Monday, October 31, 2011

Cash Coaster by IGT

Slot machine name:  Cash Coaster

Manufacturer: IGT

Slot Type: Transmissive

Lines: 30 lines

Reel dimensions: 5 reels, 3 symbols per reel.

Bonuses: Free spins bonus round

Rebranded:  No known equivalents.

Progressive:  No progressive.

Author's Rating: 6 / 10.

IGT's Cash Coaster is one of first transmissive offerings by IGT. Cash Coaster offers several unique features. The game pays both right-to-left and left-to-right on all lines bet. Oddly enough, the game doesn't make this clear - confusing me as to how I was winning for a little while.

During gameplay, one or two reels may have roller coaster cars roll over them, turning that entire reel wild.  In addition, there are bonus symbols which will trigger the a bonus round. When the a player gets three of these bonus symbols, they are asked to pick a ticket booth, revealing 4, 5, or 6 free spins. During the free spins, the entire first and last reels all become wild symbols.

Cash Coaster has a line hit frequency of 46% during the base game (46% of spins will pay something). Paybacks are configurable to be between 85.2% and 96.1%.  Maximum bet will generally be 400 credits.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lucky Fountain by Konami

Slot machine name:  Lucky Fountain

Manufacturer: Konami

Slot Type: Video Reel

Lines: Machine supports 5, 10, 20, 25, and 30 line configurations. Most casinos seem to opt for 30 lines.

Reel dimensions: 5 reels, 3 symbols per reel.

Bonuses: Free spins bonus round

Rebranded:  Many Konami games are similar, including China Shores, African Diamond, Snow Wizard, and many more.

Progressive:  No progressive.

Author's Rating: 5 / 10.

Lucky Fountain was added to Konami's lineup of video slots back in 2005. Like many Konami games, it can still be found frequently around a gaming floor.  Fountain features free spin bonuses which can add up very quickly, as well as wild symbols.

Fountain's free spin bonus is activated whenever the player gets three or more coin symbols scattered on the screen. This will trigger the bonus round, which will display a number of coins on the screen. Players pick coins, each revealing a number of free spins between 10 and 50. When a player matches two of these numbers, they win that number of free spins. The spins play out with a 2x multiplier on all plays. The bonus may be re-triggered by getting three more coins during bonus round.

Players have reported getting as many as 300 free spins in a row. One unfortunate feature of this machine is that there is no way to speed up or skip through the bonus round - you will sit there and watch every single spin and every single pay at normal speed. It isnt unheard of to be in a bonus round for as long as 30 or 40 minutes.

Lucky Fountain is categorized by Konami as a low to medium volatility game - so if you need a machine to sit down and play at for a while, this might be your ticket.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Zeus II by WMS

Slot machine name:  Zeus II

Manufacturer: WMS Gaming

Slot Type: Video Reel

Lines: 60 lines. (which requires a 30 credit bet, +10 for the feature)

Reel dimensions: 5 reels, 4 symbols per reel.

Bonuses: Free spins bonus, Hot Hot Super Respin feature

Rebranded:  Part of the WMS Hot Hot Super Respin series, which includes Zeus II, Plataea, Cavlier, Palace of Riches III, Tiger's Realm, Griffin's Gate, and Hearts of Venice.

Progressive:  No progressive.

Author's Rating: 7 / 10.

Zeus II is part of WMS's Hot Hot Super Respin series. Like all machines in this series, Zeus II features stacked high pay symbols (Zeus symbols), stacked wilds, and free spin bonuses. The "Hot Hot Super Respin" feature is triggered when the entire first reel is filled with Zeus symbols. When this happens, the rest of the reels stop as normal, and all Zeus and wild symbols lock into place. Then the player gets two respin, each of which also lock all wild and Zeus symbols. The player is paid at the end of the second respin.

It is important to note that the player must bet an extra ten credits to enable the hot hot super respin feature.

When a player gets three lightning bolt symbols scattered on the first three reels, ten bonus spins are triggered. Bonus symbols only appear on the first three reels.

During the bonus round, extra Zeus symbols are added to each reel, making the Hot Hot feature easier to trigger.  The free spin bonus may be re-triggered during the bonus games, adding ten additional free spins each time.

Because players bet 30 credits to play 60 lines, a higher than average number of spins tend to result in some kind of pay. However, it should be noted that even filling the screen completely with zeus and wild symbols still only results in around 100x your bet - not a gigantic win. Rather, this machine provides more frequent smaller wins of 10-30x your wager - making this a machine one can expect to play for a while if they choose to.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sea Tales by WMS

Slot machine name:  Sea Tales

Manufacturer: WMS Gaming

Slot Type: Video Reel

Lines: 30 lines.

Reel dimensions: 5 reels, 3 symbols per reel.

Bonuses: Free spins bonus, 5-of-a-kind upgrade feature

Rebranded:  Part of the WMS G+ Deluxe series, shares features with numerous other machines.

Progressive:  Casinos may opt to turn on a major and minor progressive on this machine.

Author's Rating: 8.5 / 10.

Sea Tales is part of the WMS G+ Deluxe line of slot machines. This particular machine sports a sleek looking mermaid theme, and oversized bonus symbols, which I personally think look pretty sleek.

Sea Tales features an optional local progressive jackpot - your casino may or may not have it turned on. If it is turned on, you will see the two progressive jackpots in the upper left and right corners of the upper screen. The minor progressive jackpot starts at $25 and must hit by $50. The major progressive starts at $250 and must hit by $500. Each progressive can be won after ANY win - and the chance of winning the progressive jackpots is better when wins are bigger (this means betting higher increases your chance of winning the progressive slightly.)

