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Best of John Grochowski

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Test your ESP with IGT's Ghostbusters slot machine

28 December 2010

Players know slot machines as tests of luck, with a few rare games incorporating tests of skill.

Tests of psychic power? Well, as much as I'd like to try a little mind over matter, reel or virtual, I've never been able to either influence or predict outcome.

Still, I was ready to get into the spirit of things at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas when International Game Technology public relations representatives Jaclyn March and Shelle Murach guided me to the new Ghostbusters slot machine.

With sights and sounds from the film favorite, Ghostbusters has a haunted house full of bonus events. The mischievous green Slimer character acts as host of the game, sometimes jumping into the giant overhead screen to indicate which bonus you're about to play. He grins, he slimes, and in the Ballroom Bonus, if you don't start choosing tables, chandeliers and other ghostly hiding places quickly enough, he'll start dancing, demanding that you pay attention.

One of the fun things about seeing new games at G2E is that the manufacturers have them set up to launch bonus events at the turn of the key or a touch of the screen. I did pretty well in the Ballroom Bonus, sniffing out and locking up half a dozen spirits.

Then it was time to reach for that extra sense. When March said, "Which one would you like to try now? Let's try the Psychic Bonus," I was ready to divine the future.

One card with symbols of the type used to test ESP was turned face down, while two were turned face up. It was my job to determine whether the face down card matched the face up card on the left or on the right. I made a pick by touching a card — and missed. A meter on the right side of the screen went into action.

"Oh, I hope it gives you another chance," said March.

The arrow on the meter strained hard into the red zone, force its way back down, moved back and forth, before finally springing back to the right. I got to pick again:

"Oh no! You missed again!"

Again the arrow on the meter did its thing, and again I got one more chance.

"I don't believe it! Three in a row!"

Yep. Despite March's best wishes, I just didn't have the old ESP going. But third time was neither charm nor failure, for once more the meter allowed me to try again.

"You missed again!"

Indeed, I did. Even with the misses, bonus credits kept piling up. It was fun, there were some winnings. And I'll be eager to try it again as soon as it reaches the casinos. It just seems that on this day, my psychic powers didn't stand a ghost of a chance.

** * ** * **

Ghostbusters, like almost all slot machines, is really a matter of chance, with the psychic trappings there for fun. IGT's new Reel Edge games, on the other hand, incorporate elements of skill. You have the chance to stop each reel individually, although you'd need lightning-quick hand-eye coordination to really make a difference.

I tried a Reel Edge game called Blood Life, with a vampire theme complete with eerie graphics and reel symbols. Skill-based play is something I particularly enjoy. I like the idea that what I'm doing makes a difference in wins and losses. That's why when playing for fun, I mostly play strategy-heavy games including blackjack and video poker.

In giving Blood Life a go, I started off by trying to go for a big hit. I could just about make out individual symbols as the blurred past, but every so often a bright green 7 would stand out. I decided to make that my target. I stopped the first reel just as the 7 appeared at the top of the window, and it stopped in the middle position. On the second reel, apparently I was a bit slower, and the 7 came to rest on the bottom position. And on the third reel, I was quicker, and it stopped in the top position.

I told March it felt like a victory just to get them all to stop in the window, even though they weren't on the same payline. She laughed.

In the top box, you can play a skill-based bonus event, using a mini-joystick to guide bats around a maze to collect skulls. It's reminiscent of Pac-Man, and my Pac-Man is a little rusty.

I managed to collect one skull before my bat was headed off. I clearly needed some practice, but at least my skills on the maze came up stronger than my ESP. Both are going to take some work, but it'll be fun to give it another go.

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:

> 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