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Aristocrat slot machines6 November 2014
The Australian-based slot maker is at it again with Cluster Power, and like Reel Power, it looks like the kind of feature every gamemaker could be imitating a year or two down the road.
Cluster Power is being introduced on Sons of Anarchy, based on the FX television hit drama about an outlaw motorcycle club, their lives and challenges.
“The game’s not focused on the violence of a motorcycle game,” Siobhan Lane, Aristocrat’s senior director of product management and strategy, casino operations, told me before a tour of the company’s booth at Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. “It’s about the key characters, and really getting into the depths of those characters. They all have a strong appetite for something, whether it’s being the leader of the gang or wanting stability or keeping the family together. So really focusing on those traits and the family is what the studio has focused on in creating the gameplay.”
With Sons of Anarchy, Aristocrat is on Aristocrat’s Verve cabinet, with a 31.5-inch portrait-oriented screen, the same cabinet as the company’s big hit The Walking Dead, introduced last year and winner of the Casino Product of the Year award at this year’s expo.
On to Cluster Power, where any three or more adjacent symbols can form a paying combination. Matching symbols can be touching vertically, horizontally, in a line, on the first three reels, in a stack on the last reel alone – as long as you have three or more adjacent, that’s a winner.
Having no matching symbols on the leftmost reels doesn’t eliminate your chances at a winner. With Cluster Power, you still have a chance right to the end.
In the same game, Aristocrat also steps outside the box with a No Limits feature. Megasymbols of the show's five lead characters take up multiple spaces, leaving the potential for the symbol to land partially in the playing field, and partially out of view. When that happens, the field can grow both vertically and horizontally to accommodate the symbol.
For example, if a Jax Teller symbol is three symbols wide and three symbols deep, but lands so that it shows only one symbol on the last space to the right on the bottom row, then the reels can expand two more spaces to the right and two more deep to accommodate the entire megasymbol and potentially create extra winning combinations.
The whole package looks like a winner, and slot directors and other slotmakers certainly will be watching closely to see how players react to Cluster Power.
With the recent success of the Batman game based on the 1960s TV show, Aristocrat is looking to extend its Wonder Wheels product line. Five new Wonder Wheels games were on display, featuring three mechanical wheels atop the games for bonus spins.
Two Wonder Wheels games that drew big crowds at the expo were The Big Bang Theory and Ted. Big Bang is the first Wonder Wheels game with four sets of reels on the screen – you can play up to four games at once. Three “Bazinga!” symbols bring you a wheel spin for credits or to launch a free spins feature based on TV characters Penny, Sheldon or Leonard, or to pick’em bonuses based on show elements such as the Scavenger Vortex or the Warlords of Ka’a. It’s an audio-video treat for fans of the hit show.
Ted is based on the movie tale of a somewhat uncouth teddy bear come to life. On the slot machine Ted throws beer bottles, stands up to thrust against the edge of the reels – all in keeping with the humor and adult spirit of the movie.
“Ted has been a real fan favorite,” Lane said. “It's witty and funny and very risqué. You can interact with Ted on the screen -- touch him, and he gets up and does things throughout the game. ‘Funny makes funny,’ is what the saying is.”
Aristocrat gave a big presence to the Arc. In fact, the Arc can be nothing but big. It’s a slot cabinet with two 42-inch curved screens, one on top of the other. With that tall a machine, and a big curve, it bends right over the player, really immersing you in the experience.
At the expo, Aristocrat showed the Arc with its Britney Spears game, along with Game of Thrones and a new version of the megahit Buffalo Stampede.
“It’s a really immersive experience with a special sound chair to go with what it’s doing on screen,” Lane said. “Britney Spears, for example, in 'The Equalizer' feature you get a 190-line game all played on those two vertical curved screen, all the way to the top, built on five Britney songs. ‘Oops, I Did It Again,’ ‘(You Drive Me) Crazy,’ ‘3,’ and some of her other hits. And her show here in Vegas is hot right now. It’s a fun, really energetic game.”
Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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Best of John Grochowski