Our annual sneak peek at the new slots games coming your way in 2013—or sooner
by Frank Legato
In the nearly 14 years that Strictly Slots has been published, there has been one constant: every year, there has been a “New Slot Issue.” That is because each fall, the international casino industry gathers in Las Vegas for the central trade show in gaming, the Global Gaming Expo.
As you may know, the Global Gaming Expo, or G2E, contains a particular focus on the companies that produce slot machines. It is where all the slot manufacturers roll out their new models for the coming year. The trade show offers a glimpse at what will be new on the slot floor in the coming year. These days, it’s more like the coming months, as most of the slot-makers arrive at the show with games that are either approved by regulators or near approval.
The following pages will offer you an advance look at the games that will be launched at casinos across the U.S. in the coming year. It’s a collection that reveals a creativity and innovation that’s never really slowed among slot manufacturers.
So following, in alphabetical order by manufacturer, are highlights of what’s in store on the slot floor.
AC Slots, the New Jersey-based company formerly known as AC Coin & Slot, is following up on last year’s successful introduction of “Axcess,” the first home-grown video platform for the company.
With the first three Axcess games gaining popularity in markets around the country, AC Slots is drawing on the sophisticated computer technology at the core of Axcess to create new play experiences in a variety of forms. New games featuring the standard twin 22-inch monitors host entertaining themes, like the hilarious Karate Pig, Golden Koi and Bust the Bank.
Fourteen new Axcess titles will be rolled out at the fall show. In addition to all the normal slot styles, AC Slots has created a group of games based on internet play-for-fun games. Re-created in slot form are games like Took’s Timber, a popular internet game with cartoon woodland creatures surrounding five logs—which serve as the reels. The reels spin sideways—as a log would—and give out pays on 25 paylines in addition to a variety of side games.
American Gaming Systems
American Gaming Systems, fresh from perfection of its own new slot platform—called “Roadrunner”—is riding the success of Blackbeard’s Treasure, arguably the most intricate pirate theme ever incorporated into a slot machine (it was featured in our August cover story).
The follow-up game to Blackbeard’s Treasure, to be available on casino floors soon, is Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Olaf Vancura, vice president of game design for AGS, created a “Ripley’s” slot when he headed game design at the former Mikohn. This time, he had the advanced Roadrunner platform at his disposal to again re-create the legendary comic strip that treated newspaper readers to a collection of interesting facts and oddities which reporter Robert Ripley found over decades of world travels.
The new slot mines the Ripley collection of trivia, facts and oddities in an interactive player experience, in the form of a knowledge-based bonus.
During the base game, players can accumulate “helpers” for the main “Trivia Bonus.” When this bonus is triggered, the player is asked a multiple-choice trivia question, and can call on the helpers accumulated during the primary game if the answer is not known—a “Redo,” which puts up a new question; an “Eliminator,” which eliminates one of the wrong answers from the choice; and “Stats,” which works like “Ask the Audience” on TV question shows—the player is shown how most other players answered the question.
Aristocrat’s big game launches this year include several high-profile brands from movies and even literature. Superman The Movie, which debuted this summer exclusively at the Station casinos in Las Vegas, is packed with video clips from the first modern Superman film, 1978’s Superman: The Movie starring Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder and Gene Hackman.
It’s in the Viridian Hybrid stepper format, launched at last year’s G2E, which combines physical reels with a “shutter” overlay system that can switch between three-reel and five-reel format, or completely cover the reels for a total video bonus event.
The next version of Superman will be based not on the movie series, but on the familiar DC Comics version of Superman. The comic-book version has a unique bet structure. If your betting reaches a certain level, the entire game switches to a Lex Luthor theme—new reel symbols, new bonus features—and the jackpot goes to $2.5 million.
Another movieland theme from Aristocrat this year is The Mummy, based on 1999’s The Mummy film starring Brendan Fraser.
Aristocrat enters the game-show business this year with Let’s Make A Deal, based on the modern version of the iconic game show starring host Wayne Brady.
Among the great home-grown game franchises from Aristocrat, Cash Express Gold Class brings back the four-level train-themed progressive that was one of Aristocrat’s most popular games around a decade ago. A multiple progressive with a top jackpot resetting at $10,000, the new link features seven popular Aristocrat base games, including standouts like “More Chilli,” “Buffalo” and “Pompeii.”
