Here Come The Slots
Our annual “sneak peek” at what’s in store for the slot floors
The array of new games that will arrive in a casino near you during the coming year is completely mind-boggling. The reason, believe it or not, is the recession…a major replacement cycle is upon the industry, and the slot-makers wanted to be sure they had the games to capitalize.
Here come the games.
All of the slot manufacturers converged on Las Vegas last month for the annual Global Gaming Expo, or G2E, the trade show event that marks the unveiling of what can be called the “new model year” in slot machines.
The array of new games that will arrive in a casino near you during the coming year is completely mind-boggling. The reason, believe it or not, is the recession. The economic funk has slowed down new slot purchases by the casinos over the past two years, and as a result, slot floors around the country are populated by games that are older, as a group, than they have been for years. A major replacement cycle is upon the industry, and the slot-makers wanted to be sure they had the games to capitalize.
That means all of them pulled out the stops to create great new slot games for 2010—all to the benefit of us, the players.
Welcome to this year’s preview of all the new games coming your way. We compile this feature every year to serve as your first peek at what the slot manufacturers have in store for the near future of the slot floor. So as not to favor one slot-maker over another, we have assembled them in alphabetical order by manufacturer.
Here are the highlights of what’s coming your way. This year, it’s going to be a fun ride.
AC Coin & Slot
AC Coin is focusing on expanding its market this year, and the way it will do it is through community play. You will see games from the slot-maker in groupings, usually three slots in front of a big, common bonus game. This year, however, AC Coin has added two-machine banks to the community-style offerings—two machines under a big bonus screen.
One of the best is Rock ‘n’ Roll Legends. IGT’s Triple Hot Ice is a great base game, but this one’s about the rockin’ bonus. When the bonus is triggered, one of four animated, 3D “Legends” appears on the big screen, next to a musical staff. He starts the standard rock-god jamming, and musical notes come out of his guitar and float across the staff as bonus amounts float upward. When the notes touch the money, you win that amount.
Other AC Coin highlights: Dream Weaver is a unique game that uses an IGT Sizzling Wild base game linked to a bonus on the top LCD screen. The bonus screen displays three sets of reels, and a random number of spins occurs. The reel spots display credit amounts. The “Dream Weaver” character appears to decide how many spins the player is awarded on the bonus screen.
The unique twist: On each bonus spin, the player can be awarded up to nine credit amounts. As long as each reel displays a higher amount than the previous reel, the values on each reel are added together.
Finally, The Munny Returns features cartoon animation of a mummy monster and a top-box device that houses two different bonus events. One of them is a simple event in which lights flash behind bonus amounts until one is awarded, but it happens every six spins on average. That’s nearly continuous bonus action.
The second event is a Slotto-style event in which the mummy’s sarcophagus in a creative top-box display disburses Slotto-style lotto balls to award credit amounts and multipliers.
Aristocrat has been fairly quiet as far as big game introductions in recent years, but that all changes this year. The slot-maker is releasing a barrage of new games in a burst of creativity the likes of which has not been seen in years.
A clear favorite among these new games is going to be Beat the Bandits, an Old West saga with several bonus events that allow you to shoot at targets on fences, play a dice game with an Old West “Madame,” and find bandits hiding in a hotel building. The animation in this game will draw you in and keep you there.
Our favorite feature: the “Granny” shootout bonus. You face off with “Granny” to see who can shoot more bottles off a fence. Trust us—it’s a lot of fun.
There’s much more fun coming from Aristocrat this year, though. Another great game is Jeff Foxworthy Redneck Rumble. This is a hilarious sequel to the game Aristocrat released a few years ago featuring the comedian and his “You know you’re a redneck when…” bits.
This one plays up the redneck theme to substantial belly-laughs in several great bonus sequences. One is a treasure hunt through a redneck’s junk-strewn back yard. The player collects beer cans to trigger different jackpot levels. Another is a “Truck War,” a tug-of-war between two beat-up pickup trucks. Then there’s the “Stink Bait Bonus,” in which Foxworthy’s character fishes in his miniature swimming pool while drinking beer. Once he catches a bonus amount, the player can opt to cast again to win a larger award or lose half his winnings.
It’s an easy game to find: Just look for the pickup truck on top of the machine.
