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SLOTS OF TOMORROW

Our annual review of the slot machines coming to your favorite casino in the coming year

By Frank Legato

 

Welcome to our annual sneak peek at the future of the slot floor. That’s the near future.

Every fall at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, all the major slot manufacturers trot out their “new model year” —the new slot games that will be shipped to casinos over the coming year. Every year, it is an amazing display. And every year, we give our readers an exclusive look at the best games coming soon to a casino near you.

All of the slot manufacturers continued rolling out stylish new cabinets, and groundbreaking games that will be featured in all the new formats. Meanwhile, the slot-makers continue to push the boundaries of the slot machine as new technologies and new ways to play greatly expand our notion of slot-machine play.

As we always say, there’s never enough room here to cover all the great new stuff coming your way on the slot floor, but the following pages highlight the best of the best, in alphabetical order by manufacturer. So, sit back and peruse the future of the slot floor, courtesy of Strictly Slots.

AGS

AGS adds to its family of slot games on the marquee-style Orion family of cabinets, featuring the unique presentation in the original Orion Portrait of a 42-inch vertical flat-screen monitor surrounded by 498 game-controlled LED lights, featured last year in inaugural titles Fu Nan Fu Nu and River Dragons.

Earlier this year, AGS launched the Orion Slant, which places all the best features of the portrait version into a distinctive slant form, its 24-inch main game screen topped by a 32-inch top LCD monitor, situated horizontally, with similar lighting effects between the machines—the distinct U-shaped “starwall” LED lighting that brings the entire bank of games to life.

This year, AGS uses the Orion family to launch a group of Asian-themed games with striking artwork under the heading Fa Cai Shu.

Four inaugural titles will be available for the Orion Slant, IMP all featuring a three-level progressive jackpot. A pick-em bonus awards free games as well as credit prizes and progressives.

Among the four inaugural titles is Tiger Magic, a four-by-five, 50-line game incorporating a feature that upgrades all wild symbols to 2X, 3X or 5X multipliers. Also on the Orion Slant will be a new six-title series called Kingdom Cash, featuring a four-level progressive in which the top two prizes are linked and the bottom two are stand-alone jackpots. The inaugural games on Kingdom Cash include Kingdom Cash Jaguar, a 243-ways-to-win game; and Kingdom Cash Earth, featuring a five-level picking bonus that can reveal free spins or a jackpot symbol.

The company also is launching new games for the Orion Portrait cabinet, including additions to the popular Xtreme Jackpots series, the first AGS multi-linked progressive series connecting across core ICON and Orion cabinets. The Xtreme Jackpots base games feature Jackpot Pick and Free Spins Bonus events. When a full stack of wild symbols lands on

any of the middle reels during the base game, players have a chance to hit the Jackpot Pick Bonus and are guaranteed to win one of the four Xtreme Jackpots levels.

New Xtreme Jackpots games pegged for launch at G2E include Monkey Temple and Bonanza Blast. Both offer a progressive picking bonus randomly awarded when a wild symbol lands in the base game, and both employ expanding reel features—Monkey Temple in the bonus game, with individual reels expanding to widen the win area; and Bonanza Blast, with reels expanding in either the base game or free spins when dynamite appears and blasts to expand the reel set.

Ainsworth

Ainsworth Game Technology moves forward this year with new games carrying branded li¬censes, led by its partnership with Bandai Namco Entertainment, which will result in new versions of Pac-Man, themed on the best-known arcade game in history.

The new games are designed to be featured on Ainsworth’s new cabinet, the dual-flatscreen EVO.

EVO brings special touches like edge lighting and an LCD button deck to the core dual-screen format—in this case, two 24-inch LCD monitors. There will be a full library of more than 60 titles for the EVO, including many designed exclusively for the sleek new cabinet.

Those are led by the next entry in the Pac-Man slot brand, the four-game Pac-Man Link. Four base games—named for the Pac-Man ghosts, Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde—are linked to a five-level progressive. The games have the classic feel of the arcade game.

