Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20040242323 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/856,860
Publication dateDec 2, 2004
Filing dateJun 1, 2004
Priority dateMay 29, 2003
Also published asCN1296111C, CN1572345A, EP1482461A2, EP1482461A3
Publication number10856860, 856860, US 2004/0242323 A1, US 2004/242323 A1, US 20040242323 A1, US 20040242323A1, US 2004242323 A1, US 2004242323A1, US-A1-20040242323, US-A1-2004242323, US2004/0242323A1, US2004/242323A1, US20040242323 A1, US20040242323A1, US2004242323 A1, US2004242323A1
InventorsKazuo Okada
Original AssigneeAruze Corp.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Gaming machine
US 20040242323 A1
Abstract
A gaming machine of the invention includes a reel with symbols to show a predetermined winning mode determined on the basis of a player's operation provided on its peripheral surface, a display device configured to display an effect image according to the progress of a game by the player, the display device having a winning mode display area for displaying the predetermined winning mode, and a display mode altering unit configured to alter a display mode in a portion of the effect image displayed in the winning mode display area.
Images(22)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(15)
What is claimed is:
1. A gaming machine, comprising:
at least one reel with symbols provided on a peripheral surface thereof, the symbols configured to show a predetermined winning mode determined on a basis of an operation by a player;
a display device configured to display an effect image according to a progress of a game by the player, the display device including a winning mode display area for displaying the predetermined winning mode; and
a display mode altering unit configured to alter a display mode in a portion of the effect image displayed in the winning mode display area.
2. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 1, wherein the winning mode display area transparently displays the symbols.
3. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 1, wherein the display mode altering unit is configured to transparently display the symbols in the winning mode display area when the reel is rotating.
4. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 1, wherein the display mode altering unit is configured to alter the display mode in the portion of the effect image displayed in the winning mode display area, by performing an arithmetic computation on color information of a specific image to be provided in the winning mode display area and color information of the portion of the effect image to be displayed in the winning mode display area.
5. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 4, wherein the display mode altering unit is configured to select an overlay image as the specific image to be provided in the winning mode display area when the reel is rotating, and to display color information of each pixel of a selected overlay image in the winning mode display area.
6. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 4, wherein the display mode altering unit is configured to select an add image as the specific image to be provided in the winning mode display area when the reel is stopped, and to add color information of each pixel of a selected add image to color information of each pixel of the portion of the effect image to be displayed in the winning mode display area.
7. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 1, further comprising:
an internal winning combination determiner configured to select a predetermined combination as an internal winning combination, based on the operation by the player;
a winning mode determiner configured to determine the predetermined winning mode, according to a selected internal winning combination and the operation by the player; and
an effect image determiner configured to determine the effect image based on the selected internal winning combination.
8. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 7, wherein the display mode altering unit is configured to alter the display mode in the portion of the effect image displayed in the winning mode display area, based on a determined effect image.
9. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 7, wherein the display mode altering unit is configured to select a predetermined overlay image from among a plurality of overlay images as a specific image to be provided in the winning mode display area, based on a determined effect image, and to display color information of each pixel of a selected overlay image in the winning mode display area.
10. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 7, wherein the display mode altering unit is configured to select a predetermined add image from among a plurality of add images as a specific image to be provided in the winning mode display area, based on a determined effect image, and to add color information of each pixel of a selected add image to color information of each pixel of the portion of the effect image to be displayed in the winning mode display area.
11. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 1, further comprising a game value awarding unit configured to award a predetermined game value to the player based on the predetermined winning mode.
12. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 1, wherein the display mode altering unit is configured to transparently display the symbols in the winning mode display area except when the gaming machine is being played by the player.
13. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 1, wherein the display mode altering unit is configured to transparently display the symbols in the winning mode display area when a predetermined effect image is displayed.
14. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 1, wherein the display mode altering unit is configured to alter the display mode in the portion of the effect image displayed in the winning mode display area, based on the winning mode determined on the basis of the operation by the player.
15. The gaming machine as set forth in claim 7, wherein the display mode altering unit is configured to alter the display mode in the portion of the effect image displayed in the winning mode display area, based on the internal winning combination determined on the basis of the operation by the player.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO THE RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application is based upon and claims the benefit of priority from the prior Japanese Patent Application No. 2003-152381, filed on May 29, 2003; the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to gaming machines such as slot machines, pachinko machines, arcade video game machines and home video game machines.

[0004] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0005] A slot machine, for example, has a variable display device configured to variably display symbols printed on the peripheral surfaces of a plurality of reels through a plurality of reel display windows.

[0006] More specifically, a control device of the slot machine drives the variable display device to rotate the reels in response to a starting operation of a player, thereby to variably display symbols printed on the peripheral surfaces of the reels in the reel display windows.

[0007] The control device of the slot machine also drives the variable display device to stop the rotation of the reels automatically or in response to a stopping operation of the player.

[0008] At that time, the slot machine awards the player a profit (a predetermined game value) by paying out game mediums such as medals or coins, according to a symbol combination (winning mode) stopped and displayed in the reel display windows.

[0009] A slot machine conventionally known has a plurality of reel drums, reel strips provided on the peripheries of the reel drums with multiple symbols printed in segments on their peripheral surfaces, light sources provided inside the reel drums for illuminating the symbols on the reel strips from behind, and a control means for controlling the light emission of the light sources.

[0010] The reel strips are formed with translucent symbol portions and transparent or translucent background portions of the symbols. The light sources are each configured with a plurality of light emitting diodes arranged in a dot matrix.

[0011] The control means is configured to control the light emission of the light emitting diodes to display a character or graphics on the reel strips, thereby to notify game information (such as a winning mode or an effect image).

[0012] The above-described slot machine, however, is configured to notify a player of game information at the stage where the reel drums have been stopped, through the combination of symbols printed on the peripheral surfaces of the reel drums and the above-described light emission control. For some players, it is complicated and little understood. There is thus a demand for a more understandable notification of game information.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0013] The present invention has an object of providing gaming machines capable of displaying a winning mode and an effect image in an easily understandable manner to players.