Speaking of hilarity, remember Aristocrat’s “Chicken” game, with the cartoon chicken crossing the road? It’s back. Chicken 2 brings back the comical bonus round we featured on our cover around a decade ago: If the chicken crosses the road safely, the player gets the higher bonus. If the chicken is flattened by a passing truck, it’s a consolation prize. This game was entertaining in its original incarnation, in the comparatively primitive 1990s video format. Don’t miss it in the advanced “Gen7” video format.
Other Aristocrat highlights: Big Top Jackpot is the first game in the new “Hyperloop” series, an extension of the Hyperlink multiple-progressive slot, incorporating a mechanical wheel topper. Focusing on the circus ringmaster concept, the game’s top-box bonus incorporates a motor that pushes different-colored balls into the wheel. When the jackpot is triggered, the balls move into the box, and the motor moves the balls around the wheel. (The actual wheel doesn’t move.) When two balls correspond to a progressive jackpot, the player wins that prize level.
Another new bonus slot is Hit The Heights, which incorporates both a wheel and a ladder topper.
Finally, look for a new version of JAWS, the blockbuster game based on the 1970s series of shark-attack films. This sequel, called “Night Hunter,” gives a darker vibe to the theme that fits in well—you’ll find them alongside the original JAWS games.
Chances are, you’ve never heard of this slot-maker. Chances are better that you’re going to hear a lot from them in the future.
Aruze is a Japanese manufacturer that made its name in its home country’s “pachislo” market—those are slot-like games in amusement arcades. It’s the only game in town in Japan, and naturally, amusement games have to have entertainment value above all else.
That shows in the company’s slots, produced by Aruze Gaming. One Aruze machine you’ve got to see is Rock You Queen, the best rock ‘n’ roll slot since Elvis. The legendary super-group Queen is presented in 3D animation, film clips and bonus events, all highlighting the music. A “Greatest Hits” bonus lets you pick one of five Queen hits, each representing a different number of free spins and a different volatility (the risk-and-reward ratio). Fewer spins mean greater risk and higher rewards. Once selected, the song plays and video of the band performing the song accompanies the free spins.
There’s a “Bicycle Bonus,” hit during free spins, that features a bicycle race between the members of Queen. There’s a “Drum Bonus.” When a drum symbol lands, the player is awarded a mystery bonus award ranging from 15 to 600 credits.
Suffice it to say that if you like Queen, you’ll love this game.
Another great Aruze game is Link Craps, a community-style game in which players join together during the bonus round in a shared experience not unlike that of a live craps table. When the bonus is triggered, one of two modes can be chosen by the triggering player—”Easy” mode for beginners, in which only a Pass Line bet is made; or “Professional Mode” for advanced craps players. Players are eligible for the bonus if they have wagered a certain level, but those who don’t qualify are given a chance to place additional bets to get in on the event.
Once the bonus begins on a large overhead video screen, it is much like a real craps game—the shooter (the player who triggered the bonus) throws virtual dice, and everyone cheers him on. It is a great bonus game.
Other Aruze games to look for: Shen Long features a unique wild-symbol bonus feature that can result in huge credit wins. When the bonus is triggered, a “Mini Game” prompts the player to choose from five gems to reveal a number of free games, and a number of wild symbols to appear during those free games. Anywhere from 20 to 60 wild symbols can be assigned to the free spins, which can result in some spins in which nearly all symbols are wild.
The game Qin Dynasty game has a similar wild-symbol/free game feature, in which additional wild symbols are added to each free spin.
One great feature of most Aruze games: If you bet the max, the payback percentage goes up by 5 points. Now there’s a good idea.
Some of the best new games you’ll see this year will be from an old friend, Bally Technologies.
Bally has been conjuring up new game styles for a few years now, and this year it has injected great new games into each style. One of the best styles is the “DualVision” two-player setup—a wide screen with a love seat in front of it. One wager activates two sets of buttons, and two individual game screens, with shared bonus events.
This year, watch for Meet Me in the Middle, a unique new two-player game. In the bonus, a game board-style road surrounds the two reel sets, and free-spin results move game pieces toward a common area in the middle. Big money comes when the game pieces… you guessed it… meet in the middle.
