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Great New Bonus Slot Machines

22 November 2012

By John Grochowski

Each year at Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, I get to see the best of what slot machine manufacturers have to offer: the bonus events. Games are set up so potential buyers and inquiring columnists can see the most entertaining bits without spending time spinning the reels.

It doesn’t exactly mirror the every-day slot experience, but it’s a fun way to preview a whole lot of games in a short time.

Bally Technologies showed a couple of licensed-theme games that will have players savoring the bon uses. Pawn Stars, based on the History Channel reality TV hit and featuring video of the stars, has multiple bonus events, including a wheel spin that shows just what event you’re going to play.

I was taken to Rick’s Bonus, where it was time to negotiate a price. The player chooses an item to sell, touching one of several on the screen. I was pitching my old bicycle, and Rick was making offers. Should I accept, or should I turn it down? After a little give and take, Rick made his final offer, and offered to call in an expert.

Should I take the money, or take a chance and call in the expert, who might award a bigger bonus? I called for the expert, who informed us my classic bike was a phony. There went my bonus. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

It was fun to play, and so was NASCAR. It features images of cars and drivers --- referring to both by the numbers, something NASCAR fans will relate to. With any of the numbered cars, you can touch the screen to get a photo and bio of the driver. And at bonus time, you’re in the driver’s seat, trying to accelerate and pass other drivers to collect a bigger prize. Regardless of whether you’re a NASCAR fan, you’ll feel then need for speed.

Spielo International always has some fun takes on the slots, and I laughed my way through Plants vs. Zombies. There’s a three-level progressive jackpot, and a bonus event that lines up plants at one end of the graveyard, and zombies at the other. Can the zombies make it past the plants? It depends on which defenses come up randomly for the given round.

Plants vs. Zombies come to Spielo from the casual games world under its new license with PopCap games. Some of the most popular online free-play games come from PopCap, including the megahit Zuma and Bejeweled. I tested all three at G2E. Zuma incorporated not only five different colored power frogs that can add wild symbols to boost wins on the main screen, but also a three-level progressive jackpot. The original free game is skill-heavy. That’s incorporated in to Spielo’s version in a bonus battle in which you can either be the frog, and take direct action, or watch the frog, and let the game take over.

Similarly, Bejeweled has three skill bonuses and three corresponding chance bonuses. Do you want to make your own choices to clear gem combinations, or let automated selection do the trick? I find the skill-based play more fun, but there’s no reason to be intimidated if you’d rather just let the slot results speak for themselves.

And speaking of fun on slots, I laughed out loud during Aruze Gaming’s Knight of La Mancha. Don Quixote went tilting at windmills … and the windmill crumpled to the ground, stones, mortar and all. Sancho Panza jumped in triumph. Is the windmill supposed to lose?

That’s just one of a number of bonus events that include both free spins and second-screen pick’em-style games. When you get a spin of the wheel atop the main game, it can award you bonus credits, free spins or take you to other events, You could win the Book Bonus, or the Princess Bonus, where your credit award depends on the princess chosen. Best of all, you could wind up in the Challenge for Jackpot, and tilt at that windmill.

Aruze delved into literature and folklore for several new games this time around, including D’Artagnan and the Musketeers, Aladdin and the Lamp, and Alibaba. Say “Open sesame,” and fight off those animated thieves to add some treasure to your credit meter.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (; Twitter (@GrochowskiJ) and at
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, with podcasts at Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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