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by Scotch Henderson

Winning for Dummies™—Bally Gaming
Winning for Dummies™ is a four reel, three coin machine similar to other recent Bally games like “Bonus Line” and “Bonus Frenzy” in which the fourth reel consists exclusively of bonus symbols which multiply or add to any winning combination on the first three reels. The bonus reel is only activated when three coins are played, making it essential to insert max coin on this game. One of the game’s most entertaining features is that the fourth reel, before it stops spinning, allows a quick moment of anticipation when you’ve hit a winner. Likewise it provides a moment of frustration when you haven’t, because it will do nothing for you no matter how it lines up.

The game features the instantly recognizable black and yellow “Dummies” design trademarked by Hungry Minds, Inc. Originally employed as a theme for computer manuals, the “Dummies” logo and its pointy-chinned spokesman, The Dummies Man, has since been applied to such diverse areas as nutrition (“Healthy Heart Cookbook for Dummies”), mental health (“Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies”) and religion (yes, “Religion for Dummies”). I’m not making this up, check it out at dummies.com.

As far as the slot machine goes, it really is an easily understood game, simple without being boring, with well laid out paytables and easy to understand bonuses. Those who are baffled by nine line video games with multiple bonus rounds, yet bored by old fashioned three-reelers might find what they’re looking for in “Winning for Dummies.” The first three reels begin payouts with any three mixed jackpot bars and 7s (pays four coins), and continue up to 1,000 coins for three 7s. The fourth reel (when it hits) adds ten or 100 credits, multiplies payouts by two, five, or ten, or awards “Re-spins for Dummies” (you just sit and watch as the reels spin madly in opposite directions and repeat your winning combination up to five times). It’s a quiet game, with only some minor musical tones when you spin or collect a small payout; strangely it makes no sound at all on larger payouts. I personally don’t see this as a problem, not every machine has to play classic rock songs, make wisecracks, or offer advice on the stock market, do they?

Payback % Range: 88.02%–97.52%. Average Hit Frequency: 20% (every five spins). According to the manufacturer, the bonus reel adds credits to one in every four winning combinations, on average. Top Jackpot: 10,000 coins.

Austin Powers™ Time Portal™—IGT
Austin Powers™ Time Portal™ is the fourth entry in the highly successful series of IGT games based on the Austin Powers™ movies, this one specifically relating to the second film, Austin Powers™—The Spy Who Shagged Me.™ The 5-reel, 20-line video slot features images of the film’s major characters: Austin Powers and his partner, Felicity Shagwell; the villainous Dr. Evil and his son, Scott Evil; Frau Farbissina; and, of course, Dr. Evil’s diminutive clone, Mini-Me.

The Austin Powers™ symbol is wild and substitutes for all other symbols except the Austin Powers™ Time Portal symbol—and it doubles the payout. The Time Portal bonus takes you to a richer time and place when three or more Austin Powers™ Time Portal symbols land anywhere on the reels. You receive a scatter pay and 15 free spins. The reels move hypnotically during each spin, and when they land, all winning payouts are tripled. You’re in for more time-traveling fun when three or more Austin Powers™ Time Portal symbols land during the bonus game, triggering another 15 free games.

When five Austin Powers™ symbols land on any active payline with a maximum bet, the game pays the top award.

Barn Yard™—Aristocrat
Barn Yard, originally produced by CDS and acquired by Aristocrat, is a three-reel game with a top box bonus featuring a large protruding bonus wheel, also seen in similar CDS Deluxe Stepper games like Pick Pockets. It’s a very eye-catching design that seems to attract the attention of wandering slot seekers looking for something different.

The base game is quite simple; you just need to line up three matching bars, 7s, or strawberries on the single pay line. There are no payoffs for any mixed combinations (except ten coins for any three mixed bars), no wild symbols, and only the strawberries pay when you line up two (wins four coins) or only one (wins two coins). Adding to the appeal is the “nudge” or “jump to win” feature: any one symbol positioned just above or below the payline will be “nudged” up or down to form a winning combination, provided the other two symbols are in place. This event is accompanied by a high-pitched and very sincere “yaaah-hooo,” even if you’ve only won two coins for a single strawberry.

Lining up three special Barn Yard Bonus symbols triggers the bonus game, provided three coins are inserted. Four meters in the top box (one for the cow, the pig, the horse, and the sheep) begin randomly flashing bonus payouts ranging from ten to 160 coins until the player hits the bonus spin button, which instantly selects one meter amount and spins the bonus wheel. The wheel contains multipliers from 2x to 25x, which is applied to the selected meter, resulting in a bonus of up to 4,000 coins.

Payback % Range: 88%–96%. Average Hit Frequency: About 30%. Top Jackpot: 1,000 coins for base game, 4,000 coins for bonus

This story was first published in the Winter 2002-2003 issue of Gambling Times Magazine.

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