It must be no mystery to anyone that every country prefers different slot machines as a favourite pastime, which can be attributed to people’s mentality and, not in the least, to legal limitations. Conventional slots (a USA invention) and video slots (originally from Australia) have gained popularity worldwide, so it would be pointless to talk of their national specificity – they are simply ubiquitous. With this in mind, let’s find out what exotic versions of these games are available in different countries of the world.
Our journey begins with ‘pachinko’, a game from far-away Japan. It made its first appearance in the first half of the 20th century and, on the whole, can be compared to pin ball. Players buy metallic balls and insert them into a machine; after that, the balls are shot successively onto the playing field. Once there, the balls bounce off from obstacles and either fall to the bottom of the machine (which is vertical, unlike in pinball) or get into one of the prize pockets on the field. The game’s name is sound imitation: ‘pach’ is the sound that a ball produces when hitting an obstacle. The winnings are given in balls as well, and here the real cunning begins. In Japan, monetary prizes are illegal, so conventional slots are scarce. After the game, a player goes to a nearby shop and exchanges metallic balls for material prizes, such as candies, toys, etc. The next step is finding the backstreet where one can give away prizes and get cash instead, with prizes going back to pachinko parlours and satisfied players going their way.
In contemporary pachinko machines players can adjust the power of throwing the ball, which means that it could well become a sport someday; they say that experienced players can play pachinko in the black. Besides, new games feature three figure boxes which change each time a ball gets in a pocket. If three identical figures appear, the prize game mode activates, with greater opportunities for winning due to an additional prize pocket. The payout level is adjustable, so the owners of the gambling parlour periodically change it; average payouts make about 80%, though some machines could be tuned up to pay even more in order to attract players. This game is immensely popular in Japan, and almost 50 million Japanese play it, with the annual turnover going beyond three trillion dollars!
Similar machines have gained currency in Europe. Those well-known ‘crane-machines’, for instance, where you try to catch a toy, have no monetary prize. As a side note: the winning frequency is also adjustable there, and winning streaks occur at regular intervals. Observant players, therefore, have an advantage. The other type of European slot machines resembles pachinko in terms of functioning: players throw a coin which randomly falls on the playing field. The field itself, however, is made up of two parts: the lower one is immobile and has a movable platform on it. The coin first falls on the platform; if lucky, it will push off one or several coins. Those pushed-off coins constitute the winning. Trying to incline a machine is no good, as it has sensors that immediately block payments if they smell a rat. Online versions of such machines are yet inexistent. Perhaps, unknowingly to the rest of the world, they are already played by the Japanese, but major software developers have no idea about pachinko computerized. This is understandable: after all, ‘crane-machines’ might be much less appealing on the Net than in the flesh, so to say, but what the future will bring us is unknown…
English ‘fruit machines’, on the contrary, are frequent offerings in most Internet casinos. These machines are based on ordinary conventional slots that usually offer one payline, and their ‘fruity’ name is explained by the abundance of fruit symbols on their reels. There is an important difference, though, between conventional slots and English specimen: the latter randomly offer quite savoury opportunities for players. The first is the ‘hold’ option. For instance, you get two lemons and a cherry. You hold the reels with the lemons while spinning the reel with a cherry on it in hope to get another, third, lemon. If it’s your lucky day, three lemons will endow you with a fruitful reward. Another useful option is to push one or several reels so that they move one icon down. Again, imagine you have two lemons and a cherry, but you see that there is a third lemon above the cherry. All you need is to push the third reel – and you’re done! The payouts in offline fruit machines are usually modest, reaching 80% at most, with the minimum level being 70%.
A further development in fruit machines was completed with the release of AWP (Amusement with Prizes) games. They feature a bonus round which is conditional upon a player’s fulfilling certain requirements (as a rule, conventional symbols on AWP reels are supplemented by additional ones; you enter into a bonus game after hitting a certain number of additional symbols). Once there, you can go through several ‘Hi-Low’ prize rounds in succession, where you are given a number from 1 to 12 and asked to guess whether the next one is smaller or larger. Each successful round increases your winning. After about a 30th straight win you reach the top and get away with several thousand coins. You often get a chance to choose the type of reward, which includes money, pushes, or a special prize game. AWP games are popular in English; besides, they are offered by MicroGaming.
As you now see, slot machines are not exempt from national flavour. Not all of them are Internet-based, regrettably, but this is only a matter of time. In a word, if you are longing for new arrivals – welcome to the game!