An interesting twist which Sea Tales (and the other G+ Deluxe machines) throw in is that rather than the progressive jackpots increasing after a certain amount of coin in, they increase after a certain amount of credits have been won. This means that if you hit a long dry spell, not only will you not be winning any line hits or bonuses - the progressive totals won't be moving up either!  In my experience it takes about 150 - 200 credits won to move the progressives up by 1 cent.

Sea Tales has a five of a kind feature, which activates when any 5-of-a-kind is hit, including those using wilds.  During this mini feature, all symbols which make up the 5-of-a-kind are changed to a random higher paying symbol. After the symbols change, the win is paid again at the upgraded rate, along with any new lines the symbol change may have activated. This feature can be triggered during bonus spins as well.

Three or more over sized mermaid symbols trigger bonus spins. The symbols do not have to appear on a payline. 3 symbols trigger 10 spins, 4 symbols 25 spins, and 5 symbols 100 spins. Getting 3 or more bonus symbols will re-trigger the bonus and add the stated number of spins.

Like all the G+ Deluxe machines, this one can go through major dry spells. There's a high variety of symbols and a relatively small number of wilds, so it can be hard to get even small pays. 5 of a kinds, when they do come, tend to pay very well due to the upgrade feature - expect at least 15x your bet when you hit one.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Goldfish 2 / Mermaid's Wonders by WMS

Slot machine name:  Goldfish 2 / Mermaid's Wonders

Manufacturer: WMS Gaming

Slot Type: Transmissive Reel

Lines: 30 lines. Players must play all lines on each spin.

Reel dimensions: 5 reels, 3 symbols per reel.

Bonuses: Free spins bonus, plus 5 separate fish bonuses.

Rebranded:  None, but shares some mechanics with Goldfish 2 - Armada.

Progressive:  No progressive

Author's Rating: 8 / 10.

Goldfish 2 - Mermaid's Wonders was one of the first two transmissive reel slots put out by WMS gaming, coming out in January 2009. The game remains popular today due to frequently triggering bonuses and a relatively low minimum bet. These are often penny machines, leading to a low 30 cent minimum bet per spin.

Each reel contains at least one mermaid symbol. When a mermaid symbol appears anywhere within the play area, that entire reel will become wild.

Each reel has at least one free spins symbol. In order to win free spins, a player must get at least three of these symbols within the play area. They do not need to be on consecutive reels, or be on a single pay line. Bonus spins are all awarded with a 3x multiplier. During the bonus spins, one random reel automatically becomes wild. The number of spins depends on the number of symbols triggering the bonus:

  • 3 bonus symbols = 12 free spins
  • 4 bonus symbols = 20 free spins
  • 5 bonus symbols = 30 free spins
In addition to the free spins bonus, each spin (including free spins) can trigger a fish bonus. One of five colors of fish will come out and give you a specific prize:

Gold fish: Displays a series of chests. The player picks one of the chests to reveal a number of free spins. After each winning free spin, the goldfish applies a multiplier of up to 10x to that spin. The free bonus spins may also be triggered during this bonus.

Red fish: Displays a number of shells to the player. Each shell contains a symbol from the reels. All symbols except Wild and Bonus symbols are present. The player picks three shells, and those symbols will replaced with wilds on the previous spin.

Purple fish: The purple fish gives a direct credit reward.

Blue fish: The blue fish randomly respins individual reels between 2 and 5 times, and generates a multiplier of 1x to 10x for each respin.

Green fish: Displays a series of chests. Chests contain either keys, each of which will increase the multiplier and generate credits, or a squid or pearl, which generate credits and end the bonus round. At the end, the total credits are multiplied by the multiplier. If the player picked all 7 keys, they automatically win the pearl credits as well.

Mermaid's Wonders has a slightly higher variance than it's partner machine, Armada.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gems Gems Gems by WMS

Slot machine name:  GEMS GEMS GEMS

Manufacturer: WMS Gaming

Slot Type: Video (4 games)

Lines: 20 lines per game

Reel dimensions: 5 reels, 3 symbols per reel, 4 games per play.

Bonuses: Gems bonus when any game hits three diamond symbols.

Rebranded: No known equivalents, but is part of the super multi pay series, including St. Petersburg, Nautilus, Valiant Knight, Rose of Cairo, Silver Sword, and Samurai Master.

Progressive:  No progressive

Author's Rating: 7 / 10.

Gems Gems Gems (just "Gems" hereafter) is part of WMS's new line of Super Multi Pay machines.  These machines offer bets of 20,40,60, and 80 credits. Each 20 credits the player bets opens up one of the four possible games on the screen. It is strongly to the player's advantage to play all 80 credits.
When a play is initiated, the main screen is spun first. If the player gets any wild or bonus symbols, those are copied to all three of the smaller games on the right. Unfortunately, it is very hard to get any paying combinations due to the large number of symbols and the low number of lines - therefore wilds are often the only way players can get pays during the main game.
The bonus is initiated by getting three diamonds on any of the four games. Yes - you can get three diamonds on the first game and trigger the bonus all four times (as is pictured above). Bonuses grant 6 to 12 spins, and are multiplied by 3x for each game the bonus was triggered on. (3x for 1 game, 6x for 2 games, etc...)   It is possible, though difficult, to re-trigger the bonus and gain additional spins.
I have no documented evidence, but it seemed to me that wilds occur more frequently during the bonus game.
It should also be noted that the variance in Gems is very high.  You'll likely walk away with nothing - but if you do win it will likely be a large win. Be prepared to dump money into this machine very quickly if you intend to play for a while.