The Chaos Engine

The Chaos Engine is a top-down run and gun video game developed by The Bitmap Brothers and published by Renegade Software in 1993. The game is set in a steampunk Victorian age in which one or two players must battle the hostile creations of the titular Chaos Engine across four landscapes and ultimately defeat the Chaos Engine and its deranged inventor.

Vegas Stakes Review (1993)

Vegas Stakes is an excellent example of how to do a casino game on the console format. Instead of merely aiming for the gambling crowd, the developers included several surrounding characters to inject some life into the game. To encourage replay value, there is an adventure element as you try to make your way to Laurel Palace and shoot for the $10 million goal. While a few more games is preferable, the selection is diverse enough to give players a feel for casino gambling. All of the rules are here as well, so you can can double down, split and buy insurance in Blackjack and call, raise and fold with up to three other computer players in Seven-Card Stud Poker. An added benefit is that each casino has different themed backgrounds and music (although the music gets extremely annoying since it loops over and over again).

The most distinguishing aspect of the game is the use of characters who will talk to you from time to time. After you begin the game, you’ll enter your name in the hotel’s registry and call a friend from your “room.” Choose a companion to accompany you in your travels and select one of the five games to play. You’ll then be taken to the game of your choice and can place your bet by moving the dials of your money register in the top right corner of the screen (under your name). Once you start winning consistently, a few people will start “talking” to you (a menu screen will pop up with a character’s portrait, name and question).

These encounters will give you the opportunity to earn some more money or lose it through foolish decisions. For example, if a woman asks to wipe a spot off your shirt, she could be trying to pickpocket you! Politely decline and the woman may become upset, commenting on how she was just trying to be nice. You’re given a second chance to allow the person to clean your shirt, but don’t be surprised when you lose half of your bank account! Other opportunities exist when characters want to pawn jewelry or bet on certain sports games. Make the right decision and you can add to your wealth.

If there is but one drawback to the title (aside from the handful of games), it’s that it is not very difficult to amass $10 million. Since you’re allowed to save at any time, you can just bet everything on one blackjack hand and double your money. Exit the game and keep saving after each win and you’ll quickly amass a fortune, especially in some of more exclusive casinos. Once you gain access to Laurel Palace (you’re invited after reaching $100,000), you’ll be rolling in the dough in no time. Of course, this strategy can be used in any casino game that allows you to save your earnings after every wager. Regardless, the overall package is well designed and a safe bet for anyone remotely interested in the genre.

Graphics

The graphics aren’t anything to shout about — most screens are digitized still pictures. Cards might be hard for some players to read as they are a bit on the small side.

Sound

While each casino has its own theme song, it repeats endlessly and there’s no way to turn it off. Make sure you have your thumb close to the remote control’s mute button! Some voice clips would have been appreciated…

Enjoyment

Some of the games may not appeal to all players, but the ones included are well done.

Replay Value

Battery backup will save all of your money so you can continue your adventure at a later time. Unfortunately, the game ends once you reach the $10 million goal. It would have been cool if you could keep going!

Documentation

Everything is explained in full-color, including the different odds and payout charts for each game.

Populous Overview

In Populous you are a jealous god with a large group of followers from whom you derive your power. The larger your following, the more powerful you become. Another group follows a dark deity, and it is your job to quash this opposition.

You can send your people to settle areas of the world, fight the enemy, destroy crops, build castles for defense, kill people or burn down settlements. You can play the game in Conquest mode, which consists of nearly 500 fixed worlds, or you can customize the game and modify more than 60 game parameters or design your own worlds. In the Conquest mode, you are always the good deity, but in the Custom mode, you can play an evil god. The Custom mode also allows you to play an opponent via modem or datalink.

The terrain in Populous varies from world to world, ranging from hot deserts to lush forests to ice masses. You can control the natural disasters on these worlds and destroy your enemies with such catastrophes as earthquakes, fires, volcanoes and floods.