Funny Never Sleeps: American Dream

By Quintin Smith on February 10th, 2011 at 2:17 pm.

Gaze upon my bone shrine to Father Dollar.

American Dream is a collaborative browser game from Increpare, VVVVVV’s Terry Cavanagh, Jasper Byrne and Tom Morgan-Jones that’s made me laugh more than enough to warrant a post. It’s a bit like Oliver Stone’s Wall Street directed by a wet pocket calculator. Set in the 80s, it tasks you with fulfilling the American dream by making a million dollars, though according to Terry it started its life as a game called Killing Spree about “an assassin who spent all his money on designer furniture”. Go play! It’s exactly the kind of oddball thing that I play then can’t help but wonder how it would have turned out with an actual budget.

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54 Comments »

  1. Zyrxil says:

    Ow my eyes! That’s exactly the right perspective to have my brain not be able to decide whether the inside wall is the outside wall or vice versa.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      yeah that took my eyes a minute to figure that one out. I think part of the problem is all the black space and you can’t really see any sort of thickness to the walls. they are just a flat plane.

    • Torgen says:

      Oh Jesus God, it’s like an abortive attempt at an Escher painting with an EGA palette. My poor eyes.

    • Dozer says:

      Looks fine to me. What you say? What a shame.

      That said, all the vibrating brightly random colour flashing animations were a bit painful to look at.

    • Metonymy says:

      Someone hasn’t played the original Mother.

  2. Tazer says:

    Creepy game is creepy….

    It reminded me of American Psycho.

  3. Mike says:

    Really cool, I like the core mechanic too. It’s too easy to make a bomb once you’ve decked out your place early in a season. I guess that might be part of the point though?

  4. Ian says:

    So…. was that a nice ending?

    (I got there in 51 weeks, I assume it can be done significantly faster.)

    • Zyrxil says:

      I got it by week 37, and I think it can still go faster. Apparently the key to fast wealth is to spruce up your house so you can have lots of key parties where you sleep with women who can control the future (of celebrity stock prices).

    • snitchy says:

      I think what was happening was more along the lines of stock brokers boning your wife and giving you sound investments in turn.

    • Zyrxil says:

      I prefer my version, because it includes an unusual superpower, and because the stock prices go abnormally high.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Zyxril’s version makes more sense too, because the abnormal price hikes don’t actually occur unless you’re having the parties.

    • simonh says:

      It took me around 50 weeks as well on my first playthrough, because I didn’t understand the benefits of parties (stock tips) until late in the game, and thus didn’t upgrade my furniture as fast as I should have.
      The second time I spent much more on furniture and got there in 23 weeks.

      It’s very easy even without the stock tips though, as rather than behaving realistically, the stocks have high and low boundaries, so if you buy when they’re really low, they’re guaranteed to rise, at least after a few weeks.

      Also, I’ve got a feeling that the system is somewhat rigged, often giving a great spike in a stock right after you buy it, but it’s possible that’s just some sort of gambler’s fallacy.

    • Consumatopia says:

      The last thing that the guy who gives you directions says is “I’d sure love to meet your wife”.

    • rhizo says:

      Oh wow, I apparently missed the entire point. I just kept pressing Z and trading stock until I made a million and the game ended. The ending screen was a bit perplexing “doing something you love”, I just went to work every week.

  5. Teddy Leach says:

    I bought 20 Arnies and a Michael Jackson. I feel unclean.

  6. Mr_Hands says:

    I just kept buying Mr. T.

    I didn’t want to, he wasn’t performing well.

    I just couldn’t help myself.

    Now I am become a pitiable fool.

  7. esbates7 says:

    trying to resist the urge to deck out my house and have wild parties….now to find the sheep!

  8. Heliocentric says:

    IDGI

    • CMaster says:

      Indeed.
      I didn’t so much as smirk the whole way through.

    • Inigo says:

      You obviously don’t appreciate dick drawings as much as Mr. Smith does.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      I think I laughed at everything but the dick drawings. So quick to judge!

    • CMaster says:

      @Quinns
      Now I’m really confused.
      You laughed at the old celebrity names?
      At the keeping up with the Jones’s?
      Did you actually play a different game?

    • Om says:

      I laughed at the Buy/Sell background screens. I’m strange like that

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      I laughed at having to upgrade my ZX-80 to a Spectrum because it was out of fashion.

    • MadMatty says:

      Hell i smirked at damn near everything, and laughed a bit too, but then i am unbelieavably raunchy.