Elsewhere, look for lots of wheels from Bally this year. Hot Shot Cash Wheel adds a bonus wheel to the great Hot Shot game, the multiple-progressive that uses classic Bally reel-spinning themes in miniature games to trigger progressive jackpots. Monte Carlo Royale is a new series that incorporates several base games into the elegant Monte Carlo theme, with its familiar roulette-style bonus wheel.
One of the most innovative new wheel games is Cash Spin, a reel-spinning slot in the V32 cabinet, which features a long vertical screen. This one also includes “Transparent Reels,” which places video animation on top of the spinning reels. But the most innovative part of the game is the bonus wheel, which employs a new technology called “U Spin It.” It is a video wheel, but the player actually reaches up and physically spins the wheel. The wheel reacts to the player’s physical pull, spinning more quickly or slowly according to the It’s a great effect.
Other new game styles include Blazing Hot Tournament, a new community game with a thermometer-style on-screen bonus meter and large LCD displays above the games for a common bonus round.
There will be several new titles next year in the great Quick Hit Platinum multi-progressive series. Players have loved these games because of their simplicity—from three to nine scattered Quick Hit symbols on the reels trigger incrementally higher jackpots. This year, look for classic games like Black & White, Black Gold and Stars & Bars in the successful multiple-progressive platform.
Another big introduction in the V32 vertical-screen cabinet is Hee Haw, a revival of a title from Bally’s former video series that is greatly enhanced by the capabilities of the Alpha platform. Multiple bonus events recall much of the comedy from the legendary country music/comedy variety series in a two-level progressive version of the game.
International Game Technology
International Game Technology has produced many of history’s greatest slot machines, and some of the best have come when the company was in heated competition. Double Diamond came from competition with Bally; great video slots like Little Green Men came from competition with WMS.
For the past few years, both of those manufacturers have been at the top of their games, and now, it’s time for IGT to pull out the competitive stops once again. You’ll see the results in some amazing games next year.
Some of the most remarkable are in what IGT calls the Center Stage Series. This series of games centers around a truly eye-popping display—a 103-inch color video monitor, almost a movie screen, is flanked by two “smaller” 40-inch screens as the display for a community-style slot game. Each of the seats in the bank is a “Mega FX Surround Chair,” with embedded speakers and vibration to make the players part of the game. (There is a smaller version of the setup with a 70-inch main monitor and 32-inch side monitors.)
There are two fantastic Center Stage games coming your way within the next few months. The Wheel of Fortune Experience puts the venerable wheel slot into the grand format, with the big screen hosting something many have always wanted to see on a Wheel of Fortune slot—a reproduction of the “hangman” puzzle the TV game show uses as a basis for guessing letters and “buying vowels.”
Three players on the bank are chosen at random 10-12 times an hour for the big bonus game. Each chooses letters, and gets bonus awards for how many times the letter appears in the puzzle. You’re likely to hear players solving puzzles from across the room on this one. The screen is huge.
The next game on the Center Stage format is American Idol, a cinematic reproduction of the famous performance reality show. In the community bonus round, all the contestants from the reality show’s first season are featured in “auditions,” and players each pick a judge, and bonuses are awarded according to how each Idol judge rates the performance.
Wheel of Fortune Triple Spin will be the third game for the Center Stage format. The primary game in this one is in IGT’s popular new “MultiPLAY” setup—players wager on and spin four game screens at once, with bonus free spins playing out on the full screen.
Speaking of MultiPLAY, one major new IGT release is already out there in casinos. Sex and the City, the slot game, is a multi-level progressive in the MultiPLAY setup that bombards the player with the sights, sounds, icons and culture of the popular TV series. All of the characters from the show are featured, and bonus events are hosted by “Mr. Big,” aka Chris Noth, who provided voice-overs.
The Mega FX chair is also included, to add drama to the experience of five different interactive bonus events, each allowing the player to pick one of the four main female characters from the show.
The events themselves are made for women: “Simply Fabulous!” has the player open jewelry boxes to reveal numbers for a four-digit bonus award. “A Perfect Present” uses free games to award bonuses linked to champagne, chocolates or other gifts. “Change of a Dress Bonus” has the player picking outfits for one of the characters. “Hello Lover!” has the player shopping for shoes.