There will also be new games reprising the beloved Cashman series, which features the “Mr. Cashman” coin-man character popping up to award the player a variety of random bonus events. Cashman Live uses the shutter-reel technology of Viridian Hybrid to bring the iconic brand to a stepper game for the first time. It has the four original Cashman bonuses plus one new one.
Other classic Aristocrat brands resurface in the Legends series of video slots. The Viridian WS wide-screen format is used to display two versions of each of several legendary Aristocrat video slots—the original, unchanged in any way (“Classic”); and an enhanced, modernized version of the game (“Deluxe”). The first two games in the series are dual versions of Queen of the Nile and 5 Dragons.
Finally, Wonder 4 is a unique style of multi-game unit. It is a multi-play multi-game unit. There are four base games in the initial release, including popular Aristocrat titles Buffalo, Pompeii, Firelight and Wild Splash. There are four reel sets. The player can choose to play any or all of the four base games at once.
Aruze is launching follow-ups to the game series including runaway hit Amazon Fishing, and to the amazing reel-spinning series introduced last year, Innovator with Radiant Reels.
The Innovator mechanical-reel series features large reels—the largest in the business for a five-reel format—backed by multi-colored LED lighting and variable reel speeds, with lighting and colors varying according to game conditions. This year, Aruze launches the Innovator Deluxe series, which adds an interactive top box to the mix.
The first two Innovator Deluxe games are Aladdin & the Magic Lamp and Alibaba. The Aladdin game employs a sculpted object located just above the reels—Aladdin’s Lamp, which the player rubs in the bonus round to call forth the genie, who then performs various acrobatics between the top screen and the reels.
Once the genie is released, the show switches to the video screen and the physical reels. The “rub” can release multiple genies to the top screen, and they fly down to the physical reels to transform them into wild reels.
Alibaba, its theme dedicated to the medieval Arab adventure tale “Alibaba and the Forty Thieves,” uses a physical device that combines with the LCD top-box monitor to achieve various special effects. The technique, called “RVL Technology” (it’s pronounced “reveal”), adds a physical “Random Visual Layer” to the interactive top box containing physical devices that slide in front of the LCD monitor in various game situations.
Bally is using its great game styles in a couple of very cool new themes—the top one being created under a license from the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, better known to thousands of racing fans as NASCAR.
NASCAR fans will find what Bally calls a “who’s who of racing royalty” populating the NASCAR progressive video slot, which uses the V22/32 cabinet (that’s the one with the 32-inch vertical screen) and Pro Series Sound Chair to recreate the sights and sounds of NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway.
The Sound Chair roars and vibrates with the engines of the cars belonging to five of NASCAR’s brightest stars. All game events are “hosted” by Eli Gold, TV and radio’s “voice of NASCAR.” The NASCAR theme song blares through the speakers during primary game play.
The player can pick any of the five featured NASCAR drivers—Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon or Clint Bowyer—before play. The driver’s bio pops up, and all colors and icons on the game change to reflect that driver’s team colors and branding.
The player’s NASCAR driver competes with the others in three bonuses. The main bonus, the “Green Flag Bonus,” is a NASCAR race in “real-time 3D.” The player gets to assume the identity of his driver and “drive” the car using a new Bally play mechanic called “U-Race.” The race plays out on the large screen in a 3D image of Daytona International Speedway.
This year, Bally will not only appeal to thousands of race fans, but to the tens of thousands who watch the reality show Pawn Stars on A&E’s History Channel. The show is based in a Downtown Las Vegas pawn shop, and viewers love not only the banter among the shop’s owners—Richard “The Old Man” Harrison, his son, Rick Harrison, Rick’s son Corey and Corey’s friend, Austin “Chumlee” Russell—but the tough, back-and-forth negotiations with customers over prices for a variety of items brought in.
The Pawn Stars slots machine captures the essence of the show—which, by the way, is the No. 1 cable show in the U.S., South America and the U.K.—in a Pro Series video slot including themed picking bonuses and a top-box wheel. Similar to the NASCAR slot, the player starts by choosing his favorite character from the show.
That character is featured in the “Negotiation Bonus,” when the player selects one of five items to sell, then negotiates with the Pawn Star. All of the Pawn Stars cast members contributed video performances and audio for the slot.
The other branded theme mastered by Bally this year is one close to any Baby Boomer’s heart—The Beach Boys, with the legendary band and its music presented in a video slot. The new licensed brands are joined by a huge collection of proprietary Bally brands in all game genres, from new versions of the popular themes Hot Shot and Cash Wizard to new reel-spinners.
