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A visit to WMS

27 September 2011

A visit to WMS Gaming's facilities in Chicago always has a touch of the fantastic about it, a little escape from the real world. That's double true as the annual Global Gaming Expo approaches, when the innovative slotmaker is putting the finishing touches on the games it will showcase to casino executives.

The expo begins a three-day run at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas on Tuesday, October 4, and WMS invited me to preview some of the new games it'll be showcasing.

Executive director of game development Bradley Rose guided me through Super Team, where you can customize a superhero to help you through bonus events. There was Epic Monopoly, using the four-screens-in-one Super Multi-Pay system. Journey to Oz, the latest in the popular series of Wizard of Oz games, ramps up the excitement in a Community Gaming format.

In Clue, you get do find out whether Colonel Mustard really did it in the dining room with a candlestick. And as for the Sensory Immersion game Aladdin, you'll believe carpets can fly.

Super Team, the first game on WMS' new CPU-NXT3 operating system, has "about 10 times the horsepower of CPU-2," Rose said. "Having it on CPU-3 allows us to do more with animation, more with storing games and overall just looks a lot better."

There are two sets of seven superheroes, each with their own powers to enhance your reels. You can choose which set to use. Then there's YOUR hero, who you customize through the Hero Editor feature. Create an identity, pick your hero's sex, hairdo, cape and colors, and next time you log in your superhero will be there waiting for you.

Super Team also includes unlockable bonus features, something WMS began in Star Trek and continued in Lord of the Rings. When you reach a bonus event, you can unlock a second bonus event, and when you reach that one, unlock a third. The came stays fresh with new features as you play.

In Journey to Oz, WMS uses a bonus wheel for the first time. "We're taking the No. 1 brand in the industry, which is 'Oz,' and pairing with the No. 1 play mechanic, which is the wheel," Rose said. "And you're combining that on a community gaming experience."

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

"The ultimate goal here is to get a witch, and then on the Witch Wheel land on Dorothy," Rose explained as he demonstrated — games at the lab and at the expo are gaffed so WMS can show off the bonuses at will. "The reason you want the Dorothy bonus is this is 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 it's collaborative. You pick an emerald on the screen, and try to find Glindas that turn wild."

Epic Monopoly 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.

"As in any Monopoly game, this one has a ton of bonuses," Rose said. "It has bonuses within the bonuses. But it also has a wheel. It's the first Monopoly game with a wheel — you're going to see that theme a little bit now."

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.

WMS also goes the board game route with Clue. It's not a true community game, but your decisions can affect others. In a bonus event played on big screens overhead, you choose a room to play, and at the end take a guess at solving the murderer, room and weapon mystery. Wrong guesses are X'd out — which narrows down the possibilities for the next player to reach the bonus.

As for Aladdin, wait till you get that Sensory Immersion chair rocking and rolling for soaring and dipping effects as you take the magic carpet ride toward a bonus payout. If you don't want the motion, you can touch the screen to turn it off. Me? I'm there for the full ride.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski