Slot machine manufacturers are in a continuing game of â??can you top this?â? as they seek to keep us in our seats and coming back for more. Every year brings new wrinkles, new bonuses and new styles of game play.
When it all comes together, that brings extra entertainment to the players. And we can choose what style of entertainment we want. A music extravaganza? A stampede of elephants? Rolling big wheels of cheese down a mountain toward goats? Yep, that too.
Letâ??s look at 10 hot slots that will keep us entertained in 2012.
Michael Jackson: King of Pop
Itâ??s all Jacko, all the time on Ballyâ??s thriller of a slot. That includes the base game, which uses scenes from music videos on the video reels. And, as for the bonus events, theyâ??re real showstoppers.
King of Pop is on Ballyâ??s new 22-32 cabinet, with a 22-inch video monitor on the main game and a 32-inch vertical screen up top for musical bonus fun. On top of that, thereâ??s a wheel, and you use the U-Spin format to touch the screen. Give the wheel a big spin and see which bonus youâ??ve landed. The wheel can give you bonus credits or take you to one of six bonus rounds themed after Michael Jackson songs, including â??Bad,â? â??Beat Itâ? and â??Billie Jean.â?
Dance moves are integrated into game play. In the â??Smooth Criminalâ? bonus, the music video is overlaid on the reels, and at a cymbal clash Jackson will halt; point and the indicated symbol will turn wild. At the end of a bonus event, a bandolier-laden Michael Jackson statue image rises in the top box, as golden as your bonus award.
Bally is going for interactivity with its iDeck, which turns the button panel area into an extra touch screen. The iDeck can be used as a simple button panel, for networked bonus events and to boost the interactivity of game play.
In Total Blast, the iDeck boosts the interactivity, giving us a different experience than weâ??ve seen on slot games to date. In the bonus, weâ??re called on to shoot down invaders in space. The alien spaceships are on the main screen, and you let your fingers dance rapidly over the iDeck to fire shots from all different angles. In a trial run, I was using all fingers and both thumbs, running back and forth along the deck to fire as many shots as possible. A total blast? Yep.
Formerly known as Spielo/Atronic, Spielo has brought us a number of lasting favorites, including Sphinx and the Deal or No Deal games. In Goldify, it puts its own spin on games that allow players to choose the volatility level they want. Reel symbols are from ancient Greece, with Spartan helmets, lyres and Pegasus, the winged horse.
Players touch a symbol to Goldify it. Then winning combinations of that symbol pay five times the values on the usual pay table. Goldify a low-paying, frequently occurring symbol, and you bulk up small wins and reduce volatility. Goldify a big jackpot symbol, and you open a chance at a really big win, while leaving small pays small, and that increases the volatility.
Video slots today command the largest share of space on casino floors, but thereâ??s a lingering love for reel-stepper games. Bally mimics the look of the reel-spinners with its Curved product line, with a curved glass surface. The look is attractive, â??but because theyâ??re video, thereâ??s so much more we can do graphically and from an animation perspective,â? said Jean Venneman, Ballyâ??s vice president of product marketing and licensing.
One game in the Curved line is Moon Goddess where in a trial, three moons took me into the free-spin bonus round. During the bonus, you collect moons, and on the last spin they drop onto the reels as wild symbols. Collect enough moons, and itâ??ll lead to some howling huge wins.
Aristocrat introduces its most exciting new penny video slot game with Mission: Impossible. Should you choose to accept the mission, you will witness action from the legendary television and movie series, as it plays out larger than life on the award-winning VERVEhdâ?¢ cabinet.
Experience a daring adventure while you search for the progressive jackpot and its $250,000 top award. The â??Big Bang Jackpot Bonusâ? can be won at random when the player matches three or more Jackpot Lights before time runs out! Get three wins and receive anything from 1,000 credits to the Grand Jackpot! All agents reveal their true identity in the â??Masquerade Bonusâ? while stealth vision reveals bonus reels in the â??Stealth Reel Bonus.â?
Take your choice of heart-pounding missions including a high-speed showdown, black vault and more! Mission: Impossible is not just a game; itâ??s an exhilarating chance to solve your given mission and hit it big!
