The 11 Best Slot Machines of All Time
What makes a truly great slot machine? A great theme that will attract players either in live and online casino. Intriguing bonus events that make the games fun to play. Math that keeps players interested while holding out the possibility of a big jackpot.
As enduring, influential favorites, the 11 slots below have what it takes to rank with the best of all time.
Wheel of Fortune
For most of two decades, Wheel of Fortune has been the most popular slot machine type around.
It uses sounds and graphics from the television gameshow that has been a worldwide hit for International Game Technology. When the wheel symbol appears on the reels, you hear a crowd chanting “Wheel! Of! Fortune!” just as they do in the TV opening. Then you get a spin of the wheel for bonus credits.
It’s an enduring trend-setter, inspiring wheel-spin bonuses in countless other games.
One of the longest-lasting slot games, Blazing 7s was introduced by Bally in the 1970s. It’s still around today.
The attraction is a progressive jackpot that starts at $1,000 on a $1 machine, a level that won’t change your life but certainly can make your day, week or month a lot brighter.
Blazing 7s was designed as the first of the quick-hit progressives, where you always felt like you have a chance to win. When you see games with modest, frequent jackpots today, think Blazing 7s. That was the inspiration.
Another IGT favorite that has spanned the decades, Double Diamond has persevered on three-reel mechanical, five-reel video and online formats.
It has a classic, elegant look with its diamond symbols that serve as multipliers. Each double diamond symbol doubles any winning spin. Two bars and a double diamond pay twice as much as three bars. One bar and two double diamonds pay four times as much as two bars and a double diamond.
Three double diamonds – that’s jackpot time.
On the big-jackpot end of slot play IGT’s, Megabucks was the first wide-area progressive. In the live casino world, that means machines in multiple casinos are linked to the same jackpot. A portion of bets from players in all participating casinos are added to the pot until somebody strikes it rich.
Megabucks doesn’t hit often. But when someone wins, they win millions of dollars. The influence can be seen both in live casinos and online casino whenever wagers from a variety of locations help build a large jackpot.
Today, most slot machines that offer progressive jackpots in live casinos or online have multiple tiers.
The progenitor was Aristocrat Technologies’ Hyperlink, and the theme that helped it rise to popularity was Cash Express. At jackpot time, the Cash Express train starts rolling across the screen carrying your chance to win.
Jackpots are labeled Mini, Minor, Major and Grand, with the Mini being just a few dollars. Everyone who plays very often gets the excitement of winning multiple progressives.
Reel ’Em In
The breakthrough game for video slots in the United States set the tone for online slots to follow.
Instead of three mechanical reels, the standard slot configuration of the time, Reel ’Em In had five video reels. When three fishing lures of the same type landed on the reels, the reels were replaced by a scene of fishermen on a pond. You chose a fisherman to reel in a fish for bonus credits.
Any number of creative pick’em bonuses followed the train blazed by Reel ’Em In.
Cleopatra has a format similar to dozens of other slots, but it has a special place in online slot history. It was the most-played game when online slots were legalized in the United States, in the state of New Jersey,
Cleopatra was introduced in live casinos as a five-video reel, 20-payline game with an Egyptian theme. Reel symbols included scarabs, the Eye of Horus and, of course, Cleopatra.
Two Sphinx symbols would bring a scatter pay – you’d win even if the symbols weren’t on consecutive reels. Three or more Sphinxes would take out to a free-spin bonus.
Cleopatra earned a lasting spot in live casinos, then took the spotlight online.
Slot players have been happily exploring the mysteries of ancient Egypt since 1998, when the European gamemaker Atronic – which since has merged into GTECH and then IGT – introduced the original Sphinx five-reel video slot.
Sphinx was one of the first video slots with a two-tiered bonus round, kicking the fun up a notch from the first second-screen bonuses.
In the Sphinx bonus event, the second screen takes players into the Pharaoh’s tomb where they must choose their path. The right choice leads to the inner sanctum, where more selections bring bigger bonuses.
Players loved it from the start, leading to sequels including Sphinx II and Sphinx 3D.
The Wizard Of Oz
Appealing characters and memorable moments galore have delighted slot players just as they’ve delighted movie fans for generations.
The original Wizard of Oz game has players collecting characters in a journey down the yellow brick road toward the Emerald City. Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow are all there to witness a little witchcraft and monkeys flying across the screen.
That’s led to a whole series of games for players who eagerly are off to see the wizard.
There have been dozens of games in the Monopoly series since it launched in the late 1990s, but the game element players always love best is the trip around the Monopoly game board.
Virtual dice roll onscreen to move you around to board to collect properties for bonuses. The more expensive the property, the bigger the bonus.
When the dice take you to Boardwalk, you’ll love the big bump on the credit meter.
Deal Or No Deal
Atronic spotted this TV game show in its early run in Europe and licensed it for slot play before the show ever spread to the U.S.
The bonus plays out just as it does on TV. You choose suitcases or boxes, depending on the TV version in your part of the world, to try to eliminate low bonus rewards while hoping the big payoff is left for you at the end. Along the way, an online banker would make offers for you to end the round, and you’d have to decide: Deal, or no deal?
It’s a format that seems made for slot machines and led to more than a decade of successful games.