[0014] According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a gaming machine including at least one reel, a display device and a display mode altering unit.

[0015] Symbols are provided on a peripheral surface of the reel, and the symbols are configured to show a predetermined winning mode determined on a basis of an operation by a player.

[0016] The display device is configured to display an effect image according to a progress of a game by the player, and the display device includes a winning mode display area for displaying the predetermined winning mode.

[0017] The display mode altering unit is configured to alter a display mode in a portion of the effect image displayed in the winning mode display area.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a gaming machine according to an embodiment of the present invention;

[0019]FIG. 2 is a side cross-sectional view illustrating the relationship between a liquid crystal display device and a reel according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0020]FIG. 3 is a front view of the liquid crystal display device according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0021]FIG. 4A is an explanatory diagram illustrating winning mode display areas in the liquid crystal display device according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0022]FIG. 4B is an explanatory diagram illustrating an exemplary effect image displayed on the liquid crystal display device according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0023]FIG. 4C is an explanatory diagram illustrating exemplary specific images displayed on the liquid crystal display device according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0024]FIG. 4D is an explanatory diagram exemplarily illustrating the effect image and the specific images displayed on the liquid crystal display device according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0025]FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating an internal configuration of a main control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0026]FIG. 6 is a block diagram illustrating an internal configuration of an image control circuit and an audio/lamp control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0027]FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating main processing by the main control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0028]FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustrating the main processing by the main control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0029]FIG. 9A is a flowchart illustrating a general operation of the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0030]FIG. 9B is a flowchart illustrating the general operation of the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0031]FIG. 9C is a flowchart illustrating the general operation of the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0032]FIG. 10 is a table exemplarily showing parameters stored in a work RAM in the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0033]FIG. 11 is an exemplary normal data decision table for use in the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0034]FIG. 12 is a flowchart illustrating operations in command input processing by the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0035]FIG. 13 is an exemplary jump table for use in the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0036]FIG. 14 is an exemplary effect determination table for use in the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0037]FIG. 15 is an exemplary effect data table for use in the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0038]FIG. 16 is an exemplary effect content table for use in the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0039]FIG. 17 is an exemplary specific image determination table for use in the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0040]FIG. 18 is a flowchart illustrating operations in game medal insertion processing by the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0041]FIG. 19 is a flowchart illustrating operations in game start processing by the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0042]FIG. 20 is a flowchart illustrating operations in reel stop processing by the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

[0043]FIG. 21 is a flowchart illustrating operations in winning processing by the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention; and

[0044]FIG. 22 is a flowchart illustrating processing for transmission of a specific image to a VDP by the image control circuit of the gaming machine according to the embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0045] A gaming machine according to an embodiment of the present invention will be described in detail below with reference to the drawings. In this embodiment, the gaming machine according to the invention is adapted for a slot machine.

[0046] [Configuration of the Gaming Machine in an Embodiment of the Invention]

[0047]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a gaming machine 1 according to the embodiment. As shown in FIG. 1, the gaming machine 1 has a game face 2 at the front of the body. A liquid crystal display device 3 is provided in an area shown in broken lines within the game face 2. The liquid crystal display device 3 is provided with reel display windows 2 a. At the front of the gaming machine 1, a control panel 6 including a start switch 61 and stop buttons 62 to 64 is provided.

[0048] The reel display windows 2 a are winning display means for displaying a predetermined winning mode (e.g., a symbol combination displayed along an active line L to be described below) determined on the basis of an operation by a player.

[0049] Symbols printed on the peripheral surfaces of reels provided inside the body of the gaming machine 1 are displayed in a variable or stopped manner through the reel display windows 2 a.

[0050] The winning display means can visibly display a predetermined winning mode to a player as a result of a game. It is thus possible to adopt any of various devices such as those which display symbols printed on reels or discs, and display devices for displaying a still image or a moving image on a liquid crystal display device or the like.

[0051]FIG. 2 is a side cross-sectional view illustrating the relationship between the liquid crystal display device 3 and reels 21. FIG. 3 is a front view of the liquid crystal display 3.

[0052] As described above, the reel display windows 2 a are formed at the back of the liquid crystal display device 3. A player can see peripheral surfaces 21 a of the reels 21 inside the gaming machine 1 through the reel display windows 2 a.

[0053] More specifically, as shown in FIG. 2, the game face 2 has, arranged from the front surface, a transparent acryl sheet 31, a reel glass base 22, a bezel metal frame 25, a liquid crystal panel 32, a diffusion sheet 33, a light guide plate 34, a rear holder 23, and an antistatic sheet 38.

[0054] The transparent acryl sheet 31 and the reel glass base 22 are fixed to the gaming machine 1 with a bracket 24. The light guide plate 34 and the rear holder 23 are formed with openings constituting the reel display windows 2 a. The reels 21 are disposed with their peripheral surfaces 21 a opposed to the reel display windows 2 a.

[0055] Symbols printed on the peripheral surfaces 21 a of the reels 21 are visible through the reel display windows 2 a. Stopped positions of the reels 21 determine a winning mode (a symbol combination displayed along an active line L shown in FIG. 3).

[0056] A pair of cold cathode tubes 36 as a light source for the liquid crystal panel 32 is mounted to upper and lower edges of the back surface of the light guide plate 34. Cold cathode tubes 37 for illuminating the peripheral surfaces 21 a of the reels 21 are provided above and below at the back surface of the rear holder 23, facing the reel display windows 2 a.

[0057] Symbols on the peripheral surfaces 21 a of the reels 21 are illuminated by light from the cold cathode tubes 37, so as to be displayed through transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c of the liquid crystal panel 32.

[0058] The liquid crystal panel 32 is a transparent liquid crystal panel disposed in front of the reels 21, through which the peripheral surfaces 21 a of the reels 21 can be seen. The periphery of the liquid crystal panel 32 is held by a liquid crystal holder 35.

[0059] The light guide plate 34 is configured with an optically transmissive resin panel. The light guide plate 34 is formed with lens cuts for guiding light emitted from the cold cathode tubes 36 located along its sides to the back surface of the liquid crystal panel 32.

