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John Grochowski

John  Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field. Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago.

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New slots on the march

11 Dec 2014

By John Grochowski
Ties between video slots and video entertainment games are becoming stronger, and we’ve seen slots based on arcade classics such as IGT’s Centipede, under license from Atari, and online favorites such as GTECH’s Plants vs. Zombies, under license from Pop Cap Games.

Now Konami Gaming is finding inspiration from its corporate family with Neo Contra. It’s based on Contra, Konami Digital Entertainment’s game of missiles, machine guns, helicopters and action that was introduced as an arcade game in 1987. It found big popularity through the 1990s and into the 2000s through home game systems, including the PS2.

“We’ve built a great slot game that people who didn’t play the original video game can enjoy,” said Steve Walther, director of product management at Konami Gaming. “But for people who were near and dear to the Contra license, we have machine guns, missiles and great cut scenes that remind people of the game.”

Neo Contra is a full-sensory experience, with 3-D sound that will have you looking for the helicopter overhead. And in the pick’em-style bonus event, Konami has built in something special for fans of the video game: the famous Konami Code.

“In the old video game, the game was so hard to complete that the programmers had to put in a key code so that the QA testers could make it all they way through the game,” Walther said. “When they released the game, they forgot to take the code out, so people playing it at home understood that if you entered up, up, down, down, left, right, BA, start, you’d get 30 additional lives. It became famously known as the Konami code, or the Contra code.

“We couldn’t bring out a Contra game without a Contra code.”

In the slot version, when you’re running out of picks in the pick’em bonus, you’ll sometimes see, an old-style video controller comes on the screen. It’ll enter in the Contra code and you’ll get more picks.

Not only that, but the original video game has a lock-on feature for missiles. The video slot has a lock-on during free spins. It’ll lock on the letter symbols — A, K, Q, J — and blast them off the screen, leaving only the higher-paying picture symbols. It’s a clever riff on the original, while adapting the game to a non-skill, gambling environment.

INFINITY AND BEYOND: Incredible Technologies has introduced its Infinity slot cabinet that can transform a bank of idle machines into an attention-grabbing show that coordinates the individual games with their overhead displays.

“What’s really neat is about the cabinet is what we call our Infinity banked lighting,” said Caitlin Harte, marketing manager at IT. “The cabinets that are banked are tapped into our network switch – they kind of talk to each other. So when they’re all out of session, they have the synchronized, sequenced light shows.”

Infinity is being launched with Fortuno the Great and Lady of the Dead. Fortuno is a magician and features popping wilds – a magical symbol explodes into a wild symbol. There are three bonus events, where you can collect Fortuno symbols, watch his doves take over your screen or unlock a bonus wheel. There’s a three level progressive jackpot, but the focus is really on regular gameplay.
“All of these games have progressives in them, but they’re not what I’d call progressive games,” Harte said, making a fine distinction. “It’s sort of an added feature to the bonus round.”

MORE 3-D ON ITS WAY: GTECH has found success this year with its Sphinx 3-D slot, with spectacular glasses-free 3D effects. The games feature a touch-screen slider that enables you to see the 3-D effects in full glory, or mute them in increments right down to zero percent if you prefer flat-screen play.

In the coming year, you’ll be seeing four more 3-D titles from GTECH, including Bejeweled 3-D and Dragon’s Temple 3-D. Both feature terrific effects, but they’re very different games targeted at different segments of players. Bejeweled 3-D is an entertainment-style game with frequent small wins, designed to keep players who are there to have fun with the game in their seats. Dragon’s Temple 3-D features the potential for bigger wins, but with less frequent small wins and bonuses.

“Bejeweled 3-D is a simple, fun game with a lot of action,” said GTECH product marketing manager Mike Brennan, who walked me through a bonus event. “It has cascading reels and four bonuses. We get to journey inside the Bejeweled castle. It’s a simple pick a prize, with four levels.”

Each successful level led deeper into the castle, including a climb into the castle tower with a spiral staircase that drops away behind. From the tower, you can see the sky and landscape, all in that pop in 3-D. And when you’ve finished picking your prizes, the jewels practically fly off the screen — you’ll want to reach out and grab a few diamonds and emeralds.

Look for John Grochowski at, on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at

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