Aruze Gaming America just moved to a larger Las Vegas headquarters facility. It is a move which represents the slot-maker’s rapid growth in the North American market.
“As shipments grow, the company grows,” comments Rich Martinez, senior product specialist and marketing analyst for Aruze Gaming. “We see the focal point of the America division growing every year.”
Aruze is growing on the strength of a wealth of recent innovations the manufacturer has launched in a variety of game styles—from the elaborate top boxes of the G-Deluxe video series to the Innovator and Innovator Deluxe reel-spinning lines; from crowd-pleasing G-Link community-style games like Paradise Fishing to G-Station, the company’s popular line of multi-player electronic table games.
This year, Aruze Gaming America, the U.S. division of Japanese amusement and gaming supplier Universal Entertainment, seeks to capitalize on all its recent innovations with new entries in every game category, as it arrives at the Global Gaming Expo with its largest group of new games ever.
“Our game design has been really focused on innovation,” says Aruze Chief Operating Officer Kelcey Allison. “One of the fundamental initiatives of our chairman (Universal’s Kazuo Okada) is that he really wants to be innovative. So, we really focus on innovation for casinos, and how to reinvent a lot of our products.”
He cites the Innovator stepper series as an example—the original line was a new take on the traditional reel-spinner, with large reels backed by multi-colored LED lighting and variable reel speeds. The company reinvented that group with Innovator Deluxe, adding the elaborate top box bonuses popular in the G-Deluxe video series. “We really focused this year on widening the library for that cabinet, in particular,” says Allison. “At the show, we’re going to debut a ton of new titles for the Innovator series.”
In fact, this year, the company refreshes all its game formats with new titles, as well as launching a follow-up to one of Aruze’s biggest-ever hits, the Paradise Fishing community-style game, and adding to the company’s successful line of multi-player e-tables.
Stacks and Wheels
For the core G-Series video line, Aruze is launching new titles utilizing the popular “Ultra Stack” feature, which feeds stacked winning symbols and stacked wild symbols to the reels during spins. “Ultra Stack Poseidon,” “Ultra Stack Egypt” and “Ultra Stack Savanna Rush” will be among 15 new Ultra Stack titles debuting at G2E, bringing the total number of Ultra Stack titles to 25.
“We have had runaway hit No. 1 single with our Ultra Stack Series,” says Allison. “They’re just doing gangbusters everywhere, so we’re expanding that line of games.” Additionally, the company will launch a new game group featuring stacking game symbols and wild symbols, called “Stackin’” and “Mystery Stackin’.”
Also in the G-Series, Aruze is launching “Captain’s Treasure 500G.” A clone of last year’s hit “Dragon 500G,” the central feature is a maximum possible 500 free games. Each free-game bonus symbol randomly awards from three to 30 free games. The symbols can cover the entire screen, which, with a bonus number of free spins, gives you 500.
As with other games in the 500G series, the player has the option of picking a credit award in a range comparable to the free-spin prize if he wants to dispense with all that spinning. In this case, a wheel spin determines the credit award.
In the G-Deluxe video series, new games will be displayed that add sculpted toppers to the typically elaborate top boxes. The cabinet for “Dark Samurai” is actually a sculpture of a samurai warrior holding two swords. “Mermaid Fantasy” is topped by a sculpted mermaid. Both games feature multiple bonus events and a main bonus event on a mechanical spinning wheel in the middle of the top box.
Finally, the company’s new video slots will be accompanied at the show by the launch of a new multi-use, premium stand-alone cabinet. Called “CUBE-X,” the versatile cabinet features high-definition 24-inch LCD monitors, a completely redesigned, ergonomically friendly box, and “one of the fastest processors we could get in the world to run the data,” according to Martinez.
Martinez says the stand-alone cabinet can easily be converted into one of the “Deluxe” games, with the large top box capable of being attached for a 10-minute change-over.
The company will expand its stepper library with show launches in both the Innovator and Innovator Deluxe game groups. In the standard Innovator five-reel series, the company will feature the new “Rapid Shot” series of games, with three initial releases—Rapid Shot Ruby, Rapid Shot Diamond and Rapid Shot Sapphire.