[0060] The diffusion sheet 33 is made from an optically transmissive resin sheet. The diffusion sheet 33 constitutes a diffusion means for diffusing light introduced by the light guide plate 34 so as to equalize irradiated light onto the liquid crystal panel 32.

[0061] The liquid holder 35 holding the liquid crystal panel 32, the diffusion sheet 33 and the light guide plate 34 are united to be fitted and held in the bezel metal frame 25.

[0062] The peripheries of the liquid holder 35, the diffusion sheet 33 and the light guide plate 34 fitted in the bezel metal frame 25 in a unit are further fitted and supported in the reel glass base 22, with the reel display windows 2 a opened.

[0063] The transparent acryl sheet 31 is attached by pressure to the front surface of the reel glass base 22 by mounting the reel glass base 22 to the bracket 24, so as to close the display front of the liquid crystal panel 32.

[0064] The rear holder 23 is formed from a resin sheet. The rear holder 23 holds the bezel metal frame 25, the liquid holder 35, the diffusion sheet 33 and the light guide plate 34 which are supported in the reel glass base 22.

[0065] The rear holder 23 also serves as a reflector for reflecting light emitted from the cold cathode tubes 36 into the light guide plate 34 toward the liquid crystal panel 32.

[0066] The antistatic sheet 38 is formed from a transparent resin. The antistatic sheet 38 is bonded to a rear surface of the rear holder 23, covering the reel display windows 2 a formed in the rear holder 23 from the rear.

[0067] The liquid crystal display device 3 is an exemplary effect display means for performing announcement attraction display, winning effect display, gaming effect display and the like, with respect to internal winning combination information, internal carry-over combination information and the like.

[0068] Here, the internal winning combination information is information about an internal winning combination determined by probability lottery processing to be described below, based on an operation by a player.

[0069] The internal carry-over combination information is information about an internal carry-over combination which is a combination selected as an internal winning combination in a predetermined unit game and carried over to a next unit game to be selected again as an internal winning combination, when a winning mode corresponding to the combination selected as an internal winning combination in the predetermined unit game is not stopped and displayed on the winning display means.

[0070] The announcement attraction display is to display an announcement attraction image showing internal winning combination information, internal carry-over combination information or the like to a player before a winning mode is stopped and displayed.

[0071] The winning effect display is to display an effect image for winning effect showing that a predetermined combination is won when a predetermined winning mode is stopped and displayed.

[0072] The gaming effect display is to display an effect image according to the progress of a game by a player.

[0073] In this embodiment, the liquid crystal display device 3 is configured to display various images generated and outputted by a VDP 86 to be described below.

[0074] In this embodiment, the liquid crystal display device 3 is configured with a highly transmissive liquid crystal display formed from a transparent thin-film conductive material (e.g., indium tin oxide).

[0075]FIGS. 4A to 4D are explanatory diagrams showing images displayed on the liquid crystal display device 3.

[0076] As shown in FIG. 4A, the liquid crystal display device 3 includes the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c in its area overlapping the reel display windows 2 a. The transmissive display areas are capable of displaying symbols constituting a predetermined winning mode determined on the basis of a player's operation. A player can see the symbols on the peripheral surfaces 21 a of the reels 21 through the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c.

[0077] The liquid crystal display device 3 is configured to display on its entire surface an effect image 4 (alphabet “A” shown in FIG. 4B). The liquid crystal display device 3 is also configured to display specific images 5 a, 5 b in the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c.

[0078] The specific image may be any image which can be displayed in the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c. For example, the specific image may be a rectangular image shown in FIG. 4C. The specific image includes an overlay image, an add image and subtraction image and the like. The add image are used in the liquid crystal display device 3 based on the R, G, B additive color mixing, and the subtraction image are used in the liquid crystal display device 3 based on the C, M, Y subtractive color mixing.

[0079] Images displayed on the liquid crystal display device 3 are constituted by a plurality of pixels arranged in a matrix. Color information of each pixel is determined by the values of three primary colors (R, G, B).

[0080] In FIGS. 4B and 4C, for example, the effect image 4 is displayed in red according to color information (100, 10, 10) of each pixel, and the specific image 5 a is displayed in blue according to color information (0, 0, 255) of each pixel, and the specific image 5 b is displayed in white according to color information (255, 255, 255) of each pixel, and other portions than the images are displayed in black according to color information (0, 0, 0) of each pixel.

[0081] In this embodiment, white is a state where light from the light source at the back of the liquid crystal panel 32 is almost 100% transmitted, and symbols on the peripheral surfaces 21 a of the reels 21 located behind the liquid crystal display device 3 are displayed in an almost 100% transparent manner.

[0082] The liquid crystal display device 3 is a display device for displaying an effect image according to the progress of a game by a player. The liquid crystal display device 3 is a display device having the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c capable of displaying a predetermined winning mode determined on the basis of a player's operation. The transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c are capable of transparently displaying symbols constituting a predetermined winning mode determined on the basis of a player's operation.

[0083] The liquid crystal display device 3 is configured to perform arithmetic computations on the color information of each pixel of the specific images 5 a, 5 b and the color information of each pixel of overlap portions, so as to alter the portions of the effect image 4 displayed in the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c. In the overlap portions, the effect image 4 is overlapped over the specific images 5 a, 5 b.

[0084] In this embodiment, when specific images 5 a are displayed in the transmissive display areas 3 a and 3 b as shown in FIG. 4D, for example, an addition processing is performed on an overlap portion (4+5 a), so that color information (100, 10, 255) of each pixel is displayed. In the overlap portion (4+5 a), each pixel of the effect image 4 and each pixel of the specific images 5 a are overlapped.

[0085] In the example of FIG. 4D, the color information (100, 10, 10) of each pixel of the effect image 4 is added to the color information (0, 0, 255) of each pixel of the specific images 5 a, resulting in color information (100+0=100, 10+0=10, 10+255=265) of each pixel of the overlap portion (4+5 a).

