Eclipse Gaming Continues its Cash Arcade Series with DUCK DOLLARS
By Frank Legato
Last year, Eclipse Gaming Systems, one of the fastest-growing suppliers in the Class II Native American slot market—and inevitably on a path to arriving at commercial casinos soon—released a fun group of games it dubbed the Cash Arcade Series.
The series is distinguished by the novel nature of the games. There are simple reels, but the reels are never the focus. The games instead focus on fun games drawn from the traditions of the carnival, the fair and the amusement arcade.
The ﬁrst two entries in the game family formed the Big Shake series—Big Shake Neon and Big Shake Carnival, two games that replicate the coin-pusher machines found in arcades, carnivals, and, back in the 1980s, in casinos. These were games with mechanical pusher brooms that the player tried to manipulate to push a pile of quarters over a ledge and into a hopper tray. The Big Shake version uses high-deﬁnition video and a virtual engine using “real-time physics” to create a remarkable simulation.
With the Big Shake games bona ﬁde hits in all Eclipse’s current markets and still on the rise, Eclipse is ready to release the next Cash Arcade game, called Duck Dollars. It’s a game that will take players back to those county fairs and carnivals—a re-creation of a carnival mainstay, the shooting gallery.
“We brainstormed on diﬀerent ideas, and one related to Cash Arcade was what to do next,” says Bruce Urban, chief product oﬃcer of Eclipse. “What are popular games that are in arcades? We progressed to the midway carnival-type type games, and shooting galleries are very popular. That’s how Duck Dollars came about—that concept of a player being engaged in winning prizes by hitting targets on the screen.”
Recalling the Gallery
One look at this game and you know it’s going to be fun. The large 4K portrait screen is transformed into an old-time carnival shooting gallery, with rows of ducks ﬂanked by targets, all as if on a mechanical conveyor in an actual shooting gallery.
At the bottom of the screen is a slick three-reel, single-line slot array. The base game is traditional— bars and 7s along with three diﬀerent duck symbols (for four diﬀerent 7 combinations), and the most important facet to the game, the cannon symbol.
Three like-colored rubber ducks nab one of three jackpots—based on bet level, three white ducks return up to a $2,500 Minor jackpot; three blue ducks, up to a $5,000 jackpot; and three red ducks nab the Grand jackpot which, based on bet level, can reach $50,000.
Urban notes that the jackpots are typically static, so they hit more often. “We chose to recommend that casinos oﬀer ﬁxed values so we could make sure the frequency is a little bit higher versus an incrementing progressive,” he says. The cannon symbol triggers the bonus game that is the heart of the slot. There is a cannon over each reel, and by touching the FIRE button, players feel like they’re manipulating the position of the cannon to shoot at the ducks and targets as they move across the gallery.
The ducks moving across the screen all display credit awards, the top row of the three-row gallery with the highest. They resemble the cash-on-reels symbols in many games. Urban calls them “cash- on-ducks.”
“It creates a nice presentation on the ﬂoor when they’re placed side by side,” Urban says. “It looks like the ducks are going out of one machine and into the next. It creates a nice bank eﬀect for the players.”
Cash-on-ducks symbols are one thing, but the targets between the ducks are special—they unveil mystery bonuses applied to the gallery wins. There’s a mystery behind one of the targets that can upgrade the values on the ducks, giving the player a “Reload” message to shoot again. That can happen multiple times.
“The targets represent a little hidden piece of the game, a mystery factor,” says Urban. “Those targets can up the values of the ducks and give you another shot. And then they also can award multiple ducks on a ‘Lucky Duck’ bonus within the target.
“My expectation as a player is that I’m going to want to hit the targets before I hit the ducks.”
Heart of the Game
There are some good line wins in the three-reel base game, but this slot is all about the shooting gallery. Every time a duck lands on the reels, the corresponding cannon activates for a shot at the moving targets.
A single cannon on the reels awards one shot; two cannons award two. What you’re really looking for here, though, is to land three cannons on the reels.
Three cannons on the reels trigger the “Firequackers Frenzy,” awarding six, nine or 12 shots, which can be taken in rapid succession. This is where the game begins to really behave like a carnival shooting gallery.
“We give the player control to ﬁre the cannons in the Frenzy, and you can be awarded anywhere from six to 12 shots,” Urban says. “Think of it as free games. It’s a diﬀerent way to implement free games and win values for the player.”
Urban calls games like these “feature-forward,” because the features are laid out in front of the player before they even sit down. “It brings the bonus feature to the player, making the game less about the reels,” he says.
He adds that this bonus feature happens with great frequency, giving a feeling of constant action to the game. “The bonus feature occurs with a frequency that should bring a lot of excitement and enjoyment to the players at the bank,” Urban says. “On a bank of three games, players are going to be looking over at the other players: ‘Oh, you just got a shot! What did you hit?’ We envision this as a really entertaining, very exciting game for the players.”
Keeping with the Big Shake game features, there’s even hidden entertainment to the game. The player can choose their base game music by pressing the “Duck Radio” button on the base game screen. The player chooses between three tracks—the standard Duck Dollars theme; the Duck Dollars beach theme, featuring a surfboard duck and beach pop music; or the Duck Dollars country theme, with a duck wearing a Stetson and backed by country music.
Eclipse will oﬃcially launch Duck Dollars at the Global Gaming Expo, the big gaming trade show the second week of October. According to Sean Evans, senior vice president of sales for Eclipse, customers in Native American casinos will begin to see placements by November, with placements in all the company’s casino markets by early next year. Eclipse sells in Oklahoma, Texas, Midwestern states including Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, Southern states including Alabama and Florida, and most recently, California, where Eclipse games will be placed alongside commercial Class III games.
“What I love about the Cash Arcade Series is that it gives you a nostalgic look back,” says Evans. “All of us in a certain age group looked forward to our county fair once a year. The carnival came in and they set up rides and games, and it was a carefree time in your life.
“That’s what we’re making a connection to with this game. I’ve watched a lot of people in casinos play our Big Shake coin-pusher games, and that’s what they’re getting. It’s what Bruce and the team have done in Duck Dollars, with the ducks rolling across the screens. It’s the same as the coin pusher—there’s something going on even when it’s in an idle mode.”
Expect more games in the coming months and years to tap into that carnival magic. Urban and Evans say there are always several ideas swirling around the R&D team for new carnival-style games.
But meanwhile, Duck Dollars will have its coming-out party at the big trade show and will go live shortly thereafter.