At last year’s Global Gaming Expo, Konami Gaming rolled out the KX43, a state-of-the-art form factor with a 43-inch, Ultra High Definition 4K display. Available for both lease and for-sale games, KX43 features dual spin buttons, a built-in USB charger, a high-powered sound system, and an LED button deck with a “touch-dash” button panel.
The KX43 was introduced at G2E just as another new cabinet, the giant Concerto Opus—featuring a massive 65-inch flat-screen monitor—was released to the market.
This year, Konami arrives at G2E with a load of content for both new cabinets, as well as its Concerto Crescent curved cabinet and Concerto Stack upright portrait cabinet.
And a lot of that content departs from the supplier’s comfort zone to explore new game styles and inventive game mechanics.
“We’re presenting our largest and newest lineup at G2E as long as I’ve been here,” says Steve Walther, senior director of marketing and product management for Konami Gaming (and with the company since 2013). “It’s exciting to see the amount of diversity that’s on our floor, with the cabinets we’re displaying as well as the content we’re displaying.
“Plus, we’re harkening back to some classical game elements, and giving you a new twist on some of what we consider our best game mechanics.”
One of those new twists arrives on the Concerto Opus in the form of Treasure Lounge, a departure in style for Konami in that there are no spinning reels. Instead, the 4K screen shows a Tiki lounge.
When the player hits the spin button, various Tiki symbols slide onto the screen in five columns of random height. Any columns which are tall enough to reach the blue credit prize symbols displayed in the upper part of the screen claim those rewards.
“We did a significant amount of research into the Tiki lounge atmosphere,” says Walther. “There are a number of Tiki lounges here in Las Vegas that our staff frequented, just to get the right vibe.”
The base game consists of hitting the button and getting the Tikis to a pay zone. “It’s a really unique experience,” Walther says. “Rather than having reels spinning, have Tiki heads that come out of the ground, and then where they stop is what you’re awarded. So, if they go high enough to get to the credit prizes, you win that credit prize, and whatever it passes through. If they don’t, you just spin again, and have this nice music playing at the same time.
“It has relaxing, island background music. A continuous music track is something we haven’t done in the past, so you’ll get to hear nice Tiki lounge music playing, you see the Tikis moving up and down, you see the amounts changing, and you have wheels that you’re targeting to get extra prizes.”
If a bonus reel appears in the upper half of the screen, players win either the Tiki Drop Feature, Tiki Rise Feature, or both combined. In the Tiki Drop feature, additional Tiki symbols are randomly dropped across the reel frame, and in the Tiki Rise Feature, stacks of Tiki symbols nudge to the height of the tallest Tiki for added win potential.
“This game features a lot of action, a lot of entertainment,” says Walther. “It’s fun. That’s where we get back to what makes Konami, Konami—that ‘born from fun’ element, what you had for the Advantage Revolution with the spinning reels rotating back and forth, what you had for the Titan 360 with the big ball. Treasure Lounge captures that fun aspect of Konami by presenting the outcome in a different way.”
On the Opus and the KX43 cabinets is Hao Yun Lai, which combines the popular Strike Zone feature with the “Fade Away Feature,” popularized by the hit game Chili Chili Fire.
When any wild symbol lands within the player’s selected Strike Zone, it triggers the Fade Away Feature, which eliminates all lower-value card symbols and leaves only higher-value picture symbols for big win combinations.
Hao Yun Lai also includes a symbol-driven integrated progressive delivered through a new “Pop n’ Drop Feature” that involves stacked fireworks that hang in the upper area of the screen.
Whenever six or more wild symbols land on the reels, a new 1×3 reel set appears with only blank spaces and painted lanterns. Markings on the lanterns determine which stacked firecrackers pop and drop instant credit prizes.
“When you get the Pop & Drop feature, the reels change, and then you’ve got the ‘Up’ arrow or the question mark,” explains Walther. “If you get the Up arrow, you get what’s directly on top. If you get the question mark, it randomizes through the fireworks what you get, and you might win one of the progressive jackpots.”
When you’ve won an award, it disappears and the entire stack goes down. “So, your top awards keep coming closer and closer to the player as you play the game,” Walther says. “Again, it’s a little bit of that twist on some of those famous Konami mechanics.”
Also on the KX43 is a new game series called Fortune Mint, which features coin symbols that transform to random multipliers and jackpot symbols when appearing in a highlighted section of the reel frame.
