Before there was even a concept of the life simulation franchise The Sims, there was another game that was out that was one of my favorites as a child. Jones in the Fast Lane, developed and published by Sierra Entertainment in 1990, was one of the most fun simulation games of the time. Not only did it have amazing graphics for the time, but the game play was top-notch. It was literally a life simulation game for “Keeping up with the Joneses.”
The game’s goals are simple get enough wealth, happiness, career, and education points and win. The game can be played one of three ways: just with one player, one player against the computer (the game calls him “Jones”), or up to four players. Of course, this was at a time before online gaming, so those four players actually had to be in the same room, taking turns on the computer. Remember the days of the family PC? This game catered to that crowd.
The player goes through a board-game style layout with different types of businesses including a factory, a bank, a grocery store, an appliance store, a clothing store, and so on. Players must get a job, make money, feed themselves each week, and find time to relax a bit. Of course, if they want to move up the ladder a bit, getting an education is a must. The player plays a week at a time instead of days. Everything is timed in the game, so walking to a place takes time, working takes time, taking a class takes time. Even going shopping takes time. When the time is up for each week, the next player goes. Each player must make sure that they plan out what they want to accomplish each week.
With everything that the player does, it creates points. Advance in your career? Points. Finish a class at the university? Points. Buy a hot tub? Points. Sit and do nothing in your apartment? Points. The goal points can be adjusted at the beginning of the game if you want a shorter or longer game. Jones in the Fast Lane may sound easy with these elements, but there are a lot of issues that can arise including: inflation or deflation, rent being due every week, needing new clothes every six weeks, getting robbed at the bank, and even applying for a job. It’s a truly fun game, and it’s even more fun with a bunch of people hovered around one computer.
For the time, Jones in the Fast lane had amazing 256-color VGA graphics, and it was also apparently one of the first games to run in Windows 3.0. The fact that I still love to play it twenty-five years later says something about the quality of the game. Even though it’s not the latest thing, because it’s designed almost like a board game, it really doesn’t matter how old it is. It will always feel like a great board game, and those never go out of style. Though it’s an old game, the graphics aren’t what I would say are headache-inducing like some of the ones in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It’s just one of those special games that you always want to go back to.
Jones in the Fast Lane used to have an app on the Google Play Store that had a pretty decent port of it for Android, but that has not been taken down. I’m not sure why. If you do get a chance to run across this gem, I highly recommend it. The game is amazing, and still is relevant even today. As I always say, I learned how to live through Jones in the Fast Lane: pay your rent on time, work hard, get an education, get some stuff to make your life easier, and find time to relax. That really is the best advice to life in my humble opinion.