New Slot Year
With the new year comes an amazing group of new games from all the slot-makers.
by Frank Legato
Now that you’ve made all of your New Year resolutions, it’s time to get down to some slot play.
For slot machine enthusiasts, every new year brings with it a new crop of games on the slot floor. Back in October, all of the slot manufacturers displayed their wares for the coming year at the annual Global Gaming Expo trade show. This month, you will see those games roll steadily out to the nation’s casino floors.
For those of you who may have missed the October issue of our sister publication, Strictly Slots, here are the highlights of what’s in store on the slot floor in 2013—divided alphabetically by manufacturer.
AC Slots rolled out a new slot platform, called “Axcess,” last year. This year, the new games will begin appearing in casinos around the country.
In addition to all the normal slot styles, watch for 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
AGS is one of the most creative slot-makers out there, thanks to its own new slot platform, called “Roadrunner.” If you’re a Strictly Slots subscriber, you may have read about Blackbeard’s Treasure, an intricate pirate-themed slot that’s packed with bonus events.
This year, expect a group of games with a feature unique to AGS—the knowledge-based bonus game. In Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, AGS offers a fun theme based on the legendary comic strip that for decades treated newspaper readers to a collection of interesting facts and oddities. Central to the game is a trivia bonus—you get a multiple-choice question, and just like the “lifeline” on the game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, through primary game play, you can earn various forms help if you don’t know the answer to a question—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.
Next up for AGS knowledge-based games—“Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” and “Family Feud.” Can’t wait.
Aristocrat’s big game launches this year include several themes based on 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. This year, watch for a new Superman game, based not on any of the multitude of Man of Steel movies, but on the classic Superman comic book.
Also this year, Aristocrat enters the game-show business 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.”
Finally, expect more games in the Legends series, each of which offers a choice between the original version of a classic Aristocrat slot machine and a new, improved version.
Aruze continues to roll out the new version of its great fishing game, Amazon Fishing. Like its predecessor “Paradise Fishing,” it uses a technology called “Reel Feel”—you use a joystick to fish on a giant video screen, and you can actually feel the fish tugging at your line.
But the big news this year is the Innovator Deluxe series of interactive top-box bonus games.
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. Watch for the “Forty Thieves,” who peek out from holes in the “door” over the screens in a great bonus event.
Bally is rolling out several great themes, not the least of which is NASCAR, a stock-car racing experience featuring a who’s-who of racing. The progressive video slot 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 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 match that driver’s “brand.”
Bally delves into reality TV this year with Pawn Stars, a slot based on the History Channel show that features a Las Vegas pawn shop. The machine captures the essence of the show—bargaining over prices of various objects, in this case in the form of an interactive bonus game featuring one of the stars from the show— Richard “The Old Man” Harrison, his son, Rick Harrison, Rick’s son Corey and Corey’s friend, Austin “Chumlee” Russell.
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. Five of the most beloved songs from the classic surf band—currently celebrating its 50th anniversary—are featured in various bonus events.
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 slot games like 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 also 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.
International Game Technology
IGT is launching some of the very best games in the slot-maker’s history this year. Heading the list is Dolly Parton, a masterful nod to the “Queen of Country Music,” combining photos and videos of Parton at every stage of her career.
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 pay table. 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.
And don’t miss Reel Edge, launched last year with “Centipede.” Tulley’s Treasure Hunt and Blood Life Legends each use a joystick to run a skill-based 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.
Fans of the TV show Sex and the City get a new game this year Sex and the City: Out On The Town. It is in IGT’s “Center Stage” movie-style format, with players picking a character from the show and following her or him (“Mr. Big,” aka Chris Noth, hosts the game) through a number of activities.
Another IGT game not to be missed on the Center Stage format: Star Wars Trilogy, the first game in the series based on all three films in the original film 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.
From Texas-based Multimedia Games, you should watch not only for new games but new slot tournaments.
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 even to entire wild reels.
Multimedia is launching new games in what has been its hottest series lately—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.
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. This year, the slot-maker is running what is called the TournEvent of Champions, a national slot tournament covering nearly 100 casinos across the country using its unique TournEvent product, which makes the tournament into a cross between a game show and a sporting event.
Spielo is launching a new game in its popular “Deal Or No Deal” 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.
Deal Or No Deal Join’N Play 2 is a player-friendly version of the game that features shorter times between bonuses, frequent mystery bonuses, and a more lucrative “Briefcase Bonus,” the risk-based core of the game show.
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.
WMS this year takes the slot machine into the world of rock music with KISS, featuring the music, images and performances of the legendary theatrical rock band. The famous Immersion Sound Chair sends the music throbbing through BOSE speakers in a game that will please any fan.
Also from WMS, don’t miss Cheers, based on the long-running TV sitcom set in a Boston bar. 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. Don’t miss this one. 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. It is major 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 WMS 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.”
Finally, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, based on the classic 1971 film starring Gene Wilder, turns a rich theme into rich bonuses. “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.