Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: The Star Trek Slot Machine
a new pop culture blogumn Jersey Joe
Captain’s Log… Stardate May 2010. This week marks the official launch of the Jersey Joe blogumn. It’s continuing mission… to explore strange new ideas, to seek out new ideas and new points of discussion, to boldly go where no blogumn has gone before!
I must admit – I simply love Star Trek. It’s a darn fine show. I loved all the versions with the exception of Enterprise, which I watched, but thought the writing and acting were weak.
Another thing I enjoy are slot machines. They too are just plain fun and really have taken a technological jump forward over the past few years.
In 2008, I spent my 30th birthday with my closest friends in Las Vegas. In fact, it was one of those trips that you simply dream of. Thinking about it now, brings an instant smile to my face. Now, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so I won’t go into those details, but one of the highlights of the trip was getting to experience for the first time ever, the Star Trek slot machine!
Now, before I go on. We are talking about gambling. I’m not saying run out and blow the mortgage at the nearest casino. What you spend is up to you. Just make sure that if you put that twenty dollar bill in the machine, you can actually afford to lose it. The odds are stacked against you, so this basically has to be considered disposable income. Don’t take the next meal out of a kid’s mouth for a round at the slots. End disclaimer. Now, onto the fun stuff!
Officially released to casinos in early 1998 by WMS gaming, the Star Trek slot machine has created quite a buzz on casino floors around the country. It originally debuted at the now-closed Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton. It features the classic Star Trek crew of Captain Kirk and the original USS Enterprise. It’s essentially your standard penny or nickel video slot machine. You match up symbols and get paid. But, that’s where the similarities end.
When you first sit down at the machine and after you feed in your money, you are asked to create a login if you want to save your progress. Now, why would you want to save your progress on a slot machine? That’s where the video game aspect comes in. As you play, you earn medals, which allow you to unlock new bonus rounds and episodes. Yes – different episodes!
As of right now, there are five different episodes you can choose from:
• Explore New Worlds – the first episode released includes the Beam Me Up Bonus where a landing party shoots objects to collect credits. Find the salt monster and the bonus is over. This one also includes the Red Alert bonus where you engage in battle with the Klingons.
• The Enterprise Incident – the second of the first two episodes released features the Romulan Minefield Bonus where you engage the Romulans in a phaser battle on the top screen and the Romulan Codex Bonus, another free spin event.
• Trek Through Time – the third episode was released months later after the original machine debuted and it features the Rescue Bonus where you select different beans to beam aboard and continue. Also included is the Vortex Bonus, another free spin event. This is the first bonus round, you must unlock to play.
• The Trouble with Tribbles – the fourth episode was released last year and includes the Tribble Ball Bonus where the tribbles bounce into holes on the screen to award credits. Also includes the Trap a Tribble free spin bonus. Where tribbles get trapped on the reels and become wild as the free spins continue.
• Live Long and Prosper – was released this year and includes the Amok Time bonus where you join a landing party and collect credits for shooting items on a planet. Also includes the Live Long and Prosper bonus, where you earn free spins.
After you choose to login or not, the machine will ask you pick an episode. If you do not have a login, you are restricted to the first two episodes. After you collect enough medals for winning in the bonus rounds, you will then unlock the different episodes. Each one turns the machine a different color and the reels feature different items. You earn medals during the various bonus rounds (usually one to two per round). You will also see your randkincrease on the screen. You start at ensign and go up from there.
As you play, you will come across a number of other bonuses. Mr. Spock will randomly appear and multiply your wins. Scotty will occasionally appear and increase your win. The Enterprise will also do a flyby after a round and turn an entire reel into a set of wild’s creating the chance for a huge win.
Also, included are three progressive jackpots. Collect three Enterprise uniform arrowheads on the reels and get a minor jackpot, four a medium jackpot, and get all five and get the big payout. The government will be looking for you to collect taxes if you hit that one! You also must play at least one credit on each payline to qualify for this.
Add to all of that, a ton of video clips through the entire game. You will get the actual voices of most of the main characters. (Scotty is impersonated… and Sulu, Checkov, and Uhura are nowhere to be found in any clips or wilds.) Most of the voices are the actual dialogue from the episodes. Any new lines are spoken by a simulated computer voice. Not Majel Barrett, who did the voice in the Star Trek series. But, that would have really sent this machine over the top!
The sound for the machine is quite incredible. WMS has placed two Bose speakers behind your head in the chair, which gives you a truly surround-sound experience. You have the control to adjust how loud you want the music and effects to be. I crank them all the way up, because I’m paying to play and I want the full sound experience. I also love how the chair will shake and rumble at full power during the fight with the Klingons!
When you decide to cash out or are broke, you can print a ticket that will act as your login for your next gaming session. Simply insert it into the machine to login with your cash and your game will pick up with the medals you left off with. I actually started my play in Las Vegas and was able to continue right where I left off in Atlantic City!
I definitely hit the most bonus rounds downtown on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. I also got to play quite a few bonuses on the Las Vegas strip and I did quite well at Bally’s. I’ve played the machine in Atlantic City many times, but have only landed a handfull of bonus rounds, with most of those being at Resorts Hotel and Casino.
So, all in all it’s a truly groundbreaking machine. According to the WMS website, a Lord of the Rings machine is also in the works. And they have a similar game based on Top Gun, but that one seems to be vanishing from casinos in a hurry (and without the save feature). Maybe it’s a license issue? However, they are promising more episodes for Star Trek and there is space on the main screen to add more.
The new theme sweeping across the casino floor are machines with big recognizable names. Sex and the City, Wheel of Fortune, Star Wars, Monopoly, the list of games goes on and on. It’s no longer just the old-fashioned reel spinners with small payouts. For a small investment, there is a small chance that the player can hit big. Is all of this a good idea? The casinos are doing whatever it takes to keep you playing. Especially, now that the economy is in the tank and gambling has popped up in more and more states.
Once again, I do recommend playing this game, but remember it is gambling. Absolutely do not play if you cannot afford to do so. They don’t build casinos on winners. If you are going to play, make sure you bet with your head. My best advice is to set a win / loss limit. When you win a certain amount, stop playing. When you lose a certain amount, stop playing. I am not advocating gambling in this blogumn, but I am merely describing my observations of this truly major advancement in not only slot machines, but in video entertainment.
THE STAR TREK SLOT MACHINE
Manufacturer: WMS Gaming, Waukegan, Illinois
Availability: US casinos (not available in casinos that are video lottery terminals)
Average Cost: most machines are in one cent or five cent denominations
JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS: You should definitely give this machine a try and play at least one credit for each payline. Boldly go! Live long and prosper!