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Slot machines are one of the ubiquitous old friends so commonly associated with the casino environment. From television to movies, few casino scenes are without the always-present beeps, rattles and rattles of change instantly linked to slot machines. When gambling games went digital, especially over browser gaming, it’s no surprise that these old favorites were one of the first casino games to see a conversion.
It’s only in more recent times that digital slot machines began to really emulate the combination of random luck and intuitive skill that a real slot machine could provide. This is a result of the random factor being impossible, for a long time, to implement believably on a circuit board.
This aspect, admittedly, is still not perfect, and until a major overhaul of basic computer technology occurs, that’s not likely to change. However, being ever so clever designers and programmers, online casinos have found other ways to bring not just an equally thrilling experience, but one that’s truly unique to the digital gaming environment.
Themed slot machines are nothing new, just like with themed pinball machines. However, beyond simple cabinet decoration and sound playback being branded, there wasn’t much that could be done to give identity to a mechanical slot machine.
In the digital world, that’s not the case. Gladiator Slots is a prime example of this new direction with slots, pinball and a few other conversions from the mechanical on online casinos. Shaking up the mechanics a bit to start with, allowing not just horizontal matching but vertical and diagonal as well, the strategies and chances for winning, as well as the various levels or types of wins, increases exponentially.
Along with this small but far-reaching enhancement, Gladiator Slots also attempts something that a mechanical slot machine could never efficiently do – conveying a story and involved game play mechanics.
While this early attempt as these features in this “new” medium isn’t as deep as its video game cousins in this regard, it gets the job done surprisingly well.
The player is first treated to a surprisingly well-voiced monologue by a documentary-styled narrator about the spirit and times of the Roman Gladiator. It’s not as long or rich as a discovery channel special, or a theatrical history epic, but its sheer coming from left field will leave the player agog, in a good way.
After the load is complete (and this introduction is finished playing), the main game interface loads right up, with no forced tutorials or obscuring of any of the controls. While a small label gives one-line instructions throughout play, most experienced slot players and computer users alike will immediately know how to begin playing.
The mechanics are simple, yet more complex and rewarding than a classic, super-simple slot machine. Players may bet on multiple lines, and place multiple sizes of bets across them. After spinning, and working combinations horizontally, diagonally and vertically will tally.
The real “gaming” experience behind this comes from the detailed animations from the various objects a slot may contain. Stepping away from traditional casino themes where numbers, cherries and other such symbols are to be matched, in Gladiator Slots, characters and artifacts from said culture take their place.
Rather than merely matching them (which itself does also win), matching sets of them that make sense, such as characters and items that go together, will produce more unique wins, worth considerably more.
Following Gladiator Slots, many other similar digital slot machines have come along, trying to capture that same sense of novelty combined with the addictiveness of slots. However, they simply interpreted the enhanced “branding”, lacking the unique combination strategies and interactivity capable with this one.
Few, also, capture the quality of animations and aesthetic which ultimately leaves them looking like cheap imitations rather than peers of Gladiator Slots.
Of course, nothing is perfect, and there are a few things which could be improved in the inevitable future iterations of this unique concept that its developers will release. On WiFi, regardless the speed and permission, it often requires a refresh for the Flash app to load. This, however, is a common problem online Flash games have, and it takes a few iterations of a given design before it’s usually resolved.
Also, while the aesthetic is solid and uniform and well-tied-together, the use of ruined pillars as button graphics is probably a bit much. In fact, it’s a bit of an anathema, decorating a game themed after Rome’s golden age, with artifacts of the fall of the illustrious empire.
This could be said to be nitpicking, but when a unique theme and set of additional features are a driving component to making something like this unique, otherwise minor visual elements being off can be a bigger mistake than one might think.
Finally, when quality is dropped on the Flash player (which mobile and WiFi users often have to do), sound likes to work randomly. This isn’t that big of a deal on its own, but when the player thinks the sound is turned off (and is wrong), this could land them in hot water if they felt like getting a few games in between busy moments in the office, as surprise samples manage to play.
Aside from these mostly technical flaws, however, this game exemplifies how even the oldest and most simplistic gaming concepts have quite a lot of life still left in them, when placed in the hands of sufficiently creative and clever designers.
In light of this innovation, it will be interesting to see what derivations of slots, stepping further from the original concept, may emerge as a new genre of luck-strategy combination. It also bodes well for conversions of other simplistic mechanical gambling games such as the aforementioned pinball, roulette and many others.