HERE COME THE SLOTS
Our annual review of the new slots coming to a casino near you!
By Frank Legato
For slot enthusiast, the autumn winds mean one thing: It’s time to get a peek at what’s coming on the slot floor in the coming year.
Well, that’s true at least for subscribers to Strictly Slots, because every year, we travel to the headquarters of all the major slot manufacturers for an exclusive look at the new games they plan to launch over the next several months. They will display all the new games at the annual Global Gaming Expo, the casino industry’s central trade show.
Welcome to our annual rundown of those new games. On the following pages, you will find a collection of information that is not available to the general public—the new games from each manufacturer that you will soon see on your favorite casino floor.
As always, the technology astounds. There are some games with high-tech fun stuff that could change one’s perception of a slot machine. There are others that are as familiar as your favorite jacket, harkening back to the way slots used to be. Taken together, there is a remarkable diversity of choices on the way to the slot floor.
We could say more, but that would take precious space away from the games, and that’s what this section is all about. So here, in alphabetical order by manufacturer, is the future of the slot floor.
AGS, the manufacturer formerly known as American Gaming Systems, has undergone big changes in management and, subsequently, big changes in game style. While the company’s “It Pays To Know” series has wrapped up with the trivia-quiz Family Feud, the company’s new games have a decidedly different flavor.
Part of the reason is the company’s recent acquisition of Georgia-based Cadillac Jack, the games of which will provide the platform for core AGS video slots going forward. These games are built for extended, uninterrupted game play, usually with free-spin bonus events.
Highlights include Tiger! Tiger!, a five-reel, 50- line game with four rows of symbols. The base game centers around a feature AGS calls Dynamic Streaming Stacks, in which multiple large stacks of symbols are randomly inserted from spin to spin. Anywhere from eight to 20 free spins can be awarded based on the number of scattered bonus symbols displayed.
The company also is launching its first games to court Asian players, Golden Wins and Jade Wins, the first titles on the Da Ji Da Li Multi Linked Progressive.
All games in this series are “ways-to-win” setups, nearly all with wins occurring for adjacent symbols paying both left-to-right starting with the first reel and right-to-left starting with the fifth reel. The primary reel setups result in 576 possible ways to win on every spin.
Other Asian-style AGS titles to be launched this year are Fu Panda and Gold Dragon, the latter of which incorporates “Fierce Factor,” another former Cadillac Jack program feature that returns higher wins for higher line bets.
Other new games include updated versions of the Super 10X and Super 5X titles, featuring player-friendly game programs, familiar symbols and single paylines. Both games are designed for high-denomination play.
Additionally, player favorites acquired by the recent acquisitions will include a complete lineup of table-game products such as Double Ball Roulette and Count’s Kustoms, the latter a hugely popular blackjack side bet with the prize of a custom car, truck or motorcycle built by the crew from the History Channel reality show Counting Cars.
This year’s lineup from Aristocrat spreads inventive new content across a number of groundbreaking cabinet styles launched over the past two years, including Verve hd, Arc Single, Arc Double, Arc Wheel, Behemoth and Helix.
The Arc Single and Arc Double cabinets utilize giant 42-inch vertical LCD monitors to maximum effect. Curved toward the player (hence,“arc”), even the one monitor on the Arc Single almost gives the effect of being down front at the movies.
The Arc Double will host two major new licensed themes as follow-ups to Britney Spears, which has been a major hit for Aristocrat.
Game of Thrones is based on the popular HBO fantasy drama about battling royals, kingdoms and dragons based on the novels of George R. R. Martin. Reel symbols depicting major characters and high-definition video excerpts from the series are wrapped into bonus events that include free spins on expanded reels that cover both huge screens and a giant wheel, viewed from the side as it turns across the entire two-screen display.
The slot machine based on the British period drama Downtown Abbey, currently a hit in the U.S. on PBS, will receive similar theater-style treatment on the Arc Double, with reel symbols and bonuses depicting the show’s fictional aristocratic family, which is set against the historic events of early 20th century England.
Other Arc Double games include Buffalo Grand, Elvira and The Walking Dead Season Three—the follow-up to last year’s most successful Aristocrat title.
More high-profile brands are coming in the Arc Wheel version of the cabinet, headed up by A Christmas Story, a hilarious treatment of the beloved 1983 Christmas movie. The title is joined by Batgirl, the latest theme depicting the Batman series of the 1960s; and Bettie Page, based on the 1950s pinup queen.
The trend continues in the Helix Wonder Wheels cabinet, with more hilarity as Dumb & Dumber, based on the 1994 comedy starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, gets the immersive treatment in the multi-wheel, theatrical format that hosts the wildly popular Batman Classic TV Series. Another new theme on the Wonder Wheels format is Man of Steel, the latest incarnation of Aristocrat’s licensed series based on recent Superman films.
