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Vegas, Baby – Slot

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Bally’s new Vegas-themed slot combines the best of the old and the new

by Frank Legato


 

The modern slot floor is a combination of old and new experiences. The most advanced technology these days typically merges with tried-and-true play experiences to create new kinds of fun.

The newest bonus slot from Bally Technologies proves this with gusto. You’ll recognize “Vegas Hits” from across the floor—well, the topper, anyway. Sitting atop this slot is a replica of the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign just south of Mandalay Bay on the Strip, which has been ushering motorists to the heart of Las Vegas for decades.

But what’s underneath that familiar image is something unique among slot machines, in Las Vegas or anywhere else: a double wheel. The top box of the machine is fronted by two giant wheels. The lower one, called the “Bonus Wheel,” displays an array of free-spin bonus awards, consisting of various numbers of free spins with different wild-symbol configurations. The top wheel, called the “Cash Wheel,” displays huge bonus amounts, ranging from 4,000 credits up to 200,000 credits.

If you look closer, you’ll discover the wheels are not actually mechanical, but are video displays with a fun twist. In an ingenious design, the slot employs the Bally “U-Spin” technology in the top box display. That means you can put your hand on the bottom wheel and give it a heave, and it reacts as if you’ve just spun a manual fortune wheel, appearing to spin fast or slow according to how much force is applied.

It’s all wrapped up in a classic Vegas theme in the Bally “Digital Tower Series,” the series of games designed to dazzle with tall displays and game-play that attracts a crowd.

“Vegas Hits was designed to complement our Digital Tower slot products,” says Mark DeDeaux, director of gaming operations at Bally. “The idea came about as an extension of our U-Spin wheel product, and the centerpiece of the game is that it’s a two-wheel slot machine. Our designers came up with the creative idea of having two different wheels within the game.”

All Vegas

The base game is strictly Las Vegas, with all the icons you would expect—dice, cards, roulette wheels, the Vegas sign, even a small set of reels depicting a classic Bally slot—displayed in sharp and colorful animation on the reel symbols. “We wanted to offer people an overall Las Vegas experience within the game play,” says DeDeaux. “Gaming icons tie the whole theme together.”

The base game is fun in itself, with a five-reel, 40-line main configuration and all that lively animation of Vegas icons. “But the most compelling attribute of the game,” says DeDeaux, “is the two-wheel bonus feature.”

It is actually a whole batch of bonus features, most of them involving free spins. Every 60 spins on average, three “Bonus Wheel” symbols will land scattered on the middle reels to trigger the bottom wheel. The player reaches up and spins the wheel in either direction, as hard or soft as desired. (You can also press the “Spin” button to activate the wheel, but where’s the fun in that?)

The Bonus Wheel contains 16 wedges. Fifteen of them award free games with something extra: Three free spins with 7s wild. Five spins with one entire reel wild. Eight spins with reels 4 and 5 wild. One free spin with three wild reels. One spin with all wins paid as scatters.

One wedge on the wheel is marked “Money Wheel Spin.” That’s the big payoff, with at least 4,000 credits and most wedges in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of credits. The top prize is 200,000—a cool $2,000 in the common penny version of the game.

There are two ways to get to the Money Wheel—in addition to the wedge on the Bonus Wheel, three Money Wheel symbols on the middle reels lead directly to the big bonus.

“There are 16 unique bonuses between the two wheels,” says DeDeaux. “What we believe players really like are lots of different bonuses, with new and unique features within the bonus rounds. This game delivers that.”

Only the Beginning

Vegas Hits was launched in November in Nevada, Arizona and several Midwestern markets. By the time you read this, it will be all over the country. Early reports say players love the game wherever it is introduced. Crowds tend to gather when the wheel bonus hits, and particularly when that upper wheel is activated.

According to DeDeaux, the Vegas Hits concept is going to be around for a long time. There is already a sequel, called “Vegas Hits Roadtrip,” that is close to launch. Expect to see that one in the spring.

DeDeaux says that while no other sequels beyond that were in the works at press time, he expects the dual-wheel concept to be around for a long time. “Given the early success of this game, and considering how innovative Bally continues to be in creating new slots, more games like these will certainly be considered in the future,” he says.

“While I can’t say for sure we’re the first to have a double-wheel game—although I can’t think of any others—the way we’ve executed the double-wheel concept is certainly a first.”

It’s sure to be a first of many. •

SIDEBAR #1:

 

Vegas Hits

Bally Technologies

 

Slot Type

Five-reel, 40-line video slot; free-spin bonus rounds; wild symbols and wild reels in bonus round; double wheel bonus; all denominations available (penny denomination prevalent)

Payback % Range

88.03%—90.04%

Average Hit Frequency

50.92%

Top Jackpot

1,000 credits times total bet

Availability

AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, MI (tribal), MN, MS (tribal), MO, ND, NM, NV, OR, SD, WA, WI (others pending at press time)

SIDEBAR #2:

 

Towering Games

Vegas Hits is the latest Bally slot in the “Digital Tower Series,” a group of video slots descended from the first games to use the 32-inch vertical monitor first popularized by the manufacturers’ video roulette and “Quick Hit Platinum” games.

Slots in the series are distinguished by their tall cabinets and video real estate housing spectacular visuals. Other slots in the series:

Fireball

The first game in the Digital Tower series, this game took the hit game “Hot Shot” and spread the unique bonus over the vertical video screen.  When anywhere from three to eight Fireball symbols appear on the screen, the number of symbols translates into the number of shots you get at a progressive jackpot. Each progressive is unlocked by a miniature set of reels simulating a classic Bally slot—reel sets that appear to be floating in space.

77777 Jackpot

This game features nine different “7” combinations, each a different color. The ladder-style bonus board displays each of the “7” combinations with a bonus amount next to it—rising from 500 credits ($5) to 150,000 credits ($1,500), under a top jackpot that is progressive, resetting at $15,000. When the bonus is triggered, the lowest jackpot is locked in, and you get seven spins to land a higher-colored combination on the primary reels. This goes on until you get seven spins without a higher combination. The whole time you’re doing this, the nine sets of reels showing the different-colored 7s spin in the top-box display.

Ultimate Tower of Power

This Tower Series game takes the ladder concept and places it on a wide-area progressive link, similar to the “QuarterMillion$” like currently in casinos. The top jackpot on this game resets at $250,000—a great prize for a penny game. The bonus ladder displays nine bonus jackpot amounts, the bottom three stagnant at $6, $9 and $15. The remaining jackpots are progressive, resetting at $30, $90, $120, $1,500 and $250,000. Three ladder symbols on or within one position of the center pay line launches the progressive bonus. The reels disappear and one giant reel appears on the screen for the bonus. That reel spins to reveal a number of spaces the player ascends up the top ladder. It continues to spin until the big reel lands on “Collect.”

Vegas, Baby – Slot.

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