We live in a pop culture world. Whether itâ??s the latest box-office champion at the movies or the latest music video sensation on YouTube, itâ??s part of our pop cultureâ??an experience we share with families, friends and co-workers. For casino players, slot machines are part of our pop culture, and theyâ??re by no means separate from the world around us.

Todayâ??s games can integrate video clips from movies, TV or music videos. Some use multiple speakers, both in the machines and in the backs of accompanying chairs, for dialog and songs. And with touch, drag and release technology, some games even give us that old arcade feel.

Where do slot makers turn for their taste of pop culture? Everywhere the rest of us look.

 

Memorable Television

Without television, pop culture would not be where it is today. Although reality and game shows are now the norm, there have been some historical television stories that we will never forget. One of the most memorable television shows of all time is Zorro. The secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega, Zorro was a nobleman living in California. He was best known for his dashing looks and the mysterious black mask he wore while defending the people of his land.

Zorro was an immensely popular television series that also became a hit movie. Slot players across North America have enjoyed playing Aristocratâ??s original Zorro penny slot for many years, as it is one of the companyâ??s top-performing titles of all time. Aristocrat has brought the legend back in an even bigger and better way with Zorro: The Legend Returns.

Zorro: The Legend Returns is the first game Aristocrat introduced under the new game category, VIRIDIAN Hybrid with Active Reel Technology. This new line of games has the potential to feature a five-reel stepper base game, a full screen video and a three-reel stepper bonus all in one game. This amazing technology allows for an incredible amount of interactivity for the player.

The new Zorro slot has three standalone progressive jackpots, a symbol-triggered progressive jackpot feature, and four additional bonus features. Explore the journeys you remember from the hit television series. Stunning graphics stretch top to bottom of the screen, and exciting sounds surround you. Always wanted to be the swordsman that Zorro was? Now is your chance!

On the Music Charts

Oh what a thriller Bally has introduced to the slot world through their chart-topping slot game, Michael Jackson: King of Pop. Featuring one of the most widely beloved and influential artists of all time, this game brings the King of Pop back to life right in front of your eyes. This Bally sensation was the center of attention at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas this past September, and the hype has certainly not died down.

Jackson and slot fanatics are ranting and raving at all this game has to offer. Presented on Ballyâ??s new cabinet with an enormous 22-inch monitor for the main game and 32-inch vertical screen for musical bonus fun, your world transforms as you spin the wheel. Everything you remember about the pop sensation can be found during different points in this game. With a certain reel combination, youâ??ll watch him moonwalk across the screen. You will also use his famous sequined glove to spin a wheel for even more spectacular bonus prizes.

Oh, the bonuses! You are in for a show stopper with these bad boys. Sing along to your favorite MJ hits like â??Billie Jean,â? â??Dirty Diana,â? â??Donâ??t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,â? â??Smooth Criminal,â? â??Beat Itâ? and â??Badâ? during the gameâ??s six bonus rounds. Many a slot player might be caught dancing while playing these bonus rounds!

This game appeals to all audiences with its incredible performances and creative technology. With every turn you will see videos and exclusive footage of the pop phenomenonâ??s most famous dance moves and songs, all the while playing your way to winnings (we hope)! The King of Pop remains alive in Ballyâ??s most incredible slot sensation to date, and perhaps the most exciting of 2012.

For more than a decade, Elvis lovers have had a burning love for International Game Technologyâ??s games featuring the King of Rock â??nâ?? Roll. The latest is a video slot with four progressive jackpot levels and a collection of bonus events that make it the most Elvis-y of Elvis slots.

There are four progressive jackpot levels, all named for Elvis hitsâ??â??Hound Dog,â? â??Jailhouse Rock,â? â??Heartbreak Hotelâ? and â??Viva Las Vegas.â? Each is tied to a bonus event. In the â??Heartbreak Hotelâ? bonus, an onscreen hotel has seven stories and a penthouse. You choose hotel room doors to find bonus credits, and, if you find Elvis, he awards you all the credits on that level. You donâ??t want to find broken hearts. They keep you from advancing to the next level.

Reel symbols depict Elvis at different stages of his career. And thereâ??s Elvis music. LOTS of Elvis music.