The Pac-Man series will be augmented with a new theme from Bandai Namco, a slot based on another classic arcade game from the early 1980s, the alien-shooting spaceship game Galaga.

Galaga, on the A640 premium cabinet, includes multiple features mimicking the sights and sounds of Galaga game play. The multiple-progressive game includes an alien-fighting bonus and a free-game event.

One more premium theme on the A640 is Ben-Hur, which wraps the cinematic theme around a central wheel bonus.

The licensed brands will be accompanied this year by new games for Ainsworth’s core video library, with games on theA640 cabinet including Cards of Cash and Triple Challenge, two games featuring innovative new play mechanics.

Cards of Cash is a five-level progressive featuring poker symbols in the base game, but including a bonus that involves collecting cards to build poker hands. Triple Challenge features virtual dice as the bonus mechanic—a sic bo-style game in which the player rolls for progressives.

Another new game series on the A640 is Triple Action, with two inaugural games using the full vertical monitor for three separate reel sets with a cost-to-cover of $1 to activate all three. A bonus trigger on any of the three reel arrays triggers free games on bonus reels that include only the higher-paying picture symbols.

The inaugural games are Triple Action Dragons—reprising the Action Dragons theme popular on the dual-screenA560 cabinet—and Triple Wealthy Phoenix.

On the Class II side, Ainsworth will offer new games featuring it’s Any-Bet system, a one-of-a-kind Class II progressive link in which a jackpot is available at any bet, but jackpots are more frequent with higher bets.

Aristocrat

Like most of the manufacturers, Aristocrat has launched a parade of new cabinets over the past few years. This year, the company unveils the Edge XL, an oversized version of the Edge X dual-screen cabinet, the 43-inch horizontal monitors replaced by 48-inch displays.

The launch title for Edge XL will be Madonna, Aristocrat’s latest slot featuring the images, performances and music of the legendary artist. Meanwhile, Aristocrat continues to pump up the library for the original Edge X dual-screen cabinet with Mad Max Fury Road, based on the 2015 Australian post-apocalyptic film starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. The action-packed film is portrayed effectively in the large format.

Within the next year on the curved-screen flame55 cabinet, Aristocrat will release Billions, based on the Showtime Wall Street drama starring Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis.

The RELM series is Aristocrat’s hot new group of mechanical reel-spinning slots. Last year, it was augmented by RELM XL, which adds a 43-inch curved screen and a jackpot wheel above the reels. This year, the RELM XL will host Motown, celebrating the artists, groups and hit songs coming from the legendary “Hitsville” studio in Detroit.

Featured songs in the inaugural game include hits by the Temptations, the Jackson Five and other legendary Motown artists. RELM XL’s surround-sound system and vibrating chair do justice to the hits as play progresses.

The RELM XL offering is only one of a multitude of new licensed and proprietary brands coming from Aristocrat this year. The company released NO  Game of Thrones and Mariah Carey on the flame55 this summer, and at G2E, will introduce Buffalo Diamond in the format—celebrating the 10th anniversary of the industry-topping Buffalo brand.

Also on the flame55 is Westworld, based on the hit futuristic HBO show about an Old West-themed amusement park run by androids. Another big branded game to be launched at G2E is the B 52s. Themed with the sights and sounds of the legendary 1980s”new wave” band, the game will utilize the imposing Arc Double cabinet.

Finally, Aristocrat will unveil a new progressive link to carry on the ciAsIs360 tradition of the wildly popular Lightning Link and Dragon Link products—Dollar Storm continues the hold-and-respin mechanic and frequent progressives of the first two links, while adding a fifth jackpot—a wide-area progressive.

ARUZE GAMING AMERICA

Aruze is another slot-maker featuring a new cabinet this year Called the Muso Triple-27, it features three stacked 27-inch monitors, a high-performance sound system, an ergonomic glass-table button deck with a 13.3-inch LCD interface, and the first-ever wireless charging port on a slot machine, accompanied by a USB outlet.

Aruze also has new games for the Cube-X Vertical 80, which stacks two 40-inch monitors to present an 80-inch play surface; and the Cube-X Vertical—with its 42-inch vertical monitor.

Inaugural games for the new Muso Triple-27 cabinet, launched earlier this year, are highlighted by Wheels Go Round, with sequential animation that serves almost as additional signage.

A modified version of the new cabinet, called “Muso Limited; will host a new version of Paradise Fishing, reprising that game’s most popular feature, a common fishing bonus in which players use special fishing “reels” that give a realistic experience of fish tugging on the line as players try to reel in the largest bonuses.

The new presentation includes an extra touch—a wrap that makes it look like you’re fishing in a wooden boat.

The Cube-X Vertical games were released beginning in January, with some of the most popular being Xtreme Dragon’s Fortune and Xtreme Panda. Both center an expanding reel feature around cute animated characters. Xtreme Panda includes a fun interactive feature in which the panda reacts when you touch him on the screen, and a mystery feature in which the panda pounds on the screen and causes coins to fly down to the reels for a bonus.

On the Cube-X Vertical 80 are two-game pairings under the titles Xtreme Tornado and Xtreme Explosion. These games feature bursts of wild symbols, multipliers or other bonuses through tornados, erupting volcanos or fantastic explosions. The base-game feature in the Wild Explosion games is triggered when dynamite or bombs land on the reels, starting a timer countdown through three base-game spins. Wild symbols stay in place when they land and spread out to other reels in an explosion when the timer reaches zero.

But perhaps the most intriguing product among Aruze’s new games this year is Ray Vision, a new type of slot bank that uses projection mapping to create a 3D picture across

a top screen that conforms to the shape of each cabinet. Placed in three-game or six-game, back-to-back configurations, Ray Vision tops the individual screen on each play station—the premium package includes a vibrating chair with integrated sound—and uses the projection on the top screen for bonuses, jackpot celebrations and attract sequences.

Common features include the volcano shaking to throw wilds into the reels of one player, and big-screen jackpot features. The projected images bleed down to the sides of the game monitors in a compelling effect.

GAMBLIT

Gamblit Gaming continues rolling out new skill-based offerings, launching Pac-Man: Battle Casino. Developed in partnership with Pac-Man owner Bandai Namco Amusement, the game keeps the play style that made Pac-Man legendary, while implementing a straightforward wagering mechanic and system.

Gamblit also will offer a new single-player Pac-Man game called Cash Chase.

The company also offers Deal or No Deal, based on the internationally popular game show, which features gambling and risk-taking elements.

Gamblit’s Deal or No Deal offers all the classic elements of the show—selecting a briefcase, the banker making an offer, fun models—but instead of trivia, you’re playing poker to win big. Players either battle it out against other players on Gamblit’s Model G multi-player table or against the house on our TriStation single-player system. Both DOND experiences are true to the game show while giving players the familiarity of poker.

Other Gamblit offerings include the casino versions of ZeptoLab, Cut the Rope ! and Doodle Jump, the latter a Gamblit exclusive based on a game that’s received over 250 million downloads.

EVERI

Everi has played the new-cabinet game as well, recently launching the E43 (referencing its 43-inch flat portrait screen) and the towering Empire 5527—featuring a 27-inch flat touch-screen LCD topped by a 55-inch portrait-style LCD. More variations of the Empire cabinet series will be highlighted this year, including the Empire DCX, a new premium format featuring dual curved 42-inch landscape-style LCD monitors; and Empire Arena, the elaborately banked execution of the E5527 cabinet.

One of Everi’s most prominent offerings introduced in the past year is Even Bet 2.0, an upgrade to the company’s groundbreaking technology in which the payback percentage of a game rises the more you wager, with bet levels marked with “good,” “better” and “best” return to player.

At the forefront for Everi this year is Singin’ in the Rain, a masterful themed video slot on the E43 that uses bonus events to take players into the heart of the iconic 1952 MGM musical. The new game was designed by many former members of the team at WMS Gaming that created the Wizard of Oz series. Singin’ in the Rain uses similar play mechanics to that long-running success, including two mystery bonus events in the primary game and three separate bonus events, including one leading to one of five progressive jackpots. Bonuses and the progressive jackpots are linked to each of the film’s four main characters.

One themed game to be officially launched at this year’s trade show is a new video Willie Nelson game on the E43.The Willie Nelson theme first was used in last year’s pair of mechanical reel-spinning games, designed for high-denomination players. The new video version is packed with bonuses, music and video developed in partnership with Nelson himself, who lives right around the corner from Everi’s Austin, Texas games headquarters.

As a result, the game includes nods to Nelson’s unapologetic high-wayman lifestyle. There’s the “Whiskey River Free Spins” with “Seein’ Double” double Willie symbols. Or the “Willie’s IRS Beater” bonus prize of exactly $1,199. The leaf of a certain plant favored by Nelson is one of the wild symbols. Bonuses include original images of Nelson’s Texas home, and music includes guitar recorded there by Nelson’s grand-son-in-law.

Also on the E43 is South Park, a hilarious three-reel video slot based on the long-running Comedy Central animated series depicting foul-mouthed kids. The game captures many of the funniest bits from the show, which is in its 22nd season.

Everi also will launch three new branded themes on the super-sized E5527 cabinet, launched last year with The Brady Bunch.

Set to launch this month is Felix the Cat, a multi-progressive game based on the quirky cartoon character ranked No. 28 on TV Guide’s list of “50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time.”

On the Empire Arena banked E5527 product will be a game previewed last year and ready for release later this year—Shark Week, a six-pod group of games presented as a themed package, the 55-inch monitors arranged touching each other to form a spectacular top display that looks like a giant aquarium.

The bonus game is based on the Discovery Channel program Shark Week, which features shark-based  stories, research and unique insights. Placed on top of four popular Everi base games, the top monitors host clever themed bonuses like “What Did the Shark Eat?” and a touch-screen event in which the player touches the shark to break the cage in which he is contained.

One more new licensed theme will be featured on the latest iteration of the Empire series of cabinets, the Empire DCX. The new cabinet uses the dual horizontal curved monitors to create a wrap-around effect.

The launch game is The Mask, based on Jim Carrey’s hit 1994 film in which a mild-mannered bank employee finds his wild inner self through a magical ancient mask that washed up from a river. Carrey’s inventive, maniacal zoot-suited character comes through in the immersive experience created by the Empire DCX in several funny bonus events.

Another branded video slot is Knight Rider, based on the popular 1980s TV series starring David Hasselhoff as a detective aided by “KIT,” his self-aware, artificially intelligent Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am.

lighting ZAP, released earlier this year, has been a hit with players. Instead of the normal reels, the monitor displays a field of award amounts, won by a zap of lighting from a central electrical sphere. The player’s hits on a spin button charge up the sphere until it zaps a prize.

This year, Everi releases a sequel, Lightning ZAP Jackpot, which adds five progressive jackpots to the field of “zappable” prizes. In this game, there are no “non-win wins” —every prize is higher than the bet.

On the tall Skyline cabinet are new versions of Penn & Teller, featuring new, funny video recorded by star Penn Jillette, the “talking” member of the famous comedy/magic duo; and Casablanca, last year’s hit brand in a nine-line, nine-coin high-denomination reel-spinner.

GAMING ARTS

Gaming Arts is a bingo supplier that is launching its first slot machines this year. The effort to create slots was headed by a group of veteran suppliers the company brought in last year, headed by former Ainsworth North America President Mike Dreitzer, who is president of the company; and Chief Commercial Officer Jean Venneman, a longtime slot-manufacturing executive who led the team at IGT that created Wheel of Fortune.

The inaugural Gaming Arts slot library consists of three game series, dubbed Pop’ n Pays, the Da Fa Ba and Dice Seeker.

The company says the games are designed “for the true gambler,” but each series caters to a specific play style. The Pop’n Pays series features inventive game mechanics, high volatility (wild swings with some huge jackpots), frequent bonus symbols and free games with “Rapid Re-triggers”  The inaugural games carry lighthearted themes like Piñatas Ole!, in which piniatas appear randomly on the reels to award up to 100 times the bet—or one of three progressive jackpots—to the background of fun custom music.

The Da Fa Ba Series is a group of Asian-themed games (“ba” is Mandarin for the Asian lucky number 8) employing a multitude of popular play mechanics. One primary-game mystery event is a perceived skill-stop that gives the player three chances to improve a reel result. There are dual-purpose wild symbols that can trigger a “Take It or Leave It” gamble feature if the wild doesn’t result in a win. A free-game event offers the player a choice of volatility for the bonus.

Dice Seeker is a group of games utilizing a top-screen dice feature. Games like Viking Invasion feature dice that light up and award bonuses according to the number of pips on the die that lights up. It’s a player-friendly event, because the dice are weighted equally. The games also feature “sticky” wild symbols which can stay in place for several spins.

Gaming Arts is augmenting its first slot machines with a series of machines that replicate live table games in a single-player machine series called Casino Wizard.

KONAMI GAMING

Konami is broadening its Concerto series with a new cabinet, the Concerto Opus, which features a 65-inch, high-definition 4K screen that runs some entertaining linked and stand-alone product.

Konami has been known for its inventive game mechanics, like Strike Zone, which identifies an area of the screen where special bonuses including wilds, multipliers and re-spins land, an area which grows as you bet more.

New games for the Concerto Crescent, featuring a 43-inch curved monitor, include Matsuri Kojiki Sun and Matsuri Kojiki Moon, featuring another unique game mechanic, called Fortune Bank. The feature is triggered by any winning combination, and with every win, credits go into the player’s Fortune Bank. At any time, the player can choose to activate the bank and play those stored credits in a separate high-reward game with additional reel sets and random wilds in every spin.

IGT

As usual, IGT’s lineup for this year is highlighted by a great collection of licensed brands from popular culture, using remarkable technologies such as “TRUE 4D,” featuring midair haptic and gesture recognition that allow players to reach out and touch 3D images (generated by IGT’s TRUE 3D technology) to affect the game; and the equally innovative PowerSight technology, in which players affect the game simply by fixing a gaze on a certain area.

On TRUE 4D, one of the highlights is Ghostbusters 4D, on the immersive CrystalCurve TRUE 4D cabinet.

It’s based on the original 1984 Ghostbusters film, and if you’ve seen the movie, you can imagine what the TRUE 4D technology can do with this theme. Players can reach out and feel a tingle when they touch the “proton stream” that snags ghosts, or use their fingers as proton blasters to catch ghosts in the “Ballroom Blaster Bonus.” There are even secret gestures that unlock additional game features, such as ghosts that appear when you outline a shape in the air.

Other new branded themes on the CrystalCurve TRUE 4D cabinet include American Gods 4D, based on the Starz network fantasy drama centered on a celestial battle between “Old Gods” and “New Gods; featuring a collection of interactive bonus events in which the players touch objects related to the theme of the show.

The featured game using the PowerSight technology is the new Sex and the City Ultra, on the CrystalCurve Ultra cabinet, with its imposing 50-inch, ultra-HD top portrait LCD monitor over of a 32-inch horizontal monitor. The PowerSight technology allows players to “shop” in picking bonuses by fixing their gaze on various merchandise, to pop bubbles for bonuses by simply staring at them, and to search for “gold cards” to move up to a higher award level.

Other new branded themes on the CrystalCurve Ultra cabinet include Blake Shelton, based on the music and performances of the country music and TV star; Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the game about the

master of thrillers and the macabre that was previewed last year and is now ready for market; a new version of The Price Is Right; and Jurassic Park Trilogy, a three-game series based on the iconic movie franchise.

