From gold to crystal to fantasy tales, Aruze’s Innovator series is redefining the reel-spinner
By Frank Legato
The first thing you notice is the reels—color-changing, bright reels moving at different speeds, and even in different directions.
When the slot games of Aruze Gaming America first appeared in U.S. casinos around four years ago, they were exclusively of the video variety. When the slot-maker decided to move into the reel-spinning genre, its game designers followed the same credo as they had in the video arena—that is, the games would be like nothing before them.
“Most of our designers are gamers themselves,” comments Kelcey Allison, Aruze’s senior vice president for sales and marketing in the Americas. “Their thought processes are, let’s do everything out of the box. Let’s copy no one.”
Aruze’s new reel-spinning series, called “Innovator with Radiant Reels,” is definitely “out of the box.” The reels are “radiant” thanks to light, color and motion that one just doesn’t see in the average reel-spinner. “There are 240 LEDs behind each reel,” notes Paul Omohundro, Aruze’s director of marketing. “The reels have 10 different movements, as well as speeds ranging from 3 RPM to 200 RPM.” The reels also are over-sized, adding to the overall effect.
The differing reel speeds and changing colors are all part of a package that “drives the fun factor,” Omohundro says. Another part of that fun factor is that the games are generally packed with bonuses, played out on an LCD video screen in the top box.
Games like Catch the Money, Seven Rush, D’Artagnan and the Musketeers and King of Dragons have quickly established Aruze as much more than just a video slot specialist. The most recent additions to this growing stable of reel-spinning games—to this point exclusively multi-line, video-style games in pennies and other low denominations—is a move into a more traditional style of slot. This year, the first three-reel versions of the Innovator reel-spinner are appearing in casinos.
Aruze is introducing a new group of three-reel, single-line Innovator games, in more traditional dollar, $5, $10 and higher denominations. There also is Rose Chance, a five-line, three-reel game featuring a double progressive jackpot and a frequent free-spin bonus event.
Aruze has won a ton of converts with its “G-Deluxe” series of video slots, which feature beautiful, sculpted cabinets and elaborate bonus events housed in huge top-box displays. The top-box bonus games in this series are much more than your average pick-em bonuses—games like “Chinese Queen,” “Franken Mama” and “The Four Heavenly Kings” tell a story with the top-box bonus, in multi-level episodes that are as much a performance as a bonus.
The hottest new products from Aruze transfer this “Deluxe” treatment to the Innovator reel-spinning series. The Innovator Deluxe series is shaping up to be a home run for the company, as the combination of the Radiant Reels and episodic top-box bonuses similar to G-Deluxe is already resulting in games that are among the slot maker’s most popular.
Take The Gold and Crystal, two of the first new five-reel, 30-line reel-spinners in the Innovator Deluxe series. The bonuses are relatively simple with picks in a top-box display. But the video displays, combined with the Radiant Reels, have turned them into Aruze’s most popular slots.
“The Gold is our number one game,” says Omohundro. “Players love it, as do the casino operators. Crystal is right behind it.”
While these games are popular, the first two Innovator Deluxe games released earlier this year, Aladdin and the Magic Lamp and Alibaba capture the essence of what Aruze’s signature elaborate top-box bonus adds to the Innovator series.
Alibaba and Aladdin and the Lamp take the top-box bonus to new heights. The Aladdin game employs a sculpted object located just above the reels—Aladdin’s Lamp. This isn’t some cheap plastic lamp or video simulation; it’s a nice representation of the legendary Aladdin’s lamp, and it’s interactive.
Even if you’re not engaged in the game, go ahead and rub the lamp. The genie will appear on the top screen and invite you to play. During game play, you can be invited to rub the lamp to release multiple genies, which fly down to the physical reels and transform them into wild reels. The genies perform various acrobatics between the top screen and the reels before the physical reels turn to display three wild symbols.
Other events have the genie awarding free games, multipliers or a “pick the door” bonus to reveal credit awards or one of the free-spin bonuses.
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.
During the bonus, the physical device will close and open, either partially or completely, like cave doors. Holes in the rock wall of the cave allow you to see “thieves” peeking out from behind, or Alibaba, who fights the thieves to accumulate bonus awards.
These bonuses go on for a long time, providing for the accumulation of big wins. “The featured hit frequencies are high in a lot of cases, again, to provide entertainment—that fun factor, on which Aruze prides itself,” says Omohundro.
The Radiant Reels themselves contribute to the overall effect of these games, not only through color and light, but with other little nuances—for instance, periodically the backing lights will go completely out on the main reels. If you’re not in the bonus that means something big is about to happen, such as a bonus trigger, according to Omohundro. Alternatively, the lights will go out to allow you to focus exclusively on the top box, to watch for thieves, Aladdin, or whatever else happens to be the subject of the game.
Omohundro says everything Aruze does in the slot arena goes back to the corporate philosophy one finds on the company website, on its game brochures, and in its corporate headquarters: “All In The Name Of Fun.”
There’s definitely more fun to come. •
The Innovator Deluxe series is only one part of what is an extensive collection of all types of slots from Aruze. The company has great games in just about every slot genre. To get an idea of what’s available, just go to the Venetian in Las Vegas, which is a veritable Aruze showcase. “About nine percent of the floor at the Venetian is all our products,” says Omohundro, “in all of our product lines.”
Here’s a few that are not to be missed:
This game, in the “G-Link” series, is what the company calls a “two-pod versus” game. Two video slots are situated under a big game board. At the start of the game, you select one of four characters to represent you. The bonus is the story of your life as that character. You collect bonuses as your character traverses the board through higher education, picking a job, investing in the stock market, etc. When the bonus switches into “Versus Mode,” you compete against the other player in the two-person setup—in contests ranging from bowling to fishing to shopping, even to a hot dog-eating contest. It’s a blast.
Also part of the G-Link series, these two games—Paradise Fishing and Amazon Fishing—place a bank of six video slots in front of a giant video display formed by three huge, connected video monitors. The bonus is a fishing contest, with each player manipulating a joystick to go for big fish, and thus, big awards. The joystick employs something called “Reel Feel” technology—when a fish bites, you feel the tension on the line. This is one of Aruze’s most popular games, and it’s easy to see why.
A female version of the Frankenstein monster is the main character in this game, in the G Deluxe series. The elaborate top-box bonus has you opening up doors to find bonuses themed as any of a collection of famous monsters, including a vampire, a mummy and a werewolf.
This series of six titles features high hit frequencies, lots of “7” wins, and a feature that has been one of Aruze’s most player-friendly—when you bet the maximum, the overall return goes up and the chances of winning are better.
Aruze has a remarkable collection of multi-player electronic table games in the G-Station series. Shoot to Win Craps, Lucky Big Wheel and Lucky Sic Bo can all be found at the Venetian. In The Big Wheel game, the players physically spin the wheel with a slot handle. The automated baccarat game includes a feature that lets players “squeeze” the virtual cards, an action popular in Asia as a way to purportedly summon the luck gods. The odds are exactly the same as in the live games, making any of these multi-player games a great way to learn a live table game without any intimidation.