The Behemoth cabinet will receive even more attention, as the company’s license connected with The Big Bang Theory gets a super-sized treatment with The Big Bang Theory: Bazinga. This one is loaded with clips from the show, on a screen so large the characters are practically life-size.
Bazinga joins giant versions of the hit Sons of Anarchy and Buffalo Stampede slots—with a “stampede” bonus that will knock your socks off—and Can Can de Paris.
The Verve hd cabinet, the format of the original Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy slots, features Batman Rogues Gallery, a great adaptation of the 1960s Batman series license that focuses on the villains, as portrayed by some of the biggest stars of the day. Clips and reel symbols bring back everyone from Frank Gorshin’s Riddler to Cesar Romero’s Joker, Burgess Meredith’s Penguin and Vincent Price’s Mr. Freeze.
Highlights in the Arc Single cabinet include sequels Sky Rider 2and Moon Maidens 2, along with Diamond Storm, Buffalo Gold, Miss Kitty Gold and Wonder 4 Tower. The latter adds a multiple-progressive tower bonus to Aristocrat’s popular multi-reel format, which allows players to choose any or all of four popular themes for simultaneous play.
Aristocrat is bringing five new games to G2E that are designed for the Helix family of cabinets, launched last year in upright, standard slant and “Super Screen Slant.” The two floating 1080p-resolution LED display monitors, immersive rear-surface ambient lighting and quad sound package of the Helix format will enhance titles including Golden Amulet, Silver Treasures and two multi-game units, Players World Diamond Multigame and Gold Choice Multigame.
Also, watch for a multi-progressive series developed for the Helix Upright called Lightning Link.
Lightning Link is a linked multiple progressive feature featuring a player-selectable denomination. The technology adds a quick-hitting four-level progressive feature to Aristocrat core games. And quick-hitting it is: The jackpot feature is triggered every 100 spins on average, with the top Grand Jackpot hitting every 25 days on average.
Aruze Gaming Americas
Aruze’s new offerings this year will feature the new Cube-X cabinet, designed, according to the company, to be aesthetically and ergonomically pleasing to millennials—Xboxers and PS4 players, to be exact. A faster processor, brighter lighting, high-definition video and LCD touch panels all aid that goal.
The Cube-X Ultimate was launched in August with 999.9 Gold Wheel, a premium three-reel video slot topped with a basic wheel bonus that can lead to one of four progressive jackpots. A second game in the genre, Gold Legend, includes a two-level progressive and multiplier with the wheel.
New video slots being launched on the Cube-X this year include Extreme Dragon and Extreme Phoenix, 243-ways-to-win games featuring the Extreme Progressive, won through wild symbols and a bonus event; the Goddesses series, with “Mighty Symbols” spanning across three reels to create a nine-symbol stack for a re-spin feature; and the Golden series of high-volatility progressives.
Cube-X also is being used to expand the “Ultra Stack” series of games that feed stacked winning symbols and stacked wilds to the reels in mystery events that have proven wildly popular with players. This year’s offerings in the group include Ultra Stack Big 5, which incorporates five of Aruze’s top game themes with a new “iLink” progressive jackpot called Jungle Cash. The presentation will feature elaborate signage with a wrap-around 360-degree display.
Also highlighted is 100 Lines Stack Dragon, which features an unlimited retrigger to the eight free games; Ultra Stack Egypt, with its free-spin feature dominated by special reels with top symbols increased; and Ultra Stack Poseidon, which offers the player a choice of volatility in the free-spin feature.
Also featured in Cube-X video is a new “X” series of games in which free-game wins are multiplied by two to 10. Titles include Tokyo Rose X, Kabuki Master X, Tokyo Rose X and Dragon’s Fortune X.
The Cube-X games join a wealth of other video slots being launched in the G Series, which features simple, low-denomination, volatile games with free-spin bonus events. Launching this year will be the 1,024-ways-to-winCharging Bull, Asian-themed games with beautiful art including Streaking Dragon and Streaking Beast Tiger, and Master of Wealth with its golden Buddha-like character.
Aruze is also launching a group of reel-spinning games on the Cube-X cabinet. Games in the Cube-X Innovator series, hybrid slots with spinning reels and bonus features in a top-box monitor, are already in the field—games like Apex Gorilla, a five-reel, 30-line stepper with a free-game bonus determined by a roulette-like spin of flashing numbers on the top-box LCD monitor. Lights flash around the display until landing on a number of free spins, which can be as high as 100. Like other Aruze games with a high number of free spins, the player has the option to take a straight credit amount rather than sitting through all those spins.
Another highlight in the new Cube-X Innovator series is a new addition to the popular Cherry Chance series on the original Innovator stepper series. Released at the end of August, it’s called Cherry Chance Thunder Seven. This one includes a “Storm Bonus,” in which the reels vibrate and thunder for a free-game feature with increased chances for high-paying “7” wins.