[0086] The range of R, G, B values in color information of each pixel is, however, from 0 to 255, so that the color information of each pixel of the overlap portion (4+5 a) becomes (100, 10, 255).

[0087] When the specific image 5 b is displayed in the transmissive display area 3 c, overlaying processing (priority display processing) is performed on the specific image 5 b at an overlap portion (4+5 b) between the effect image 4 and the specific image 5 b, so that only the color information (255, 255, 255) of each pixel of the specific image 5 b is displayed.

[0088] The computing method in the overlaying processing may be a method of multiplying the values of R, G, B of the color information (100, 10, 10) of each pixel of the effect image 4 at the overlap portion (4+5 b) by “0”. According to the method, the color information of each pixel of the effect image 4 at the overlap portion (4+5 b) is made to be (0, 0, 0), so that the overlap portion (4+5 b) is displayed in white according to the color information (255, 255, 255) of each pixel of the specific image 5 b to be preferentially displayed.

[0089] Specific images to be displayed in the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c and arithmetic computations on overlap portions (4+5 a, 4+5 b) are selected according to an internal winning combination determined in probability lottery processing which is performed on the basis of a player's operation via the control panel 6. This will be described in detail with an operation flow described below.

[0090] The liquid crystal display device 3 is not limited to the one based on R, G, B additive color mixing as described above, and may alternatively be the one based on C, M, Y subtractive color mixing.

[0091] [Configuration of Control System Circuit]

[0092] Now, a control system circuit provided to the above-described gaming machine 1 will be described. FIGS. 5 and 6 are block diagrams illustrating the configuration of the control system circuit provided to the gaming machine 1 of the present embodiment.

[0093] The control system circuit provided to the gaming machine 1 of this embodiment is configured with a main control circuit 7 shown in FIG. 5 and an image control circuit 8 and an audio/lamp control circuit 9 as sub-control system circuits shown in FIG. 6 which are connected to the main control circuit 7 via an interface such as serial communication.

[0094] As shown in FIG. 5, the main control circuit 7 includes a main CPU 701, an I/O port 702, a control RAM 703, a program ROM 704, a sampling circuit 705, a clock pulse generation circuit 706, a random number generator 707, a reel position detection circuit 708, a motor drive circuit 709, a reel stop signal circuit 710, a game start signal circuit 711, an inserted-medal sensor 712, a lamp driving circuit 713, a display driving circuit 714, a hopper driving circuit 715 and a serial port 716.

[0095] The main CPU 701 is disposed on the substrate of the main control circuit 7. The main CPU 701 is configured to perform control operations according to programs stored in the program ROM 704.

[0096] Specifically, the main CPU 701 serves as an internal winning combination determining unit configured to determine a predetermined combination as an internal winning combination based on a player's operation.

[0097] The main CPU 701 also serves as a winning mode determining unit configured to determine a winning mode, based on a determined internal winning combination and a stopping operation of stop buttons by a player.

[0098] The CPU 701 also serves as a game value awarding unit configured to award a predetermined game value to a player, based on a winning mode determined on the basis of the player's operation.

[0099] The program ROM 704 stores data for use in the decision of random number selection performed each time a player operates the control panel 6, and various control commands to be transmitted to the image control circuit 8.

[0100] The program ROM 704 stores a symbol table, a winning symbol combination table and the like.

[0101] The symbol table associates rotation positions of the reels 21 with symbols printed on the peripheral surfaces 21 a of the reels 21.

[0102] The winning symbol combination table associates symbol combinations (stopped reel display modes=winning modes) looked up in the symbol table with game values (e.g., amounts of game mediums such as coins or medals to be paid out) to be awarded to players.

[0103] These tables are referred to in winning processing performed when all the reels 21 are stopped.

[0104] The reel position detection circuit 708, the motor drive circuit 709, the reel stop signal circuit 710, the game start signal circuit 711, the inserted-medal sensor 712, the lamp driving circuit 713, the display driving circuit 714, the hopper driving circuit 715 and so on are connected to the main CPU 701 via the I/O port 702.

[0105] The sampling circuit 705 and the random number generator 707 generate a random number for use in probability lottery processing for determining an internal winning combination. The clock pulse generation circuit 706 periodically generates clock pulses.

[0106] The motor drive circuit 709 is a circuit for driving the reels 21. The reel position detection circuit 708 is a circuit for detecting the driven states of the reels 21 (rotational states, stopped positions and the like).

[0107] The reel stop signal circuit 710 is a circuit for detecting a stopping operation for each reel 21 based on control signals from the stop buttons 62 to 64 provided in the control panel 6, so as to output a stop command signal to stop variable display of some of or all of the reels 21.

[0108] The game start signal circuit 711 is a circuit for detecting a game start operation (lever operation) from the start switch 61 provided in the control panel 6, so as to output a game start command signal.

[0109] The lamp driving circuit 713 and the display driving circuit 714 are circuits for controlling the drive of a game operation display lamp, a start lamp, a chance LED and a medal credit count display unit, according to the progress of a game in the main CPU 701.

[0110] The hopper driving circuit 715 is a circuit for driving a hopper for paying out prize mediums (coins or medals) according to game results.

[0111] The image control circuit 8 is a circuit for controlling image signals outputted to the liquid crystal display device 3, according to control commands from the main control circuit 7.

[0112] Specifically, as shown in FIG. 6, the image control circuit 8 includes a program ROM 81, an image ROM 82, a video RAM 83, a serial port 84, an image control CPU 85, an image control IC (VDP) 86, a control RAM 87 contained in the image control IC 86, a work RAM 88, and a calendar IC 89.

[0113] The program ROM 81 is a memory for storing image control programs to be executed by the image control CPU 85 for display on the liquid crystal display device 3, and various parameters to be described below.

[0114] The image ROM 82 is a memory for storing dot data for forming effect images, specific images and the like, at predetermined addresses in a memory area. The image ROM 82 outputs predetermined images to the image control CPU 85.

[0115] The video RAM 83 serves as a temporary memory when an image is formed in the image control IC 86.

[0116] The image control CPU 85 is a processor for performing image control operations according to control commands transmitted from the main control circuit 7.

