Nowadays, change name of the game
John Grochowski firstname.lastname@example.org October 10, 2012 5:48PM
Updated: October 10, 2012 7:02PM
The video age has been liberating for slot machine designers, and not just in ability to use animation and special effects to create entertaining bonus events. They can play with the configuration of the reels, and even change the number of reels from spin to spin.
Take The Munsters Family Portrait, one of the spotlight games at Incredible Technologies’ booth at the recent Global Gaming Expo at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. Instead of the five reels that we usually see on video slots, there are nine reels full of “Munsters” characters and icons, including the actors from the spooky 1960s sitcom.
But only five of the nine are used to determine your outcome on each spin. There’s a five-reel frame for this portrait, and it slides back and forth over the full reel set. Wherever it stops, it frames the five reels that are going to count for that spin. Those reels are bright and in full color, while the other four are dimmed.
For us old-timers who took math before iPads — or even pocket calculators — the effect is like a slide rule, using the slide to frame your calculation.
On a slot machine, the frame means the players will be able to see the other four reels, and what they would have gotten if the frame had stopped elsewhere. Sometimes players will be excited the frame stopped in the right place, sometimes it’ll be more, “Darn! I woulda, coulda, shoulda won.”
Aristocrat plays with the reels, too, in its eye-catching Superman video slots. Sometimes the Clark Kent symbol turns into Superman, soars up the screen and extends the reel, creating extra symbols and extra paying connections.
Superman is really two games in one. You can bet with a row of red buttons to play for pennies, with increments from 50 cents to $2.50. Or, just above, there’s a row of green (for kryptonite) buttons to play the Lex Luthor game instead. That’s a high-denom game, with increments from $5 to $25. Play for 50 cents, and the top jackpot starts at $50,000. Play for $25, and it’s $2.5 million.
And speaking of unusual reel formats, Aristocrat has put a different spin on games that present four sets of video reels. If you play video slots, no doubt you’ve seen machines where the effect is that you’re playing four games at once.
Up till now, all four games were the same theme. Aristocrat is changing that with its Wonder 4 slots. The initial release includes four titles — Buffalo, Wild Splash, Firelight and Pompei. Touch the screen to choose which games to play. If you want four games of Pompei, that’s fine. But you could choose one of each game or two Buffalos, a Firelight and a Pompei.
Pick any combination you like. This video reel format gives you a little of the designers’ flexibility.
John Grochowski is a local free-lance writer. Look for him on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44); Twitter (@GrochowskiJ) and at casinoanswerman.com.