LUCKY'S CASINO ADVENTURE / QQP / PC
Lucky's Casino Adventure is an obscure old PC game at risk of fading from the internet entirely ... fortunately it's still available from at least a couple of abandonware sites, but there's almost nothing else for documentation of it save oddball forum comments here and there.
It comes to us from publisher QQP, who were much better known for a run of PC war games in the early-to-mid '90s. The developer was the very obscure Destiny Software Productions, who only pumped out a few low-key games in the early-mid '90s (this was their very first) before the company pivoted to Radio On Internet and dumped game development entirely.
Lucky's Adventure features an impressively comprehensive list of casino games, and they're all executed pretty well. Though the interface is slower and clunkier than modern games, the roster here covers just about all the basic categories you would see at any online casino these days.
You can practice at any one game as much as you want, or play a "tournament" that is actually a jumble of different game types ... but the meat of the game is the "Three Week Vacation" mode. Surprisingly, there is no Lucky to be seen, instead you create your own character. This just involves picking a face and naming them, but there's a pretty good range for an early '90s game that is evenly divided between men and women. You'll also see your character from a top-down view when they're at a poker table.
You then hit the mean streets of Veg ... er, "Quantum City." The game begins with you getting a random assortment of very valuable free play coupons ... only problem is I could never figure out how to actually use them. The cashier cages in the casinos do nothing, and you can access your coupon book while at gaming tables but there is no obvious way to use them. Only thing I could think of is that maybe they can only be used after you run out of money.
Anyway, the goal is to simply rack up as much in winnings as you can during your three weeks. The game passes in real time, except when you move between casinos. You can walk between them at the cost of a chunk of time, or take a taxi for a fee. Your character also has an energy level that depletes throughout the day, and will also need to be fed at least a couple of meals. Eventually, you get tapped out of energy and have to put up in a hotel for the night. Each property has different hotel and food prices.
So it's comparable to some of the "casino adventure" games that came out of Japan in the late '80s, like Casino Kid and Vegas Dream. It doesn't really do enough to liven up the gambling grind, but it does have some nice little touches. Random events can happen, though the only ones I ever encountered were lightining hitting a casino (rendering it inaccessible for the rest of the day) and "Elvis sightings" that I think are just for fun. Also, if you gamble enough at one property, the casino manager may pop up and comp you a room or food. And I appreciated that each casino had its own little decor theme, down to unique card backs when playing something like blackjack or poker.
Quit stiffing your contractors, Bonald Bump
If you know anything about casinos, you know that none of these games is a winning proposition over the long run (unless you're very good at poker). It's called the "house edge" and it's how casinos stay in business. For all its nice little touches, Lucky's Casino Adventure doesn't really have an answer for getting around this in a video game format. The casinos don't even really have differences in their pay tables / odds to shop around for; aside from decor and hotel/food prices, the only real difference is how many games they have on their floor (the more expensive ones usually have more games). So, as in real life, you're kinda stuck with learning how to grind poker if you want to play strategically. Otherwise, it's just pick a game and hope you get lucky then quit while you're ahead.
So the biggest strength of Lucky's Adventure is simply the long list of well-executed casino games to just practice and fiddle around at (each accompanied by a nice explanation of how they work). The vacation mode is kind of a neat concept, but ultimately doesn't give you much of a reason to grind away at it. The music is also overly boisterous and super irritating, at least on a standard Ad Lib / Sound Blaster. There's enough of interest here for casino game fans to take a look, but gamers who don't have any particular interest in gambling won't be into it.
* Gameplay Video