[0117] The image control CPU 85 is configured to obtain control commands from the main control circuit 7 via the serial port 84, and to output control commands to the audio/lamp control circuit 9 via the serial ports 84, 91.

[0118] The image control CPU 85 controls the contents of display on the liquid crystal display device 3 according to the image control programs stored in the program ROM 81, using parameters (such as identifiers and counter values) set in a work area in the work RAM 88.

[0119] Specifically, the image control CPU 85 serves as an effect image determining unit configured to determine an effect image based on an internal winning combination determined by the main control circuit 7.

[0120] The image control CPU 85 can identify the internal winning combination determined by the main control circuit 7, based on an internal winning combination identifier to be described below.

[0121] The image control IC 86 is a processor for forming an image according to the contents of display determined in the image control CPU 85, and outputting the formed image to the liquid crystal display 3.

[0122] Specifically, in this embodiment, the image control IC 86 has the function of performing addition processing and overlaying processing on overlap portions overlapping the specific images 5 a and 5 b over the effect image 4.

[0123] The control RAM 87 contained in the image control IC 86 functions as an image buffer for use in the arithmetic computations in the image control IC 86.

[0124] The image buffer in the control RAM 87 of this embodiment is provided with two frame buffer areas. The image control IC 86 alternately performs writing processing and display processing with respect to the two frame buffers, and performs switching between a writing frame and a display frame according to a bank switching command outputted every {fraction (1/30)} sec. from the image control CPU 85.

[0125] The work RAM 88 also functions as a temporary memory when the image control programs are executed by the image control CPU 85. The work RAM 88 includes a work area in which parameters are set when the image control programs are executed, a command main buffer in which control commands from the main control circuit 7 are temporarily held, a command processing buffer, and the like.

[0126] The calendar IC 89 is an arithmetic unit for computing data on date and the like. The calendar IC 89 is configured to output required calendar data to the image control CPU 85 as appropriate.

[0127] The image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 implement the function of a display mode altering unit configured to alter a display mode in a portion of an effect image (e.g., (4+5 a) in FIG. 4D) displayed in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c.

[0128] For example, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may be configured to transparently display symbols on the peripheral surfaces 21 a of the reels 21 in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c, when the reels 21 provided with the symbols on their peripheral surfaces 21 a are rotating.

[0129] The image control CPU 85 can determine whether the reels 21 are rotating or not, based on a stopped reel identifier, a left reel identifier, a center reel identifier and a right reel identifier which will be described below.

[0130] Also, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may be configured to transparently display symbols in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c, except when a game is being played by a player.

[0131] The image control CPU 85 can determine whether a game is being played by a player or not, based on a gaming identifier to be described below.

[0132] Also, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may be configured to alter a display mode in a portion of an effect image displayed in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c, by performing an arithmetic computation on color information on specific images provided in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c and color information on the portion of the effect image displayed in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c.

[0133] Also, when the reels 21 are rotating, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may select overlay images as specific images to be provided in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c, and display color information of each pixel of the overlay images in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c (see the transmissive display area 3 c in FIG. 4D).

[0134] For example, when the reels 21 are rotating, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may display white in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c, according to color information (255, 255, 255) of each pixel of the overlay images, so as to transparently display symbols on the peripheral surfaces 21 of the reels 21.

[0135] Also, when the reels 21 are stopped, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may select add images as specific images to be provided in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c, and add color information of each pixel of the add images to color information of each pixel of a portion of an effect image displayed in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c (see the overlap portion (4+5 a) in FIG. 4D).

[0136] Also, when the image control CPU 85 selects a predetermined effect image for display, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may transparently display symbols in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c.

[0137] For example, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may transparently display symbols in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c, only when an effect image for “WIN #A” described below is selected for display.

[0138] Also, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may be configured to alter a display mode in a portion of an effect image displayed in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c, according to an effect image selected by the image control CPU 85.

[0139] The image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 can identify the effect image selected by the image control CPU 85, based on an effect identifier to be described below.

[0140] Specifically, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may be configured to select a predetermined overlay image from among multiple overlay images as a specific image to be provided in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c, based on an effect image selected by the image control CPU 85, and to display color information of each pixel of the selected overlay image in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c.

[0141] For example, when the reels 21 are rotating and an effect image for “WIN #B” is selected for display, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may select an overlay image (color information of each pixel (164, 164, 164)) capable of transparently displaying symbols to a degree of 75%, and transparently display symbols to a degree of 75% in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c.

[0142] When the reels 21 are rotating and the effect image for “WIN #A” is selected for display, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may select an overlay image (color information of each pixel (255, 255, 255)) capable of displaying symbols substantially 100% transparently, and transparently display symbols in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c.

[0143] Also, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may be configured to select a predetermined add image from among multiple add images as a specific image to be provided in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c, based on an effect image determined by the image control CPU 85, and add color information of each pixel of the selected add image to color information of each pixel of a portion of the effect image to be displayed in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c.

[0144] For example, when the reels 21 are stopped and the effect image for “WIN #A” is selected for display, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may select an add image (color information of each pixel (255, 255, 255)).

[0145] When the reels 21 are stopped and the effect image for “WIN #B” is selected for display, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may select an add image (color information of each pixel (0, 0, 255)).

[0146] Also, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may be configured to alter a display mode in a portion of an effect image (e.g., (4+5A) in FIG. 4D) to be displayed in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c, according to other parameters (such as a remaining effect game counter value, a gaming state identifier and a winning combination identifier) stored in the work area in the work RAM 88.

[0147] Also, when the reels 21 are stopped, the image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may select a portion of an effect image to be displayed in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c as a specific image to be provided in the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c, so as to display the effect image 4 in its entirely, ignoring the transmissive display areas (winning mode display areas) 3 a to 3 c.

[0148] The audio/lamp control circuit 9 is a circuit for controlling LEDs 10 a, lamps 10 b, speakers 10 c and other output means provided to the gaming machine 1.

