Aristocrat Technologies has long been an innovator in the way it uses its reels and bonus events. It’s the company that introduced Reel Power, the 243-ways-to-win format based on buying reels instead paylines with your bets.
And Aristocrat launched a trend that became a casino standard when it introduced Hyperlink back in the 1990s through its Cash Express system. Hyperlink, with frequent hit, four-level progressive jackpots, is the father of all the multilevel progressives from multiple game makers you see in casinos today.
The Australian-based slot manufacturer is at it again with a triumvirate of creations that figure to make players, casino operators and competing game makers to stand up and take notice. The new Sons of Anarchy slot introduces Cluster Power, a new way to form reel combinations that will hold your attention until the last reel stops spinning. The Romance of Fire and Rain uses some of the biggest Mega Symbols yet – up to three reels across and eight symbols down – to enable some huge, multiline wins. And Super Wheel Blast takes the ever-popular wheel spin and integrates into main game play, a new, different way to use a game mechanic that long has been used just for bonuses outside main game play.
Sons of Anarchy, based on the FX television hit drama about an outlaw motorcycle club, their lives and challenges, would be drawing big attention even without the new Cluster Power play mechanic.
“The game’s not focused on the violence of a motorcycle, game,” said Siobhan Lane, Aristocrat’s senior director of product management and strategy, casino operations. “It’s about the key characters, and really getting into the depths of those characters. They all have a strong appetite for something, whether it’s being the leader of the gang or wanting stability or keeping the family together. So really focusing on those traits and the family is what the studio has focused on in creating the gameplay.”
Sons of Anarchy is on Aristocrat’s Verve cabinet, with a 31.5-inch portrait-oriented screen, the same cabinet as the company’s big hit The Walking Dead.
On to Cluster Power, where any three or more adjacent symbols can form a paying combination. Matching symbols can be touching vertically, horizontally, in a line, on the first three reels, in a stack on the last reel alone – as long as you have three or more adjacent, that’s a winner.
Having no matching symbols on the leftmost reels doesn’t eliminate your chances at a winner. With Cluster Power, you still have a chance right to the end.
In the same game, Aristocrat also steps outside the box with a No Limits feature. Mega-symbols of the shows five lead characters take up multiple spaces, leaving for the potential for the symbol to land partially in the playing field, and partially out of view. When that happens, the field can grow both vertically and horizontally to accommodate the symbol.
For example, if a Jax Teller symbol is three symbols wide and three symbols deep, but lands so that it shows only one symbol on the last space to the right on the bottom row, then the reels can expand two more spaces to the right and two more deep to accommodate the entire mega-symbol and potentially create extra winning combinations.
The whole package looks like a winner, and slot directors and other slot-makers certainly will be watching closely to see how players react to Cluster Power.
Aristocrat has long been known for its high volatility games that give even penny players the chance at sizable jackpots. In recent years, the company has expanded its range with the E*Series. The “E” stands for entertainment, and the games are built with plenty of eye-catching, exciting experiences designed to keep you in you seat and wanting more.
The Romance of Fire and Rain is the latest in an E*Series line that was launched with games by Dan Marks. Marks, now working exclusively for Aristocrat, formerly designed slot games for High 5 Games, and an independent developer highly regarded within the casino industry for creating games that are both popular with players and high performers for casinos. High 5 has developed games that then were produced and distributed by a number of leading slot makers, including Aristocrat, Bally and IGT.
Among the games already available in the E*Series include Mythos, Moon Maidens, Pearl Warriors, Temple of the Tiger – games filled with fun animation and special features such as Max Stacks, with long stacks of repeating symbols, and Mega Symbols – oversized symbols that can fill multiple reels to enable big, multiple-payline wins. You can recognize any of Aristocrat’s E*Series games at a glance by the purple edge lighting, to differentiate from C*Series – for “core” – games that have blue edge lighting.
The Romance of Fire and Rain adds unique reel spin music and sound effects, and a new 2x5x8 reel layout. The allows for truly mega MegaSymbols – they appear on reels two, three and four, and can be four or eight symbols deep. A symbol that’s three reels across and eight symbols deep means you can win on a whole lot of paylines if you have a matching symbol – or even better, a matching stack – on reel No. 1.
On top of that, The Romance of Fire and Rain features a five-level standalone progressive jackpot. “Standalone” means the progressive builds with each bet on the individual machine, as opposed to linked progressives, where several machines share the same jackpot. While you’re playing, no one else is going to win the jackpot you’ve been building. It’s yours to win – or not.
One other fun feature: Romance of Fire and Rain has Transferring Wilds, a popular feature in which wild symbols on one reel set can be cloned and transferred to another, opening the door to extra wins.
For players who love to chase jackpots, Aristocrat has its J*Series – and yes, the “J” is for “jackpot.” The latest innovation in the J*Series is Super Wheel Blast, and it’s a giant leap. A look around the casino will tell you that wheel spins are one of the most popular features around. But the wheels are used as bonus events, extras appended to the games without really being incorporated into the main game.
Super Wheel Blast, which will have several game themes including the initial Miss Liberty, is different. The wheel is fully integrated into the game. It doesn’t just award credits or tell you what bonus event you’re getting after bonus time has been launched. It interacts with the reels during base-game play to multiply winning spins, add wild symbols to the reels and more.
Super Wheel Blast games have an unusual, attractive look. The five video reels are three symbols deep on the first reel and fifth reels, ad four deep on the middle three, and the onscreen layout also includes a dual video wheel, with an inner wheel and outer wheel. Each of the two base games in the initial release has four potential awards, with free games and a jackpot wheel in addition to the multipliers and extra wilds.
To trigger the wheel, players need to get wild symbols to land on reels 2, 3 and 4. Simple, right? Wilds appear in stacks as well as individually.
It’s creative, fun, adds to your potential playing time and gives you frequent chances at jackpots. That’s a combination players are sure to love.
by John Grochowski