The Cube-X Innovator also houses a new progressive series called Burning Hot Jackpot. Initial titles Aztec Sol, Howling Wolf and Great Inca, all popular Innovator titles brought into the new format, feature a “Progressive Challenge” at the end of bonus rounds, in which the flashing roulette-style display on the top box spins to a credit award or one of four progressive jackpots.
Other highlights in the Cube-X Innovator series include traditional high-denomination three-mechanical-reel-spinning Royal Midas Touch, Luna Del Sol, Super Magnificent 7and Triple Double Nutty Jackpot. Fans of the traditional reel-spinner will love these—they’re new versions of classic reel-spinners produced by Aruze parent Universal in the 1980s.
These are classic buy-a-pay slots, designed for dollar play, and for those of you over the age of 50, they’re a nostalgic blast.
Rounding out the Aruze collection this year are community-play games both in the slot and table-game areas. On the slot side, the company is releasing a two-game version of Player’s Party, the massive multi-wheel community game released last year as a follow-up to the hits Paradise Fishing and Amazon Fishing.
International Game Technology
Leading slot-maker International Game Technology this year presents a combined collection of games from the libraries of both the former IGT and GTECH, which acquired IGT last year and merged the company into what is now International Game Technology Ltd.
At the top of the IGT collection this year is a new collection of high-profile brands in a variety of formats. Heading the list is Breaking Bad, on the Crystal Core 42 cabinet—the format including the 42-inch vertical LCD monitor that housed last year’s hit Ellen slots.
Breaking Bad incorporates footage, sound and themes from the critically acclaimed AMC drama about a chemist with terminal cancer who turns to manufacturing methamphetamine and the gangster life to provide for his family before he dies. Powerful imagery from the show finds its way to the reels of two base video slots, one with a free-spin bonus on which flag symbols activate up to three additional reel sets.
One of the two base games features a multi-level progressive bonus in which higher wagers give the player better odds and raise the progressive levels.
Other branded games on the Crystal Core 42 go much more for the laugh—especially TMZ, a hilarious take on the syndicated tabloid TV series featuring a cast of reporters delivering tongue-in-cheek gossip on the star entertainers of the day.
This one could be this year’s runaway hit. One great feature is that the player gets to be in the game. A “Photo Booth” feature has the player sit still for a head-shot photo, and in all subsequent bonus rounds, the player is one of the TMZ news crew (hosted through voice-over by the show’s producer and star Harvey Levin)—which bounces around in funny cut-out animation at the start of the bonuses.
The bonuses all play out some scandal involving one of a select group of celebrities, including David Hasselhoff, Lindsey Lohan and other TMZ “regulars.” (In case you’re wondering, Charlie Sheen turned IGT down.) The bonus events are ingenious, from “Celebrity Spin,” in which a wheel bonus awards credits and gives one of the celebrities an “excuse,” to “Mug Shot Free Spins.”
Another new licensed game is Orange Is the New Black, based on the Netflix comedy/drama set in a women’s prison. This one is on the two-game Crystal Core Duo format, with two different base games under a common LCD display for bonuses. Bonuses begin and finish with a clip of a scene from the acclaimed series. Music also is a big part of the game—it is synchronized with lights across the different machines.
Additionally, Orange Is the New Black represents the first simultaneous game launch in land-based casinos and the Double Down social casino.
Finally, the Crystal Core Duo is used to great effect on a new version of Jurassic Park, featuring a T-Rex Bonus in which the player selects matching symbols for moves by the player and the dinosaur as the T-Rex chases the player. (The high-definition video is outstanding on this.) It also features reels that expand up to 10 rows high for free spins, utilizing all the real estate of the 42-inch monitor.
The GTECH merger augmented the technology of IGT slots with the former GTECH’s groundbreaking “True3D” technology into the IGT library.
GTECH wowed players two years ago with the launch of Sphinx 3Dand its technology, which is the most authentic three-dimensional effect ever to be used for a slot machine—and the best 3D effect without 3D glasses to be had anywhere. True 3D actually features an adjustable effect for those who may get motion-sick from watching characters move around dimensional scenes—that’s how realistic this 3D is.
This year, IGT launches True 3D under its own brand in grand style, applying the technology to the most successful game in its history, Wheel Of Fortune.
Wheel Of Fortune Double Diamond 3Duses the True3D technology to present an animated replica of a classic mechanical reel-spinning game. It uses the traditional Double Diamond symbols and math model in a three-reel, five-line configuration, with a fourth reel added as a bonus reel.
There are several different bonus events. In one, 3Dcoins fly off the fourth reel and hover above each reel until the player selects one to reveal an award. There is a Puzzle Bonus in which the player solves the familiar Wheel Of Fortune puzzle.
The central Wheel Bonus takes place on a 3D touch version of the iconic wheel from the TV game show. Free-game bonuses and the Wheel Of Fortune wide-area progressive round out the package on the game, designed for dollar and higher denominations. Don’t miss this one.