[0149] Specifically, the audio/lamp control circuit 9 includes a serial port 91, an audio/lamp control CPU 92, a sound source IC 93, a power amplifier 94, a work RAM 95, a program ROM 96, and a sound source ROM 97.

[0150] The audio/lamp control CPU 92 is a processor for executing control programs stored in the program ROM 96 according to control commands obtained from the image control circuit 81 via the serial port 91, so as to control the operations of the LEDs 10 a, lamps 10 b and speakers 10 c.

[0151] A volume controller 10 d is connected to the audio/lamp control CPU 92, so that the volume of output by the speakers 10 c can be adjusted.

[0152] The program ROM 96 is a memory for storing the control programs to be executed by the audio/lamp control CPU 92. The work RAM 95 serves as a temporary memory when the control programs are executed in the audio/lamp control CPU 92.

[0153] The sound source IC 93 is a module for generating and outputting sound according to the contents of output determined by the audio/lamp control CPU 92.

[0154] The sound source ROM 97 is a memory for supplying the source of sound to be outputted by the sound source IC 93.

[0155] The power amplifier 94 is an amplifier for amplifying sound generated by the sound source IC 93. Sound amplified by the power amplifier 94 is outputted from the speakers 10 c.

[0156] In the gaming machine 1 having the above-described configuration, the control panel 6 detects a player's operation. And the main control circuit 7 drives actuators according to control signals from the control panel 6, so as to start a game.

[0157] Then, the main control circuit 7 sequentially stops the reels 21 according to stopping operations by the player. When all the reels 21 are stopped, the main control circuit 7 accesses the winning symbol combination table, and determines whether symbol combinations displayed in the reel display windows 2 a include a winning symbol combination or not.

[0158] When there is a winning symbol combination, the main control circuit 7 pays out a corresponding number of medals to the winning.

[0159] Meanwhile, the main control circuit 7 outputs control commands to the image control circuit 8, according to an internal winning combination determined in probability lottery processing, a stopping operation by a player, the kind of a winning combination and the like as appropriate.

[0160] The probability lottery processing is processing for selecting a probability lottery random number according to a game start command outputted as a result of operation of the control panel 6 by a player, so as to determine an internal winning combination corresponding to the selected probability lottery random number.

[0161] The image control circuit 8 is configured to control display on the liquid crystal display device 3 and output of sound and light by the audio/lamp control circuit 9, according to control commands from the main control circuit 7.

[0162] That is, the image control CPU 85 is configured to determine the contents of display on the liquid crystal display device 3 according to the image control programs stored in the program ROM 81, based on various parameters set in the work area within the work RAM 88, to obtain the corresponding image data from the image ROM 82, and to transmit the obtained image data to the image control IC 86.

[0163] The image control IC 86 is configured to form image data corresponding to the display contents determined by the image control CPU 85. and to output the image data to the liquid crystal display 3.

[0164] [General Operation of the Main Control Circuit]

[0165] The general operation of the main control circuit 7 in the gaming machine 1 according to the present embodiment will be described below with reference to FIGS. 7 and 8.

[0166] As shown in FIG. 7, in step S1, the main CPU 701 initializes data stored in the control RAM 703, communications data and the like. At that time, the main CPU 701 transmits an initialization command to the sub-control circuit.

[0167] In step S2, the main CPU 701 deletes parameters and the like used in a previous unit game from a predetermined area in the control RAM 703, and writes parameters and the like for use in a unit game to be played now in the predetermined area in the control RAM 33.

[0168] In step S3, the main CPU 701 determines whether thirty seconds have elapsed or not since the previous unit game was finished (all the reels 21 were stopped). When the answer is YES, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S4, and when the answer is NO, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S5.

[0169] In step S4, the main CPU 701 transmits a demonstration display command to the sub-control circuit, so as to instruct the sub-control circuit to display a demonstration image on the liquid crystal display 3.

[0170] In step S5, the main CPU 701 determines whether or not there is an automatic insertion request (that is, whether a REPLAY is won in the previous unit game or not). When the answer is YES, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S6, and when the answer is NO, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S7.

[0171] In step S6, the main CPU 701 automatically inserts a medal(s) according to the automatic insertion request.

[0172] Instep S7, the main CPU 701 determines whether a medal(s) is inserted or not (that is, whether or not there is an input signal from a BET switch based on a predetermined operation to a 1-BET button, a 2-BET button 12, a MAXBET button or the like).

[0173] When the answer is YES, the main CPU 701 transmits a medal insertion command showing the medal insertion to the sub-control circuit, and the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S8. When the answer is NO, the operation of the main CPU 701 returns to step S3.

[0174] In step S8, the main CPU 701 determines whether or not there is an input signal based on a predetermined operation to the start switch 61. When the answer is YES, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S9, and when the answer is NO, the operation of the main CPU 701 waits for an input signal from the start switch 61.

[0175] In step S9, the main CPU 701 causes the sampling circuit 705 to select a random number for probability lottery generated by the random number generator 707. In step S10, the main CPU 701 monitors the gaming state (described below).

[0176] In step S11, the main CPU 701 performs probability lottery processing. Specifically, the main CPU 701 refers to the probability lottery table corresponding to the gaming state, and determines an internal winning combination based on the random number for probability lottery selected in step S9.

[0177] In step S12, the main CPU 701 transmits a game start command showing the start of a unit game to the sub-control circuit. The game start command includes data specifying the gaming state and data specifying the internal winning combination selected in step S11.

[0178] In step S13, the main CPU 701 determines whether 4.1 seconds have elapsed since the start of the previous unit game or not. When the answer is YES, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S15, and when the answer is NO, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S14.

[0179] In step S14, the main CPU 701 spends a unit game start waiting time. Specifically, until spending the unit game start waiting time, the main CPU nullifies an input corresponding to a predetermined operation by a player for starting a unit game.

[0180] In step S15, the main CPU 701 sets a unit game monitoring timer. The unit game monitoring timer is a timer for monitoring an elapsed time in a unit game. The unit game monitoring timer includes an automatic stop timer for automatically stopping the rotation of the reels 21 independently from a predetermined operation to the stop buttons 62 to 64.

