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Video Game / Jones in the Fast Lane

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Who Says You Can't Win the Rat Race?

An old, rather obscure strategy video game from Sierra, simulating a single average Joe's career, released in 1990.

You begin as a person with a modest amount of cash, living in a squalid apartment, with only basic education and no job - the goal is to reach high levels of riches, happiness, education and career. The game itself is styled after a board game, where each turn (representing a single week) the player moves between various buildings on the board to buy things, work, get jobs, leave money at the bank, etc. The game can be played competitively with up to four human players and one computer-controlled player—Jones.

Tropes in the Fast Lane:

  • All There in the Manual: The game manual reveals that Jones has a family who had to make a lot of sacrifices (the kids have no Nintendos, the mother hasn't bought hosiery for five years, and Jones had to code it by candlelight) to let this game come into fruition.
  • Antagonist Title: Sort of, as Jones is your only opponent should you play against him.
  • Bankruptcy Barrel: What you end up wearing if you neglect buying new clothes for a while.
  • The Cameo: The entire cast is made up of Sierra employees, including Mark Crowe, Josh Mandel and Guruka Singh Khalsa.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: Each character has a differently-colored ball that represents them on the board (green for the young man, red for the short-haired woman, blue for the middle-aged man, and yellow for the long-haired woman). The computer-controlled Jones gets a white ball.
  • Commonplace Rare: Prices at the Monolith Burger are quite ridiculous—French fries, hamburgers etc. have prices going into tens, or even over a hundred dollars! Though they somehow fill you up for an entire week (so you shouldn't actually take this literally).
  • Confetti Drop: Win the game and Jones will drop lots of confetti to celebrate.
  • Cool Shades: The first selectable character wears shades. He also tends to be most confident while playing with his body language.
  • Digitized Sprites: The game uses digitised photos of actors and Sierra staff as sprites for clerks and playable characters.
  • Duel Boss: The game is best played with multiple humans. If you play against the CPU, you can only play against Jones - you can't set multiple CPU opponents.
  • Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: One of the possible newspaper headlines is simply "Extra! Extra!"
  • Horrible Housing: The Low-Cost Housing space where players start off looks fairly old and run-down. Unless you upgrade to the more expensive Le Security apartments, there's always a chance you'll get robbed by Wild Willy if you live there.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Some of the antics you get into during weekends fall under this category, like staying home playing solitaire the entire time or spending the entire weekend at the laundromat washing clothes.
  • Life Simulation Game: One of the earliest examples. However, the game mostly focuses on work instead of life in general.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Most characters in the game are digitized photographs. Jones, however, is a highly cartoonish, big-headed fellow, which is quite jarring.
  • Rags to Riches: Pretty much a description of the gameplay (assuming your money goal is set rather high.)
  • Shout-Out: Monolith Burger is featured on the board.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The newspaper always makes a serious and grim sound when it pops up, even if the news are positive, like "Housing market looks good".
  • Stock Market Game: The Bank lets you see the Broker. In there, you can buy one of six stocks (T-Bills, Gold, Silver, Pork Bellies, Blue Chip Stocks, Penny Stocks) to sell for a potential profit on a later week.
  • Spiritual Successor: It's Game of Life in digital format.
  • Variable Player Goals: Each player can have different money, happiness, education and career goals. For instance, one person could max out the money goal and require tens of thousands of dollars to win, while another may spread them out equally and get a pretty good result in all of them to win.