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Early Slot Machine Games

Posted: March 27th, 2017, 6:08 pm
by scotland
A few old systems have slot machine games. The pull of a joystick is not unlike pulling a one-armed bandit, and video games and slot machines have always had things in common. Why you might think "Who cares about these games?", but they allowed adults to sit down with kids and play together, as well as (or they should be) extremely easy to play. Even small kids can pull on the joystick and watch the reels spin.

Let's start with one. I don't have a Channel F, so this is based on videos and other commentary. The Critic has not reviewed this game / simulation yet. C'mon Critic - give us a review.

Fairchild Channel F Videocart-22 Slot Machine - 1978

slot machine 2.jpg
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I don't know who the programmer is. I'm going to guess that its just a 2k game.

The background looks pretty good really - like a one armed bandit. You've only got a single payline, so play is pretty easy. You can pick a few denominations to play. You can start with any purse you want. You can play an option where you stop the reels by pressing a button, which is unusual in these. Gameplay graphics are okay, but it looks like one of the fruit are firecrackers, for all I can tell.

Unfortunately, the arm is not animated. Man, that is a lot of the fun to pull the arm. Watching the reels is fine, but when you win - nothing. No bells, no flashes, no coin drops. Nothing. That is a big part of slots - not silence. Well, maybe silence is okay because that audio - oh my -- its like a cross between a geiger counter and static. When the reels stop spinning, and the noise (hard to call those sounds anything but noise), that silence is the biggest payoff. Based on the videos, it seems to payout pretty well - actually, far too well. Everyone I watch the bankroll keeps growing. I don't know how the controls work with it. With just a single payline, there is not even the illusion of strategy. All in all, I don't think this one would entertain for long.

Re: Early Slot Machine Games

Posted: March 27th, 2017, 9:24 pm
by VideoGameCritic
I'm up to the challenge! Always trying to figure out what's left to review in the Channel F library. How could I possibly have missed this one?

Re: Early Slot Machine Games

Posted: March 28th, 2017, 7:27 am
by scotland
VideoGameCritic wrote:I'm up to the challenge! Always trying to figure out what's left to review in the Channel F library. How could I possibly have missed this one?

Great! I know you don't like re-reviews, but maybe you could check out your Atari Slot Machine review as well. You did it back in 2000, and its very brief. It also reads mostly like a general review of slot machine games.

Let's look at at that one.
Atari Slot Machine 1979

Programmer: David Crane of Pitfall fame. A 2K game

This game is all sorts of ugly. The Critic gave it an F, readers about a D. For a slot machine, you really need the instructions to figure out how to play. There are 8 various game variations, whether jackpot games (almost never win) or payoff games (more frequent but smaller payout wins), the center only or optional paylines, or 1 or 2 players. For 2 players, both have to press the button to pull the handle, like some sort of three legged race. Its not clear what payline you are even betting on - which one is payline 2?

The one player game is really a race between the player and the computer on who can go broke first. Seriously. That's the game. You are even playing on the same machine, so if you bet the same paylines, you get the same results. Worse, you can see the computer's bet, so once you have the lead, just copy their bet and you will win (by losing less!). If you don't have lead, then you just bet more paylines, and you either lose quicker or you'll win. That's it.

The graphics are dull. Crane abandoned the traditional fruits for graphics like 1970s TVs, a cactus or a dining room set. How much do three dining room sets payout? One plus is that you can tell what these are. The reels spin too way fast, so you don't get that little thrill of "oooohh stooop". That's a big thing in slots. When you win, you get very little feedback but a quick trill of beeps. That's an even bigger thing. When the game is over, the first thing that happens is the screen goes all murky. What?! Where are the bells, the whistles? I want my bells and whistles.

This is really a pretty poor attempt by David Crane (who had already done Outlaw so its not his first 2600 game) for a slot machine game. Sure, 2K is really tight programming, but then it should not have 8 variations, or use simpler reel graphics.

Re: Early Slot Machine Games

Posted: March 28th, 2017, 5:29 pm
by scotland
We can round this out with:
Odyssey 2 Casino Slot Machine 1978


Also called Las Vegas Gambling for the European Videopac. Yeah, that makes no sense that in Europe its called "Las Vegas", but not in the US. Silly.

No surprise, its an Ed Averett game, and also just 2K.

The Critic reviewed it back in 2004, and gave it a D. Fans come in at a C+.

The characters on the reels are just vague ill defined things from the Odyssey 2 built in character set. That's probably its weakest part. The gameplay is probably the best of the three. Its a lot of fun to pull the lever. You can bet any of the 5 paylines - you don't have to bet even the center payline if you don't want to, and it clear graphically which you are playing. You can play 1-4 players, but its the same slot machine but at least you are betting on different spins. The reels turn nice and slow so you get that agony of anticipation. You can adjust the bets from a dime to a dollar. You start at $0 however, so even on your first bet you are in the hole and probably going to stay there. Its a very different feeling than starting with a purse and playing it down. Here I feel like if I go below $100 some bookie is going to send a bruiser out to break my fingers.

