Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation

28 Jun 2022
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - front cover PC MS-DOS
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - front cover PC MS-DOS
Open the door to a casino anywhere in the world and it's the same: Bright lights and bells accompany regular slot machine payoffs, a collective roar from the craps table congratulates a player on a hot dice roll, and the snap of a fresh deck of cards signals a new hand in play at the blackjack table. Everyone's chasing that elusive pot of gold -- hoping the next deal, the next roll of the dice, the next pull of the handle will bring instant fortune. The sense of excitement is contagious, and once inside the doors, the outside world seems very far away.

Several computer game publishers have attempted to recreate this world for the home player. Capstone, working hand in hand with Trump Castle in Atlantic City, has designed a program that's billed as "The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation." As I tore the wrapping from the package, I was eager to discover the accuracy of their claim. Happily, it's not far from the mark: TRUMP CASTLE treats you to one of the best gambling simulations available today. (This review is based on the IBM-PC version; Atari ST version notes follow.)
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - PC Title screen
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - PC Title screen
The opening screen reveals the Trump Castle logo centered conspicuously over two rows of symbols that represent the six game modules. Across the top of the screen is a pull-down menu for modifying game defaults, exiting, and selecting a game from the keyboard; mouse players simply click on a symbol to activate the desired game. The initial bankroll is $10,000 -- quite generous by gaming standards. Because game variety is one of TRUMP's major attractions, I'll cover each module in detail here, just as you'd play it.


BLACKJACK

The table is predominantly green, true to its real-life counterpart. Using a mouse, you drag a chip from one of your five stacks to the center of the table to start play. A right click begins the round; your first two cards and the dealer's second card are dealt face up, with the dealer's cards appearing in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. The object of the game is to come as close to twenty-one points as possible without going over, while scoring a higher point total than the dealer. A left click "hits" (or asks for another card), a right click "stands" (or ends the deal at the current point total).
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - Blackjack
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - Blackjack
On appropriate hands, there are options for splitting pairs, doubling down, and insurance. A box on the lower-left of the screen keeps a running total of your bankroll, as well as the amount wagered on each hand. No screen commands are shown, nor is there a provision for point totalling, which might make this game more difficult for someone trying to learn it.


VIDEO POKER

As in all other modules, the graphics are excellent and the design (here, of a machine) is realistic. The backs of five cards are displayed in the center of the screen, each in its own little window. Beneath every card is a button marked "Hold," and a "Deal" button appears on the lower-left of the screen. The coin return tray is to the right, with the status screen on the far-right. You can insert up to five coins for each hand.

Although the cards are well-drawn and easy to read, the logistics of placing more than one bet are very tedious: You have to drag the mouse from the stack to the slot every time you enter a coin. It'd be much nicer if you could set the amount of your bet once, and then replay it with a single click of the mouse.
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - Video Poker
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - Video Poker
After placing your bet, a click on the "Deal" box starts play; you draw cards by clicking on the "Hold" buttons (which change to "Draw" as they're selected). A pair of Jacks will earn you the smallest payoff, while better poker hands bring larger winnings. The "Control-O" combination reveals the "odds" screen, detailing the various payoffs. If a win is recorded, coins drop into the tray beneath the machine. No on-screen commands appear, again forcing the keyboard player to depend on the command card or manual for help.


KENO

This is one of my favorite modules, although in a real casino I rarely play the game. Unlike other simulations that display the keno ticket only before and after the numbers are drawn, TRUMP's keno machine shows the numbers _as_ they're coming up. I kept returning to this segment just because I enjoyed watching the keno machine!
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - Keno
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - Keno
As in other simulations, this one begins with the keno ticket: After dragging your bet to the slot, you mark your ticket with a left click, and erase or change numbers with the right mouse button. When satisfied with your picks, clicking on the coin slot pops up the keno machine and selects all the numbers on which the "house" will pay. Your ticket then reappears, with lights behind all payoff numbers so you can check for winners. Payoffs are determined by the number of picks made (as the "Control-O" combination indicates). If you want to replay your numbers, just drag your next bet to the slot and click on it. Lots of keno players bet on the same numbers in successive games, so it's good to find this option included.