While the new Wheel Of Fortune game makes True 3D an official IGT technology, several other games on the former GTECH platform ProdiGi Vu will be highlighted this year, including Cash Fever Wild Nurse, Plants vs. Zombies 3D and Return of the Sphinx 3D.
Cash Fever features the familiar bonus “thermometer” and a popular feature that increases stacked symbols, and therefore odds, as the player bets up. Plants vs. Zombies, one of a series of titles licensed from Pop Cap Games, includes a funny bonus in which plants on one side of the screen try to shoot all the zombies on the other side before they can approach and “eat the player’s brains.” Return of the Sphinx gives the 3D treatment to one of the former GTECH’s most popular titles.
Other games on the former GTECH platform include Grit, Guns & Gold, a Western-themed 88-line game on curved video reels; and A Reef of Riches, which has the reel set floating over an ocean scene—taking the player underwater for the free-spin bonus.
IGT’s group of video and reel-spinning slots in the company’s Core Games group remains as strong as ever, with 60 video titles and more than 40 stepper titles to be launched at the fall trade show. One of the highlighted games this year is Bubble Craze, which employs a unique video game screen comprised of bubbles instead of classic reels.
Bubble Craze uses a unique setup of 19 independent reels in a hexagonal format, on the Crystal Dual cabinet. A “Cluster Pays” feature returns wins in the base game and free-spin bonus, the latter of which provides a guaranteed win on every spin.
Other core video standouts include Da Vinci Dual Play, which combines two of the popular Da Vinci Diamonds games into a dual-play format with symbols cascading from the top to bottom reel set; Wild Wind-Ups, which has classic wind-up toys as symbols that randomly turn other symbols wild; and the Mythical Warriors series, which features the first three-by-three (three reels, three rows of symbols) video setup since the legendary Texas Tea.
In IGT’s traditional reel-spinning series on the S3000 cabinet, highlights include Mucho Dinero, a classic three-reel, five-line game for quarter, dollar and $5 denominations. Other reel-spinners include 7s With Peppers, including a feature that multiplies one of five progressive jackpots awarded by two or three—depending on the number of peppers gracing the jackpot symbols—Hot Hits, with a frequently hitting nine-level progressive; and Three Play Double Diamond, which stacks three sets of classic stepper reels atop each other in a nod to the classic IGT game Totem Pole.
Finally, IGT, of course, was the company that invented video poker, and thousands of its original video poker variations are still on the floor, unchanged for more than 30 years. But the company has continued to release new variations of the classic video poker games, and this year is no exception.
Among the highlights is Super Hand Poker. With a side bet made, the player is dealt three hands from different decks, instead of duplicate hands as in Triple Play Poker. The player or the computer picks the best of the three hands—the “Super Hand”—and that hand is tripled for the draw from three different decks.
Also highlighted is Pyramid Poker, which combines stud and draw poker. Draw poker hands are dealt at the bottom of the screen, and then four additional stud poker hands are dealt from the top to the bottom of the screen with one card, two cards, three cards and four cards, all stacked in a pyramid. The player draws to the bottom hand and the top hands pay according to a stud pay schedule.
IGT also is releasing a fantastic new instant-slot tournament package this year. Called Spin-Ferno, the system allows casinos to run tournaments on dedicated reel-spinning slots designed especially for the pack-age, but great games in their own right.
Unlike other systems, Spin-Ferno can be used for a single casino or a multi-site tournament. The base games are classic three-reel steppers in the S3000 cabinet, but with touch-screen video overlays that allow for a wealth of in-game opportunities to boost one’s score. The result is a wild ride during the tournament, with icons popping up all over the reels within the players’ reach—a frenzy of activity when compared to old-fashioned, repetitive button-pushing in slot tournaments.
Incredible Technologies, the legendary amusement/arcade-game manufacturer that began making slot machines only five years ago, presents its most extensive collection of new games this year.
Looking at its growing success in the slot market, it’s easy to forget that Incredible Technologies has only been making slot machines for around five years.
IT’s offerings this year feature the new Infinity Skybox cabinet, which includes a massive 55-inch vertical monitor. The company will launch the cabinet this year with Crazy Money II, a new twist of the company’s flagship game brand.
The Infinity Skybox will be flanked by Infinity Link, the company’s first linked progressive product. Infinity Link is a bank-wide linked local-area progressive utilizing horizontal monitors and dazzling effects.
Highlighted games include Money Rain, which has been the company’s runaway hit of the year. The game incorporates all the features of Crazy Money, and along with the sequel Crazy Money II and the fun Money Beach (picture the cash-portrait presidents with sunglasses), it will create the “Money family” of games.
All of them have the familiar game interface of various bill denominations (with super-sized smiling presidents) as reel symbols. They also all feature the popular “Angle Pay” game mechanic, which pays big when high-paying bill symbols land in certain angles, and of course, the main-stay of the theme, the “Money Catch Bonus,” in which players touch the screen to “grab” flying dollar bills, revealing credit values behind each bill.
