One of WMS Gaming’s Best game franchises roars back with ‘Star Trek Battlestations’
by Frank Legato
If you watched the iconic 1960s TV series Star Trek regularly—even if you’re not a card-carrying Trekkie—you no doubt enjoyed the first six “episodes” represented in WMS Gaming’s “Star Trek” series. That’s the series in which you can earn “medals” from Star Fleet to transform the slot machine into an entirely new episode, with new bonus events, visuals and sounds.
Well, both casual and obsessive Trekkies are going to love what WMS has just unleashed on this particular quadrant of the galaxy. Whether you just watched the TV series occasionally or you can identify Star Trek episode numbers and recite the command structure of the Romulan military, there was always something of an adrenaline rush when Captain Kirk called a “Condition Red” and made that universal call to arms, “Battle stations!”
WMS has captured that feeling in a new community game that pits all the players in a four-game bank against the Klingons in a space battle between starships of the United Federation of Planets and those of the Klingon Empire. “Star Trek Battlestations” combines the winning theme—complete with voice-overs from original show stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy—with its “Sensory Immersion” and “Big Event” game groups into a hybrid of game styles that re-creates the vibe of the TV show in grand fashion.
You’ll want to sit down at this game on first sight. A four- machine bank, with each slot using the surround-sound speaker-chair popularized in games like “Wizard of Oz,” stands in front of a vibrant display of dual 52-inch, high-definition color LCD video monitors.
The video screens are used to display the epic space battles, which take place within minutes of each other—according to WMS, there is never a span longer than eight minutes before battle stations are called and a new bonus battle starts. As with the original “Big Event” series, players earn credits toward multipliers while playing the primary game. However, in this case, the multipliers have an expanded role: they are transformed into ships you can use against the Klingons in the main bonus.
In the original Monopoly Big Event, you took a multiplier level into the common bonus round which you had earned in the primary game, in this one, multipliers become ships in your “fleet” of starships. “When the bonus is triggered, everyone goes in together with their fleets,” explains Jamie Vann, the principal WMS designer for the Battlestations game. “The multipliers you’ve built up are shown as your fleet of ships. There are five different ships, carrying multipliers ranging from 2X to 10X.”
“The Sensory Motion Chair is a key component of this game,” says Allon Englman, vice president of game design and strategy for WMS. “When you’re in the bonus, the sound is fantastic. It makes you feel like you’re really in a battle.”
That bonus game is certainly one of the best WMS has yet created, but in Battlestations, the base game is compelling in itself. It is set up as a dual screen—two sets of five video reels, each with 40 paylines.
The voices, sounds and vibrations of the surround-sound chair combine during the primary game to place you inside the game, and the classic show. One new primary-game feature is called “Transporting Wilds.” While playing the two sets of reels, if a wild symbol appears on the left screen, it will “transport” to the same reel of the right screen, and make that entire reel wild.
Wild symbols, in fact, are all over this game. There is a free-spin bonus in which three or four wild reels appear randomly across the two reel sets.
And all the while, you are building your fleet for the bonus.
Every time an “Enterprise” symbol lands on one of the two game screens in the primary game, it counts toward adding a ship to your fleet. According to the manufacturer, it only takes a couple of minutes before you are awarded the first ship in your fleet—you have to have at least one ship to enter the bonus.
As you play, new ships are awarded as more Enterprise symbols land. Spock’s voice tells you what kind of ship you are awarded, and what the multiplier is worth. For instance, a “Destroyer” gives you a 2X multiplier; a “Heavy Cruiser,” 3X; a “Space Station,” 5X. The top one is a “Battle Station,” which carries a 10X multiplier.
Each player can build up to five ships for the bonus battle, which can be done pretty quickly. (After all, the bonus rounds happen within minutes of each other.)
When the bonus is triggered, each player on the bank carries the fleet earned since the last battle into the showdown with the Klingons. On each game screen, and on the big screen, an armada of enemy ships appears. The Klingon ships each carry credit awards—a “Scout” is worth 150 credits; a “Cruiser” is worth 800; a “Dreadnaught” is worth 2,000; and so on.
There are two separate Big Event community bonuses played out on the big screens. The first one, “Rogue Ship,” is simple, but can be lucrative. A rogue starship that strayed from the Federation appears on the screen. Players push a button to throw a tractor beam to try to capture it. Players who catch the rogue ship in the beam are paid a credit award multiplied by their entire accumulated fleet value. If you’ve been playing for a while and have a nice fleet built up, that can be huge.
The other Big Event is the central feature of this game, the “Battle Bonus.” Captain Kirk says, “All hands—battle stations!” and each player is directed to the armada of ships. Players touch the screen to pick ships at which they want to shoot. If you blast the enemy ship out of the sky, the credit award is multiplied by the value of your Federation ship that fired the shot.
That’s not all, though—the Klingons shoot back. “You get shot at,” says Vann. “The Klingons fire back at your fleet, so you’re hoping that some of the fleet survive.” For each enemy ship selected, fire is exchanged between you and the enemy. Stay in the battle as long as you have ships, and after the battle is over, any ship remaining in your fleet is “promoted” to the next level, and put back in your arsenal as a larger ship with a larger multiplier. You keep your fleet survivors for the next battle.
Englman says what makes things really exciting is that all this happens at once. “Everyone is picking targets in the middle of the battle. Then all of the ships fire on the Klingons together,” he says. “Everyone sees the outcome of their picks at the same time. The picking bonus and battle are really exciting for everyone in the bank.”
“This is the first WMS game that lets you carry elements from one bonus round into the next bonus round,” says Englman.
The game is available in wide-area progressive and stand-alone versions. On the progressive version, the top line jackpot resets at $200,000. Stand-alone versions carry top jackpots of 80,000 or 50,000 credits, multiplied by the line bet.
According to Englman, the strength of the Star Trek brand gives WMS the kind of flexibility enjoyed by longtime hits like the Monopoly series. In other words, expect it to be around for quite some time—at least one new game launch every year.
“We see Star Trek as one of our strongest licenses,” he says. “Just like Monopoly, we see Star Trek as a brand that can go over many platforms and technologies. We feel we can place Star Trek games on any new technologies we have.”
For now, though, settle into a long introduction of this particular incarnation of Star Trek. By this month, it is expected to be approved everywhere, and if past Star Trek launches are any indication, expect some pretty creative promotions across the industry as the game is launched.
Beam me up, Scotty. The Klingons are coming.
Star Trek Battlestations
Dual-screen video slot; two five-reel, 40-line reel sets;
expanding wild symbols; free-spin and community
second-screen bonus events; penny denomination
Payback % Range
Average Hit Frequency
Progressive: $200,000 reset
Non-Progressive: 80,000 credits; 50,000 credits
AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, MI (tribal), MN, MS (tribal), MO, ND, NM, NV, OR, SD, WA, WI
pending at press time)
Check out WMS’ NEW STAR TREK BATTLESTATIONS slots! ”