Pawn Stars: The Game doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the show, but it manages to stand on its own two vintage wooden legs.
If you’re a fan of reality TV (and may your deity of choice protect and preserve you), then you’ve almost certainly watched Pawn Stars at least once. In case you’re not initiated, Pawn Stars follows the three generations of the Harrison family (and one Austin “Chumlee” Russell) as they pick over other people’s antiques to sell at their Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. Pawn Stars: The Game for Facebook may not contain any of the family drama that drives the Pawn Stars TV show, but it still earns a pretty high appraisal.
You begin Pawn Stars: The Game as a new employee for Silver & Gold. You can choose from several avatars, and each one has different strengths and weaknesses: some are more proficient at selling, for example, or have a talent for haggling with customers when it comes to closing the deal. You’re then thrust into the game without receiving much instruction about what you actually need to do. Par for the nature of the theme, this feels rather refreshing; and while there are comprehensive in-game instructions, it’s not very difficult to puzzle out what needs to happen.
Customers line up with items of varying worth and try to highball you. Needless to say, you don’t want to buy their attic junk at top price. Haggling is the name of the game, though each customer type has a different temperament. Whereas one may be more than happy to do a little back-and-forth on the price of his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, the old codger behind him is only going to give you one or two chances to offer him the price he wants for his heirloom spinning wheel. If customers don’t like what you have to say, they’ll walk.
When you buy items off customers, you’re offered a buying price after a certain amount of time has lapsed (rarer items take longer to sell). If you haggled well, you can earn a big profit. If you mess things up, Old Man Harrison will eat your soul. Kidding. Maybe.
The core concept behind Pawn Stars: The Game is very simple, though there are lots of little additions that keep you invested. There are plenty of items to hunt for, collections you can assemble, and every item comes with a list of facts that are perfect for drunk trivia night. Learning said facts even lets you apply bonuses to the item that allows you to sell them faster, or for more money. It’s all a strangely addictive dance of collection, betting, and intuition.
But while we’re on the subject of haggling, Pawn Stars: The Game has a habit of trying to bleed you for your premium currency and items (in this case, cash and candy). Candy is a particularly valuable commodity: it can be used to soothe angry customers that are on the verge of storming out, but it’s also used to open up more facts about an item after you’ve paid in-game currency for the first hit. It’s a disappointing wall to hit if you’re genuinely interested in learning more about that flintlock lighter you picked up.
The graphics in Pawn Stars: The Game also wouldn’t do that well on the open market (I can keep these pawn shop puns coming all day). Animation is nearly non-existent, and character models repeat constantly. On the upside, though, you can come up with your own reasons for why there are four magicians in line at a pawn shop. Feel free to formulate a story about a massive drop-in kids’ parties following a clown massacre. I know I did.
Overall, Pawn Stars: The Game offers something a little different for the Facebook gaming circuit. If you’re looking for the colorful customer interaction and drama that defines the show, you won’t find it here, but be sure to dive in and hawk some virtual wares nonetheless.