ROULETTE

The familiar red and black numbers on the green background are very realistically depicted. Five stacks of chips in varying amounts appear on the top-right of the screen, with the previous winning number in a window on the top-left. Simply dragging your bet to the desired numbers on the table makes this segment one of the easiest to play. You can lay your chips between two numbers, on the end of a row, or in the middle of a four-number square. When all numbers have been selected, clicking the small window on the upper-left starts play and brings up the next screen: a side view of the roulette wheel with its spinning ball. As soon as the ball drops, the wheel disappears and the roulette number is displayed once again.
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - Roulette
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - Roulette
Although marking the numbers with the mouse is relatively easy, I would've appreciated the ability to replay my same numbers, instead of having to place individual bets for each spin of the wheel. I realize it's more realistic that way, but it's much more of an inconvenience here than in a casino.

I also would've liked a clearer view of the spinning wheel. The numbers on the wheel are not visible, even though for most of us, the fun of roulette is in watching the ball dance over the numbers and hoping it'll land on the one we've picked. Without this exciting element, the game loses a lot of its real-life attraction.


CRAPS

A full-size craps table occupies most of the screen in this module, with a status bar and five stacks of brightly-colored chips drawn below. The dice are pictured in a large window, centered on the bottom edge of the table. As in roulette, making bets with the mouse is easy: Merely click on the desired stack and drag the chip to the appropriate place on the table.
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - Craps
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - Craps
A click on the dice window activates a smaller pair of dice that rolls diagonally across the table and lands directly over the dice window to reveal the number rolled. Unless the "house" clears the table, your bets remain and must be removed if you wish to change them before the next roll. Again, with the mouse, this is a relatively simple task.

A casino craps game is fast-moving, but the dice roll here is extremely slow and jerky, causing the game action to drag considerably. Also, the "Buy" and "Place" bets, as well as the corner "Big Six" and "Big Eight" bets, are unavailable -- despite their favor with many casino players. This omission would be a major disappointment to anyone who purchased TRUMP to learn or practice these particular aspects of casino craps.


SLOTS

If the game designers skimped on the craps table, they made up for it in the slots! There are no less than _nine_ slot machines -- more than in any other comprehensive gaming simulation, and more than you'll find in most dedicated slots programs! When you choose this module from the main menu, nine miniature slot machines appear in three rows of three machines each, each row sporting a different color. It's hard to distinguish machine designs from the menu; only in the close-ups are the differences apparent. All nine machines are multi-play; that is, you need more than one coin to bet all possible payoff lines. Six of the slots are three-reelers, and three are four-reelers, displaying either three or four symbols across the middle of the three rows shown. The three center machines are progressive: Each successive play raises the amount of the jackpot. Either the usual "Control-O" combination or a click on the "payoff" box on the lower-left of the screen reveals the odds as each machine appears.

Once again, betting is as tedious as in Video Poker. To bet the full five-coin amount, you must drag the mouse from the stack of chips to the coin slot five separate times, and then click once on the handle to activate play. If the machine pays off, the coins drop into the tray at the bottom of the screen. They're only for "show," however; you can't use them for betting.
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - Slots
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation - Slots
Unfortunately, some of the machines are distracting: I couldn't look at the bright green slots for long, and the red handles on the red machines are impossible to discern. Luckily, the tip of the handle is a different color, so I just clicked on that to begin play. I also found the sound of play annoying; too bad this feature can't be disabled. Because of these drawbacks, the slots didn't hold much interest for me, contrary to their powerful effect in the casino!