When all four screens are active, bonus events occur every 25 spins, on average.
The progressive uses a giant gift wheel to reveal a prize linked to one of the characters—Mr. Big is the top jackpot, followed by jackpots labeled Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte.
The MultiPLAY format also is used for a new version of one of IGT’s most popular reel-spinners. Top Dollar MultiPLAY places the familiar, simple “stacks of money” light-box bonus game on a tall, vertical LCD video monitor. The base game uses the traditional reel-spinning format, but in four sets of reels, using the “REELdepth” multi-layer display technology, or MLP. (The reels are actually overlapping video screens, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at them.) Again, the Mega FX chair adds to the experience.
One more MultiPLAY game you’ve got to see: Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. Five unique bonus events follow Alice, the Mad Hatter and the rabbit through all the familiar events that happen in the legendary book.
Other IGT highlights include a REELdepth version of Double Diamond, also in the MultiPLAY format. It features the classic Double Diamond three-reel game, in the traditional single-line setup or in three-line, five-line or nine-line configuration. The traditional screen and paytable—the MLD effect makes them appear as spinning reels—is multiplied by four in the MultiPLAY format.
In traditional video slots, watch for Blast Off, featuring a unique seven-by-four reel display. The seven reels actually enact three separate five-reel games, with players betting to activate each. With all reels active, wins are evaluated based on reels 1 through 5; 2 through 6; and 3 through 7. Also, IGT offers a 10th anniversary edition of one of its video classics in Reelin’ & Dealin’ Little Green Men Attack! The slot offers a unique game screen that displays three reels and two vault doors. The player can pay to unlock fourth and fifth reels for additional wins and more frequent bonus events—the bonus symbols appear most frequently on the two extra reels.
Finally, one game not to be missed in the video poker genre: a game of video Texas hold ‘em in which the computer actually competes. Texas Hold ‘Em Heads Up uses the artificial intelligence factor that has been missing from normal video poker. The machine responds to bluffs; it bluffs and raises—it plays poker. Don’t miss this one.
Konami has been putting out some great stuff the past couple of years, and next year will be no exception. The manufacturer’s hit racing game, Beat the Field, is followed up in 2010 by Top Track, which takes the bonus feature of the first game—a great 3D horse race that identifies the player’s horse and shows the race from several angles on a big screen—and makes it into an auto race.
Top Track features a Grand Prix-style auto race in the same mode as the community-style auto race of Beat the Field. The bonus works the same way, and you’ll find the display including any of several Konami game styles as a base game—video or reel-spinning, three-reel or five-reel, multi-line or “KonXion” scatter-pay slots. Each base game has its own special features that will not change, but the common bonus race leads to one of four progressive jackpots. The winner of each bonus race wins one of the four jackpots. Every other car is awarded a consolation prize.
Players who bet more can get assigned more cars in the random bonus race. As in the horse race, are “longshots” and “sure things,” and the level of progressive assigned to each car reflects the odds.
One other game to watch for next year from Konami: Advantage Revolution. This is a unique new slot style with a top box that can be used for both primary games and bonus events. The top box is a three-sided, revolving bonus apparatus—on one side is a set of mechanical spinning reels; on another is a mechanical bonus game; on a third is an LCD video monitor. The top box rotates according to events in the primary game or bonus.
Advantage Revolution is certainly “out of the box,” but there are plenty of innovations in the mainstream Podium platform being used for standard games as well. For instance, there are side buttons, reminiscent of the old arcade pinball machines. They are designed to give players more control in bonus events. Any Baby Boomer worth is salt is going to love this feature.
Multimedia Games is another slot-maker you may not have heard of, but with which you are about to get very familiar. Long a producer of popular slots for the Class II electronic bingo markets, this year the company arrived at the big trade show with a breathtaking barrage of new Class III slots.
The creativity of these games puts them on par with any slot-maker in the business. Take Invasion From Outer Space. This kitschy 1950s-style alien invasion theme is played out in amazing quality on a the video slot. The video reels float over a scene of a crowd of people running for their lives from flying saucers. Movie characters doing their best film screams serve as reel symbols. In one bonus game, you shoot down flying saucers at the behest of a classic 1950s public service announcement. In grainy black-and-white, the announcer urges, “It’s time to fight back!”
