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Publisher: Masque Publishing    Genre: Board & Card
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 300 MHz    RAM: 32 MB    Hard Disk: 48 MB

101 Bally Slots
March 3, 2006 | Sam McDavid

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I should preface this review by saying I'm not a fan of slot machine games. Without free drinks or the chance to win real money, there isn't enough interactivity to keep me pulling the lever for hours at a time. But there are those who find virtual slot machine games a laid back alternative to their real life counterparts. Fans of the genre will find a solid slot experience with plenty of machines to choose from. There are a few quirks, however, that prevent 101 Bally Slots from realizing its full potential.

I was a little annoyed with the installation process. The installer offers the option of a base or full install, the latter weighing in at around 550 MB. No matter which option you choose, the game won't run without the CD. I can understand that software publishers must take steps to curb piracy, but casual games requiring CDs has always frustrated me. You shouldn't be expected to fish through your software library and throw in a disc every time you want to pull a slot machine lever.

Once the installation begins, you'll no doubt wonder where on your hard drive the game is being written. It doesn't ask you where you want it, nor does it tell you where it's going. I did a bit of hunting before I found a Masque directory lurking in my home folder. It's not that it's any real trouble to move the folder after installing it, but the extra hassle could be easily avoided by including an option to choose a destination path.

Graphics and Sound
101 Bally Slots offers a few graphical modes to choose from. It plays full screen or in a window, but you can only select from 640x480, 800x600, or 1024x768 resolutions. This poses a problem because the slot machines are larger than the screen can accommodate. You can zoom in and out on the machines, but even at the widest zoom and highest resolution you can't see the whole machine at once. So if you're playing and you want to cash out, you have to scroll down to see your coins fall into the change collector. The game runs in a window on a 1280x1024 desktop but it's non-resizable, so part of the machines will always be off-screen no matter what.

The graphics are simple but get the job done. All of the included machines are accurately represented, some with rolling jackpot counters. A few select machines feature animated bonus rounds, but the bonus animations don't appear very frequently. It's a shame, too, because they're lively and well drawn. The option to make the bonus rounds appear more often would have been a welcome addition for those of us who get a little impatient with the monotony of straight slots.

If a game is basically just a front-end for a random number generator, there should be plenty of room on the disc to include as many bells and whistles as possible, but unfortunately 101 Bally Slots features the same bell and the same whistle time and again. Quite literally. The sound effects are the same for most every machine. There are a few added to the odd machine here and there, but not enough to keep you from pulling your hair out. The bonus games feature added sound effects, but the sounds you're forced to endure in the meantime will drive you mad long before you reach any bonus round. Thankfully you can turn off the various sound effects individually in the preferences. To really get the full Vegas experience, I recommend turning them all off and listening to your Wayne Newton playlist in iTunes.

For those of you who don't know how slot machines work, yet have somehow managed to learn to read, I can sum up the concept as a three step process:
1. Push button.
2. Lose.
3. Repeat steps one and two.

Of course you won't lose every time, and the advantage of losing on the computer is that you're not losing real money. The game turns you loose with ten grand in fake money, and advances you five hundred for use in the machines. If you run out of money, you're automatically forwarded another $500 from your bankroll. Having ten thousand disposable dollars and sticking them two at a time into machines that only pay $45 or so from time to time can be frustrating, so for those wanting to win quick and win big, 101 Bally Slots offers an option to turn on unrealistically high payouts.

I didn't play all 101 machines, but the ones I did play were all standard casino fare: place your bet and spin away. The nine-line machines offer more betting options, and some of the straight slot machines have a little lever to pull, which I enjoyed, mostly because it added another sound effect to the tiresome two or three others in the game's repertoire. The animated bonus rounds offer more depth and interactivity to the few slot machines featuring them, but most bonus rounds occur so infrequently that casual gamers might miss them altogether. And they're not really "bonus" in the traditional sense. They don't reward the player for anything he did; they come up merely by chance. So you might see a bonus round straight away or play a whole day and never hit one.

Personally, if I'm in a casino you'll find me at the craps table, but for those who fancy the one-armed bandits, 101 Bally Slots is worth a spin. The repetitive audio and limited video options prevent me from awarding it a three seven jackpot, but the bonus rounds and sheer number of machines offer enough depth to keep slot enthusiasts in their seats for many pulls of the lever.

101 Bally Slots
Publisher: Masque Publishing
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