When I tested the game, I really liked the Juke Box Bonus, though it doesnâ??t lead to a progressive jackpot. You choose among Elvis songs. In my test, I picked â??Thatâ??s All Right, Mama.â? The song blared out of the speakers in the machine and in the special sound chair, and credits rolled up on the screen, which also flashed Elvis video and trivia. And I advanced a level, so I got to rock out to â??Blue Suede Shoesâ? for more credits. When it was over, a voice announced, â??Elvis has left the building.â?

Even games that arenâ??t specifically music-themed can carry a pop culture hook. Take the new Cash Eruption slot from Spielo International. Itâ??s a volcano-themed game that spews out bonuses to the sounds of â??Hot, Hot, Hot.â? It comes with a special effects chair that rocks when the volcano blows. And thereâ??s a three-tiered progressive that is guaranteed to hit within given rangesâ??$10-$20, $30-$50 and $250-$500.

â??We tried to look at what people regard as attainable, and what they see as an upset factor,â? product marketing manager Mike Brennan said. â??If you have a max bet of $2.50, youâ??d better have your lowest level at significantly above that. We also try to make sure the top doesnâ??t seem like a pipe dream. The wrinkle here is that you also can multiply these progressives, two times, three times, five times. Pick a tile and, more than half the time, youâ??ll at least double that bottom award.â?

Bonus play and progressive jackpots are the main events, while the music helps it pop.

At the Movies

John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, song, dance, young loveâ??â??Greaseâ? is a pop culture extravaganza, and so is the hot new Grease video slot from Bally Technologies. Itâ??ll be a wide-area progressive, meaning that in states where it is legal, machines in different casinos can be linked to the same jackpot. There are two playing fields on the screenâ??two sets of five reelsâ??in a penny game with a 60-cent minimum wager. Reel symbols are chock full of movie imagery, and thereâ??re music and video featuring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

At bonus time, you drag your finger across an onscreen high school yearbook, flipping pages to see what event youâ??ll be playing. In the â??How Cool Are Youâ? bonus, you pick a car to race across the screen. When I did a trial run of the game, I chose the Scorpionâ??s car, finished a little behind the leader, and the game told me I was â??Almost Coolâ? as my bonus rang up. The â??Too Pure to Be Pinkâ? bonus is a pick â??em event, choosing among wigs for extra credits.

But the event everyone will want to see is the â??Youâ??re the One that I Wantâ? free games, complete with video of the showpiece scene of the movie. The stars woo each other in the â??Greaseâ? showpiece video in the top boxâ??a scaled down video played atop the spinning reels on the main screenâ??and speakers in the back of the gameâ??s special chair contributed to a surround-sound effect.

Having watched people test the game in a non-wagering situation, Jean Venneman, Ballyâ??s vice president of product marketing and licensing, said, â??This one has been fun to watch people play. They seem to be more focused on the video than on the actual game. And everybody has fond memories of the first time they saw the movie, or that they thought Olivia Newton-John was amazing, or John Travolta.â?

International Game Technology also looks to the silver screen for its Breakfast at Tiffanyâ??s slots. Audrey Hepburn, as Holly Golightly, lights up the slot video screen just as she lit up the silver screen in the 1961 comedy co-starring George Peppard as her love interest, Paul Varjak.

The slot machine version is chock full of video, and those who love the movie will have a great time at the game. Hollyâ??s cat, called â??Cat,â? will walk across the screen from time to time. Pet the cat to earn bonus credits.

Along with Bally and IGT, WMS loves to go to the movies. And one movie it loves to share with us over and over is â??The Wizard of Oz.â?

The latest in its series of Wizard of Oz slot machines is Journey to Oz, where WMS uses a bonus wheel for the first time. â??Weâ??re taking the number one brand in the industry, which is â??Oz,â?? and pairing it with the number one play mechanic, which is the wheel,â? Rose said. â??And youâ??re combining that with a community gaming experience.â?

On an average of once every 60 seconds, a mini-wheel spins on one playerâ??s screen. If it lands on Glinda, the good witch rises to the big screen overhead, and with a little movie magic says, â??A wave from my wand and we will see what magic may bring.â? She then spins an onscreen bonus wheel that could take you into one of four bonus events based on Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow. If the wheel lands on a witch, you get a â??Witch Wheelâ? with values multiplied.