One standout in the video area is Fortune Coin, a ways-to-win video slot in the Jackpots series. Fortune Coin is an Asian-themed game with a four-level progressive jackpot. When one or more Fortune Coins land on the reels, it can trigger any of three bonuses—an award of up to 1,000 times the bet, a free-spin event in which all minor symbols are removed from the reels, or a progressive picking bonus with the goal of matching three icons corresponding to one of the jackpots. An “Award All” icon triggers all four progressive jackpots.

IGT is unmatched in the area of classic mechanical reel-s pinners, which will be evident this year with a series of classic titles with new features added. Red, White & Blue Super Drumroll Bonus features a lock-and-respin feature and a unique free-spin mechanic. When a drumroll symbol lands on the payline, the player hears the drum roll and is awarded one free spin. A “super drumroll” symbol on the payline awards up to four spins, which can be re-triggered up to a maximum of 42 spins.

For lower denominations, Triple Double Diamond and Legend of the Phoenix are offered in three-reel, 25-line configurations in the “Progressive Free Games” series. In a unique game mechanic, the top box displays three free-game “buckets”—red, green and blue—with free-game meters that increment as those colors land in symbols on the reels. When scattered bonus symbols land on the reels, the corresponding free games are awarded.

Fifteen free spins is the “must-hit-by” level. The reels rumble in anticipation when two of the three bonus symbols land.

The S3000 XL large-format cabinet will be reprised with a”v2″ version in the game Triple Gold, a three-reel, five-line game with a wide-area progressive jackpot starting at $200,000. With oversized reels and enhanced lighting, the new version of S3000 XL is designed to host any S3000 game.

The Megatower cabinet was launched last year with Megatower Wheel of Fortune. This year, a follow-up to that hit will be launched, Wheel of Fortune Gold Spins.

Even more than the reel-spinning genre, IGT has always been the undisputed leader in the video poker area. This year, the company continues last year’s trend of launching specialty video poker games that include bonus features but maintain the optimal payback percentages of the iconic original stable of IGT video poker.

The payback is retained by adding an affordable extra per-hand bet. In the Asian-themed Lucky 8’s video poker game, a five-credit ante bet unlocks several bonus features related to the Asian lucky number 8. In the base pay table, extra credits are paid for three 8s or better—including 88-for-one for a full house with three 8s and 2,088 credits for four 8s.

A dealt three of a kind or better triggers the Lucky 8’s Bonus Wheel, a virtual wheel in the beautifully designed top box with values up to 8,888 credits and a dragon slice that that re-spins the wheel with increased values up to 18,888 credits.

Max Action Poker jacks up payouts for a sixth credit wagered, including 8,000 credits for the royal flush, 4,000 credits for four Aces on Double Bonus, and a whopping 14,000 credits for four Aces with a kicker on Double Double Bonus.

INCREDIBLE TECHNOLOGIES

Incredible Technologies is known for its game “families,” which repeat the game features that have proven to be most popular with players. The most prominent of these has been what the company calls the “money family; which grew out of the early hit Crazy Money.

That family reappears this year with Incredistars, IT’s first multi-game machine, on the super-sized V55 cabinet. The inaugural version will include three of the company’s most popular games in its “money family”—Crazy Money 2, Money Roll and Money Rain.

The company is about to release what may be the next big game “family” called Clinko. Featured on the V55 cabinet—with its 55-inch, flat-screen 4K vertical full-touch monitor—Clinko is a series of video slots featuring a pachinko-style mystery bonus feature. The series is launching with Clinko Winning Wall, a 30-line video slot that uses that big monitor for a mystery-bonus pachinko game. When triggered randomly, the big screen transforms into a colorful pachinko board with pegs displaying different awards. A ball bounces from peg to peg as it falls from the top of the screen down to the reels, awarding the prize the ball hits, including credit amounts, added wilds, symbol upgrades or a line-win multiplier.