Another favorite is going to be Haunted House, a positively spooky 3D trip through various rooms of a haunted house. The interactive bonus presents a scene of one room in a haunted house. You touch a picture frame and get a ghost, or an otherworldly sound, or a key to the next room, and a whole new collection of eerie choices. It’s all very creepy, a little scary and a lot of fun.
Other Multimedia highlights:
$pin Up$, one of the games in the manufacturer’s new “Player HD” cabinet, uses a giant, 23-inch video monitor for a bonus round of 1940s pin-up girls. You pop the balloons on the pinups to reveal free spins and bonus credits. (The pinups are in bathing suits in U.S. versions of the game, but an international version has them in the buff.)
Mega Meltdown is another game with stunning graphics. This one features a six-tier progressive jackpot, combined with a high-denomination classic three-reel slot.
Slot Car Speedway is a new community game with the same bonus mechanic as Sport of Kings, a horse-race game that has been Multimedia’s most popular Class III offering thus far.
In Slot Car Speedway, the player’s betting level buys a range of “bet tickets.” When the bonus is triggered, the bet tickets are used to wager on one or more cars in the race. The player’s cars are marked with arrows, and the race itself is a completely random event.
Watch for Multimedia slot machines, coming soon to a casino near you. It’s a good bet this slot-maker will be here for the long haul.
Spielo / Atronic
The name Spielo is familiar to many in the video lottery market, but after its acquisition by lottery giant Gtech, the Canadian slot-maker has merged with its new sister company, Atronic Americas. Spielo and Atronic have merged their technology as well, and Atronic games will now be sold under the Spielo banner.
The games themselves coming your way next year will reflect the best innovation of both companies. One of the best is Deal Or No Deal: What’s Your Deal, the newest in the franchise of slot games based on the popular game show. You’ll find this in all of the popular Atronic cabinets—the dual-screen e-motion upright, the e-Harmony slant-top, and most prominently in the giant Titan cabinet.
What makes this version of the Deal unique is that it focuses only on what has made this series of slots so popular—the “Briefcase Bonus” from the TV show, in which the player selects a briefcase from a group as his own, and reveals the bonus contents of several others before accepting or rejecting an offer from the “Bank.”
The player is shown the values of all the briefcases; he just doesn’t know which value is in which case. As potential values are eliminated, the offers from the Bank become larger or smaller, based on the probability that a large or small value is in the player’s case. The process goes on until the player takes a “Deal” or his chosen case is the only one left.
It is a true gambling activity, and the risk-taking is the heart of both the game show and the slot series. What’s Your Deal capitalizes on that—there is no reel-set for a video slot base game. It’s just the extremely volatile Briefcase Bonus. The player hits the “play” button to either go directly into the bonus, or, if it’s a “losing” play, to increase the amounts in the all the briefcases for when the bonus does occur.
This game has been wildly popular so far, but more Spielo games this year are bound to be just as successful:
The Three Stooges is a simple free-spin video slot that uses the sights, sounds and gags of the legendary comedy team to give the spins a funny and entertaining slant.
Stargate—based on the popular science-fiction series involving time and space travelers—has been a runaway hit where it has been introduced. There are three individual base games with their own bonuses, and five shared bonuses on top, plus a four-level progressive. The bonuses all involve the time-travel portal from the TV show, reproduced here in great 3D animation.
Bingo Factory links base games together to a community-style bingo game. As players spin the reels on the primary games, they collect bingo cards through a symbol on the third reel. When the common bingo bonus is triggered at random, each player can have up to four collected bingo cards for the bonus round.
When the bonus is triggered, each player selects a “Lucky Gnome” character to serve as its “dauber.” The overhead LCD screen and the top screen on each machine then display the cartoon gnome characters doing the ball draw in a 75-ball bingo game. The player who fills his bingo card wins a progressive jackpot, but there are other prizes for completing a row. Payments are based on the wager of the triggering spin.
One of our favorites: a three-reel, five-line reel-spinning version of the classic Atronic game Sphinx, in the tall-top “Passion” format.
WMS Gaming has produced some of the absolute coolest games for the past few years, and next year will continue the slot-maker’s remarkable run.
