A CARNIVAL OF GAMES
Eclipse Gaming launches the carnival-style Cash Arcade Series while branching out to new game styles
By Frank Legato
If you play slots in tribal casinos in Washington State, the South and Midwest, you’re probably familiar with the games of Georgia-based Eclipse Gaming Systems. Eclipse games have been in tribal casinos for 15 years, and the company, a leader in the Class II tribal casino market, is in an expansion mode that no doubt eventually will see its games in the commercial casinos.
For now, though, the company’s footprint in tribal markets continues to expand, with long strongholds like Washington, Oklahoma and Alabama joined last year by California, and expansion into other Class II markets to follow. Along with the expansion has come an evolution.
Under CEO Tim Minard, the company has supercharged its game design, launching a new platform and the IMPACT cabinet series. Minard has brought veterans of some of the largest slot suppliers in the business to take Eclipse games to new levels.
Levels like the Cash Arcade Series.
The concept of the Cash Arcade Series was to replicate some of the most beloved carnival games in the space of a slot machine. The game group kicks oﬀ with the “Big Shake” family of games. Big Shake Neon and Big Shake Carnival have the same arcade game at their heart—the classic coin- pusher machine, that familiar, boxy contraption that displayed piles of quarters on various ledges and invited the player to launch a coin to upset the pile enough that the ﬂat pusher mechanisms would dump them into a hopper.
These Big Shake games re-create that experience— shelves with pushers nudging coins, gems, even rubber ducks—with remarkable authenticity thanks to what’s called “3D physics” technology, a graphics engine that replicates how real moving objects behave.
“The 3D helps better deﬁne the objects on the screen for the player and makes the coins, gems and rubber ducks more lifelike,” says Sean Evans, senior vice president of sales for Eclipse Gaming. “The second part is the physics engine, making the coins, gems and rubber ducks move in a more realistic manner.
“Coins are weighted and move when others hit them. The jackpot gems and rubber ducks are, of course, the heaviest weight and are hard to move to the edge relative to coins. When the 3D and physics are applied together in real time, the player experience is enhanced with a truer feeling of an actual coin pusher game.”
The Big Shake games depict a coin-pusher game with a three-reel slot game on the rear wall of the chamber, along with a bonus wheel. The game is presented as a 3D view inside the coin-pusher, with coin wall chutes that can randomly push coins oﬀ the ledge—the coins bear credit amounts, multipliers and two lower-level jackpot awards.
The carnival feel persists with second-chance re-spins, wheel bonuses, and the “Rapid Fire Bonus,” a perceived skill game that allows the player to control the dropping of coins onto the coin table. Players can change the background music with a feature that lets them choose from three soundtracks.
Big Shake Neon places the elements in a Classic Vegas 1980s nostalgic theme, and Big Shake Carnival gives them the festive carnival feel.
According to Evans, the coin-pusher idea came from the top—from Minard. “In Tim’s mind, when you look at arcade games, the most popular has been the coin-pusher arcade game for the last 40 years,” he says. “That says people do like that style of game.”
“The new game series is ‘absolutely on ﬁre.’ Three months in from the launch of Big Shake Neon, Eclipse launched the second title, Big Shake Carnival. Players love both—to the point of crowds waiting to play and jostling for a position at the game.”
Evans says the appeal of the games is the idea that every spin can end in a win, even after the reels stop spinning.
“One thing I’ve always hated on slots is when you know you’re dead when the second reel stops,” he says. “If you can keep the player engaged to the ﬁnal reel stop or the ﬁnal symbol stop, then there may be still another event after that, by some coins cascading oﬀ. There’s always hope that you’ll get something. If this coin’s hanging on the edge, I may get something oﬀ the secondary bonus feature.”
Evans says the new game series is “absolutely on ﬁre.” Three months in from the launch of Big Shake Neon, the company launched the second title, Big Shake Carnival. Players love both—to the point of crowds waiting to play and jostling for a position at the game.