There’s a free-spin event in which two Clinko balls are released before every spin, adding the awards touched along the way. During free spins, there are jackpot pegs added to the board, corresponding to three progressive jackpots at the top of the big screen.

Elsewhere, Incredible Technologies is using the V55 and other cabinets to launch a variety of themes and play styles. Bars Up features a traditional-style slot game on dual 25-line reel arrays. Game play centers on classic bar symbols, and a simple but clever game mechanic: When a gold bar symbol lands, it upgrades the bar symbols on its reel set, turning single bars into double bars and double bars into triple bars. A free spin event continues as long as at least one bar symbol lands in a spin. When a bar lands in a free spin, it cascades down to the lowest unoccupied position and locks in place, filling the entire screen with bars awards an additional credit amount.

There also is a “true-pick” progressive feature—the outcome is not predetermined; players really are choosing their prize.

Freedom Fortunes places a patriotic theme on the big cabinet, centered around the Liberty Bell, Uncle Sam and various World War II icons. Random bonus features occur when the Liberty Bell rings, with the player qualifying for more bonus features by betting up.

The V55 offerings will be accompanied by new games in IT’s other formats, including the tall Skybox cabinet, which hosts a new game, All Good!

All Good! debuts another new game family, called SkyRing. The 40-line base game, with classic bar, bell, cherry and 7 symbols, sits under a second monitor that displays “Instant Winner” credits. The huge Skybox monitor is unlocked during free spins, where the entire monitor is full of instant credit awards and additional free spins.

Every other spin, SkyRing Scatters are dropped onto the Skybox. If a SkyRing lands on an arrow symbol, the player wins all prizes that the arrow points to, totaling up to four awards.

NEXT GAMING

There is a small group of game manufacturers that are pioneering the area of skill-based gaming. Companies like Gamblit and GameCo have released slot machines that are really video games, including controllers, joysticks and other arcade-like features, with the skill of the player increasing the chances of winning.

One other company featuring skill-based gaming is Next Gaming, a Las Vegas-based company that boasts a unique pedigree—its founders, instead of the norm of experience in the video-game area, are actually longtime casino operators and operations executives. Founder and President Terry Caudill is the owner of the Four Queens and Binion’s properties in Downtown Las Vegas. CEO Mike

Darley is a 30-year industry veteran who has held top executive posts from Fitzgeralds to Trump properties.

Next Gaming offers skill-based games that look like slot machines from the outside, but are faithful representations of video games licensed from Atari and Taito. This year, the company will release its versions of Atari’s Missile Command and Tempest, and Taito’s Arkanoid, ZForce and Bust-A-Move.

Each of the games is true to the arcade version, including all the characters, shooting sequences, etc. One thing that distinguishes Next Gaming’s offerings from other skill-based games on the slot floor is that they are fun to play regardless of whether one is a novice or an expert at the game.

That’s because each game offers play at any of three skill levels—Easy, Normal or Hard. Novices can have fun while getting acclimated to the game on the Easy level, and move up as his or her skill improves.

NOVOMATIC  AMERICAS

Novomatic made a big splash last year with its first major licensed brand, From Dusk to Dawn, on the big, cushy V.I.P. Lounge 3 cabinet—that’s the one with an easy chair in front of it, and “spin” buttons at the lounger’s fingertips on the ends of the armrests.

This year, Novomatic follows up with another great brand, MacGyver—based on the original 1980s TV series starring Richard Dean Anderson, not the recent reboot.

Housed on the NovostarV.I.P. 3.50 cabinet with Python Chair or the V.I.P. Lounge 2.32 cabinet, the immersive slot delivers all the quirks of Angus “Mac” MacGyver, the show’s main character, who solved desperate government problems but always came equipped with stuff like a Swiss army knife, duct tape, chewing gum and paper clips to help him. Bonuses and base-game features employ all those iconic items in reel symbols and bonus events.

