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Jones in the Fast Lane

aka: Keeping Up With Jones
Moby ID: 370
Special Edition

Description official description

Jones in the Fast Lane is a simulation of a person's life, presented as a turn-based strategy game. You can play by yourself, or compete with other human players or the computer-controlled Jones. At the beginning of the game you determine what your goals are, in four categories - Money, Happiness, Education and Career: the higher your goals, the longer the game.

The game itself is presented as something akin to a board game. The board represents the city where you live. Each turn (here, a turn represents a week of your life) you have limited time to act, and you have to choose how to spend it. Walking somewhere else costs you time, as well as working, learning, and looking for a job.

The first thing you should do is looking for a job at an employment center. Since initially you have no education, experience or work history, you can only choose the simplest, lowest-paying jobs - such as a janitor or a cook. Later on, as you enroll into various courses at an university, you'll get smart enough to get the high-ranking jobs. But remember that some jobs require you to buy and wear expensive clothes.

Work isn't mandatory, and you can dedicate time to working whenever you feel like it. The money you get can be spent in many ways. You can buy a snack at a fast food restaurant (you should eat something each week, or next week you'll have less time due to hunger). You can buy some appliances for your house, lottery tickets, newspapers and more. You can also store your money in the bank (a wise choice, considering the ubiquity of pickpockets) or invest into stock market. Remember that you have to pay rent for your house - if you don't pay for a long time, your landlord will garnish some amount from the money you earn at work. But if you get enough cash, you can rent a luxury apartment and move out of the stinky hole inside which you've been spending your life earlier!

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Credits (DOS version)

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 67% (based on 9 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 44 ratings with 5 reviews)

One of the best computer board games!

The Good
Well, what did I like about this game? The actual should be, what do I NOT like about this game! It's fast paced, the digitalized pictures of actors were one of the first ones I've ever seen in a computer game and they were cool (Seriously, one of the female characters dressed in the 'dress' outfit reminded me of my elder sister at that time! Almost a word-for-word copy. How cool is that?), and the various options and routes that you can take in the game are also very amusing and fun to play out... why not allow yourself to go without clothes and money for a while, then have someone bail you out with a hilarious note! That was classic.

OK, so that was the general statement of why I liked it. Let me go on the specifics. First of all, at the start of the game, you're all equal, you have the same amount of money that you start out with in Monopoly (coincidence? I think not!) and you have no job, no education, and you live in a shabby apartment. I think that this would perfectly describe most people who move out of their parent's home immediately after high school, so I'm sure someone out there was smiling at this, After wards you need to find a job to make ends meet... and lo and behold! Other than the hilarious random greeting one-liner that the employment office guys give, the sheer amount of jobs available for you to choose is staggering! Some places only have three or four, but some places have nearly 10 or more! That's impressive in itself.

And not just the jobs, you need to eat to make sure you don't lose time or get sick, and as such waste a whole lot of time, then you need to pay rent, go to college... and speaking of the college, you have so many degrees that even to this day, while I can probably name them, I never counted how many! That, and when you have to furnish your home by buying appliances (pity you never see a real evolution of your home in the game. There are some visible aspects that would change, but nothing too radical) and you have to be careful what you buy at what point in the game, least the only criminal in the whole city come and rob you clean!

What other thing I like? The random, dynamic economy. It's not a set piece with set prices and wages, but the stuff can fluctuate radically depending on your actions, how much you buy, and some random effects. You could get a raise, a pay cut, lose your job, have your rent double or halve, you really can't tell.

Oh, and there's a stock market feature, too... I never did get quite too into it, but if you fancy pretending you're a Wall-street investor, this is it.

I could go on all day bringing up the aspects as to why this game is good and what I liked about it, but I think after this I'll let the people who read this go and play it to find out more on their own.

The Bad
For all it's nice graphics, dynamic game play, and humor, there are some things about the game that could have been improved. For one thing, the game's computer AI, Jones (made for people who like to play alone or have no one to play with), is not too particularly challenging, and while he can sometimes force you move faster than slack off, the decisions he makes are painfully slow, meaning he takes a few seconds to click a button to do an action and you have to wait double or triple the time you would normally spend on a turn. This does get very annoying at times and more often than not, I play alone to avoid it.

