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Best of John Grochowski
There's No Dead Weight With This Anchor22 December 1999
In a lab in Chicago, game designers and engineers for Anchor Gaming look for ways to make playing the slots a little more fun for all of us.
That goal isn't so different from what everyone in the slot machine industry is trying to do. What's different about Anchor is that it's not restricted to one company's formats.
Something for IGT's Visions series? Great. A game that would work with Williams' Dotmation? Wonderful. Something that would be fun for Silicon Gaming's Odyssey platform? Go to it.
Anchor designs some of the most entertaining games in the casino and licenses them to major manufacturers. It turned heads several years ago with Wheel of Gold, the first game to put a bonus wheel atop a standard slot machine. IGT then ran with the idea, licensing Anchor's wheel to produce Wheel of Fortune.
At the World Gaming Congress at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Anchor was at it again with video games, reel games, bonus games and combination games - games that figure to make an impact in the years to come.
Take Strike It Rich, proudly displayed both at Anchor's booth and at Silicon Gaming's. It's a bowling game, with a trackball for the player to take aim during strike bonus or spare bonus time. The basic game has three video reels and eight paylines - three horizontal, three vertical and two diagonal. It also will pay off with four winning symbols on the corners, or in a diamond shape at the middle of the top and bottom reels and the ends of the middle reel.
At spare bonus time, a second screen appears with spares set up on a bowling lane. Pick up the spare and you not only get a bonus, you get an opportunity to make another spare as you use the trackball to position your bowling ball and even add a little hook. Spares get progressively more difficult - in three tries, I made the second spare only once. When you miss, the round stops and you collect the bonus total.
Hit the strike bonus and you bowl three frames onscreen, with your bonus equaling your pinfall.
Not up for bowling? How about a little football? Pick-N-Kick adds a video screen with a football scene atop regular IGT reel-spinning slots. There are two bonus rounds. In one, you simply choose a football to reveal a bonus amount. In the other, five footballs appear on the screen. You touch them, one at a time, to boot them toward the uprights. The more field goals you make, the bigger the bonus.
Also designed to integrate into IGT reel slots, RollerJam incorporates live-action video. Every time a player has a losing spin on the reels, seconds are added to a clock on the monitor. When 60 seconds accumulate, it's time to send a skater out on the jam. Eight skaters appear onscreen, and the player uses a track ball to choose a jammer. A video from an actual RollerJam competition then is shown, with the player's bonus increasing as the skater scores on the jam.
In Monkey Business, Anchor takes a step beyond designing slot machines and into designing slot environments. A bank of machines shares its own tropical setting, with plants, and model toucans, monkeys and other jungle fauna rising above. In the center of the scene above is a monitor, looping a 30-minute video of jungle sounds and scenes. The game itself is on video, with either three or nine paylines, depending on the casino's preference.
Monkey Business incorporates a second-screen bonus, triggered by three monkeys on the video paylines. Hit only two monkeys and you still have a chance to go to the bonus round by spinning a wheel - yes, another Anchor wheel game - and hitting the third monkey.
Video poker isn't ignored. Anchor's entry to the multihand trend is Solitaire Poker, in which the player may choose how many hands to play by stacking cards solitaire-style. Players initially are dealt five cards. They then stack the cards into arrangements they think have the best chance to win after a draw. For example, dealt an ace of hearts, 2 of clubs and 5-6-7 of diamonds, the player might choose to use the ace as the start of one hand, the 2 as the start of a second hand and the 5-6-7 to start a third.
One warning for video poker players: A portion of your total bet follows each card to its new stack. So in the above example, your biggest bet would be on the hand that starts 5-6-7 of diamonds.
An old favorite also has been spruced up in Anchor's line. There's a new video version of Wheel of Fortune, designed by Anchor and manufactured by IGT.
For more information about slot machines, we recommend:The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
Break the One Armed Bandits: How to Come Out Ahead When You Play the Slots! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
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