Several progressive video slots will be featured on Novomatic’s Panthera Curve,V.I.P. Lounge Curve and other cabinets. Highlighted games this year include Dragon Hits, Prize of the Nile, Prized Panda, Princesses of War, Riches Ahoy! and Great American Wilds.

The Enchanted Fortunes Linked Jackpot series will show progressive themes from the Fortunes series.

SCIENTIFIC GAMES

Scientific Games is showcasing some amazing new technologies this year, headed by the latest game in its series themed on the James Bond films, Die Another Day.

Housed on SG’s new TwinStar Wave XL cabinet, featuring a 49-inch full 4K-resolution monitor, the game features the first-ever slot machine usage of the “Pepper’s ghost” 3D illusion technique.

A method of projecting a 3D image to a specific space, Pepper’s ghost is the same technique used to project the image of Tupac Shakur onto a stage, allowing the artist to appear to stage a performance after his 1996 death. More recently, it has been featured in the Michael Jackson One show at Mandalay Bay.

Die Another Day will use the technique in a very Bondesque way. For bonus features, the front of the TwinStar Wave XL cabinet will actually open to a secret chamber, and the player will gaze inside to view 3D images of Agent 007 and all associated Bond characters and icons. The company is keeping specifics of the game secret until the trade show, but this promises to be like nothing else on the slot floor.

SG also will feature new games on each of the existing cabinets in the TwinStar series—the original dual-screen cabinet, the TwinStar 3RM mechanical reel-spinning series, and the premium TwinStar J43 curved-monitor presentation.

Highlights on the original dual-screen TwinStar cabinet include two new titles in the popular Lock It Link series. These games include a hold-and-respin bonus feature. When three hearts land in a row—each bearing a credit value—they hold in place for three free spins, and other hearts landing on the free spins trigger more spins. Each time an additional heart lands on the screen during the feature, the credit values on all the hearts rise.

As long as at least one additional heart lands, the feature continues, the goal being to fill up all 15 spots on the three-by-five reel array.

The two new featured Lock It Link titles are Huff N’ Puff and Hold On To Your Hat, both 243-ways-to-win games with two progressive and two fixed jackpots.

Scientific Games has always been known for mechanical-reel slots, particularly under the Bally brand. This year’s G2E display highlights the old and the new in reel-spinners, with a focus on high-denomination games.

As far as the “old; Scientific Games is wrapping up a year-and-a-half program of porting classic Bally reel-spinners to the TwinStar 3RM. This year’s batch includes faithful recreations of two classic Blazing 7s variations—

Blazing 7s Scatter and Diamond Line Blazing 7s—along with new themes In The Money and Diamonds and Devils.

These games, on the TwinStar 3RM cabinet, are identical to the original—three reels; one, three or five paylines; three-coin or five-coin bets. But SG is adding higher-coin, high-denomination TwinStar 3RM games Wonder Woman and The Don, both in nine-line, nine-coin configuration.

Wonder Woman is based on the 1970s TV series starring Lynda Carter. The Don on the is the fifth slot under the popular license based on the 1972 film The Godfather.

Other new games are being launched on the J43 cabinet, with its unique tall video monitor that curves in two places. One standout is Twin Fire Frenzy, which combines the best features of three popular classic Bally titles. It is actually a follow-up to the game Twin Fire, which was a combination of Quick Hit and Hot Shot, two popular game franchises. The new version adds a “Frenzy Reel,” which applies extra credits, multipliers and re-spins to winning five-reel combinations.

Other high-profile games include a new entry for the Game of LIFE video series, titled Career Day, on two separate cabinets—one including a bonus wheel. There is an optional Bonus Bet on the game that triggers more frequent bonus events.

Finally, SG will offer even more games in the James Bond series, Thunderball on the immersive Gamefield 2.0 cabinet and Goldeneye on the flat-table PRIZM cabinet, one of the first slot games on that unique multi-player format, featuring a flat table-top monitor.

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