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G2E 2007, Part 2: What's New from Bally?11 December 2007
In these days of bigger, better, brighter slot machines and increasing competition among manufacturers, it sometimes can be a kick just to see an executive having fun with his own product.
So it was as I stopped by the Bally Technologies booth at the 2007 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, and had marketing vice president Marcus Prater show me around.
Bally's big products for the coming year are seven-reel CineReels games such as Double Dragon and video slots on towering vertical screens, including Quick Hit Platinum and Cash Meteor, but when it came to Breakout, it was obvious that Prater had done some practicing.
Breakout is the follow-up to Pong, bringing back early video games as skill-based bonus rounds --- something new and different for the slots. Those of a certain age, or those who have caught up with early games on at-home system, will remember that Breakout puts a Pong-like paddle at the bottom of the screen. The player tries to maneuver the paddle to carom the ball against a grid of multicolored bricks, removing one with each hit.
"Remember Breakout? It's the same concept as Pong," Prater said as he moved his paddle into position. "The ball gets faster and the paddle gets smaller as you go along. Let's see if we can … ooops, not quite. No … there it is!"
The ball made its breakthrough to the top, bounced around the upper level to remove bricks form the top down, and the big bonus started rolling up.
That was just part of the fun. As I toured booths at G2E, I asked other manufacturers if they'd seen anything they liked from the competition. Those few who had managed to find spare time away from their own booths pointed to Bally. "Bally has a lot of good stuff this year," one game designer said.
CineReels is a big part of the reason for the enthusiasm. Bally's wide-screen, high-definition CineVision video slots have been among the gaming industry's hits of the last couple of years. Now, Bally has applied the math of its CineVision games to CineReels, with three, four, five or seven mechanical reels in an ergonomically designed cabinet.
The first seven-reel CineReels game, Double Dragon, was introduced in the summer. At G2E, it was one of the games on display to show just what CineReels can do. It uses the center reel for bonuses and multipliers on what breaks down into two sets of three reels, on either side of the bonus reel. With left-to-right and right-to-left pays, free spins and bonuses, it was set up as a penny game with a 250-coin maximum bet.
But CineReels is an extremely flexible format, as Bally showed with its new addition to its Quarter Millions line. Quarter Millions has long been a Bally favorite on both three-reel and five-reel formats, with either a cash ladder or a spinning wheel in the top box for bonus rewards. The CineReels version of Quarter Millions adds three oversized spinning reels in the top box.
"We're trying to keep our wide-area progressive link fresh, so we've done something pretty wacky with a seven-reel base game and three-reel bonus reels in the top box," Prater explained. "Effectively this is a 10-reel progressive. We just weren't satisfied until we started putting a thrill on the top of CineReels."
I came back later to try out QuarterMillions for myself, and checked out the bonus round. The three reels in the top had symbols applying to different sized bonuses, and they kept spinning until all three matched. If the first two matched on a low bonus, I found myself rooting for a no-match on the third. If they matched on a high bonus, then, of course I was rooting for the winner, even though it was all just a test ---- no money changes hands on G2E slot demos.
One game I had fun with was the space-themed superhero video slot Cash Meteor on the vertical V32 screen. Cash Meteor, the symbols are on video tiles rather than reels. Each tile flips end over end or corner over corner until it stops on a symbol.
"Looks like we're going to have to educate that person," Prater said as someone on the next machine just kept hitting a button on the console to flip the tiles. That's the traditional way to spin reels, but on Cash Meteor, you can run your finger up and down the screen, or across, or diagonally, and that'll start the tiles flipping. A spaceship soars across the screen in the direction of your motion.
I came back for more later on, to try the Rocket Rescue animated bonus round. The hero jet-packs up and down a column of prisoners, releasing the ones you choose to reveal bonuses. Those release let out a cartoony "Thank you, Cash Meteor!" while guards shout, "It's Cash Meteor! How did he get in here?"
All very reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons. With early video games, a little skill and plenty of modern technology, what slot player could ask for more?
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
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Best of John Grochowski