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Best of Aaron Todd

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Top-10 popular culture slot machines

15 August 2011

By Aaron Todd

For decades, slot machine manufacturers have taken advantage of the popularity of our favorite TV shows, movies and personalities to inspire new games and entertain players. Today, instead of just using symbols on reels, machines can give players a much richer experience with video screens and bonus rounds that make players feel like part of the story.

There are a few important factors slot machine manufacturers have to consider when deciding on whether to go forward on a licensing deal with a brand – overall popularity/recognition, fan dedication and timelessness.

Based on these factors (and not actual game play), here are my top-10 slot machine pop culture themes.

10. The Holy Grail (Monty Python)
This International Game Technology (IGT) slot takes advantage of the cult classic Monty Python and The Holy Grail. While the film is nearing its 40th anniversary, it remains a timeless classic for a segment of the population, many of whom grew up with the film and can recite entire bits verbatim. If you know that “supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses and not from some farcical aquatic ceremony,” chances are this slot will catch your eye. The only drawback to this game is that it will have a rather limited audience, but that audience will most certainly be devoted.



9. The Price is Right
One of many slot machines based on game shows to make the list, The Price is Right has a slot presence both in brick and mortar casinos, and online. Produced by WMS, The Price is Right slot machine got a recent overhaul, featuring new host Drew Carey. The game show has wide appeal, and among some folks (particularly senior citizens), it’s must-see-TV. With a run of 55 years on television, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t know about The Price is Right. The game is also available at several online casinos, including Virgin Casino, although the game is not the same as what WMS produces for brick and mortar casinos.

8. Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings, an epic fantasy about the adventures of Hobbits, elves and wizards by J.R.R. Tolkien, was immortalized in three films directed by Peter Jackson from 2001-2003. Ten years after the release of the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, the stories still have an enormous following. Like any fantasy story, there are varied levels of enthusiasm, with some merely enjoying the films and others delving very deeply into the world of Middle Earth, learning as much as they can about the mythology and “history” of the fictional land. WMS produces the land-based version of the game, while Microgaming has produced a game available at several online casinos.



7. Marvel series
Every little boy (and many little girls) grows up playing with, and dreaming of becoming, superheroes. And no one does superheroes better than Marvel comics. Well, no one does superhero slot machines better than Playtech, which offers a multitude of Marvel comic slot machines, including The Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, X-Men and Iron Man 2. Most of the company’s releases are timed with the release of feature films about the characters, so there is plenty of interest in the characters. You can play these Marvel slots online at William Hill Casino, bet365 Casino, Mansion Casino and BetFred Casino, among other places.

6. Rocky
Speaking of Playtech games, the online gaming software company also produces Rocky. A six-movie franchise that spans 30 years, the Rocky films form one of the most popular sports series in film history. With a huge number of fans, Rocky is sure to get the attention of a good number of slots players. And who wouldn’t like to root for the underdog and take out villains like Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago while spinning the reels?

While there is a Rocky slot that has been available in brick and mortar casinos, it appears a bit outdated and may be tough to find.

5. The Hangover
As a film, The Hangover introduced us to memorable characters and unforgettable lines, and helped us remember everything that we love about Las Vegas. So it’s no surprise that the movie spawned a quite popular slot machine, produced by IGT. While it’s doubtful that The Hangover will have the staying power among fans that film franchises like Lord of the Rings and Rocky have, its link to Las Vegas gives it an added advantage as a slot machine.



4. Deal or no Deal
Watch the show once and you know it’s a simple premise: reveal the contents of a suitcase and the banker will make an offer based on what dollar amounts remain. People watching from home like to think about what they would do in the players’ situation. In Atronic’s version of the game, players can access a bonus round where they get to choose a case and play the game. It’s the ultimate crossover game, allowing players to feel like they’re on the show while spinning away. And while the game’s popularity has faded a bit, it’s still an easily understood game with a legion of fans. The game is also available online at Jackpotjoy.

3. Star Trek
There’s no bigger franchise in television or film than Star Trek. Now celebrating its 45th year, Star Trek has had six television series totaling 30 seasons and produced 11 feature films. And there’s a legion of fans who knows every inch of the Star Trek universe. These fans, many of whom may attend a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, are so dedicated that they might not even be slot players, but will be attracted to the WMS Star Trek slots based solely on their connection to the franchise. Now that’s a powerful connection. You can also play a new Star Trek online slot based on the 2009 J.J. Abrams film, produced by IGT, at Paddy Power Casino and Virgin Casino.

2. Monopoly
While Star Trek may serve a niche audience, the universality of the Monopoly franchise is the reason WMS created a game around the man with the monocle. Just about everyone has played the board game at one time or another, and the franchise is almost as big as the game itself with its tie-in to McDonald’s during the fast-food chain’s regular promotion.

1. Wheel of Fortune
Another game show makes the list, and IGT’s Wheel of Fortune wins the prize as the top franchise-based slot machine for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it’s an easy game show to watch and play along with. Secondly, if you’ve ever been to Las Vegas, you know that Wheel of Fortune slots are omnipresent. They’re in the airport. They’re in the casino where you’re staying. They’d probably be in your hotel room itself, if there weren’t regulations against it. And they’re popular. Wheel of Fortune has a huge audience, and a tie-in to gambling is almost too easy, with a spinning wheel determining your fate.
Top-10 popular culture slot machines is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and (his personal favorite) Badeuci.

Since graduating from St. Lawrence University, Aaron has worked as a journalist covering the gambling industry and as a communications specialist in college athletic departments.

A native of a small town in New York just south of Ottawa, Aaron lives in Needham, Mass., with his wife and three children. Write to Aaron at aarontodd@casinocity.com, and follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.