Wall Street, Arcade

This weird arcade game was developed and manufactured by Century Electronics in 1982. It features two distinct stages: one where you have to bounce falling stockbrokers into an ambulance using a trampoline, and a second where you have to collect money inside a maze of chasing tanks.

Why the game is called “Wall Street” (and parodies suicide) is anyone’s guess. The opening title screen says “can you save the world economy?“, and the bizarre first stage must be completed before the “Dow Jones Index” timer at the bottom of the screen ticks down to zero. The second stage also has a timer ticking down, but it’s unlabelled, so could mean anything.

Going back to that bizarre first stage: you control a pair of firefighters holding a trampoline and can move them left to right along the bottom of the screen. What look like small children (although the game calls them stockbrokers) leap out of windows in the building on the left, and the aim is to bounce them up into the air and ultimately into a waiting ambulance that is in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. The position of the firefighters is important as the stockbrokers hit the trampoline and a key mechanic of the game is to work out how to control the direction they will bounce so that they go in the direction you want, and also so that they don’t bounce over the ambulance and out of the screen (they have to land directly on top of it to count). As you rescue more stockbrokers a bank building in the background will gradually light up, which I’m assuming is you “saving the world economy”. When the bank is fully lit it’s then onto the second stage.

The second stage is an overhead maze game where you control a man running through a maze of buildings. You must collect bags of money and deposit them – one at a time – into a safe that is located somewhere in the maze, while at the same time avoiding being touched by tanks that are relentlessly pursuing you. You can also shoot the tanks to destroy them.

When you’ve collected all the cash in the maze it’s then on to the next round, which is a repeat of what happened previously but with more stockbrokers jumping out of buildings.

I have to say at this point that the subject of failed stockbrokers committing suicide by jumping out of buildings was somewhat topical in the early ’80s (because it was a relatively widely-reported phenomenon, as I remember it), although that doesn’t dismiss the fact that this game is little more than a poor taste joke on the part of someone who thought it would be funny to make a game out of it. As the saying goes: “you wouldn’t get away with it now”. At least not publicly.

Wall Street does have some synthesised speech that would’ve made the game attractive back in 1982 (because people were fascinated by that kind of thing in the video games of the early 1980s – especially in arcade games, which I presume is because some people thought the games were talking to them personally, LOL) and the game says things like “game system operational” when you turn the game on, and “press start button” if you put a coin into the slot. It also says “save the stockbrokers” when the first stage begins, and what little speech there is on the second stage is mostly unintelligible.

The music in the game is ear-wrenchingly bad. The first stage has what seems to be a poorly-timed rendition of “Those magnificent men in their flying machines“. The second stage is thankfully silent for the most part (apart from a loud buzz that seems more like interference than an actual sound effect) although a tune does start playing when you’ve collected a bag of cash and it doesn’t stop until you’ve deposited it in the safe.

Overall, Wall Street is little more than an embarrassing relic from a bygone era of video gaming and it doesn’t have much going for it. I’d only recommend playing it if you like bad or weird video games.

Final note: Century Electronics were based in Oldham, England, and also produced the “hit” arcade game Hunchback. Reading about their history, it does seem like they were mostly known for creating bad clones of other existing games, and most of their output has since faded into obscurity.

More: Wall Street on arcade-history.com

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