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Best of Pam Droog

Gaming Guru


Play B-I-N-G-O to Win M-O-N-E-Y

14 August 2004

As slot machines get more sophisticated, the game-within-a-game concept seems to be more prevalent: Monopoly, Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit are good examples. Other video reel slots incorporate generic, classic games that everyone knows, like tic-tac-toe, lotto and today's subject, bingo.

I like IGT's video-reel version of bingo, Five-Card Instant Bingo, for a lot of reasons. I like the cheesy game-show music in the background, plus the busy-ness of the screen with its symbols and bingo cards below each of the five rows. The symbols themselves are up to IGT's usual wackiness, including five "typical" bingo players: an elderly matron, an intellectual pipe-smoking guy, a doofus muscle man, a blonde bimbo and a complete lunatic with big glasses and a hat. At various times they all comment on the proceedings ("Baby, show me the money!" says the blonde bimbo) or they do something in keeping with their character (the complete lunatic twirls around screaming "Aye yie yie!").

Other symbols are a watermelon, lemon meringue pie, cheese cake, ice cream sundae and cherry pie, which, I assume, represent the outrageously delicious food you usually find at a bingo tournament, especially one in a church hall or VFW.

As usual, to get started, insert your money, token or credit voucher, place your bet (how many lines you want to play at how many credits per line) and read all the instructions. Then roll the cage! On each spin, occasionally a bingo ball shows up next to a symbol. If the number on the ball matches a number on the bingo card at the bottom of the row, the ball bounces down to cover that number on the card.

Things proceed in this way until four numbers are covered, then you're at SET (as real bingo players know). Get one more match and you hit BINGO, winning extra credits. When I hit a bingo, the doofus muscle man told me, "Say, that's swell."

You get to play the Two Choice Bingo Bonus game when you line up three bingo card symbols on reels 1, 2 and 3. "Get ready to bingo!" says the voice within the machine. The two choices are: 1) choose a bingo pattern from the 12 choices displayed on the right-hand side of the screen. The one you pick is then enlarged on the left-hand side, revealing the credits you have won. 2) choose if you will keep the credits you've won or try for more. For the sake of research I chose to try again and ended up with fewer credits but those few seconds of anticipation were worth it.

You can also win with scatter pays, which are the bingo cage symbols. If two of them appear, you win two times your wager. If four appear, you win 25 times and if five appear, you win 100 times your wager. And there's more! If the bingo star symbols spell out BINGO on a payline with max coins bet, you take home the big-bingo award.

I said earlier I like Five Card Instant Bingo for a lot of reasons and the main one is that this slot combines one mindless game inside another. Really, you don't have to think when you play bingo or slots; sure, occasionally on a slot machine you do have to make a choice to punch this button or that. Still, it's a nice break from all the consequential choices we have to make in our daily lives. Now what's that grand prize for the cover-all at the Lion's Club bingo?