Other great video slots on tap for Bally include Pirate’s Quest, which uses the big vertical screen and the iDeck LCD button panel to introduce yet another interactive play mechanic, “U-Aim.” In the bonus, players use the iDeck to aim and shoot at pirate ships on the screen for one of three credit prizes.
One of the newest companies on the slot scene this year is Incredible Technologies, the company that happens to be the largest manufacturer of coin-operated amusement games in the U.S. IT is responsible for games like “Golden Tee Golf,” its franchise product released to arcades in the 1980s.
This year, IT is parlaying its expertise in making fun and immersive amusement games into creating fun and immersive slot games. Among the first will be The Munsters Family Portrait, based on the hit 1960s series The Munsters and including a wealth of video clips and audio from the popular series about a family of monsters trying to fit into suburban America.
Bonuses include bonus features like “Grandpa’s Dungeon,” in which players select a favorite Munsters character to become wild during 10 free spins; an the clever “Slide N’ Win” feature, in which nine reels (three symbols each) appear across the screen, and a frame isolating five as paying reels slides across the screen, awarding repeated wins for payline combinations.
IT is launching a proprietary brand with the video slot Johnny Steel: Operation Heist, a game themed as a secret-agent thriller featuring mini-games involving safe-cracking, and “Multi-X” symbols that multiply symbol values for larger payouts.
Other standouts include Squishy Blobs, a quirky video slot themed around various cartoon “blob” characters who dance around to a DJ in a free-spin bonus; Sacred Stones of Alchemy, themed on the mythical medieval science of alchemy, featuring a fifth-reel scatter symbol that transforms low-paying symbols into high-paying “silver” and “gold” symbols; and The Herd, in which buffalo, wild horse and wolf symbols gather into “herds” on the reels, for stacked-symbol wins.
Finally, IT is launching a follow-up to its most popular game, Crazy Money. In the original game, reels are set up inside a gold vault on the screen, and matching bills falling on the payline add up to jackpots totaling the face value of those bills—five $20 bills for 100 credits, for instance—multiplied by the line bet. It’s a method the company calls “ClearWin.”
In the sequel, called Crazy Money Millionaire, a millionaire character in a balloon is added to the screen—he floats over the reels and throws free spins and wild symbols down for base-game mystery bonuses.
International Game Technology
IGT has one of its most remarkable collections of new games, ever, in store for players in the coming years.
Heading IGT’s mind-boggling list of new games is Dolly Parton, a masterful nod to the “Queen of Country Music,” combining photos and videos of Parton at every stage of her career with her inimitable hit music to provide an experience that immerses the country music fan in the artist’s performances.
There are 10 complete Dolly Parton songs loaded into the base game, and unlike other music slots, the player isn’t stuck listening to one or two songs during the reel-spinning. A “Player Jukebox” feature allows you to pick one of the 10 songs that will play during the reel-spinning, and change it whenever you like.
There are several random bonuses and four regular picking and free-spin bonus features calling on various stages of Parton’s career.
Right behind Dolly is a sequel to one of IGT’s most popular current video slots, Candy Bars. Called Take the Cake, the game employs bright, colorful animation—this time it’s cupcakes instead of candy bars—and stacked symbols in the primary game. There also is a three-level progressive (“Snack Size,” “King Size” and “Giant Size” prizes) that features a dynamic paytable. The progressive reset amounts adjust according to the wager: the top jackpot starts at $300 at the cost-to-cover single credit per line; at three credits per line, it switches to $900; at the maximum 10 credits per line, the top jackpot rises to $3,000.
Several new IGT games merge traditional reels to hybrids using the MLD (for multi-layer display) technology, which produces an authentic 3D effect in bonus events and in replicating mechanical reels.
IGT also adds new games in its skill-based series Reel Edge, launched last year with “Centipede.” Tulley’s Treasure Hunt and Blood Life Legends each use a joystick to run a bonus round on a horizontal 32-inch screen that looks like a movie screen.
Tulley’s Treasure Hunt—which uses the MLD technology to create its 3D images—involves “Tulley the Turtle,” who is sent on an underwater journey through caves to pick up various treasures. In the bonus, the player uses the joystick to guide the turtle on its journey, moving the title character around as it swims to capture coins, treasure chests and other objects in a very Nintendo-like sequence. Repeated bonus rounds improve the player’s skill at negotiating the bonus.
