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John Grochowki reviews Masque Publishing's IGT Slots: Little Green Men3 March 2009
Practically since the day my wife and I bought our first computer in the early 1990s, my software library has included versions of casino games from Masque Publishing.
In fact, when I was trying to shovel through the pit I call a home office the other day, I found Masque's Caribbean Stud Poker on floppy discs. I don't even have a computer that runs floppies anymore, so Caribbean Stud is officially on my retired list.
Newly loaded on my desktop and ready for use, though, is Masque's latest, IGT Slots: Little Green Men ($24.99, Rated T, certified for Windows Vista, XP, 2000, ME, 98 SE and Mac OS X). It's a fun one, loaded with popular games from the world's largest slot manufacturer.
Little Green Men takes center stage, and it plays just as you would find it in a casino. It's a five-reel video slot with other-worldy graphics — a laughing moon, newspapers with "Abducted" headlines, fruit symbols such as watermelons with Saturn-like rings and grapes with comet-like tails, and, of course, the iconic little green men in their flying saucers.
As set up on the software, there are nine paylines with a maximum wager of five credits per payline. I played long enough to reach both bonus rounds. Three of the flying saucers bring the Zap 'Em bonus, where you choose saucers to vaporize and reveal bonus rewards, while three newspapers brought the Abduction Bonus, where you pick an Earthling to be transported. When the transformed Earthling is returned, green-skinned, he or she brings back bonus credits. Just like in the casino.
You can take a virtual tour of the slot floor to six different banks of machines, each with three or four games. Different games bring different play experiences. Enchanted Unicorn, where the title character expands up and down the reel to give you three wild symbols whenever it appears, is a 20-line game instead of Little Green Men's nine lines, while the artsy Easel Money is a 15-liner. Each has its own bonus features.
If you prefer good old three-reel slots, Masque brings a selection of those, too. Longtime favorite Double Diamond is presented in its traditional format with one payline and a maximum bet of three coins, while three-free Five Times Pay has five paylines and Triple Diamond has nine.
Three-reel games don't have the second-screen bonuses that spice up the five-reel video slots, but there are some extra features. In Knockdown, boxing gloves that land high will knock down to the payline for potential payoffs, and Haywire every so often will go haywire, repeating pays on winning combinations at random.
Every machine is multidenominational — click the coin denomination on the screen to change. You can set up a favorite games list to get the games you want to play quickly, and you have options on game speed, display size and sound.
One option I really like is the setting for extra high or normal payoffs. I set mine at extra high — I like to see a lot of winners.
There are a couple of things I'd like to see in future editions of Masque slots programs. I'd really like to play all the bonus rounds without wait, to see which I find fun and would like to come back to for longer play. Why not a "bonus rounds only" option? Also, in today's casinos, lower denomination games usually have more paylines than the higher denoms. Why not set the games so that a video slot has 25 lines when you select pennies, 15 for nickels and nine for quarters?
That's just personal preference, though, and IGT Slots: Little Green Men is a lot of slot-playing fun. I often receive e-mail from readers asking where they can find software to play realistic casino slot games at home without wagering. Masque has provided just that, with games that look and play just like the reel thing.
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While we're on the subject of software, let's turn to blackjack. Among the most frequent requests I get from readers is for recommendations for software that will allow them to practice the game, and which will correct them when they make mistakes.
There are a number of fine works in the market, but in blackjack, there are a couple I come back to time and again. One is Blackjack 6-7-8 ($39.95, Stickysoft Corp., blackjack678.com. It'll drill you on basic strategy and for advanced players drill you on counting cards. There are far too many features to list here, but with videos, play charts, simulations, even special casino distraction modes, this is one of the most flexible pieces of instructional software around.
One I've used a lot over the last couple of years is the Speed Count Blackjack Bundle ($70, DeepNet Technologies, deepnet.com). The Speed Count is the easiest card counting system I've ever seen. It uses a different basic strategy as well as a different card counting paradigm to other systems, so strategy practice on other software doesn't get you Speed Count ready. If you don't want to take a $70 plunge, software to practice the Speed Count is included in Frank Scoblete's book Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution ($24.95, Research Services Unltd., goldentouchblackjack.com).
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.
Best of John Grochowski