Gaming review: Jones in the Fast Lane
Gaming review: Jones in the Fast Lane
Time for a gaming retrospective - time for some cut-throat wheeling and dealing - time for some Jones in the Fast Lane!

This turn-based strategy classic was released in 1991 by Sierra Entertainment (Also responsible for other classics like the Hero's Quest, Kings Quest, Police Quest and Space Quest sagas) and was a bit of a deviation from their other works. This game is set up very much like a digital board game, but with some intricacies such as a set amount of 'hours' in a turn to do what you want to do, whether it be spending time at the local college swatting up on new skills to work your way up the ladder, pulling extra shifts at work to boost your savings, or simply relaxing in your apartment. Similar to real life, you can't expect to jump straight to the top of the ladder in a few in-game turns - you'll start off at the bottom of the ladder, flipping burgers or working as a janitor and working your way up the ladder.

All of these things count towards pre-determined goals you decide on at the start of the game, determining how easy or difficult it is for you to win. Meanwhile, you can play simultaneously with up to 3 other people, or against "Jones", an AI player that has varying levels of difficulty that will also determine what goals he needs to work towards.

The game also throws a few spanners into the game to create additional elements of difficulty, such as the possibility of being robbed when you leave a venue, creating an additional incentive to utilise the bank, if you forget to eat or eat spoiled food, you may have to go to the doctors, resulting in a time penalty for your next turn - there's a surprising amount of micro-managing that you need to take on board to get the most out of your turn. You can also purchase items to make life a little easier when you have earned sufficient money, such as a freezer, which lets you pre-purchase food, lottery tickets which you might get lucky and get a cash boost out of and so on.

Despite being 30 years old now, this game is still a lot of fun to play even to this day (and can even be played through a browser at http://jonesinthefastlane.com - it's not really compatible with tablets or mobiles though as it does require a mouse to play) Depending on how many people you have playing with you and the difficulty setting you use, it can make for a short, intense game or a longer game where you need to strategise a little more, but in general, a game will last maybe an hour or two.

Music: 8/10 - despite being 90's style midi's, a lot of venues have their own signature tunes and some of them can be pretty catchy.
Graphics: 8/10 - again the nostalgia factor plus the digitised actors playing the store owners adds an additional layer to an already good game. Plus if you forget to buy clothes when you get a warning they are wearing out, you may find your character stuck wearing a barrel or with censor bars on their body.
Strategy: 9/10 - As mentioned in the review, a surprising amount of thought needs to go into planning out your turns at higher difficulty - how much time you will spend at work, how much time spent learning, whether you remembered to eat this turn, etc.

Final rating: 8.5/10 - Definitely check this classic out and play it with a couple of friends.