[0181] In step S16, the main CPU 701 performs reel rotation processing. Specifically, the main CPU 701 controls the motor drive circuit 709, so as to rotate the reels 21.

[0182] In step S17, the main CPU 701 transmits a reel stop enabling command for enabling the stopping of rotation of the reels 21. That is, the main CPU 701 enables an input based on a predetermined operation to the stop buttons 62 to 64.

[0183] In step S18, the main CPU 701 determines whether or not a predetermined operation is performed with respect to one of the stop buttons 62 to 64 (whether or not one of the stop buttons 62 to 64 is turned on). Specifically, the main CPU 701 determines whether or not one of the stop buttons 62 to 64 is turned on or not, based on a stop command signal from the reel stop signal circuit 710. When the answer is YES, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S20, and when the answer is NO, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S19.

[0184] In step S19, the main CPU 701 determines whether the value of the automatic stop timer is “0” or not (that is, whether to automatically stop the rotation of the reels 21 or not). When the answer is YES, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S20, and when the answer is NO, the operation of the main CPU 701 returns to step S18.

[0185] In step S20, the main CPU 701 determines the number of segments to shift, based on the internal winning combination determined in step S11 and the timing of input of the stop command signal from the reel stop signal circuit 43 (timing in which one of the stop buttons 62 to 64 is operated).

[0186] The number of segments to shift is the number of symbols to shift, which is limited to a predetermined number (e.g., four segments), after the stop command signal is inputted from the reel stop signal circuit 710 until the reel 21 is actually stopped.

[0187] That is, if the stop buttons 62 to 64 are operated in the timing in which the symbols of the internal winning combination are within “0” to “4” segments, there is a possibility that the symbols of the internal winning combination can be aligned.

[0188] On the other hand, if the stop buttons 62 to 64 are operated in the timing in which the symbols of the internal winning combination are not within “0” to “4” segments, the symbols of the internal winning combination cannot be aligned.

[0189] In step S21, the main CPU 701 rotates the reel 21 for which the stopping operation is performed by the number of shift segments determined in step S20, and stops the reel 21.

[0190] And the main CPU 701 transmits a reel stop command showing information on the stopped reel 21 (such as the symbol number of a symbol on a predetermined winning line (e.g., a center line L), an identifier of the stopped reel (stopped reel identifier), a reel rotation identifier showing whether the reel 21 is rotating or not (one of a left reel rotation identifier, a center reel rotation identifier and a right reel rotation identifier) to the sub-control circuit.

[0191] In step S22, the main CPU 701 determines whether all the reels 21 are stopped or not. When the answer is YES, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S23, and when the answer is NO, the operation of the main CPU 701 returns to step S18.

[0192] In step S23, the main CPU 701 transmits an all-reel stop command showing that all the reels 21 have been stopped, to the sub-control circuit.

[0193] In step S24, the main CPU 701 performs winning search processing. Specifically, the main CPU 701 determines whether a symbol combination of the internal winning combination is aligned on an active line L or not. The main CPU 701 also sets a flag (winning flag) identifying the internal winning combination (winning combination) corresponding to the symbol combination aligned on the active line L.

[0194] In step S25, the main CPU 701 determines whether the winning flag set in step S24 is normal or not. When the answer is YES, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S27, and when the answer is NO, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S26.

[0195] In step S26, the main CPU 701 displays an illegal error showing that the winning flag is not normal.

[0196] Instep S27, the main CPU 701 transmits to the sub-control circuit a winning command (24-bit parameter) showing the winning combination identified by the winning flag, the winning line (that should be an active line) on which the symbol combination of the winning combination is aligned and the like.

[0197] For example, when a BELL symbol is on the upper line on the left reel 21, and a BELL symbol is on the middle line on the center reel 21, and a BELL symbol is on the lower line on the right reel 21, the main CPU 701 transmits a winning command specifying the BELL symbol and the diagonal line, to the sub-control circuit.

[0198] In step S28, the main CPU 701 determines whether the winning combination identified by the winning flag is a BB (big bonus) or RB (regular bonus) or not. When the answer is YES, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S29, and when the answer is NO, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S30.

[0199] In step S29, the main CPU 701 clears an internally established winning flag which is set as an internal carry-over combination showing a BB or RB.

[0200] In step S30, the main CPU 701 pays out a corresponding number of medals to the winning combination. Specifically, when the game is played in credit mode, the main CPU 701 increases the number of medals displayed on a credit count display by the corresponding number of medals to the winning combination. When the game is played with medal(s) inserted through a medal insertion slot, the main CPU 701 pays out the corresponding number of medals to the winning combination.

[0201] In step S31, the main CPU 701 determines whether the gaming state is a BB regular gaming state or an RB gaming state (including an RB gaming state started by Jack-in) or not. When the answer is YES, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S32, and when the answer is NO, the operation of the main CPU 701 returns to step S2 for the next unit game.

[0202] In step S32, the main CPU 701 checks the number of games played in the BB gaming state or the RB gaming state.

[0203] In step S33, the main CPU 701 determines whether or not to terminate the BB regular gaming state or the RB gaming state based on the result of the check. When the answer is YES, the operation of the main CPU 701 moves to step S34, and when the answer is NO, the operation of the main CPU 701 returns to step S2 for the next unit game.

[0204] In step S34, the main CPU 701 deletes parameters and the like used in the BB regular gaming state or RB gaming state from the control RAM 33. The main CPU 701 also transmits a BB termination command showing the termination of the BB gaming state or an RB termination command showing the termination of the RB gaming state, depending on the gaming state to be terminated, to the sub-control circuit.

[0205] As described above, the main CPU 701 performs the process of steps S2 to S34 in a single unit game. When the process is completed, the main CPU 701 returns to step S2 for the next unit game.

[0206] [General Operation of the Image Control Circuit]

[0207] The general operation of the image control circuit 8 of the gaming machine 1 in this embodiment will be described below with reference to the drawings.

[0208] As shown in FIG. 9A, when the gaming machine 1 is activated, an initialization processing is performed in step S101. In the initialization processing, various identifiers, various counter values and the like shown in FIG. 10 are set at “0”.

