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Best of Pam Droog

Gaming Guru


Jackpot Party and Reel 'Em In Are Oldies But Still Pretty Goodies

19 April 2004

Isn't it remarkable how, in just a few short years, video slot machines have evolved into the technological wonders they are today? Double and triple bonuses, bonuses-within-bonuses, crazy sound effects, movie and TV show clips, celebrity voices and so much more are built into the newer games. Thinking about the mind-boggling advances and choices available to slot players these days, I decided to take a fond look back at a couple of video slots that were there in the beginning: Jackpot Party and Reel 'Em In, both by WMS Gaming.

In 1998 when Jackpot Party came out, I was the public relations manager at Station Casino St. Charles (now Ameristar). I'll never forget the response to this new video-game-style slot; it was almost revolutionary! Players stood in line to try out this incredible game complete with video-screen action and the chance to win bonus credits.

Well, that was then and this is now--and by today's standards, Jackpot Party is pretty tame, but still amusing.

The colorful symbols include noisemakers with the word PARTY, gold bells, oranges, cherries, watermelon, plums, and WILD FRUIT symbols, which substitute for all fruit symbols. Whenever a noisemaker symbol lands it makes that goofy real-life sound. So when three of them land on adjacent reels, you hear that funny noise each time AND the bonus round starts.

"Macho Man" came blaring out of the machine (supposedly other 70s hits play too) and 30 party gifts filled the screen. You touch a present as credits build until you hit a pooper. Okay, on my first choice I immediately picked a pooper, which turned out to be an alien lurking in the corner who looked me over and said, "Hmmm, you'd make an excellent specimen!" Gee, thanks for the compliment and for the five big points. I could have done a lot better since each gift is assigned a value of up to 100 credits.

Well, I felt much better when on the very next turn the three noisemakers landed again for another bonus round. I picked a present in an entirely different location than before and yep, up popped my alien buddy, instructing me to proceed to the ship for probing. And again all I got was a measly 5 points!

It took a little while but I finally hit the bonus again. Guess what happened. Yeah, my pooper pal showed up a third time. I couldn't understand what he said but I said "Enough" and moved on to another WMS classic, Reel 'Em In.

Reel 'Em In is a year younger than Jackpot Party and that year really made a big difference; there's a lot more to win and to watch on the newer game. It comes in a tall cabinet with a top screen featuring five people fishing--the usual suspects including weirdos and a diversity of races, ages and genders. Symbols are bobbers, a fishing hat, fish with funny expressions, lures, worms, a big-eyed oyster, dragonflies and a bottle with a message inside.

Besides the second screen, what made Reel 'Em In an instant success was how the basic Fishing Bonus can lead to several other bonus opportunities. The Fishing Bonus starts when three or more dragonflies or two different lures land in any position on adjacent reels. After you choose a fisherman, you can watch him/her fishing on the top screen, while on the lower screen, you can see what's going on beneath the surface--like the old tire, sunken boat and other junk laying around, plus fish fussing over your angler's hook. Mine pulled up a frog in a boot and I won 90 credits.

Now if your fisherman reels in a fish, you win 4-500 times your total bet. If a ruler appears in the corner of a lure symbol, you can throw the thing back and hopefully catch the Legendary Fish worth 150-500 times your total bet.

Furthermore, if your fisherman reels in a bottle with a message in it, you will win a fishing contest or a trip to a vacation lake. During the contest, all the characters catch five fish each and you win the total of their catches, which are 1-15 times your total bet each, plus a bonus based on where your fisherman ranked.

The vacation lake bonus consists of selecting a postcard from one of several lovely fishing lakes and winning 40-2000 times your total bet.

I didn't get the Legendary Fish or even a picture postcard but, as usual, I thoroughly enjoyed Reel 'Em In. It's a game which I think has kept up with the times very well. On the other hand, although Jackpot Party is more limited, technologically speaking, I still see plenty of them in casinos. Obviously, players still like to play them and that's what it's all about.