by Joshua O’Connell

The pandemic disrupted a lot of industries, including slot machine development. Work didn’t cease even though offices were closed, and for a while, so were the casinos that would buy these games.

By the fall of 2021, it was clear there was a back-up of some really interesting games that would likely make a splash as they came out, meaning an embarrassment of riches for casinos and slot players alike.

Now, in 2022, those games are hitting casino floors in big waves, and so there’s plenty of exciting new games to play. Many of them fall into one or more themes, with common threads connecting them.

Let’s take a look at some of the common themes many of these games have in common.

 

Multiple Accumulators

If you play slots regularly, you are likely familiar with what an accumulator is, even if you don’t know the term. An accumulator is a visual indicator that goes through various states to show a progression. We know them as pots, fireworks, piles of coins, etc.

Newer games are factoring in multiple accumulators, playing off the success of Fu Dai Lian Lian, which introduced a three accumulator model where there are multiple bags that can grow. Each bag enhances the free spins bonus, and you can get multiple enhancements for a single bonus. You can also in some instances retrigger a bonus with different enhancements.

Many follow the lead of that example, while others mix it up in other ways, including the two examples below.

Coin Combo – Light and Wonder (formerly Scientific Games)

Coin Combo started out with a trio of games, but now has six themes in total. Each features three pots; the red pot remains the traditional jackpot picking pot, similar to other games like 88 Fortunes or Dancing Drums, while the green and blue pots award a bonus of free games or a hold and spin. Getting the blue and green pot to close together will award a taller reel set than they award individually.

 

Smokin’ Hot Stuff Wicked Wheel Fire & Ice – Everi

Smokin’ Hot Stuff Wicked Wheel Fire & Ice

This brand extension adds a second devil character, a second accumulator, and a lot more mischief accordingly. Each accumulator tends to its own picking bonus, which leads to progressives. A Fired Up! Feature can upgrade a progressive won during a limited-time mode. Both devils can upgrade wheel wedges and nudge the wheel to a bigger prize during the Wicked Wheel feature.

 

Multiple Reel Sets

Games like the Wonder 4 series by Aristocrat have long offered the ability to play multiple games at one time, but now the format is proliferating by more manufacturers as the screens get bigger and capable of doing more at once.

Power 4 – Light and Wonder

The Power 4 series is Light and Wonder’s answer to Wonder 4. Each version carries four different games, which can be mixed or matched; you’re playing four reel sets and you can trigger multiple bonuses and so on.

Power 4 G+ Slot Machine

Among the variations they’ve released have been Ultimate Fire Link, featuring four of the popular themes for that game, and G+ Elite, featuring four classic WMS G+-era themes. The latter incorporates a picking bonus to determine how many reel sets you get for the bonus, and the possibility of winning a progressive.

Reel Boost – Light and Wonder

The Reel Boost series is another four reel set variation of games by Light and Wonder that take popular themes, attach them to a four reel set base game, but then have the ability to unlock more reel sets during a bonus round with a lot more potential. Themes so far have included Quick Hit and Fu Dao Le.

Cash on Reels

The concept of Cash on Reels was popularized by games like Aristocrat’s Lightning Link and Light and Wonder’s Lock it Link series. Cash on Reels means seeing those credit prizes on symbols directly on the reels; usually collecting some number, or some other symbols before or after it, can deliver payout of those credit prizes. But how you collect them has evolved over time, keeping the games interesting by offering various ways to play them.

Wild Wild Buffalo – Aristocrat

Wild Wild Buffalo combines two popular themes for Aristocrat – the Wild Wild mechanic, where wilds are only on the first two reels, but collecting them both can deliver Cash on Reels prizes if they land on consecutive reels, and the Buffalo theme of games, which feature clumps of Buffalos on the reels and multiplier wilds in the bonus.

Wild Wild Buffalo

The game borrows from a few other games, such as the Jackpot Wheel from Buffalo Grand, which you get at the top of free spins for a chance at winning progressives. The ability to retrigger with two coins is maintained from the Buffalo series. The wild symbols get x2 and x3 multipliers, consistent with both Wild Wild and Buffalo.

Lucky Envelope – Konami

Lucky Envelope is a pair of games by Konami that has a similar concept to Wild Wild in that if you get the Wild Envelope on the first two reels of the base game, you collect coin prizes. But the variation is any coins that land when they appear are yours; they don’t have to be on consecutive and successive reels.

Lucky Envelope

The two themes have slightly different bonus rounds; on one, Plum Riches, you only need one wild symbol to collect coins; on the other, Jade Wealth, the wilds house the more traditional x2 and x3 multipliers.

This game also adds a progressive pick; like many Asian themed games, wilds can randomly trigger the progressive pick.

Hold and Spin

Lightning Link and Lock it Link were also the original games that popularized the Hold and Spin mechanic, which went hand in hand with the Cash on Reels.

Once you trigger the right circumstances, in a Hold and Spin you generally get three spins to improve your board, getting three more chances when you do. However, like Cash on Reels games, the variety of Hold and Spin formats has been slowly evolving, so it can shake up how a game works and keep it interesting for players.