Money Rain features an innovative reel mechanic called “Scatter Ways.” A smaller sixth reel locked during game play unlocks for the bonus to replace low-paying scatter symbols with the four highest-paying scatter symbols in a free-spin bonus. The game also incorporates IT’s “Good, Better, Best” bet setup, which increases the number of free spins with each of three bet levels.
Crazy Money II adds the Good, Better, Best bet feature, a four-level progressive and a giant bonus wheel to the original flagship product. The progressives are won via the “Mint Bonus,” which initiates a free-spin round on a bonus three-by-three reel array featuring only the top four symbols. Five or more gold coins on the reels during a free spins trigger one of the four progressive jackpots. The top jackpot resets at $5,000.
All of the bonuses are accessed through a spin of the wheel—scatters trigger the wheel to decide which of the four events will take place.
Rounding out the Money series, IT will highlight a high-denomination version of the original Crazy Money. Crazy Money High Denom features fixed-bet options and denominations including quarter, 50 cents, dollar and $2. The company is offering a high-denom version of Money Rain as well, designed specifically for the VIP rooms.
Other IT highlights include Big Prize Bubblegum, a nod to the childhood-favorite gumball machine. Part of the “I Series” (for innovation), the game emulates an old-fashioned gumball machine as brightly colored gumballs cascade through the reels to create big wins. Penny, nickel and dime coins landing on the reels trigger free spins in the number of the sum of the coin symbols, and free spins can retrigger up to 100 total.
A “Bonus Toy” capsule landing on a free spin reveals a 3D picking game called “Pick Until You Pop.” The player selects from 30 toy capsules to reveal credit amounts and multipliers until revealing the “toothache” symbol.
Launching the Infinity Link platform will be Bright 7s,which puts a twist on standard progressive awards with a feature called “Color Pays.” The progressives are triggered when any symbols of the same color—red, green or gold, identifying the corresponding progressive—fill the screen in any combination.
The main bonus event can also land a progressive. Called “Super Power Tower,” four “mega wheels” are displayed on the screen. Each colored wheel features the chance to land the corresponding progressive or a “Level Up” slice, which moves up to the next-higher wheel.
Finally, IT enters the haunted-house genre with Hauntsworth House, a 40-line game with cartoony animation showing different colored ghosts flying through Mr. Hauntsworth’s manor. Randomly during the primary game, ghosts will float to the reels to turn symbols into wild symbols.
Thanks to yet another merger of slot manufacturers, the brand of slots you knew last year as Multimedia Games is now Everi. But luckily, the quality of games produced by the Austin, Texas-based slot-maker is unchanged.
The new Everi—a combination of Multimedia and the former Global Cash Access, producer of most of the ATMs you find in casinos—has re-emphasized quality in their games, and as you may imagine, with the quality of the former company’s entertaining games already high, we’re in for some treats as players.
Everi is launching around 60 new titles in the coming months, in addition to new features for the wildly popular TournEvent tournament system. During the week of the big trade show, the company will stage the third annual National TournEvent of Champions, the multi-casino national slot tournament on Everi’s TournEvent tournament system. This year’s tournament involved 100 casinos—98 in the U.S., two in Peru—which are sending a total of 180 finalists for all-expense-paid trips for two to La Vegas, where they will compete in the finals at the XS nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas on Wednesday, September 30.
The winner will take home a cool $1 million, with $1.3 million in total prizes and no finalist walking away with less than $500.
Many of new game offerings from Everi this year will be featured on the new Core HDX cabinet, which includes dual high-definition monitors, an ergonomic design with monitors close to the player, vastly improved sound over previous platforms, and a dynamic light show that synchronizes with game events.
The mix of games on the Core HDX—as well as the legacy Platinum MPX, Player HD, High Rise and giant Texan HDX cabinets—features new game mechanics such as “Reel Match,” on the game El Dorado the Lost City, which randomly matches the symbols on one reel on another reel for a re-spin, all the way up to five wild reels.
Other games in this year’s lineup present a unique mix of the game-play potential of the new platform and the kind of entertaining, humorous animation and game events that distinguished the former Multimedia’s slot games for years.
One showcase for the new HDX platform is Bonus Attack, a game designed around a top-box bonus that occurs as frequently as every 30 spins. This one’s all about getting to the bonus, and once in the bonus, there are 10 levels of awards, won by landing a corresponding number of Bonus Attack symbols in a free-spin bonus. There also are extra spins awarded as players try to climb the bonus ladder.
A sister game is Jackpot Inferno, which features eight easily obtainable progressive awards, also won through free spins, but this time on a special set of reels that contains only high-paying symbols. The player also can land “Jackpot Jump” symbols for instant advances in jackpot levels.
The first group of Core HDX Games—which also includes Quad Burst Tiger Strike—include a feature that rewards players for higher wagers. While progressives are available at any bet level, the reset levels rise as the wager rises.
