Yuji Horii is arguably one of the most important pioneers in the video game industry known chiefly for the Dragon Quest series, originally known as Dragon Warrior in North America. In addition to redefining the RPG genre into what it is now with companies modeling their games after Mr. Horii’s examples, he also did other projects that would impact the video game world. Examples include the world-renowned Chrono Trigger and the first visual novel adventure/mystery game, Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (The Portopia Serial Murder Case). A lesser-known work Mr. Horii created was what originally started as a mini-game in Dragon Quest III. The Itadaki Street series, a finance board game, was featured as a standalone title on the Famicom in 1991. The series has never crossed beyond Japan until Itadaki Street Wii was released under the name of Fortune Street in North America and Boom Street in Europe. In spite of its import status, this game is one of the better board games, possibly better than even Monopoly. Since this is a review for a website that is dedicated to SNES and Super Famicom games, we will focus on Itadaki Street 2: Neon Sign wa Bara Iro Ni, which roughly translates to Top Street 2: Pink-Colored Neon Sign.
Itadaki Street is, in simple terms, a cross between Mario Party and Monopoly; the main object of the game is to be the first to acquire a set net worth and make it to the bank in order to be declared the winner. Exactly how you do it is easy enough: The turn order is randomly decided along with a color code, then players roll a dice on a board and go exactly how many spaces the dice will allot them. Depending on where they land, they can either buy a property, play a mini game, pick a card which either gives them a boost or not, be forced to pay money on a property that someone else owns, or maybe even forced to take a day off, unable to make any money out of whoever lands on their properties. What makes the game so complex is that stock can be bought every time a player passes the bank, increasing the total worth of a property district when a player buys a particular stock, but decreases whenever a player is forced to sell stock. Upgrading property is when a player lands on his own space and is given the opportunity to put money on a property, making it more valuable and driving up stock. Lastly, players must go around the board and collect four suits to collect their salary when they stop at the bank.
Like any financial advisor can tell you, you’ve got to make smart choices with the market to succeed. Will you piggy-back on others’ stock or will you go your own path to make more money? Too many careless decisions will make a player go bankrupt and depending on the rules, when that happens the game automatically ends with the winner being the one with the most net worth at that moment. In my experience this seldom, if ever, happens. If any computer players are involved, they all consist of people ranging with different intelligence and with what I’m guessing is a short summary for each of them (I can barely read Japanese, and as of this writing there is no fan translation for me to use). Since this game has an underlying complexity, the language barrier is the biggest factor that may turn off more casual players, especially just to set up the game. The second biggest factor is the time needed to play just one board in one sitting, i.e. 3-4 hours. Regardless of the aforementioned, for those who probably played Fortune Street and/or can read Japanese, the pace of the gameplay and the strategies is certainly rewarding. I almost forgot to mention that the game has a tutorial to introduce new players to the rules, which is a huge plus.
Surprisingly, quite a bit of detail has gone into making Itadaki Street 2 more polished. The backgrounds of the boards are intricate in their appearance while the main board floats in the sky high above; little elves mind their own business either frolicking in the grass or fishing; cities and towns are flourishing with connected roads; little windmills are turning and little tugboats are tooting. It almost feels like these little details roll into the game. What’s also detailed are the boards: One of them is shaped like a slime from Dragon Quest, another one is based on the realm of Alefgard from the first Dragon Quest game, another takes the players to a moon city, and yet another is shaped like Japan! It’s very satisfying to see the designers took their time and not “cut corners” like some other companies do even with the SNES. I do think, however, that the computer characters look like your generic, mostly forgettable anime stock from a four-paneled Yonkoma manga. There’s some random little boy that maybe likes to make marks on people with his slingshot to some rich snobs to some dude that looks like Daiku no Gen-san’s lanky uncle to some hermit that looks like a living Jizou statue (the type that Raccoon Mario from Super Mario Bros. 3 transforms into), but their silly expressions when they either win or lose make up for their appearance.
The music to the game is very atmospheric and transparent, not needing to be some epic soundtrack like Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger, after all, why would it be? You wouldn’t need Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony while playing Clue, would you? Each board has its own theme and are specifically designed so you won’t grow quickly bored with them. They are subtle enough that you may pay no heed to them. That’s a good thing because you’re going to hear those tunes for a long while. Each track you hear screams three things: business, a booming economy, and high living! It’s as if they’re saying, “You’re here for the money! You’re here for the high-rolling hustle and bustle that is the American (or Japanese, under the circumstances) dream! Now go out there and win it big!”
The language barrier and the long playtime might be a bit much for some, but Itadaki Street 2 has a charming atmosphere and interesting strategy that would be great for any video game party. Yuji Horii and his team took great care to make sure that this game is a sound investment with its detailed graphics and easy-going but money-minded music. It has enough strategies and twists to shake your bottom dollar at even though the characters don’t exactly have the appeal of Super Mario, the Dragon Quest characters or the Final Fantasy characters its sequels cater to! If you’re into Monopoly but want something a little different, Itadaki Street 2 is one Super Famicom game that will pay you dividends and a commission for your money.
4 out of 5 Stars.
Yuji Horii. (2017, March 10). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuji_Horii
The Portopia Serial Murder Case. (2017, March 11). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Portopia_Serial_Murder_Case
Fortune Street. (2017, March 13). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortune_Street
Hammerin’ Harry. (2017, March 10). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammerin%27_Harry
Yonkoma. (2017, March 11). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yonkoma
Kshitigarbha. (2017, March 14). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kshitigarbha
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