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Best of Pam Droog

Gaming Guru

 

Surfin' the Slots with Frankie and Annette

5 April 2004

By Pam Droog

One of these statements is true:

  1. In the 1960s, I was too young to watch the Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello Beach Party movies.
  2. In the 1960s, I was too uninterested to watch Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello movies.

I won't say which statement is the correct one, but the bottom line is I have never seen a Beach Party movie and don't feel like I'm missing a lot. However, on a recent stroll through the casino, I just couldn't pass up Frankie and Annette's Beach Party--Bally's big, bright yellow slots based on America's 1960s teenage sweethearts.

There are various versions of the Frankie and Annette's Beach Party slot. The day I played it was on a reel-slot version with built-in bonus rounds. Yes, bonus rounds on a reel slot! The way it works is, hitting certain combinations on the reels triggers a bonus round on the screen. I think this is a great combination since reels alone can get a little dull after you've experienced all the stimulation and fanfare of a video slot. I'm certain as these combo games catch on they'll keep players more interested in reel slots.

Big heads

The glass art on the Beach Party slot features Frankie and Annette's giant heads on top of little cartoon bodies. It really looks funny. One thing I especially love is how the Bally designers handled Annette's trademark chest, which, as you may recall, was rather large for a teenager (Didn't this cause some concerns when Annette was a Mouseketeer on the Mickey Mouse show?). On the Beach Party slot art, Annette's endowment is either discreetly hidden behind Frankie's large head or it's made ridiculously small on her tiny cartoon body. She also has a huge toothy smile that's just so cute!

Game symbols, besides the usual 7s and bars, include the Beach Party logo, a jalopy with surfboards in the back, and the words "Frankie and Annette" in a heart drawn in the sand. In fact, if three of those hearts land on the payline, you win the Heart Mystery Bonus. One of three scenes appears on the screen: Frankie and Annette surfing, driving a Corvette convertible, or weirdest of all, skydiving (Was that popular in the 1960s?). Again, it's Frankie's and Annette's big heads on little cartoon bodies doing these things and it looks pretty funny. The surfing, driving or skydiving lasts about a split second and then you're awarded bonus points.

Let's twist again

If a record--that is, an old 45 with a big hole in the middle--appears on the center line of the third reel, then nine 45s pop onto the screen. Each one represents a 1960s dance: the watusi, the swim, the twist, the mashed potato--you remember all of them, don't you? You select a record and an actual 1960s movie clip comes on featuring a couple doing that particular dance. It's so bizarre, especially to think some of us actually practiced those dances in front of the mirror before we'd ever dare do them at friends' parties in their knotty-pine paneled "rathskellars." Frankie and Annette are off on the sidelines rating the "hippest moves" and you get a bunch of bonus credits.

Here's what the Bally promotional literature says about the Frankie and Annette Beach Party slot: "It's a nostalgic musical romp celebrating the swinging '60s California beach scene, where the kids were cool, the surf was up and the dances were definitely the wildest." Now I remember why I avoided the Beach Party movies like the proverbial plague (and now you know I was old enough to watch them but simply chose not to). The truth is, it was tough to be a California girl when you lived in Missouri. Seeing all those skinny girls in the movies wearing bikinis and their long straight hair and suntans made me feel very Midwestern and un-groovy.

But for a brief trip back to the swinging 1960s, I recommend Frankie and Annette's Beach Party slot. It's very yellow and very funny, and once again proves you can make a slot machine out of just about anything (think Spam, Jeff Foxworthy, Uncle Sam, Fortune Cookie, just to name a few examples of strange slot themes). The machines certainly catch your eye on the casino floor, so give 'em a spin-maybe you'll win!