The Core HDX titles will be joined by games in the Platinum MPX cabinet—popular in its own right for its 40-inch HD integrated touch-screen display, interactive sound chair with “Earthquake Shakers,” and custom 6.2 surround-sound system. Among the highlighted games on MPX this year is Smokin’ Hot Dice, which features a jackpot dice roll that triggers one of a multiple tier of progressives. Players touch the screen to roll the dice, to the backdrop of original honky-tonk music, and can win several jackpots at the same time.
Many new Everi games include bonuses that reprise the kind of humor the company’s developers popularized as Multimedia Games.
A good example is Her Majesty, a hilarious take on Great Britain’s Elizabethan era featuring cut-out animation from portraits of Queen Elizabeth, King Henry VIII and other historic royals, in bonus events like “Heads Will Roll”—the heads drop to the reels to add wild symbols—“Pester the Guard,” in which you pick annoyances to try to get the royal guards to change expression; and “Sink the Armada,” in which you get to fling everything from cows to boulders at ships in the water, to the back-drop of laugh-out-loud sound effects.
Another entertaining entry is Rumpelstiltskin, on the Player HD platform (featuring dual 23-inch wide-screen monitors), with its funny central character and the “Guess My Name” bonus in which the player makes picks to try to assemble the legendary imp’s name in three tries. Free spins include “Straw to Gold” reel results, which change reels into wild reels. Throughout are funny little accents, such as Rumpelstiltskin moon-walking across the bottom of the reels.
The Player HD format also hosts Viva Los Muertos, a humorous play on the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday that combines three popular game mechanics with a picking bonus hosted by funny animated skeletons; and Paris Le Magnifique, with a retriggering free-spin bonus that accumulates symbols toward a progressive jackpot. (Those symbols are miniature can-can dancers, also guaranteed to trigger a laugh.)
Sharing space between the Player HD and the super-sized Texan format is Pirates vs. Ninjas, featuring an entertaining cartoon battle in which the player advances prize levels by picking a warrior and consistently defeating the unpicked pirate, or ninja. On the big Texan screen, it’s like playing a video game on a theater screen.
Rounding out the Player HD collection this year is Potion Power, featuring “Connected Pays;” and The Three Fates, with a picking bonus that determines a number of free spins, a multiplier and wild reels for a free-game event.
The company’s tall High Rise cabinet also hosts strong new content this year, such as Journey to the Center of the Earth, which features a multi-level picking bonus with the object of advancing through different levels of the earth to get to the core, and the highest bonus (the “Mother lode”). Prizes in the picking bonus increase as the levels get closer to the core, with high-definition graphics and sound offering a compelling effect.
Another standout in the High Rise series is Fruit Cocktail Deluxe, with a fun classic fruit theme and a top progressive that links with current progressives One Red Cent Deluxe and A Girl’s Best Friend Deluxe.
Finally, Everi’s reel-spinning series features Big Hit Cash, with a top-screen bonus game including perceived skill; and nine-line games such as Big Hit Cash, Shamrock and Blazin’ Triples. All are simple, high-denomination entries designed to introduce new concepts to the traditional reel-spinning space.
Konami Gaming has made a new commitment to North America this year, doubling the size of its Las Vegas R&D and manufacturing facility, and ramping up cooperative game development among R&D teams in Las Vegas, Australia and Japan, home of the slot-maker’s parent company, amusement and video game conglomerate Konami of Japan.
Meanwhile, the hits keep coming from Konami, many this year featured on a new cabinet called the Concerto. The new format utilizes twin 27-inch HD game screens set against a smooth black surrounding surface, creating a very cool cinematic effect.
Along with the new cabinet comes the next evolution of the core game platform for Konami’s slots. The original KP2 video platform, launched in 2006, has been identified by many as the main reason for Konami’s success since then. It was enhanced a few years ago with the introduction of KP3, and this year the company introduces the KP3+ platform, a further enhancement of its basic video technology.
Heading the new KP3+ titles in the coming months will be Radiant Queen and Fortune Stacks.
Radiant Queen is a Roku Reels Xtra Rewards game with nudging full-reel wilds during the free-game feature, as well as a “gigantic symbol” feature, creating effective symbols stacks by extending a giant symbol over several reels. Fortune Stacks is a five-reel game that adds bonus multipliers to Action Stacked Symbols appearing on reels 1 and 2 during the free games.
The two KP3+ Concerto games leverage the dual screens with larger-than-life art and animation unlike anything Konami has done previously. The game content flows and inter-acts between the various displays to create an entertaining slot experience.
There’s no shortage of new featured games coming this year on all of Konami’s other formats as well. On the Podium Monument, with its oversized display on a tall top box surrounding a 32-inch vertical monitor, you will find a new game in the Dungeons & Dragons series, begun last year. Based on the legendary Hasbro role-playing game, the series will get four new themes in the coming year.
The new titles, featuring dungeon maze bonuses, monster battles and a full medieval merchant city to explore, are distinguished by custom bezel options for each title—a brick bezel, a fire bezel and a marble Waterdeep city bezel.