Blood Life Legends” applies the same concept to a sequel of the first “Blood Life” game. The player assumes the role of a bat as it flies through catacombs and tombs—again, grabbing objects along the way.
Some of the most memorable games from IGT this year will be on the “Center Stage” movie-style format, with its 103-inch monitor (70 inches in the smaller version) that gave players initial themes like “American Idol” and “The Dark Knight.” This year’s entries for the Center Stage format include the first Center Stage version of one of IGT’s most popular brands—Sex and the City: Out On The Town.
Also coming to the Center Stage format is a new version of the series of IGT games based on the Star Wars films. Star Wars Trilogy is the first game in the series based on all three films in the original trilogy, Star Wars (A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. In the bonus, each player pilots a ship through a planetary trench in an epic star battle.
The other big Center Stage entry this year is Judge Judy, which puts the players in front of the reality-show judge in her courtroom.
Stand-alone MegaJackpots games will host a variety of branded themes, including some truly hilarious sequences in Family Guy, based on the irreverent, over-the-edge Fox cartoon series. Jokes and clips from all 11 seasons of the show are used in a chorus of gags. Each of the gags is a bonus designed to award money, but the journey is what players will remember.
Another one that will make you laugh is Beverly Hillbillies Millionaire Mile, the first new version of that brand in years.
This is the first Beverly Hillbillies slot to use actual video clips from the 1960s sitcom itself, to frame a multitude of bonus events.
Also in the MegaJackpots series is CSI, a three-in-one slot based on the forensic crime series franchise on CBS. The player gets to choose which version of the show he slot will reflect—one touch switches the game between the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. All reel symbols, screen icons and bonuses instantly change when the new version of the series is picked.
Multimedia Games is getting better and better at making slot games—not to mention a tournament system that has been its hottest product this year.
The company is launching the next generation of its standard video cabinet, “Player HD,” which adds a horizontal light bar to the presentation for extra colors in the display. Visuals are vastly improved on the 23-inch LCD monitors, and the improved cabinet is built for player comfort—ergonomic player controls, padded armrests and a premium sound system round out the features. A new slant-top also has all the enhancements.
Among the top games Multimedia is launching at G2E are follow-ups to the mega-hit Carnival in Rio, using the same attention to detail and lucrative features that made the game popular. Wild-A-Go-Go uses the newly festive cabinet to convey the ’60s go-go theme, and it has the same popular feature of wild symbols growing into wild reels—represented by the dancer, whose image covers the reel in a silhouetted live-action video, filmed with professional dancers the same way as the dancers in the Rio game. Only this time, instead of Latin dances, they’re doing the Pony, the Monkey, the Swim and the Jerk.
Other featured games in Multimedia’s standard video series include Starry Night, an ode to the earliest days of motion pictures. In a nickelodeon-style picking bonus—players pick stars for multipliers—the animation includes images reminiscent of early science fiction films.
Other new video slots introduce new play features for Multimedia. The 50-line Desert Sky features “Straight Shot Multipliers,” in which the reels slow down in anticipation before awarding one of several multipliers for base-game wins, up to 10X. Wild Pixies is a trippy theme that introduces a feature called “Sticky Stacks.” During the free-spin round, pixie characters turn into wild symbols, and they remain in place on the reels for the remainder of the free spins. That applies even to an entire wild reel.
Multimedia also will use G2E to launch new games in what has been its hottest series the past year—High Rise. One of the games leading the category will be Smokin’ Hot Jackpots, a high-denomination reel-spinner (a three-reel, five-line stepper designed for dollars) which features an 11-tiered progressive jackpot, with all jackpots hit through simple reel combinations.
The High Rise series also has been a big hit in the low denominations—refreshes to the popular High Rollin’ game and MoneyBall, with its pinball/pachinko-style bonus over a “money tree” in the top box, stand to be big hits this year.
Multimedia’s other big story this year is TournEvent, the instant tournament system that started life as a server-based product but ended up a dedicated tournament controller that happens to be Multimedia’s hottest product right now.
Banks of Multimedia slots equipped with TournEvent can instantly be switched between revenue and tournament mode like some others in the industry, but extras like cameras in every machine beaming video of participants to a leaderboard while the tournament is in progress, making them “stars” as the tournament progresses; a master of ceremonies; and a side game called “Pop-N-Win” occurs during the tournament, in which balloons float up player screens—touch the screen to pop the balloon, and boost your score.