â??The ultimate goal here is to get a witch, and then on the Witch Wheel land on Dorothy,â? Bradley Rose, executive director of game development, explained as he demonstrated. â??The reason you want the â??Dorothyâ? bonus is because itâ??s our original Wizard of Oz nostalgia right here. This takes you to the original free spin bonus of The Wizard of Oz. All the original symbols that players loved in our first Oz game [tornadoes, hot air balloons and other Oz icons] are there. And itâ??s collaborative. You pick an emerald on the screen, and try to find Glindas that turn wild.â?

At the Arcade

Ballyâ??s slot machine version of Skee Ball uses the same touch, drag and release technology that has given us the popular U-Spin slots. On U-Spin games, you touch a bonus wheel on the screen, drag it back and forth, fast and slow, and release it to spin. On some versions, a physical wheel in the top box spins at the same speed, bringing around the same spaces and the video version as it shows you what bonus awards you win.

In Skee Ball, instead of spinning a wheel, youâ??re dragging and releasing the balls, trying to land them in the circles with the greatest value. As you collect points, you get tickets, and then go to the arcade counter to make picks from toyshelves. The toys you pick reveal your bonus.

â??One thing we think about is, â??How can we engage the players in the bonus experience?â??â? Venneman said. In Skee Ball, theyâ??re engaged by being active participants.

Sometimes, the pop culture ties can be self-referential. Take Incredible Technologiesâ?? matched set of five-reel video slots, Guys Night Out and Girls Day Out. Girls Day Out has a shopping motif, with reel symbols including dresses, purses and shoes. Flowers cascade alongside the reels. For Guys Night Out, itâ??s a sportier look, with cigars, steaks and tickets to the big game. The symbols alongside the reels are poker chips.

Then thereâ??s the arcade-style game tie. Among the reel symbols are Golden Tee Golf units. Itâ??s Golden Tee Golf, a favorite in bars, restaurants and online, that really put Incredible Technologies on the map, making the company a giant in the amusement game industry before it turned its attention to slot machines.

â??One thing in these games, when it takes you to the free spin games, it takes you to a new set of reels, and you see changes in the movement in the background,â? said Dan Schrementi, ITâ??s director of game marketing and new media,. â??Girls Day Out is a 30-cent game, Guys Night Out is a 40-cent game. In Girls Day Out, in the bonus you pick your guys, the men that you want to date. In Guys Night Out, you go to the club and pick your lady.â?

Presumably for a touch of pop culture.

Around the Board

Not only is Monopoly the board game part of our pop culture, a family favorite for generations, Monopoly slots have become a lasting part of our slot culture. The latest take on the board classic from WMS Gaming is Epic Monopoly, which uses the multi-pay format to put four sets of reels on the same screen. That means four chances to get to a bonus event. Wilds on the first set of reels transfer over to others, so good luck on the first reels can lead to some big pays. And the game features an around-the-board bonus, always a favorite among Monopoly players.

â??As in any Monopoly game, this one has a ton of bonuses,â? Rose said. â??It has bonuses within the bonuses. But it also has a wheel. Itâ??s the first Monopoly game with a wheelâ??youâ??re going to see that theme a little bit now.â?

When the wheel spins, you can either win bonus credits or go to bonus events including the trip around the game board, Community Chest and Chance bonuses, or a free spin bonus.

In the Casino

Itâ??s been more than 20 years since legal casino gambling started to expand beyond Nevada and New Jersey into other states. Casino games are part of our pop culture now, familiar to large segments of the population.

Incredible Technologies recognizes that with its Neon City Casino game. It not only has that old-school neon look that shouts, â??Play me!â? it uses iconic table gamesâ??blackjack, roulette and seven-card studâ??as bonus events.

â??Itâ??s a very traditional casino experience, like Vegasâ??s Fremont Street, neon everywhere,â? Schrementi said. â??We figured it wouldnâ??t be a casino game unless we got table games into it, so the mini-games are seven-card stud, roulette and blackjack.â?

Thereâ??s no strategy to learn, though, and no intimidation factor. â??This is essentially a pick â??em bonus hidden in a blackjack format,â? Schrementi said. â??You canâ??t hit or stand, you pick a hand to see if you beat the dealer.â?

So whatâ??ll it be? Movies? TV? Music? A blackjack bonus? You get to decide whatâ??s top of the pops.