WMS brings the fairy-tale story of Rapunzel to life in an interactive bonus game
by Frank Legato
Slot-maker WMS Gaming has made a habit of taking us back to our youth, games like “The Wizard of Oz,” “Aladdin & the Magic Quest” and “Alice” using animation, sound and even motion to conjure images of beloved stories from our collective childhood.
All have resonated with players, and “Wizard” has numerous popular sequels to prove it. “Aladdin” showed us the WMS Motion Chair, a gadget being used again with astounding effect in the upcoming game “Spider-Man.” But certain features of the “Alice” game are so popular with players that WMS decided to reprise them in a similar game.
“Rapunzel” is that game. This time, the Bonus Bank series, in which an ante wager qualifies the player for a collection of bonus events, is used to conjure up the image of the Grimm’s Fairy Tale that once had us all imagining climbing a ladder made of a maiden’s hair.
Shawn Collette, the principal game designer of both Rapunzel and Alice (not to mention “KISS,” “The Wizard of Oz Wicked Witch of the West” and “Double Money Burst”), says he considers Rapunzel the follow-up to Alice. “For people who have enjoyed our Alice game, I took some of those elements to the next level,” Collette says of Rapunzel. “When I designed Alice, there were a lot of things I thought I could improve on. With Rapunzel, I had the chance to do that, and I like dipping into the fairy tale aspects again.”
The story, for those whose childhood didn’t include fairy tales, involves an enchantress named Dame Gothel who makes an evil bargain with a couple that ends up forcing the couple to hand over their baby to be raised by the enchantress. Gothel names the baby Rapunzel and locks her in a tower with no stairs or entry points—just, as Rapunzel grows, her long golden hair, which Gothel uses as a ladder. Eventually, a prince uses the hair to climb up and save Rapunzel.
Actually, you don’t necessarily have to have a book of the Grimm brothers’ 19th century German folk tales to be familiar with the Rapunzel theme. Anyone with young children will probably recognize the character from Tangled, the 2010 animated Disney film based loosely on the fairy tale. Rapunzel also appeared with several other fairy-tale characters in 2007’s Shrek the Third. “It’s kind of gotten a new life in recent pop culture,” says Collette, “so this seemed like a good fit, theme-wise.”
As WMS did with Alice, there are two game themes, each available in either five-reel video or a mechanical reel-spinning version with the “Transmissive Reels” video overlay, which provides animation over the reels. The two themes are “Rapunzel” and “Gothel.” Each contains its own dedicated free-spin and re-spin bonuses, but both games include three common “Bonus Bank” bonus features, activated by a 10-credit ante wager. (It is a 40-line game; the minimum wager is 50 credits, covering the lines and the ante.)
Once activated, the common bonus features can occur randomly on any given spin.
What really will draw you to this slot, though, is its presentation. The games are in the format and cabinet the manufacturer calls “Bluebird xD.” Housed in a comfy slant-top cabinet, the video or mechanical reels sit under a “Metascreen”—basically, a 32-inch portrait screen on its side for a horizontal presentation (used to great effect in “Pirate Battle”).
The Metascreen hosts beautiful visuals and animation in high-definition video—taking you into the fantasy world of Grimm at the same time characters reach down to the main game screen to implement various bonus events, wild symbols and multipliers. “We draw heavily from the old fairy tale,” Collette explains. “We have Rapunzel up in the tower with Gothel, and Gothel has her evil little cat that sits on the top screen. As the player plays, those characters will interact with the player’s base game and do mystery bonuses to enhance the player’s experience.”
The base game features a four-by-five reel configuration—four symbols on each of five reels instead of the standard three. This is a unique configuration for the mechanical reel-spinning version in particular, which, thanks to the Transmissive Reels video overlay, has all the lively animation that the video version has.
Each base title has its own free-spin and re-spin bonus event. In the Rapunzel version, Rapunzel’s Free Spin Bonus awards up to 40 spins with three or more bonus symbols. During the free spins, Rapunzel hair symbols expand downward to add wilds to each reel on which they appear. Rapunzel’s Re-spin Bonus triggers in the base game when the first reel is filled with Hair symbols. The player is prompted to select a mouse to reveal one re-spin, two re-spins, one re-spin plus an additional Hair symbol to be placed at random, or an end of the bonus round with all Hair symbols changed to one like symbol.
In the Gothel version of the game, Gothel’s Free Spins Bonus awards five free spins with three scattered bonus symbols. In this version, Gothel sprinkles a lock of Rapunzel’s magic hair from the top screen down to the game screen to combine the three middle reels to form one large middle reel. The large middle reel actually serves as 12 of the same symbol—three reels, four symbols high—and any Hair symbols change to match that symbol. “This is the first time this has ever been done on a mechanical reel-spinner,” comments Collette.
In the “Gothel’s Re-spin Bonus,” eight hair symbols on adjacent reels 1 and 2, 2 and 3 or 3 and 4 combine into an oversized symbol, and the reels are re-spun.
“The re-spin features really enhance the player’s feel of the game, and gives the player a goal to get as many of the oversized symbol as they possibly can, to trigger that big win,” says Collette.
The free-game and re-spin features are accompanied by three base-game “Bonus Bank” features that appear at random, independent of the symbols lining up on the reels. The “Rapunzel Wilds Bonus” randomly changes up to 15 symbols on the reels into wild symbols. In “Big Kitty’s Wheel Feature,” a bonus wheel juts out from the top of the reels and spins either to a multiplier of up to 25X (applied to the triggering spin) or five free spins.
In the “Gothel’s Revenge Bonus,” the player is awarded one pick on each reel, to reveal either a single wild symbol or an entire wild reel.
Spanning the Globe
Rapunzel is a truly global game. According to WMS Producer Nathan Bird, creation of Rapunzel was a cooperative effort between game design studios in Las Vegas and Sydney, Australia. “A lot of the game design and math was done in Las Vegas, but the art and engineering were done in Sydney,” Bird says. “It meant the time put into this game was a lot greater than what is normally put into development.”
It is a game design method that has resulted in success for a number of games worked on by both Collette and Bird—the two also collaborated on “Epic Monopoly,” on the original games in the Colossal Reels series, Double Money Burst, KISS and The Wizard of Oz Wicked Witch of the West.
It is one reason for the widespread appeal of slots like Rapunzel, which is slated to be rolled out in a few U.S. jurisdictions this month. The majority of U.S. jurisdictions will see the game early in 2013, and according to Collette, it will be rolled out to all of WMS’ worldwide jurisdictions next year as well.
“For me, a lot of sheer love and passion went into creating this game,” Collette says. “The theme is right, the mechanic is right and I think the players are really going to enjoy it. The ingredients are there to make this game last a long time.”
Base Games: “Rapunzel” and “Gothel”
Slot Type: Five-reel, 40-line video or mechanical-reel slot; 10-credit ante wager; second-screen interactive picking bonuses; free-spin bonuses; re-spin bonus feature; all denominations available
Payback % Range: 85%-96%
Average Hit Frequency: Approximately 50%
Top Jackpot: 187,500 credits
Availability: AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, MI, MN, MS, MO, ND, NM, NV, NY, OR, OK, PA, WI, WY (Approvals pending at press time)
For a video demonstration of Rapunzel slots, visit YouTube at www.youtube.com/wmsslots.