In Dwellers of the Dungeon Keep, players continue their campaign from the first series through the eyes of a female archer character, armed with magic flying arrows to help conquer the monsters that awaken in the game’s four-level progressive bonus feature. The random outcome of her battle is animated through the spins of 20-sided die—a core mechanism of the classic table-top game—and her victory helps determine the potential progressive award.
In Fortunes of the Forgotten Realms, players explore the depths of the dungeon, and during a mystery dungeon bonus, players navigate through the darkened caverns, encountering treasures, traps and monsters through the eyes of the game’s stalwart dwarf character.
Fortunes of the Waterdeep allows players to collect 12- sided dice for a chance at one of four progressive jackpots.
A fourth new D&D title will be announced early next year.
For Dungeons & Dragons aficionados, the fun part is a fortune hunt inside the game—a journey through a maze, finding treasure, falling into a trap occasionally, but most of all, battling monsters for progressive prizes. The player chooses which direction in the maze he will take—the events are random, but players feel they are affecting the outcome.
In addition to enhancing the game series based on the Dungeons &Dragons license, Konami this year continues to tap its legendary arcade and home video expertise, and beloved titles it already owns through its Konami Digital Entertainment unit. Last year, the company introduced the first slot based on its Neo Contra video game. This year, players will participate in a bonus event involving navigating a certain familiar digital frog through traffic in a video slot version of the legendary Frogger arcade hit.
The company will launch two debut Frogger game themes, called Great City Wilds and Woodland Wilds. Each will feature a bonus event on the classic Frogger street-crossing course. Both games feature four-level stand-alone progressive jackpots and the company’s trademark “Action Stacked Symbols.”
When the random Frogger bonus is triggered, tractors appear on the screen and push the reels away to reveal the classic Frogger course. The player gets three “lives” to get through the traffic to the top bonus, as the frog hops its way toward the top-box monitor. (It’s not the skill-based arcade game, but it hits all the buttons for Frogger fans.)
Woodland Wilds adds a free-spin bonus that uses the top screen. Players can win up to 20 free games, with two additional reel sets added on the top screen. Any full-reel wild symbols appearing on the upper-most set of reels are copied across the rest of the upper screen.
The games also feature nudging wilds, wild reels, and free games that open with two additional sets of play areas, creating three unique playing fields. When frogs appear in any of the playing fields on the top monitor, they jump down to the play fields below.
Just as with IGT and GTECH, Scientific Games forges ahead this year with new content from companies acquired through merger over the past two years. In this case, though, instead of two former companies, it is four. The new Scientific Games incorporates titles of pre-merger companies Bally Technologies, WMS Gaming, SHFL entertainment and Barcrest.
While there will be scores of individual Bally- and WMS-branded games released in the coming months featuring the cabinets that have brought the legacy companies success over the years—the Pro Wave, Pro Curve, V32 and the rest from Bally; the Wave, Gamefield xD and others from WMS—the company also is set to unveil its first combined cabinet, the TwinStar.
The TwinStar is the first cabinet from Scientific Games to house both Bally and WMS content. A dual-screen cabinet with twin 24-inch displays and a 22-inch virtual topper, the TwinStar provides a different feel for both Bally and WMS content.
TwinStar also features a new version of the award-winning iDeck button pad, with a 40 percent larger area for player interaction, which typically includes not only the standard wagering buttons but joystick-like functions and other unique interactions between player and game.
The full HD digital topper will be offered in two distinctive styles. Both versions include chrome details, improved sound and edge lighting.
The new cabinet will house the best from the former Bally and WMS, including legacy games Gold Fish, Quick Hit, Kronos and Zeus, along with new games Quick Shot, Steam Dream and Hot Blooded.
For the new cabinet, legacy titles like Quick Hit have been augmented with new features—such as the ability to win multiple progressive jackpot on one spin.
Meanwhile, all of the popular legacy platforms from both Bally and WMS will continue to host new content, and all will be featured in new games over the coming year.
One of the top legacy cabinets being used this year is the Bally Pro Wave, the cabinet featuring the vertical concave monitor that has become a staple on casino floors.
Heading up Scientific Games’ lineup of new games this year will be the largest collection of licensed brands the gaming business has ever seen—a total 19 licensed themes will be launched at the big trade show. Among the best is a new premium title on the Bally Pro Wave, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Based on one of the most beloved comedy films ever—and perhaps the best-known work of the highly regarded British comedy troupe—the Holy Grail slot makes the most of the funniest scenes from the movie.
Fans of Monty Python and the Holy Grail will not be disappointed, from chuckling at the names of the two base games—“Killer Bunny” and “Black Knight”—to the signature bits throughout. For instance, as the reels spin, the audio background consists of the fake hoof sounds made by King Arthur’s deputy as his troop pretended to be on horseback. (If you haven’t seen the film, watch it—you’ll get it immediately.)