This year, Multimedia is introducing the system’s newest incarnation, TournEvent 4.0. Among the improvements in the new version is “Jump to First,” a random feature in which, at any point during a tournament—even the last few seconds—the “Money Man” character can appear on one player’s screen to boost that player’s score to first-place in the standings. Another improvement is a second score-boosting side game. Called “Crazy Carnival,” the new game is more intense than the balloon game. Based on shooting gallery-style carnival games, it is faster, more challenging and much more rewarding in terms of boosting the score.
At the G2E show, Multimedia will be wrapping up its second statewide tournament using the system. Called “TournEvent of Champions,” the events began last year with a successful statewide contest in California. This year, Multimedia reprised the statewide event in Washington, with the finals slated for G2E week at the Venetian in Las Vegas.
Spielo is launching a totally new kind of slot product this year—in addition to what is almost a given, a new “Deal Or No Deal” slot. The game franchise, based on the internationally known game show—and now, more specifically, on the U.S. version of Deal Or No Deal, hosted by Howie Mandell—has been one of Spielo’s biggest success stories.
Deal Or No Deal Join’N Play 2 has what Spielo calls “stress-free eligibility” for the community bonus round. Once you qualify with minimal bets, you stay qualified.
This version of “Deal” is more player-friendly. There are shorter times between bonuses, mystery bonuses are more frequent, and the amount of the top briefcase has been doubled.
Also this year, Spielo is introducing three slots under a license with PopCap Games, owner of some of the most popular social games available on the internet. Spielo will launch slots based on three PopCap titles known around the world—“Plants vs. Zombies,” “Zuma” and “Bejeweled.”
The first PopCap games will be two based on the “Plants vs. Zombies” series, called Plants vs. Zombies Gargantuar and Plants vs. Zombies Backyard Showdown. Both titles feature the “Graveyard Bonus,” in which the player picks tombstones in a graveyard, looking for “suns” toward winning a progressive—before brain-craving zombies, advancing through the cemetery, reach the player.
WMS is launching the largest group of new slot games in all categories that it ever has. The record-setting launch centers on the debut of the new CPU-NXT3 video platform, which has given WMS designers the horsepower to do incredible things with several categories of slot machine.
Take the new Sensory Immersion game based on legendary rock band KISS. From the base game’s unique reel setup to the vibrations of music from the entire library of the theatrical rock band throbbing through the BOSE Surround Sound chair, KISS, the slot machine, is “immersion” for the rock-and-roll fan.
KISS is only the beginning this year for high-profile WMS brands. Cheers, based on the long-running TV sitcom set in a Boston bar, is another high-profile brand on tap for WMS this year. Actor John Ratzenberger reprised his role as know-it-all mailman Cliff Claven to do all the voice-overs to host a full contingent of bonuses based on clips, gags and situations from the show.
Next up among licensed themes is Spider-Man, which uses the Sensory Immersion 2.0 setup with the motion chair. The chair was launched last year with Aladdin & The Magic Quest, in which players are taken on a physical magic-carpet ride thanks to actual movement of the chair. In Spider-Man, the chair works in concert with video from the film trilogy that began with 2002’s Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire. The player is taken from rooftop to city streets and bridges on Spidey’s “web” as he battles the Green Goblin in virtual-reality bonus events. Very cool.
Another popular brand is renewed in Wizard of Oz Haunted Forest, which debuts a new display format for WMS, called Gamefield xD. The format combines two large LCD video monitors into a huge “game field,” on which animation flows seamlessly between top and bottom screen to provide a remarkable treatment of movie clips depicting the Wicked Witch of the West’s forest from the classic 1939 Wizard of Oz film.
Other highlights include Monopoly Legends, which is the first game in the more than 40-game Monopoly series to combine the theme of the classic board game with several legendary WMS brands.
The Monopoly theme is integrated into bonus rounds from each of the classic WMS brands “Reel ‘Em In,” “Zeus” and “Jackpot Party.” For instance, in the famous Reel ‘Em In fishing bonus, it’s Mr. Monopoly in the boat fishing for bonus awards. The classic picking bonus in Jackpot Party yields “gifts” containing prizes related to the icons of the Monopoly game.
Next up for WMS: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Based on the classic 1971 film starring Gene Wilder, the game takes on a rich theme. “Oompa Loompas,” Wonka’s diminutive assistants in the story, provide all manner of mystery bonus events by leaping onto reel spots. The base game employs another new play mechanic, in which one bonus event has the reels expand into the top box to a maximum of 12 symbols per reel for lucrative free-spin events.