The three games are linked to a five-level progressive, with jackpots displayed on a 60-inch overhead LCD monitor. According to Martinez, the company will offer two-sided signage for back-to-back, three-game banks. The five progressive jackpot levels are won through scattered symbols in the primary game—six or more symbols on the screen trigger the corresponding jackpot.
The title feature occurs when a Rapid Shot symbol lands on the middle reel. That triggers one free game with a significantly increased chance of hitting one of the progressives.
In the Innovator Deluxe group, “Crazy Stars” and “Hot Hearts” will be featured. Both games include a “Prize Selection” feature that gives players multipliers for free games based on a roulette wheel spin—the wheel lands on a credit amount, and the first bonus symbol landing in the free spin event returns that prize. The second bonus symbol in a free spin gets two times the amount, and so on in multiples of two, up to 10 bonus symbols for 10 times the roulette prize.
All Together Now
Aruze has augmented its traditional slots with an impressive lineup of multi-player products, in the form of the G-Station series of electronic table games and the G-Link line of community-style slots.
The G-Station line has seen great success with the “Dealer’s Angels” brand of multi-player video blackjack and baccarat, the “Lucky Big Wheel” big-6 game and “Shoot to Win Craps,” an electro-mechanical offering using physical dice in a chamber. At G2E, the company will launch a new e-table line with “Virtual Craps.”
Instead of dice in a mechanical chamber, Virtual Craps uses a 3D holographic display. The dice appear to bounce from the shooter and roll around in a central chamber. Allison says it’s designed to provide an authentic craps experience in jurisdictions like California, where physical dice are not legal, even in an automated format. “The 3D holographic dice game is absolutely beautiful,” Allison says, “and the game plays just like a live craps game. We’re very excited about that.”
The G-Link series has been home to the games that arguably put Aruze on the map in the U.S., “Paradise Fishing” and “Amazon Fishing.” The two games, which are grouped in banks of six against walls, are equipped with joysticks at each play station to use as “fishing rods” in a community bonus played out on a massive video “pond” created by three adjacent giant LCD monitors. The games both feature “Real Feel” technology, which creates the sensation of a fish tugging on the line when a fish is caught for a bonus.
Around 100 of the original Paradise Fishing units are still out in the field four years after the game’s introduction, and are still drawing crowds in casinos. The second generation of G-Link included both the clone Amazon Fishing and smaller, two-game linked units Rich Life and Sinbad, which employ competitive bonus games on a 60-inch overhead LCD monitor.
The third generation of G-Link, to be available in both the large six-game version and the smaller two-game units, moves away from fishing to offer a community-style multiple progressive experience.
“Players’ Party” is an impressive six-game setup packed with bonus features, video wheels, and a five-level progressive jackpot feature on the big video display. “It’s a totally new spin, and it has nothing to do with fishing,” Allison says. “What it does have is a five-level progressive feature per device, 10 bonus features, and a communal bonus on three giant wheels which are displayed above the six-game configuration.”
A button replaces the joystick. Some features in the remarkable collection of bonus games are triggered through special symbols on the main reels, with others triggered by the giant video wheels on the elaborate display. On the main reels, symbols depict roulette wheels, dice, bingo balls and blackjack hands.
When one of these symbols forms a bonus trigger for any player on the bank, the game launches into a communal bonus for the entire bank—instead of fishing with the other players, the bonus events are games of craps, blackjack, roulette or bingo.
The wheel symbol takes players to the giant “Big Chance Wheels” on the top video display, with slices awarding bonus credits, free games with multipliers, free games with wild symbols or stacking symbols, or the “Progressive Challenge,” a bonus game that leads to one of the five progressive jackpots—a “Mini” resetting at around $15; a “Minor” resetting at around $50; a $500 “Major” and the “Grand” jackpot, resetting at $2,000.
“We wanted a third generation of this format,” Allison says. “There have been a lot of Paradise Fishing games out there for four years. We wanted something completely different as a refresher for that premium game.”
The high-profile community game rounds out a landmark show for Aruze. “This will be our biggest booth ever,” says Martinez, “and it’s going to be the most elegant our booth has ever looked as well.” He adds that there will be “a few surprises” in the display that the company is keeping under wraps until the show.
With more than 220 titles displayed and a booth enlarged by 2,000 square feet over last year’s show, Aruze will have a grand stage for those surprises. And a grand stage for its latest coming-out party.