Years ago, in a previous editorial, I pondered how long I would have to wait before I could sample slot games with video gaming/arcade-like play. Well, after attending this year’s G2E, I’m happy to say that is one item I can firmly cross off my casino gaming bucket list.
Indeed, G2E 2016 was absolutely awash with machine prototypes and concepts that promised more entertaining and interactive styles of play for consumers that are increasingly becoming more technology savvy, discerning and, alas, younger. Here are some of the myriad of games that struck a chord, and made me excited for the next step in their evolution:
SPACE INVADERS from Scientific Games—I know, this is not a new concept—Scientific Games previewed the game at 2015 G2E—but it is still right in my wheelhouse because I was one of those preteens who spent hours pumping quarters into the arcade version of this game at the local mall. I absolutely love that you can chose the 100 percent skill option during the bonus round and essentially play an exact replica of the game as I remember it, for actual money prizes. I also admire Scientific Games for including a tutorial on how to play the skill version of SPACE INVADERS, for those of us who are a little out of practice on the game.
Frogger: Get Hoppin’ from Konami Gaming—Confession here…Frogger was not my cup of tea during my formative arcade going days. Still, I can appreciate what Konami Gaming has done with the latest iteration of its Frogger franchise, replacing traditional spinning reels with an all-skill play format that utilizes the forward and backward, side-to-side movement of the original game to cross roads, rivers and other obstacles for points and entry into bonus rounds. Actually, this was just one of many Konami Games that emphasized arcade play; a list that includes Beat Square, Hot Press Winnings and Crystal Cyclone, a large-scale, multi-position game centered on a communal roulette-style gaming feature.
Fruit Ninja from Everi—Not all slot machine/video gaming mashups need to be based on arcade games of the past. Everi’s Fruit Ninja machine was inspired by the mobile phone game that was all the rage just a few years ago. The company has done a good job converting this concept into a wagering game, complete with a fruit slicing bonus round in which the operator can set the actual level of skill involved.
SPHINX 4D from International Game Technology PLC (IGT)—While IGT did showcase a couple of very credible skill game slot products in Lucky’s Quest and Little Fish Big Fish, it was hard to walk away from the booth without being impressed with its SPHINX 4D game on its new CrystalCurve 4D cabinet. Dallas Orchard, senior vice president of global gaming products for IGT described it as “3D technology on steroids,” and he was not over-exaggerating; the addition of a fourth dimension—essentially gesture and touch—adds a rather unique element to the game. Players can feel bolts of electricity, and can actually grasp and move icons and symbols.
If this is not enough to ponder, the G2E show floor also revealed what may be the next groundbreaking platform for casino game development, with companies such as IGT and Gamblit Gaming demoing virtual reality concepts. I don’t know if I’m looking as forward as much to this technology as I did for skill-based, arcade-style slot machines; sad to admit I find this technology a little too new-fangled for me.