The best part here is the feedback from winning. Coins drop into the coin tray, the background flashes, a bit of Odyssey 2 sounds play, and of course your purse goes less red. Out of all three of these early slot machine games, I give the prize to the Magnavox Odyssey 2. Sure, Casino Slot Machine is not going to make any lists of 'Games that defined the...', but its better than the others.

The Winner of the late 1970s 2K slot machine games is .... the Odyssey 2. Yeah!

Re: Early Slot Machine Games

Posted: March 29th, 2017, 9:23 am
by Sut
I never saw the point in video game renditions of slot machines. The idea is to win some money and winning virtual money is not as alluring.

Still they are a decent way to spend 5 minutes. I've only ever played the Channel F variant which was bare bones to say the least.

Fun thread Scotland.

Re: Early Slot Machine Games

Posted: March 29th, 2017, 9:46 am
by scotland
Sut wrote:I never saw the point in video game renditions of slot machines. The idea is to win some money and winning virtual money is not as alluring.

I got ya, and I feel the same. Whats funny is that poker and blackjack should also the same, but the Intellivision used it as a pack in game! A pack in! It boggles my mind that its not a sports game. Not only that, but that Poker and Blackjack game is a pretty well regarded Inty game. Why is winning or losing virtual money so much bettter there?

I think its the almost total lack of real gameplay in video game slots, coupled with virtual money. We are fine with everything else in gaming being virtual, but virtual money crosses a line, I guess. Maybe Poker and Blackjack make up for it a bit with added gameplay. Maybe slots needs another gameplay element, like an option to pay to spin just one reel over again or something.

Seemed like a fun way to look across consoles.

Re: Early Slot Machine Games

Posted: March 29th, 2017, 12:15 pm
by Retro STrife
Well poker and blackjack at least have some strategy involved, so you do feel like you are "playing" the game, even if you don't make money from it. The problem with slots is that you literally just push a button and watch what happens. To be honest, I don't even find that to be fun in a casino...I always go for the table games at a casino, so that I feel like I'm actually playing something. I wonder, in any gaming era, has there ever been a slots game that made an effort to add some element of strategy and playability? I'm sure some offer minor gameplay elements (like the game I mention below), but I wonder if there's been something more compelling.

But since we're talking '70s slots games, let's not forget the first slots game for a handheld video game system: Vegas Slots released for the Microvision in late 1979.

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A few years back, I made a topic in the forums here that reviewed all 11 of the U.S. games for the Microvision. Here was my review of Vegas Slots:

Vegas Slots (D-): Now here's a Microvision game your Great Uncle Fred would love. It reminds me of those cheesy $10 slot and poker handheld games that you used to see old people sitting in their recliner playing for hours on end. I never understood the point of simulated gambling games and, of all the gambling games to simulate, I can't imagine one more boring than slots. The fun of slots is the thrill of winning money; take that out of the equation and your left with some sort of lame matching game (where the actual matching is totally out of your control). That being said, if you want a slot simulator, this game works as advertised. The graphics are crude, but it gets the job done. The "highlight" -- if we can call it that -- is the two-player mode, which is comprised of a couple unique slot-based games, including one where you "bank" your winnings as you go along but you lose anything you didn't bank if you get two cherries, and first to 100 points wins. In this way, at least there is some strategy and an objective involved in the 2-player games.

Re: Early Slot Machine Games

Posted: March 29th, 2017, 4:22 pm
by scotland
Thats interesting. Colorful overlay. Nice 70s font. I like the Two Cherries You Lose idea. Except you have no clue about how likely that is, at least its kinda a game. What does a cherry even look like on that?

I will have to see if there are some contemporary electromechanical (EM) slot machine handhelds. Little battery eating 5 card draw poker machines were popular then, and also EM sports games that use little DC motor and reels, so its basically a slot machine anyway.

Re: Early Slot Machine Games

Posted: May 1st, 2017, 1:30 pm
by scotland
Here is the 1983 TI99/4a slot machine game, called Video Vegas. Its an 8kb game, originally sold for $25.


Here is a brief gameplay video.

There is just a single payline to play. Not much to do, and even when you win its boring. Its rather a poor effort even compared to other early slot machine games -- which is a low bar to meet.

Re: Early Slot Machine Games

Posted: May 6th, 2017, 11:36 am
by astrodomekid
Not nearly as old as any of these, but I wanna try to find a copy of "Slots" (PS1) because it looks so similar to "Best of Slots II" (PC), right down to having the exact same cover artwork. My dad used to play that game a lot back in the early 2000's.