STONKS-9800: Stock Market Simulator is exactly what it sounds like: a stock market simulator. Set in the 1980s in Japan, you play as a businessman, stepping into the work of stock trading.
The basic gameplay loop is simple and primarily focused on buying and selling stocks to increase your total wealth. Throughout this process, however, there are other smaller events and cycles to manage. Events will pop up from time to time, such as being invited to play pachinko or bet on horse races, which can be good uses of time, and are an enjoyable diversion from the typical gameplay.
In its current form, progression is very arbitrary, with no clear-cut end goal or target, as the story mode is currently unfinished. However, free play does have a relatively satisfying system that is mostly focused on increasing income and buying new cars and houses to improve comfort, which will minimise stress and help reduce the chance of any negative events (such as ending up in the hospital). You can even go to stockholder meetings and potentially climb the ranks of the board and become the CEO of different companies. Slightly less safe opportunities will arise throughout the runtime of the game; this can be as simple as investing in a risky business venture or even participating in illicit activities, which can have much more dire consequences.
Alongside these, there are some smaller activities, such as being able to bond with your advisor Amy, which I couldn’t see any reason for in terms of gameplay, however, I still personally felt like engaging with this system, as her character was very fresh, and it was nice to get to know her. The story mode seems to be heavily focused on her, with multiple endings depending on your interactions, so as that releases, this system will be fleshed out much more. You’ll also have to manage your reputation in many ways: having a good public image, for example, will give you access to more lucrative and interesting deals, or a high innovation stat will bring about more investing opportunities.
STONKS-9800 is drowning in style and charm. With its setting in ‘80s Japan, it takes heavy inspiration from the style and culture of that period. The visuals are incredibly pleasing to the eye, with light colours across most of the game, along with an almost vaporwave aesthetic. The music matches this too; while it’s not too energetic, it feels very fitting for the era, with a modernised — and very funky — Sega Mega Drive-esque sound. The most common part of the game you’ll see will be the main computer screen, with a lot of early Windows design features, along with a CRT filter — the only time I’ve ever seen one be worth using. Amy is the only detailed person you’ll be seeing, the design is incredible and evokes feelings of anime characters from that era, specifically reminding me of the designs from Policenauts and Snatcher.
STONKS-9800 is a wonderful little game, perfect for just relaxing for a few hours and getting sucked into the charm of the world. Despite the lack of progression or goals, the game still has a lot of worth in its current state and can only go up from here; definitely look out for this one!