Bonus rounds are hilarious. Free spins are accented by footage of the Black Knight’s ill-fated battle with King Arthur (it keeps going back to clips that find the knight’s bravado continuing despite losing just about every limb), or the Killer Bunny chasing the knights (“Run away! Runaway!”), or the sentry of the French fort flinging animals at the troupe.
Another high-profile brand this year is Michael Jackson Icon. The third game celebrating the late King of Pop resides on the Bally Pro Wheel cabinet. Background reel-spinning music is provided by “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough,” the hit song from Jackson’s 1979 debut solo album. Features include a wheel bonus and a mystery free-spin event in which the reels expand to six rows of symbols. One of the main bonuses is built around the song “Leave Me Alone,” Jackson’s defiant song and video addressing the tabloid press that hounded him most of his career.
Other new branded games make full use of each of the game platforms popularized by legacy Bally and WMS games.
The Bally Alpha Pro Theatre cabinet, the movie-style setup equipped with the Pro Sound Chair, hosts a game that combines Bally’s popular Playboy series of games with the sights and sounds of global music star Pitbull. Called Playboy Don’t Stop the Party!, it is a progressive video slot featuring Pitbull with an assortment of Playboy Playmates.
The game features four hit songs from Pitbull, popular play mechanics, and a five-level progressive jackpot, including a wide-area progressive award on the Bally Cash Connection link.
The Bally Pro Series V22/32 format, which features a 22-inch main screen under a 32-inch vertical top screen, hosts one of the most popular recording artists of the past several decades with the Cher Live video slot.
The game’s bonus events feature Cher performing five of her most popular hits. The V22/32, like the Alpha Pro Theatre, is equipped with the Pro Sound Chair, so the audio is concert-quality. A “Concert Wheel Bonus” awards credits and one of five free-spin bonuses, each tied to one of Cher’s hits— “Believe,” “Turn Back Time,” “It’s in His Kiss,” “All or Nothing” and “Strong Enough.”
The Blade cabinet from the former WMS gets in on the brand party as well. On the Blade Stepper, equipped with a 42-inch curved top-box LCD, is Margaritaville, featuring the music of Jimmy Buffett. A three-reel, low-denomination game, the slot features six bonuses, forming the basis for lots of Buffett hits, concert clips and crowd shots depicting devoted “Parrott Head” fans.
Two more high-profile brands—Caddyshack and The Rocky Horror Picture Show—are featured on the WMS Blade video cabinet.
Caddyshack mines the best comedy bits from the 1980 comedy starring Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Ted Knight and Rodney Dangerfield. The slot features seven bonus events tied to characters from the film, and includes clips of the movie’s most memorable moments, from the battle between Murray’s golf-course groundskeeper character and the groundhog (watch out for the gopher bombs) to Dangerfield’s hilarious bits attacking Knight’s stodgy country club president.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show features clips from the cult-classic movie, five “Time Warp” base-game features, and a wheel that awards credits, four jackpots or a free-spin bonus. “This game will have players doing the Time Warp again and again,” comments Englman, “and includes many of the famous songs to keep players singing along.”
Other new branded slots include The Wizard of Oz: Not in Kansas Anymore and Elvis Lives, both on the WMS Gamefield xD cabinet; Friends: I’ll Be There For You and Titanic Heart of the Ocean on the Pro Theatre; The Flintstones on the WMS three-reel mechanical; and Cheers, on the Bally V22/42 Dual Wheel cabinet, a game that makes the most of the funniest moments from the long-running comedy series.
There also is a new Iron Man slot on the Bally Pro Series upright—a unique seven-reel primary game in which two reels are wild on every spin, and the wild reels change position with every game.
Of course, all of those licensed brands will be accompanied by a huge lineup of proprietary brands utilizing the wealth of legacy formats making up Scientific Games.
One of the highlights this year is Sons of the Dragon, a local-area progressive on the S32 slant cabinet that allows the player to win several progressive jackpots at once.
Also on the S32 is a reprise of the hit Money Burst series from WMS. One of the most popular WMS game mechanics in its history, Money Burst provides two, two-symbol reels connected to all other reels to produce high line wins. It was originally introduced with Dean Martin’s Dance Party, a game that is still popular on casino floors five years after its launch. In the new iteration of Money Burst, a progressive element is added to the mix.
Among the other new core games to be launched at G2E are Miss Universe, Green Machine, a reprise of the popular WMS stepper Hot Hot Super Jackpot, and a complete lineup of the signature stepper games of Barcrest, the Manchester, U.K.-based slot-maker Scientific Games acquired from IGT prior to the Bally acquisition.
The Barcrest games are distinguished by their simple-to-understand, arcade-style top-box bonus events, in which lights flash behind images of dollar bills or credit amounts, usually to the backdrop of cheery music and a cheesy game-show-host announcer.
New Barcrest titles include Triple Golden Cherries with Sprinkles and Easy Money.