Playing TRUMP CASTLE on an IBM 386/20 with a Microsoft mouse, I was jolted at bootup when greeted not by a beautiful rendition of Trump Castle or its logo, but by Capstone's copy-protection scheme: "What is the symbol at Row 26, Column 5?" Naturally, I grabbed the copy-protection card to search for the correct response. It's printed in light blue ink, difficult to read even without having to scan all those densely packed symbols printed in very small type.

Needless to say, TRUMP did not get off to a good start with me! You have three chances to enter the correct answer; if you're unsuccessful, the system locks up, forcing you to reboot. This would be no problem, of course, if the copy-protection card were easier to read. But because your response must be typed _exactly_ as it appears on the card, you're in for plenty of frustration if the eye-blurring rows and columns confuse you.

Fortunately, once past this irritation, the rewards are many. The graphics are outstanding: Capstone certainly makes good use of the sixteen colors in the EGA spectrum. TRUMP requires 256K of RAM and CGA or EGA graphics capability.

Because the copy-protection scheme is not disk-based, installation of the game is simple. You can use the DOS "copy" command to transfer files to anoth floppy, or to your hard drive. The program is controlled by either a Microsoft-compatible mouse or the keyboard. Although using the mouse should make game play easy, I found the overall mechanics awkward and illogical; what should have been so simple was often complicated by the nature of the available choices. Furthermore, a keyboard player is heavily dependent on the accompanying command card, since no commands are listed on the screen anywhere in the entire simulation. If you lose either your command card or your manual, play will be nearly impossible until Capstone replaces the missing instructions.

All in all, the variety of gaming options and the ability to use a mouse are TRUMP's major attractions for me; the copy-protection card and the mechanics of play are its major drawbacks. I don't know that I would call TRUMP CASTLE the "ultimate" gaming simulation, but as I said earlier, it's definitely one of the best available today.


ATARI ST VERSION NOTES

The Atari ST version of TRUMP CASTLE offers excellent graphics, sound, and animation; easy mouse interface; keyboard-invoked Help, Results, Chip Value, Odds, and Table Limit screens; and copy protection. It requires 512K and a color monitor.
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation on Atari ST - Craps
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation on Atari ST - Craps
TRUMP CASTLE on the Atari ST is a really good program that works perfectly in all respects. While any software labeled "ultimate" is a package to be leery of, TC definitely gets the job done and does so smoothly. There's sure to be another "ultimate" gambling simulation produced in the future, but it'll have to go a long way to beat this one.

All actions are mouse-controlled: Chips can be dragged to, dropped on, or removed from the betting tables, and dragged and dropped into coin slots. Clicks set wheels, deals, dice, and handles in motion. A Help Screen is available through the Help key. Point at a bet on any betting screen, press the Control-O key combination, and you'll see the odds and payoffs for that bet. Other Control/Key combinations quit the current game and return to the Main Menu, display results, deal the cards, throw the dice, spin the wheel, and display the bet limits on a particular table.
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation on Atari ST - Roulette
Trump Castle: The Ultimate Casino Gambling Simulation on Atari ST - Roulette
The TRUMP CASTLE package comes with two copy-protected disks, an instruction manual, and a Code Card that's used as an additional form of copy protection. The manual explains the rules of the games and general program operation clearly. Although "Version 1.5" is stamped on the disks, "Version 1.2" appears onscreen: Whichever version this is, it works fine.

Simply put, TRUMP CASTLE is a top-notch gambling simulation, starting with the opening sequence: A jet lands and a digitized voice welcomes you to Atlantic City. The graphics are excellent, the animations (especially the roulette wheel and the dice) are great, and the sparingly-used sound effects are just right. Each game plays perfectly, the mouse interface is as easy to use as can be, and even if you're not a gambler, you'll go home a winner with TRUMP CASTLE.

TRUMP CASTLE: THE ULTIMATE CASINO GAMBLING SIMULATION is published by Capstone and distributed by IntraCorp.
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