The Flintstones Slot Machine
You can thank Jackie Gleason for the success of the Flintstones, the first primetime animated show made for adult audiences. When Gleason realized that Hanna Barbera had based the Flintstones on his popular "Honeymooners" show, he wanted to file a lawsuit against the studio. Fortunately for millions of Flintstones fans around the world, Jackie Gleason's friends convinced him that he did not want to be the man who killed Fred Flintstone.
The Flintstones went on to become the most successful and continuously produced animated franchise in history, spawning many sequels and spinoffs including a full-length animated feature film in 1966 and two live-action movies in the 1990s. And now the Flintstones have inspired three slot machine games, including two land-based slots by WMS and an online slot by Playtech. Maybe J.L. Gotrocks, one of Fred Flintstone's doppelgangers, heard a pitch that he liked ("What's your baby? What's your angle? I'll buy that!") and he decided it was time to bring Fred and friends back from Rock Vegas to the real world.
The 2014 pinball-style Flintstones game bowled players and reviewers over with amazing bonus games and video effects. The more recent 3-reel game has also received rave reviews. Players and reviewers alike are anxiously awaiting details on the Playtech game.
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Game Design Features for the Flintstones Slots
It's hard to summarize three different slot machines in one article, especially since the third game has yet to be released.
The WMS games that you'll find in land-based casinos in Las Vegas utilize two interface sections. The lower section on each game is where most of the action takes place. The 2014 pinball-style game features a 32 inch video interface on the lower board. You'll normally see 5 reels with 4 rows of tiles here, but this arrangement typically changes during bonus games.
The top screen plays animations relevant to the game but they are either scenes from the television show or they are designed to look almost exactly like scenes from the show. Characters can also move across the lower screen area.
A physical bonus round wheel tops out this towering game console and once in a while Fred and Barney give it a spin for you.
The more recent 3-reel slot game console from WMS also has two playing areas. The reels are positioned in the lower section. A video screen is centered in the above section and it is surrounded by stylized lights that feature the faces of characters from the show.
Gameplay in the Flintstones Slots
Both the WMS games feature multiple bonus games. The slots come with separate interfaces for "nomal" play and "bonus" play. The bonus games require the player to look up to the second display area where short animations may play out revealing various prizes or prize-determining factors such as random Wild symbols, multipliers, and cash prizes.
These are normal "spin the reel" games until the bonus rounds are triggered. Then the animation magic starts and you find yourself being directed from one screen to the other. In both games animated characters assist you in winning bonus prizes by dropping special tiles onto the lower screens.
The most popular bonus game in the 2014 pinball-style slot is the Yabba Dabba Doo bonus. Almost every familiar character from the show gets involved with this one in one (although Dino has his own bonus game where he licks Fred's face and awards cash prizes).
The signature animation of the Yabba Dabba Doo feature (officially called the "Flintstones Mystery feature") is the way the playing reels expand to include many more rows. Fred appears on his big rock quarry dinosaur on the top video display. The dinosaur pulls on the playing area so the reels extend upward, adding more rows. Then various things can happen. Wilma may vacuum the playing reels with her baby mastodon, occasionally uncovering new Wild symbols that lock in place. Fred and Barney may use the Flintstone Flyer to drop Wilds from the night sky. And Betty may water the grass, flooding the reels with more Wilds.
The characters may take several turns dropping new Wild symbols onto the lower screen and Fred may even add more reels. Eventually the game locks in place and you get one spin to determine what your prize will be.
In the Bowling bonus round you are taken to a screen with a lot of bowling balls. You pick one to reveal a multiplier. Then the game takes you to another screen where you choose a bowler. The bowler takes the ball you chose and rolls it down the alley. You may get a strike or a gutter ball or maybe you'll just knock down some of the pins. A bird keeps score for you. You get to choose three balls and three bowlers.
Other bonus features include Bamm Bamm dropping Wilds on the reels and a Pebble Beauty Contest where you pick the most beautiful baby. There is also a progressive jackpot bonus that may pay a very substantial 6-figure prize.
The more recent 3-reel game combines a traditional mechanical slot-style interface with a hybrid mechanical and video interface for the bonus games. The hybrid section includes light bulbs featuring characters from the television show and during the bonus rounds you look up to see which character will help you win money.
Dino is a more important figure in the 3-reel slot game. He sleeps on a bed beside the playing area and during Free Spins bonus games he may occasionally wake up, dart across the top of the playing area, and deposit a Water Buffalo hat in a collection area. You can also win Water Buffalo hats from the reels. When you collect three of them you look up to see which character helps you in the bonus game. That character then alters the mix of symbols on the reels for you. You can win multiple bonus games during the free spins.
What to Expect from the Playtech Flintstones Game
Playtech tends to use the same basic game design for all its slots but you can usually expect a different set of bonus rounds for each game.
Playtech usually allows you to choose how many pay lines to keep active. Some slot game designers are moving away from this feature. Playtech doesn't yet seem to be ready to lock players into a fixed number of pay lines.
You can usually change coin values in Playtech games as well as the number of coins you bet per line. Hence, you'll have maximum flexibility over how much you bet. The land-based slot machine games typically provide you with a row of buttons that have preset amounts on them. You don't always get to choose the number of active pay lines.
Playtech games usually include a Wild symbol and a Scatter symbol. They sometimes have multiple Wild symbols. Don't assume you need three or more Scatter symbols to trigger a bonus round.
Playtech is also one of the game designers that offers a Gamble button on some of their games, although not all of them. Gamble buttons are only active after you win a prize and before you spin the reels again. You can gamble all or part of your winnings on some sort of pick option. Many games use a simple "pick a higher card" style Gamble button.
Playtech also offers a lot of progressive jackpot games. While that does not guarantee their Flintstones game will have a progressive jackpot bonus if it does the chances are good there will be multiple jackpots up for grabs. Playtech's progressive games may guarantee you a jackpot or at least a consolation prize.
Playtech has its work cut out for it because people will compare their online game to the land-based casino games. But Playtech has a great reputation for innovation and creating high-quality and entertaining games. Players are not likely to be disappointed by the Playtech game.
The fact that a 3-reel slot game was released is interesting. Three-reel slot games remain popular in land-based casinos but they have to add special features in order to compete with the full video games. You can usually expect 3-reel slot games to spin in both directions, lock reels into place, add special Wild symbols, offer free spin bonus rounds, and sometimes work in a hybrid environment. But the more complicated a physical slot machine becomes the less likely it will be featured in smaller, off-track casinos.