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Best of Pam Droog
Like a half-order of carry-out pork fried rice, IGT's Fortune Cookie slot machine offers a lot of satisfaction for a little investment. The machine came out a few years ago but it only recently became one of my favorites.
Typically I play the penny or nickel versions, most frequently when it's just before payday and funds are low, but I want to stay as long as I can at the casino. Still, if you play the maximum on this 9-line, 10-coins-per-line slot, you're talking 90 cents per play on the penny machine and $4.50 on the nickel. That's not exactly cheap but it does offer the opportunity to win up to 100,000 credits, or $5000 on a nickel machine. Usually I play nine lines and bet one or two coins per line just to keep all the bases covered.
But besides the fact that Fortune Cookie can be so economical, I also think it's hysterical. The main character, Mr. Lucky, has a bewildered expression that reminds me of an Asian Crocodile Hunter. Mr. Lucky is the guy who answers the phone when you call up for your "Mr. Lucky Bonus" (in real life, he's IGT software programmer Charles Xu). You win that bonus when you hit three consecutive carry-out carton symbols.
In fact, all of the symbols on Fortune Cookie are brightly colored and beautifully illustrated. They include a dragon (who doubles winning jackpots and whose total number of claws means good luck), fan, rice bowls with chopsticks, pagodas, cocktails with paper umbrellas, firecrackers that pop and spell WIN and a symbol that reads either "MSG" or "No MSG" - it's your preference.
Two fortune cookie symbols win scatter-pay credits and three bring on the Fortune Cookie bonus. When that happens you touch the screen to pick one of the three big fortune cookies. While the other two crumble, the one you picked splits open to reveal some cornball fortune (like most of them typically are), something like, "If you want pretty nurse you got to be patient," or "Even though you may be on the right track you can still get hit by a train." Ha ha, ha ha. A Chinese-accented voice reads the fortune to you as your total credits are revealed. On max coins you could win 500 times your total bet.
Then it's back to the action. Each spin is accompanied by oriental chime-like music ending with a gong. If you're lucky and trigger the Mr. Lucky Bonus, you'll get to meet the man himself and possibly win up to 1000 times your bet on max coins.
When the bonus begins, the touch-screen display transforms into the menu for the Family Take-Out Dinner at a typical Chinese restaurant. Then the phone rings and a rather blasé Mr. Lucky appears, saying, "Thank you for calling Mr. Lucky. Can I take your order please?"
He then invites you to pick an appetizer, like egg roll, crab Rangoon, pot stickers or paper wrapped chicken; a soup, like hot and sour or sizzling rice; plus a chicken, beef, pork and seafood dish. Each item is beautifully pictured.
With each selection, Mr. Lucky feels compelled to comment. He says, "Yum yum!" or "My favorite!" Other times he makes some wisecrack like, "Beef noodle soup? If beef had used noodle, not end up in soup!" or "Sweet and sour pork? Sweet like girlfriend, sour like wife!" Sometimes he repeats your choice and makes weird growling noises.
Mr. Lucky has a large repertoire of goofy jokes. They were contributed by Nicke Meglin, an editor at MAD Magazine, and by my old Univerity City High School classmate Bob Gale, who co-wrote the "Back To The Future" movies among others. I guess it's not that big a leap from writing dialogue for fictional movie characters to writing jokes for a fictional slot-machine character.
"Let me make sure I got this right," says Mr. Lucky when you're finished placing your order. As he reviews your choices, bonus points accumulate and are added to your total credits. "Come pick it up!" he says as the screen shifts to two large carry-out cartons exploding with color streamers and a great big Congratulations! Okay, it's not the most complex or intriguing game on the casino floor, but Fortune Cookie certainly is one of the most popular in the low-end video reel category. There's just one problem, the same one that always happens with Chinese food: After you cash out, in a half hour you want to play Fortune Cookie again!