The combination of Cash on Reels and Hold and Spin has been a potent one, with an increasing number of slot machines on the casino floor having one or both features (many having both).

All Aboard – Konami

This series of games has a common All Aboard Feature that initiates when six or more train symbols are shown on the reels. Those spaces get replaced by coins and a Hold and Spin bonus begins.

All Aboard – Dynamite Dash Slot Machine

The unique nature here is that every spin where you land at least one more train, all the coins on the reels get collected, that train becomes another coin that can be collected, and the standard three spins are reset. This gives you the ability to land prizes a number of times, including some of the flat or progressive jackpots.

Fortune Link 4 – IGT

This combines two popular concepts: Four reel sets are available, each of which can be assigned one of four popular IGT titles included on the game. The second is the concept of a Link Hold and Spin format (which they call Lock & Respin), which can be triggered when three Cash on Reels prizes appear on any single reel set.

Fortune Link 4

The games you can choose from include Ocean Magic, Cleopatra, Wolf Run and Golden Egypt. One small touch I thought was nice is you can choose between a stacked set of reels going down the large monitor, or a 2×2 layout similar to a traditional Wonder 4 layout – whatever’s easier for you to follow.

Familiar Themes

One common trend, standard in anything entertainment really, has been slot developers leveraging popular existing slot machine brands for new variations on a theme. Here are a couple of examples:

Gold Fish Feeding Time – Light and Wonder

Gold Fish Feeding Time

This pair of new slots carries forward the concept of the different fish offering different bonus variations, but this time it takes on the multiple accumulator model of having each fish in a fishbowl. Each fish contributes an enhancement, such as the Gold Fish awarding coins, or the red fish awarding wilds that can lock or have multipliers. Multiple fish will offer multiple enhancements to the same bonus.

Mighty Cash Ultra 88 – Aristocrat

This new version of Mighty Cash brings the series full circle to the original themes that got the game started, mixing elements of various Mighty Cash games over the years. Playing a higher denomination requires less cash on reels symbols to trigger the bonus, and certain cash on reels symbols have a different ribbon color, which could lead to a Mighty Cash Ultra 88 feature.

Triggering the feature will offer a pick yielding one of three bonus upgrade options: Double Up, Extra Spins and Boost Spins, all features that have popped up on other games in the past. The Ultra 88 Feature gives you all three bonus upgrades at once.

Popular Brands

Of course there’s the regular complement of popular brands from other parts of the world showing up on slot machines, given they have a fan base. This year is no exception.

Monopoly Lunar New Year – Light and Wonder

The Monopoly brand is an enduring hit on the slot floor, with games going back decades now, and this latest entrant is another take on the multiple accumulator model for getting bonuses. Similar to many in this style, multiple bags can turn and upgrade the free spins feature together, providing the chance for multipliers, taller reels and progressives.

Wheel of Fortune Wild Spin – IGT

The Wheel of Fortune brand is another enduring one, which recently celebrated 25 years as a casino game series. Wild Spin is one of their latest video slots, adapting Scarab, another IGT game, into a Wheel of Fortune game.

Wheel of Fortune Wild Spin

Along with the collecting of bordered spaces to turn wild on the 10th spin, there is also the ability to land three Wheel of Fortune symbols for a trademark wheel spin and the chance for a credit prize, free games or a jackpot bonus with a hold and spin feature and the chance for progressives.

Frenzy Mode

Frenzy Mode is a newer concept, most frequently leveraged by Everi, where a temporary change in gameplay occurs under the right circumstances, most often a time-limited event. This can yield a completely different goal to achieve for that portion of the gameplay, or add an additional element that would not be there normally.

Cashnado – Everi

Cashnado is a great example of the time-limited events that can occur. The Cash Grab bonus occurs as an additional feature during Cashnado Alerts, which have a 2:30 countdown. The games also feature a free spins bonus during standard mode.

Cashnado

A Key Pays feature, which unlock Cash on Reels prizes when a key appears on reel 1 or 5, doubles those prizes when keys appear on both of those reels.

5 Coin Frenzy – Aristocrat

5 Coin Frenzy Jackpots

The 5 Coin Frenzy series has a coin collection feature, and when you collect five coins, a 5-spin frenzy mode is triggered with a game enhancement. Some games in the series make the middle reels taller for a better chance to win, while others add wilds. Each improves the game’s outcome potential vs. the standard base game.

Conclusion

The pandemic didn’t disrupt slot makers from developing a whole array of games, and in 2022 we are seeing these games finally reach casino floors. Many of the games cater to players who are fans of themes and mechanics that have done well on the casino floor, which reduces risk for the slot makers and gives players a chance to find new games that have elements they already love.

This should make for a strong year for players, casinos and slot makers alike, as an array of new games with nostalgic aspects drive a lot of exploration across casino floors nationwide. For fans of new games, this will ultimately be a great year for finding all sorts of new options on casino floors as these games roll out.

 

Joshua O’Connell is the author of Know Your Slots, a casino website that talks about slot machines and how they work,
comps, travel, 
cruises and other casino-related topics. New and updated content is posted daily.