pure guesswork, you get the newspaper delivered to your desk every day, which summarizes the stock types that are running hot and cold and points out a couple of items of interest that may or may not be related to certain stocks. You also have a secretary who sells you "hot tips" for $1,000 sometimes ("Insider trading! Ha ha ha ha!")

Watch out man, this how they did Martha Stewart

Whoever did the localization was having fun. The stocks are all parody names of major IRL companies, like "Yapple" and "C. Schlob". Does make the game easier to navigate, I have to say, and is one bright spot in an otherwise rather dull affair.

Stocks seem to rise and fall on a predictable weekly cycle, plus the secretary tips always seem to be good, so it's not hard to make money in the game. I'm really not sure how you make the huge quantities of money the game wants you to have, though. I've started from the beginning 3 or 4 times now and while I always consistently make a profit of around 150 - 200k or so in the first month, that's nowhere near the amount you need for the house. I thought maybe it involved taking out a bank loan for more capital, but you can't get a loan until you have the house for collateral.

Even if you get the whole rhythm down, however, it seems like a bunch of boring repetition as the game really gives you very little to do and you'll often find yourself shutting the business day down early.

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