The Fortune Mint series has two available launch titles: Fu Gui You Yu and Fu Xing Gao Zhao. Both are five-reel scatter-pay games with a spectrum of bonus opportunities based on the player’s selected bet level.
Another game on the Opus cabinet is Diamondizer, first previewed at last year’s show but completely retooled and improved upon.
Konami also is launching several games that are available on multiple platforms. One highlight is Deluxe Spin-der, available on KX43, Concerto Crescent and Concerto Stack.
“The Deluxe Spin-der product has a bet similar to our Strike Zone bet, where the more you bet, the more zones you get, and the more zones you buy, the more opportunities you have to gain extra pieces of the pie,” Walther says. “And the pie builds a bonus wheel.”
Above the main reel array in the base game are three extra reels—each displayed in a single box over one of the three middle reels. The player activates the extra reels by making three extra bets. The bonus reels contain wild symbols, wilds with multipliers and wheel symbols.
When a Wild, Wild 2X or Wild 3X symbol lands in one of the active extra-reel boxes, it will drop to replace all positions in the corresponding main reel.
If six wheel symbols land on the reel array and extra reels, it triggers a wheel feature. The large wheel above the reels displays credit prizes and the four fixed bonus prizes.
“You’re actually in your base game spinning, so you can get six or more pieces of the pie,” Walther explains. “And once you get the six pieces of the pie, you go up and spin the wheel—and this happens very frequently. It’s a fun game, because you know you’re just around the corner from spinning that wheel one more time.”
In addition to wild symbols, when the player raises the bet, it buys extra spaces above the reels to build the pie. “It has very interactive game mechanics, so people can invest in the value they’re comfortable betting,” Walther says. “If they want to bet low on the button panel, they don’t get the extra spaces. They move up, they get the extra spaces. For a little bit more risk, they get a little bit more reward.”
A release available on Concerto Crescent or Concerto Stack is
Vegas Wild Jackpots, featuring a three-level stand-alone progressive jackpot and a tall “Multiple Lines 7-8-8-8-7” reel format.
Vegas Wild Jackpots features a symbol-trigger progressive jackpot chance, giving players a higher jackpot chance at higher extra bet levels. Throughout game play, gold wild symbols randomly transform to red or blue. The Maxi progressive is awarded for red wild symbols on three reels; the Major is awarded for blue wild symbols on three reels; and a mix of red and blue on three reels awards the Mini.
Premiums and the Derby
Walther says Konami will present an entirely new lineup of premium games at G2E. One standout is Silent Hill, based on the Konami horror video game released in 1999. (In 2006, the game was adapted into the film Silent Hill, about subterranean supernatural creatures under an abandoned town.)
“Silent Hill has some of the popular video game mechanics built within it, and has a nice wild bonus where you’re actually being chased by one of the characters within Silent Hill,” explains Walther. “In our game, you are under attack by various supernatural characters that invade the town of Silent Hill. There are bonuses where the characters attack you, and you have to defend yourself from being attacked, and if you do, you win credit prizes.
“And it has a really unique set of graphics taken directly from the game. It shows great on the 4K monitor that’s built into our cabinet. People will really see the full packaging around Silent Hill at the show, and people are going to say, ‘Oh, that’s something new for Konami,’ even though it’s a classic Konami license.”
Other new premium games are being kept under wraps until show time.
Finally, Konami is pumping new life into its iconic horse-racing game, Fortune Cup. That game is a combination digital and electro-mechanical multi-player, arcade-style horse race on a miniature track. It is similar to the legendary Sigma Derby popular in the 1980s, one of the last units of which sits right next to Fortune Cup at the D in Downtown Las Vegas.
At G2E, the company unveils Fortune Cup Derby Deluxe, a streamlined, improved version of the horse-race game. “It has a different betting structure associated with it,” says Walther. “It reduces the number of horses from eight to six. That also allows us to speed up the games a little bit, so we’ll be able to do 50 more games per day with the new Fortune Cup Derby Deluxe.
“It also has a side jackpot wager that randomizes what order the six horses can come in. If you get the exact match based upon your side bet, you win the top progressive level. If you get four or five, there are other prizes associated with that.”
Along with the all the new games will be yet another new cabinet, with an integrated merchandising package, which Walther says will be something completely different for Konami. No other details on that—or one or two other surprises—will be revealed before the show.
Not surprising are new elements for the award-winning Konami Synkros casino management system. Highlighted this year is SYNKVision, the facial recognition technology built directly into Synkros.
But the big news for Konami this year is diversity—and offerings that are distinctly out-of-the-box.