It sometimes seems a little too easy for us to look at the games and entertainment aimed at kids today and shake our heads in disbelief. Compared to our own childhoods, things can look over-sanitised, both physically and mentally. The rationale is reasonable enough, but by protecting today’s audiences from every rough edge potentially makes for a vanilla world, and arguably does little to prepare them for life’s less than perfect realities.Looking back, however, there are some things from the 80s and 90s that might have pushed the envelope a little too far the other way. In the early days of gaming, it was a case of anything goes. Today, casino games are a huge part of the market, but whether you’re looking for a game itself or some handy tips like this complete guide to playing roulette, you’ll find it on a site that is strictly restricted to adult visitors only. Back in the old days though? Well, as the following examples show, it was open season for anyone.

Hollywood Poker
We’ll start with a game that appeared on the Atari ST and the Amiga. Given the target market, a game that was centered around poker and featured a range of scantily clad women (including, bizarrely, a former Miss Germany) seems like a recipe for disaster and lawsuits in today’s world. For those who could keep their eyes on the cards, it was a clear predecessor of the video poker games that are so common today – although the glamour models seem to have been quietly pensioned off along the way. 

The Wild Bunch
It’s one of the classic adventure games of the 1980s and was ported to a range of home computers including the Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad. As well as engaging in gun fights and swilling down beer and red eye in the town saloon, players could have a quick hand or two of poker with the town gambler. This game within a game was an unusual feature back then, and the fact that it only showed the relevant cards in your hand made it a great tool for learning poker basics. That’s certain to be something many of us have found useful in later life!

Vegas Stakes
Here’s another game that was ahead of its time. It was highly realistic for the early 1990s and featured a multiplayer mode that foreshadowed the social gaming we see today. The objective was to travel from casino to casino and be the first to turn your opening bankroll into $10 million. There was, for the time, a fabulous range of games, including blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and a whole range of slots. Originally released on the Super Nintendo in 1993, it also appeared on the Game Boy two years later. 

Super Mario 2
Gambling in Super Mario? Think back to the second iteration of the Nintendo classic and you will recall that each level concluded with a slot machine, not unlike the ones we take for granted in today’s online casinos. You’ll need to get three in a row if you want to move on to the next level, and while many have tried to come up with strategies, it’s ultimately a matter of chance – just like the real thing.

 Leisure Suit Larry
Finally, here’s one for the PC gamers. There have been a dozen or more Larry games over the years, but the original and best was the 1980s offering, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards. This featured a wonderful little blackjack subgame that still stands up well 30 years later. Fans will be delighted to learn that Larry is still going strong on Steam to this day.