Also there aren't too many pitfalls in the game, either. Only a few jobs at first aren't available, and even if you lost your job later on due to an economy, you can always get it back instantly (albeit usually at a lower salary).

And if I can bring it up, the game's manual is not too descriptive either... there are some items in the game that don't seem to do anything, yet I've learned much later on that they have a temporary harm to your goal stats... there's no obvious indication of this in the game or the manual, meaning you could be playing for years, doing the same harmful actions to your character, yet have no idea what you were doing! This really isn't how a manual should be, and while I'm all for letting the players find out things on their own, there needs to be at least some kind of guideline to give you hints and description.

The final negative point is that the game is a surefire win thing... you can't lose this game, period, you can only delay going to the top. In the Sims, made much later, you could play living in a shabby house forever basically, never ever having enough money to make it to the big leagues or have anything more than a small house (which is why that game is given the cheat that makes it so famous).

They didn't have to have random catastrophic failures to kill the character or anything, but at least some course of action that would result in failure for the character and dropped out of the game... it would be fairly interesting to see it happen. I mean in Monopoly, if you had no assets left and you were in debt, you were ousted. In this game, no matter how bad your situation is, there's always a way out and into success.

The Bottom Line
First of all, as someone who played this game before I was 10 years old, I would have to say that I would first describe the sheer fun me and family had playing this game as kids, and how it still manages to retain that charm even to this day. It's a dynamic take on most board games, and even if the outcome is the same, the way how you get there is always, always different. If you're looking for a game that would definitely keep you entertained even if you've played it a million times, be sure to try this one out. It's a classic, and that's all it needs to be called...

DOS · by Salim Farhat (69) · 2009

Almost an early version of the Sims

The Good
It was fun. Controlling your alter ego through his weekly life is surprisingly fun and addictive. Playing against the computer or your friends and family are both fun. The concept is intriguing and engaging, You keep coming back asking well if i do this instead of that will it help. I mean even after 10 years its still fun to play. the graphics were good for its era and the people usually had a few witty comments for you.

The Bad
They could have done more. They could have actually shown what you are doing instead of just flashing the clock to show time passing. Also the goals are always fuzzy as to exactly how much needs to be done for you to satisfy that goal.

The Bottom Line
A truly great game in the style of The Sims. It could almost be said that this was the father of the Sims. Definitely a must own game. I bought it back when it was brand new and i still fire it up every once in a while to play a game.

DOS · by jeremy strope (160) · 2001

A great game to play with friends and/or family!

The Good
The chance to live out a "fantasy" life. It's also fun seeing what others decide to do. The graphics are very good, and the little witticisms scattered throughout the game are funny.

The Bad
It's fun to play with 3 or 4 people, but it can be hard sharing the mouse/trackball and all crowding around the computer.

The Bottom Line
In Jones in the Fast Lane, all players start with basically nothing, and have to start their "lives" from scratch - you can be a teacher or an engineer, play the stock market, or work at a fast food joint. You win by being the most successful person first, and success is measured not just by financial worth but by happiness factors as well.

DOS · by Melissa Leonard (100) · 1999

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Trivia

Development

This game was developed externally, and shopped around a few publishers before Sierra picked it up. At that time, all the game mechanics were there, but the presentation was all very "comicy", and there was no music or sound at all. Sierra added the whole yuppie look and feel, and this game was one of the first to include digitized actors and superior Roland Sound (which was ported to the CD version).

Title

Jones in the Fast Lane was originally titled Keeping up with Jones for the obvious reference to the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses", which refers to the desire to have at least as much wealth and success as your neighbours/peers (which is exactly what the game is about). The details are unclear, but someone somewhere owned a trademark on the phrase, so Sierra changed it.

Different DOS versions

At least three different versions of the game for DOS are known to exist: Floppy with VGA graphics, floppy with EGA / Tandy graphics and CD-ROM with VGA graphics and Audio CD.

Information also contributed by Tony Van and Trixter

Analytics

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  • MobyGames ID: 370
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by MajorDad.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Tony Van, Neville, Patrick Bregger.

Game added November 3, 1999. Last modified December 13, 2023.