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Best of John Grochowski

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New Games from Other Manufacturers

25 March 2003

Having looked at the latest wares from most of the major slot manufacturers lately, I've been eager to move on to other topics again. It appears I was a little too eager for some tastes.

A couple stopped me in a casino, and the woman let me know she wanted more. "Isn't there anything new from Aristocrat?" she asked. "The Aristocrat games are our favorites."

Her husband nodded in agreement, and I told them a little of what I'd seen from Aristocrat at the Global Gaming Expo in September. Aristocrat, an Australian firm that has found success throughout the United States, is a pioneer in multiline bonus slots, and this couple's request wasn't the only one I've received. Several others have come via e-mail. So let's get back on the new games beat for one last week.

Aristocrat's big push this time around is toward a random bonus feature using a character called "Mr. Cashman"--a smiling gold coin with top hat and white gloves. Mr. Cashman links several machines, just as many progressive systems link several machines to a common jackpot. But with Mr. Cashman, the link is for a bonus event, rather than for a big jackpot.

There are five bonus rounds on the link. Mr. Cashman is designed to go with several base games and each also has its own bonus round. On an average of once every 40 spins at the whole bank of machines, the link brings the extra bonus to one machine.

Three of the link bonuses are second-screen events. In one, Mr. Cashman has the player choose between a box containing free spins and a bag holding bonus credits. Another shows 10 stars on the screen--the player touches stars, revealing numbers of credits or free spins, until two stars match. The matching stars determine the bonus. A third second-screen event has Mr. Cashman pull the handle on a slot machine to show a bonus amount.

Two of the bonus rounds are played out on the first screen. On one, Mr. Cashman points to the credit meter to add bonus credits, and on the other he picks reels to give another spin.

Aristocrat, an Australian manufacturer, was a pioneer in multiline, multicoin slots. Mr. Cashman adds an extra bit of fun to those games.

* * * * *

Another manufacturer I'd not mentioned yet is A.C. Coin, which players know largely through its Slotto games. A.C. Coin also makes a line of Mix and Match slots. In the Chicago area, Trump Casino in Gary has some Mix and Match games on the lower level. Mix and Match games are three-reel slots that include a bonus round in the top box. There, sideways-spinning reels stacked atop each other form images that may or may not match for a bonus.

One new Mix and Match slot is The Honeymooners, with images of Ralph, Alice, Ed and Trixie. In testing the game, one round with multiple spins brought me bonus for forming all of Alice and all of Ed, but also brought me the incongruous image of Alice's top, Ralph's middle and Trixie's legs. With sound including lines from the TV show, The Honeymooners Mix and Match game is worth a chuckle or two.

Also new from A.C. Coin is Bowzer's Rock & Roll Party. A.C. Coin put on the full-court press promoting this one. Former Sha Na Na voice Bowzer sang a little of that old-time rock 'n' roll on a stage at the company's expo booth. The game itself is a Slotto variation, with a bonus round that plays a '50s rocker of the player's choice while the Slotto balls are being dropped.

* * * * *

I love video poker in many forms. I'm one of the minority who truly enjoyed gimmick games such as Pick 5 and Big E in their short stays on casino floors. So when I sat down to test Innovative Gaming's Three Hand Poker, I found myself predisposed to liking the game.

After a few minutes of play, I wasn't so certain. On the surface, it's your basic five-card draw poker game. Five cards are dealt from the start, and the player may draw replacements for any or all. However, it's really three hands in one: the full five-card hand, a three-card hand consisting of the first three cards starting from the left, and a three-card hand consisting of the three consecutive cards starting from the right.

That complicates draws. The best draw for the five-card hand may not be the best for either of the three-card hands, and the best draw for one three-card hand may mess up the other.

A table game designer I've known for some time stopped and asked what I thought. I told him I thought the game was interesting, but the strategy would be complex and scare people away for a while. He responded, "I can't say I disagree with that."

Three Hand Poker has a lot to offer, with increased frequency of winning hands. But if I were Innovative Gaming, my next move would be to commission Bob Dancer or some other video poker guru to devise a drawing strategy, and to get it out to the public. This potentially good game is going to intimidate players who don't know how to balance draw priorities.

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:

The Craps Answer Book

> 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