Tarzan & Jane:
The original Tarzan slots were such a big hit that Aristocrat came right back to the theme and brought extra action to the jungle king and queen.
Like the original Tarzan game, Tarzan & Jane Forbidden Temple has a bonus wheel feature with a multilevel progressive jackpot, including a $100,000 grand jackpot. But the bonuses heat up with a second Fire Wheel, a Jane Diamond prize and tons of new and original features. In addition, players play two sets of Reel Power reels in the base game â?? Tarzan and Jane. In the Elephant Crush feature, the Tarzan and Jane reels are connected giving the players up to 7,776 ways to win and plenty of chances for the 3-D elephants to stampede across your screen.
Whatâ??s better than a player enjoying one favorite Aristocrat game? That same player enjoying four favorite Aristocrat games all at once! That is the magic of Aristocratâ??s Wonder 4â?¢, the latest edition to Aristocratâ??s family of multi-play, multi-game products. Wonder 4 takes full advantage of Aristocratâ??s stunning VIRIDAIN WSâ?¢ widescreen monitor, with four of Aristocratâ??s best titles combined in one game. The unique configuration provides players a choice where they can play a combination of all four games or one game on four spots. Wonder 4 is launching with four of Aristocratâ??s most popular games: Buffaloâ?¢, Fire Lightâ?¢, Pompeiiâ?¢ and Wild Splashâ?¢.
Wonder 4 gives players more ways to win, and gives more ways to bonus the player. Wonder 4 received rave reviews when it premiered at G2E, and now casinos can get the same rave reviews from their players by putting Wonder 4 on the casino floor today.
A relative newcomer to casino games after establishing itself as a big player in the amusement game field with Golden Tee Golf, Incredible Technologies has worked on broadening its slot machine line. A pioneer in â??choose your volatilityâ? games in its Magic Touch line, Incredible offers traditional style video slots along with innovative games on the edge.
One of the innovative games is Goat Cheese, and itâ??s about as quirky as it gets. It features a cheese drop bonus where you roll wheels of cheese down a mountain, collecting credits whenever the wheel hits a goat instead of bouncing over, all with yodeling in the background. In a topsy-turvy feature, the play field is flipped aroundâ??rotated 180 degrees. Then some symbols become wild and you get a chance at extra wins.
Wolf Run 2
International Game Technology
Those who liked IGTâ??s original Wolf Runâ??and itâ??s had quite a followingâ??will love this updated version. â??We wanted to be sure the integrity of the game was still intact, so those Wolf Run players would come play Wolf Run 2, and say it feels like my first game,â? IGT Product Manager Ryan Griffin said. â??But we wanted to give them a deeper, richer experience.â?
The extra wild symbols come up in 3-D, wolves howl, the screen background gives you images of a lake, river or forest. Much of it is real, high-quality nature photography, and the game is as beautiful as it is fun to play. When the aurora borealis signals a bonus event, you can take free spins as in the original Wolf Run, but thereâ??s also an option to a pick â??em bonus. Itâ??s Wolf Run, all right, and then some.
King of Bling
When you talk about quirky games on the edge that push the boundaries of slot playersâ?? expectations, thereâ??s King of Bling, a game that has surprised even other slot makers. â??Guys from all the other manufacturers are crawling over this game,â? said Dan Schrementi, ITâ??s director of gaming marketing and new media. â??I think theyâ??re shocked we made something like this.â?
King of Bling has a hip-hop soundtrack, drop-in hip-hop characters and symbols sharing a diamond-encrusted look. On winners, paylines donâ??t light up; instead, winning symbols enlarge and pop out on the screen.
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John Grochowski has been writing about casinos and casino games since 1994 through his weekly syndicated column that goes to newspapers and websites, including the Chicago Sun-Times, Denver Post and Casino City Times, and blogs regularly for the Tunica Convention and Visitorâ??s Bureau â??Down the Road in Tunicaâ? site, http://downtheroad.tunicatravel.com/. He is the author of six books on gaming, including â??The Slot Machine Answer Bookâ? and â??The Video Poker Answer Book.â? You can find him online at casinoanswerman.com, him on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and at Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).