The reaction means the Cash Arcade Big Shake series will continue with new entries in the coming year.
MORE NEW FAMILIES
Meanwhile, Eclipse is about to launch another new game group and new game style, in the Bandit Bounty Series, with base games Banditos and Outlaws. These are the ﬁrst Eclipse games to employ the hottest new game style, the hold-and-re-spin feature. Evans says the games put a twist on the traditional hold-and-spin, in which reels lock in place and the remaining reels re-spin as long as the locking symbols land again.
In this case, they are cash-on-reels coin symbols that accumulate the amounts for the bonus. These symbols are embedded with extras. “It’s what-you-see-is-what-you-get, but the characters have values assigned to them,” Evans says, “so whenever you land characters in the hold-and-re-spin, you’re tapping into those prize pools.
“The Bandit Bounty Series is targeted to a video player seeking a fun game. It’s no secret that free spins, progressives, and hold-and-spin are key features in most top games, and this has all of those features with the distinguishing characteristic of a fun thematic adventure to capture the bandits for big rewards.”
Also new this year will be a group of Asian-themed games, beginning with Lucky Bao Bei and following up with Dragons Court Deluxe.
“We reference ‘series’ as a way to help denote what will bank well together and appeal to diﬀerent segments of the market,” Evans explains. “Lucky Bao Bei will be a more traditional-looking game, but stands out by having two unique free-spin bonuses with a chance to win big—one with wild reels on every spin and the other with multipliers growing with each win.”
Dragons Court Deluxe is a simple three-by-three matrix with diﬀerent- colored dragons and multipliers. “Wins can be multiplied up to 125X, which makes for a very exciting game trying to land those multipliers,” says Evans.
“We have high hopes for the Bandit Bounty Series and the new Spin Big game as far as stars, as they play to known market success. We are continuing to develop our content and use our knowledge from our legacy games, which have quite the following in the markets where we started.” —Sean Evans, senior vice president of sales, Eclipse Gaming
While the game displays a three-by-three array, it is really a nine-reel game. “It’s a gambler’s game,” Evans says.
Dragon’s Court Deluxe is the ﬁrst Eclipse joint-venture game— developed by a third party, and in this case, one of the best in the business, headed by game design legend Benny Sum.
Eclipse Gaming is producing games in styles it has never oﬀered before, the goal being to oﬀer customers the entire variety of game styles players are seeking. “We’re using our experience and customer feedback to make sure we develop our portfolio to hit every spot,” Evans says.
In addition to covering arcade-style games, hold-and-spin and Asian themes, the company is coming into its own in the wheel-spinning category with the Spin Big series. This year, the latest entry, Spin Big Gears of Wealth, joins hit games Spin Big Galaxy and Spin Big Mardi Gras.
“Our Spin Big games have done well for us as they are simple three-reel games with a wheel,” Evans says. “Our follow-on games feature a Buy-A-Spin Big Wheel Bonus feature which we believe will distinguish them from other wheel games. Instead of having to go through the natural cycle and trigger the bonus, players can buy into a bonus at a $20, $50 or $100 level, and go right into that second screen. I do see that feature appealing to some gamblers.”
These product families join a wealth of classics, many of the company’s most popular releases featured in a new multi-game Hall of Fame Gold Series. The company also is launching a new version of the classic Gem Link series on the dual-screen IMPACT 27 cabinet.
But this year, the new Eclipse games in the Cash Arcade, Bandit Bounty, and Asian game groups are drawing a lot of positive attention to the Duluth, GA-based slot supplier.
“We have high hopes for the Bandit Bounty Series and the new Spin Big game as far as stars, as they play to known market success,” says Evans. “The other games are a little more unique and we feel they will also do well. We are continuing to develop our content and use our knowledge from our legacy games, which have quite the following in the markets where we started. Our focus on Class II only helps us quickly learn and adjust content in our newer markets, giving us a way to really distinguish ourselves over time.
“The real key for me is when someone looks at a slot and knows it’s an Eclipse game. We’re starting to get there.”