At the top of the WMS heap next year is a new game in its wide-area network “Adaptive Gaming” series, the one that gave us Star Trek last year, which lets you earn medals to progress through various episodes, and log in to pick up your progress regardless of where in the country you may be.
The newest Adaptive game is Lord of the Rings, an elaborate, feature-rich series of games based on the film version of the legendary J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy of novels. Where Star Trek had you earning medals to progress through various episodes, this one has you earning “miles” to progress on a journey through the mythical Middle Earth, each point on the journey unlocking new bonus events. There will be eight different bonus events at the launch of the series, featuring clips and characters from all three of the films
As with Star Trek, you can end your session and then pick up your “journey” where you left off the next time you play. The graphics, sounds animation and live-action video are amazing on this game. Throw in the “Sensory Immersion” technology with audio-chairs and vibration, and this game takes you into Middle Earth right along with the hobbits. Don’t miss this one.
Of course, the new Adaptive game takes nothing away from the game series that introduced the technology. WMS is launching Episode 5 of the Star Trek game, Live Long and Prosper. As with the other four games in the series, this includes several game-specific bonuses related to the classic science fiction series, as well as some events common to all of them.
Speaking of outer space, this year, WMS takes the classic Monopoly franchise into space with Monopoly Planet Go.
The game places the classic board game theme into a 3D space scene. Monopoly icons turn into planets and aliens in six separate bonus events played out in the top-box video screen.
There also is a new Monopoly community-style game called Monopoly Bigger Event. This features a huge overhead video display—twin 52-inch high-definition LCD monitors, forming the largest-ever Monopoly display. There are four new community bonuses, with a new type of qualifying mechanism for the bonus and new games like “Big Money Spin,” offering what WMS calls “true, meaningful interaction between players.”
Another hit WMS series that gets a new version next year is last year’s most popular game, The Wizard of Oz. Watch for the next game in this remarkable series, The Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers. It is in the “Sensory Immersion” style of the original “Oz” game. Each character from the film triggers a different bonus event while appearing, in a feature-rich sequel to what has been WMS’ most successful slot game in years.
Another huge sequel to a popular WMS game is Goldfish Race for the Gold, one of several new games in the successful Goldfish brand. It is a community-style game that features a competitive seahorse race between all players on the bank. The prize for winning the race is one of four progressive jackpots.
The game features a giant overhead video display for the competitive race. It will be hard to miss on the casino floor.
The Goldfish game is one of an array of new community-style games being launched next year. One of the most high-profile is a modernized version of what once was a slot licensed owned by rival IGT. WMS is launching a community-play version of The Price Is Right, its game show theme updated to reflect the popular show’s current incarnation. TV host Drew Carey provided ample video and audio contributions, guiding the player through bonus events based on the show, including a video “Cliff Hangers” bonus.
Also in the game-show mode is Press Your Luck, a new video slot with an interactive bonus that remains true to the TV game show of the same name.
Other WMS highlights:
Win It Again is a super-charged version of WMS’ pioneering “Cascading Reels” game style. In Cascading Reels, symbols in winning combinations disappear, and new symbols drop into the empty spaces, often forming new winning combinations, and more cascades. In this version, the player is awarded for four cascades in a row. When this happens, the player wins the accumulated value of all four, plus the win of the next cascading win. A small win can quickly become a huge credit award with this feature.
Max Win employs multiple bonus events—a “bonus-bank” setup that awards random events in return for an ante wager—and stacked wild symbols in a classic reel-spinning setup. “Max Win” is a character who ushers in free-spins and other bonus events, by the way. The Transmissive Reels video overlay allows effects such as spinning reels that change colors, and of course, “Max” flying over the reels.
Hot Hot Super Respin is a 50-line version of the popular “Hot Hot” game style. Whenever stacked symbols appear on the first reel, that reel is held and all others re-spin twice.
Finally, Jackpot Block Party places a classic WMS game into a multi-screen format. The game takes the legendary gift-package pick-a-tile bonus game and multiplies it by four. There are four separate screens of packages in the bonus round—a “block party.” The player picks packages, matching bonus amounts until “Pooper” characters are revealed on all four screens.
Here Come the Slots.