Every year, slot machine manufacturers debut hundreds of new games, and the prime place they introduce them to casino executives is the annual Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. The display floors include the wares of companies that pitch new table games, security systems, chairs, chips and just about anything you'd ever find in a live casino. The biggest, brightest booths commanding the most floor space are those of the major slot manufacturers.
All have games that practically scream "Play me!" Here are five of the best new slots you'll see in the coming year. Most will debut in live casinos before being adapted for online casinos, but you can expect players to flock to these games.
SEINFELD (Scientific Games)
Fans of the long-running TV sitcom favorite will absolutely love the Seinfeld slot machine.
There are bonus events featuring Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer, of course. But secondary characters also are featured, such in the Festivus Bonus. You use a motion sensor to grab the Festivus pole while Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza announces, "A new holiday is born: Festivus for the rest of us." When you have the pole, it launches the Festivus free spins.
Then there's the Soup Nazi, a fun bonus event featuring custom content Thomas recorded in a green-screen shoot at Scientific Games' Chicago facilities.
In the Soup Nazi bonus, cartons of soup roll by on a conveyor. Some reveal bonus credits, others contain a character's face. If you get a character, it's worth a trip to a bonus wheel that's superimposed on the Soup Nazi. Some wheel segments are open so you can see Thomas beneath. Other spaces award credits, but if the wheel lands on an open space and the Soup Nazi's face shows, it's "No soup for you!" and the round ends.
SHARKNADO (Aristocrat Technologies)
What do you do when a shark comes flying out of tornado right at you? Grab a chainsaw and defend yourself, of course. And if the bonus credits mount while the sharks meet their maker, so much the better. That's the way it goes in the Sharknado slot machines.
"Sharknado is a very fun slot game", said Matt Wilson, senior vice president for global operations at Aristocrat. "This has a cult following, and it's obviously a bizarre concept that the movie's based around. Sharks are thrown out of the tornado at you. You swat the sharks for bonuses. All the time, the music from the show is playing."
Features include a free-spins bonus with a tornado whirling across the screen, casting out sharks as it goes. If you're lucky, the chainsaws will do their thing and turn the sharks into credit fodder.
MONEY RAIN SUPER SKY WHEEL,(Incredible Technologies)
The original Money Rain was an enormous hit for Incredible Technologies.
Money Rain has some fun differences of its own. Symbols are U.S. currency, and when you have a winning combination, the depicted presidents' smile. Symbols aren't static; they're on a split flip display. It's as if there's a hinge in the middle of a video symbol instead of reels spinning the top half of each symbol flips down to reveal a whole new symbols.
The Super Skybox version adds a bonus wheel. In live casinos, it's huge, the product of syncing video on screens across four machines.
One bonus event takes full advantage of touch-screen technology. Currency of different denominations flies across the screen and you touch them to collect bonuses."
Some of the flying currency doesn't' award credits. Instead, some bills award spins on a Super Sky Wheel. On the wheel, you can win more credits or a progressive jackpot.
It's great fun in live casinos with features that would translate well to an online version.
WHEEL OF FORTUNE GOLD SPIN (International Game Technology)
It's been 25 years since the first Wheel of Fortune slots rolled out, and they're still going strong. IGT is celebrating with several new Wheel games, including Wheel of Fortune Triple Red Hot 7s and Wheel Across America ? California Coast.
Many come with the new Gold Spin video bonus wheel. Landing the Gold Spin symbol on the reels takes you to a video screen where a virtual wheel spin can bring you credits, multipliers, progressive jackpots or a spin of the main wheel that is always part of Wheel of Fortune games.
One thing modern video slot machines and online slots do really well is to use graphics, film clips and sound to recreate the mood of television and movie favorites.
Everi does just that with Casablanca, a five-reel video slot with a five-level progressive jackpot.
Reel symbols include characters from the classic Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman World War II-era drama of love and redemption. Other reel symbols include film icons such as Sam's piano, chips on a roulette layout and the sign for Rick's Caf? Americain, where proprietor Rick (Bogart) was drawn back into the good fight by lost love Ilsa (Bergman) and her husband, resistance leader Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid).
A bonus wheel spin brings the sounds of the gaffed wheel where Rick enabled a stranded Bulgarian couple to win enough money to leave for America.
A big win with five Rick symbols is followed by a scene from the film as Rick tells Ilsa: "I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world"
After a progressive payout, the machine rolls the scene where Ilsa urges Sam: "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By'".
It's a fun game with multiple bonuses, features and jackpots, made all the more fun by the imagery and classic scenes from one of the greatest movies ever made.