This is Part 2 in a 5 part series based around Wall Street Kid for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It originally appeared in the zine The Backlog: Fortunate Son.
To buy this in zine form, click here.
Wall Street Kid takes place at the home office of the titular “Kid”. That’s right: Wall Street Kid does not take place on the trading floors of Wall Street—the manic, claustrophobic center of frenzied arms shaking and snatching of tiny paper slips. No, it takes place at the Kid’s home computer.
The player gets the option to move a mouse cursor over the different items to accomplish different tasks. If they click on the clock, they’ll proceed to the next day. If they click on the newspaper, they get news that might affect certain companies’ stocks. If they click on the computer, they can buy and sell stocks. As time passes, certain stocks will be worth more and certain stocks will be worth less. The game gives clues as to which ones will change, but a large part of the game involves educated guesswork.
All of the game’s goals are identical: within X amount of time, make Y amount of money. The only change (at least, in terms of gameplay) is value of “X” and “Y”. What does change, and what represents the largest critique of American politics, is the story.
Greed is Good
At the beginning of the game, the player is told that the Kid will inherit billions of dollars from his deceased uncle, but only after proving himself. The Kid is given $500,000 in “seed money” and must make a $1 million. However, the Kid must also marry into a respectable family. So, during the course of the game, the player must keep accomplishing certain tasks in order to keep the Kid’s girlfriend happy. This can be things such as taking her on a picnic, buying her a dog, buying her a car, or buying a yacht. Even though the Kid only needs to make $500k more, that money keeps getting spent on other things. The final challenge is to purchase (at auction) a mansion that once belonged to the Kid’s family.
However, when the Kid buys something, he never needs to pay in full. When he buys a car, he makes a down payment and agrees to pay the rest of the loan in a few week’s time. When he buys the house at auction, he only needs to pay 10% and can pay off the rest in a month. The lesson that is quickly learned from Wall Street Kid is that it’s really easy to make money under one condition: you already have some.