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The newest slot games include standouts, but there’s still room for the classic

Favorites, New and Old

By Frank Legato

 

In November, I used this space to opine on my personal favorites among the new slot games that were introduced at the October industry trade show.

As noted, my favorite new game is a Class II game from Eclipse that replicates shooting at ducks and targets in a shooting gallery. There is a basic three-reel slot game at the center, but the point of the game is to get back into the bonus with multiple shots at the moving gallery of ducks, for credit awards, or targets, which multiply those awards.

That game, Duck Dollars, wasn’t the only game that impressed me this year. IGT came out with a blockbuster entertainment brand with its Whitney Houston video slot series, an elegantly presented theme using the new SkyRise cabinet, with two stacked 55-inch monitors displaying an array of footage of the singer performing during different bonus rounds.

Light & Wonder dazzled with Kong: Skull Island, a magnificent, immersive video slot presented on a 75-inch portrait monitor for a cinematic experience. Aristocrat revealed the six games in its series of NFL-themed slots. Each of these NFL slots is in a different format, but all have the same feature—you pick your team from a menu of all 32 NFL team logos, to switch all game icons, reel symbols and game footage for bonus events, to depict your team. That includes game footage from the most recent NFL season, to be switched out every year. Aristocrat just launched the third of the series, NFL Super Bowl Link, on the MarsX Portrait cabinet.

All of these and more are great games, but the reason I gravitated to the duck game was that it’s different. Even among the elite slots noted above, there is a sameness that seems to be prevalent in game design. Many repeat the same basic bonus mechanics, each dressed up in a new theme. If there isn’t a pot-style feature in which three pots, baskets, piggies or whatever grow until they burst to award enhanced free spins, there is certainly some kind of hold-and-respin feature, where coins, orbs or whatever land as coin symbols and lock in place for three spins, and return a spin meter to three with each additional coin, Or orb, or whatever.

          It’s not even necessarily one or the other feature. A lot of new games offer them both—a sort of coda of game mechanics.

That’s why I liked the ducks. They were different.

Meanwhile, even with all the great new games coming out, and all the new styles of play, it’s nice to know that there’s still room for players who love the old stuff. Personally, some of my favorite slot sessions ever have been parked in front of a quarter or dollar version of Double Diamond, or better yet, Ten Times Pay. High payback percentage, press and spin, try to outlast the relatively low house edge. The gambler’s game.

One of the new games this year is that. Just released by IGT, it is Wheel of Fortune Diamond Spins Triple Double Stars. That may seem a mouthful, but the moniker actually describes what the game is. It’s Wheel of Fortune like it was meant to be, with three mechanical spinning reels and a great cabinet in the sleek CrystalWheel Stepper.

This is a classic three-reeler in that the base game is Triple Double Stars, a mashup of multiple “7” combinations and multiplying wild symbols. It’s a nine-line, nine-coin game available in quarters and dollars with a progressive jackpot resetting at $10,000.

What’s best about this is its enhanced version of the famous spin of the bonus wheel. It is triggered by wild symbols with a unique spin symbol on the third reel. The spin symbol awards one, two or three active pointers for the wheel spin.

Yes, I do like a lot of the new game features and how they’re presented in a unique way by each of the slot manufacturers. But three spinning reels, multiplying wilds, 7s all over the place, and a Wheel… of…. Fortune wheel spin that can end up in three wheel slices?

Now that’s playing a slot.

Just as good as the ducks.

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