  9. mikmann says:

    I am a millionaire!

  10. Mr Chug says:

    I nearly lost it all when the bottom dropped out of Sylvester Stallone. Perhaps I should have been more worried about the safety of my own bottom, though.

  11. TXinTXe says:

    This is a lot like dopewars, isn’t it?

  12. hjd_uk says:

    Quirky, wouldn’t say it’s “Funny” though.

  13. Weylund The Second says:

    Enjoyed. Cheers, Quintin.

  14. orangedragon says:

    can’t believe I played that till the end.

    i am a millionaire
    THE END!

  15. lolfang says:

    Bi-zarre.

    Liked it, though the end part of the game with parties all over made the game really easy.

  16. brulleks says:

    I had to quit as soon as I realised it involved buying stocks and shares. That freaks me out more than any horror game ever could.

  17. Calabi says:

    I dont get it.

  18. Chakawi says:

    Woot, I’m a millionaire! And doing something I love!

  19. EthZee says:

    I was guessing at first, until I noticed that the graphs at the bottom actually meant something. At that point it became very entertaining!

    I’ll admit the endgame is pretty easy, though. If rather hilarious, and satisfying in that “MORE THINGS” way.

    • Zyrxil says:

      Hilarious?! You plebe, how could you misunderstand this noble and wellcrafted tirade against the evils of Broker Commissions, Income Taxes, and sexual Puritanism? You disgust me.

  20. Inigo says:

    It took me a second playthough to discover that buying things for your house actually served a purpose.
    First time round I ignored all that and just focused on the trading screen.

    • MadMatty says:

      my real life room suffers a bit from the same. I could upgrade to get tipped off from the sheep?

  21. geldonyetich says:

    They laughed at my Tina Turner heavy portfolio. Well, who’s laughing now?!

    Party Time is somewhat NSFW.

    Not a hard game, the market swings up and down consistently so that buying low and selling high is easy.

    But then, that’s sort of the point. It’s essentially an art game about “The American Dream” consisting of buying the latest name brand stuff, engaging in wild hedonism, and making easy money playing the market. It’s poking fun at a whole sack of self-delusion that goes into lusting after a million dollars.

  22. patricij says:

    I got bored and left. That is all.

  23. mwoody says:

    I kept expecting the end of the game to be me busted for insider trading.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      This. Or everyone in the game dying of AIDS.

    • forddent says:

      That’s what makes the game funny, though. We’ve been conditioned to expect that all this hedonism and insider trading is going to carry a terrible price, but in the end… it doesn’t. You get the million dollars and the game ends happily, apart from a vaguely underwhelming feeling which is, honestly, part of the commentary on chasing the American dream in the first place.

      It’s subtle and I dig it.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      The 80s was its own punishment.

  24. robotco says:

    all this is is a crayon drawing of tape that flashes ‘press ACTION to begin’ over and over again. i can see no other options, and my mouse disappears if i scroll over the tape. do i need to upgrade my browser?

  25. MadTinkerer says:

    It’s a little too easy to beat (yes, even for a joke game). I would have the tips only be right 3 in 4 times, like the man that gives you tips in the Millennium Fair races in Chrono Trigger.

    There should also be something else to spend money on, besides sprucing up your place. Twenty weeks in, it’s a little too easy to just buy everything in the catalog every time. Upgrading your stuff is a little too useful because it leads to good tips 100% of the time and is therefore pays for itself immediately every time. In other words “luxuries” quickly become necessary business overhead, but at negligible cost once you are able to buy and sell the most fluctuating goods because the 100% correct tips remove the risk factor.

    Maybe there should be a penalty for partying too much, because it’s too easy to party and work every week. But maybe that’s just part of the satire.

  26. calavera says:

    The ending is what made it funny for me. The entire time I’m sitting there playing this and thinking “what’s so funny about this? this game is horrible… there’s nothing even remotely fun about it. i hate this.” Then I finally hit 1 million dollars, and the game tells me that “I did it doing something I loved”. I pretty much lost it laughing at the irony.

  27. multiname says:

    Just saying something true in an oblique way isn’t satirical comedy, or funny at all. Although it could be art.

  28. RegisteredUser says:

    Well that was a bit quick and simple.

    I actually enjoyed making virtual money, I had just hoped I could partake a bit more in the sex games.

  29. Melipone says:

    Pull out of Madonna! etc.

    Also, if there was any real dishonesty to this game we’d be able to short sell Rick Astley.