[0209]FIG. 10 is a table showing exemplary parameters (and ranges of assumed values) held in the work area of the work RAM 88 in the image control circuit 8 of the gaming machine in this embodiment.

[0210] For example, the table shown in FIG. 10 shows a gaming identifier, an effect identifier, a remaining effect game counter value, a gaming state identifier, an internal winning combination identifier, a winning combination identifier, a random number counter value for effect, a stopped reel identifier, a left reel rotation identifier, a center reel rotation identifier and a right reel rotation identifier.

[0211] The gaming identifier identifies whether a game is being played by a player or not. For example, the gaming identifier may be set at a value of “1” showing that the gaming machine 1 is being played, between the reception of a medal insertion command from the main control circuit 7 and the reception of a winning command from the main control circuit 7.

[0212] The effect identifier identifies an effect to be provided in the gaming machine 1. The image control circuit 8 determines which effect to be provided based on an internal winning combination and an random number counter value for effect as described below. In the example of FIG. 10, prepared effects are “WIN #A”, “WIN #B”, “WIN #C”, “LOSE #A”, “LOSE #B”, “LOSE #C” and “NOMAL”.

[0213] The gaming state identifier identifies the gaming state of the gaming machine 1. A BB internal winning state or an RB internal winning state shows the state in which a BB or RB is selected as an internal winning combination but a winning mode corresponding to the internal winning combination has not yet been stopped and displayed. A BB regular gaming state or an RB gaming state shows the state in which a winning mode corresponding to a BB or RB has been stopped and displayed (that is, the states where a BB or RB is fixed as a winning combination) A regular gaming state shows the other state. The gaming state identifier is updated according to a game start command from the main control circuit 7.

[0214] The internal winning combination identifier identifies an internal winning combination determined by the main control circuit 7. The internal winning combination identifier is updated by a game start command from the main control circuit 7, for example.

[0215] The winning combination identifier identifies a winning mode (winning combination) determined by an internal winning combination and a stopping operation by a player. The winning combination identifier is updated by a winning command from the main control circuit 7, for example.

[0216] The stopped reel identifier identifies a stopped reel. The left reel identifier, the center reel identifier and the right reel identifier identify whether the left reel, the center reel, and the right reel are rotating or stopped, respectively. These identifiers are updated by a reel stop command or an all-reel stop command from the main control circuit 7.

[0217] The table is referred to sequentially in operations performed in the image control CPU 85.

[0218] After the initialization processing in step S101, operations beginning at step S102 to be described below is repeated by loop handling.

[0219] In the image control CPU 85, the main flow shown in FIG. 9A is continuously repeated by loop handling, and the main flow is interrupted every {fraction (1/60)} sec. with an addition processing on the VDP counter shown in FIG. 9B by the image control IC 86.

[0220] As periodic interruptions in the image control CPU 85, update processing for the random number counter value for effect shown in FIG. 9C and update processing for effect data according to the progress of effect sounds and the progress of lamp effects are performed.

[0221] In step S102, the image control CPU 85 monitors a command input from the main control circuit 7.

[0222] In step S102, it is determined whether an input command is normal data or not, based on a normal data decision table shown in FIG. 11. When it is normal data, the command length is obtained on the basis of head data (first data), and the command of the obtained command length is stored in the command main buffer.

[0223] The normal data decision table is a table for relating first data, command lengths, and data ranges, with respect to each command.

[0224] The image control CPU 85 determines whether an input command is normal data or not, depending on whether the first data of the input command is included in the normal data decision table or not, and whether the data range of the input command is included in the data range shown in the normal data decision table, and the like.

[0225] In step S103, the image control CPU 85 performs command input processing. The command input processing will be described in detail below with reference to FIG. 12.

[0226] As shown in FIG. 12, in step S201, the image control CPU 85 determines whether or not there is a command input from the main control circuit 7. In step S202, the image control CPU holds a command stored in the command main buffer in the command processing buffer.

[0227] When the image control CPU 85 determines that there is no command input in step S201, it terminates the command input processing and performs command output processing in step S104 in FIG. 9A.

[0228] In step S203, the image control CPU 85 accesses a jump table shown in FIG. 13, so as to determine a jump destination based on the command stored in the command processing buffer. In step S204, the image control CPU 85 determines whether the jump destination is appropriate or not.

[0229] If the jump destination is appropriate, in step S205, the image control CPU 85 jumps to the determined processing and executes the processing at the destination.

[0230] The jump table is a table for associating first data of an input command with processing at the jump destination. More specifically, in step S203, the image control CPU 85 determines jump destination processing based on the first data of the command judged to be normal data in step S102.

[0231] According to the processing at the jump destination in step S205, the image control CPU 85 determines the contents of effect provided in the gaming machine 1, an effect image 4 to be displayed in the effect, the display position of the effect image 4 on the liquid crystal display device 3 and so on.

[0232] The selection of the effect image 4 depends on the processing at the jump destination, which will be described in detail below but is generally as described below.

[0233] First, the image control CPU 85 accesses an effect determination table shown in FIG. 14, so as to determine an effect (e.g., “WIN #A”) to be provided in the gaming machine 1, based on an internal winning combination (e.g., “BB” or “LOSE”) and an random number counter value for effect (e.g., “0”) determined in the main control circuit 7.

[0234] The effect determination table is a table for relating the internal winning combinations, the random number counter values for effect, and the effect names.

[0235] The image control CPU 85 determines the effect name to be provided in the gaming machine 1, based on the internal winning combination and the random number counter value for effect.

[0236] Second, based on the effect name determined with the effect determination table, the remaining effect game counter value and the stage of progress of the game (such as BET, Lever operation, Winning) according to an operation by a player in jump destination processing, the image control CPU 85 determines effect data, referring to an effect data table shown in FIG. 15.

[0237] The effect data table is a table for relating effect names, remaining effect game counter values, and effect data according to the stage of game progress (BET, Lever, Winning).

[0238] For example, when the effect name determined with the effect determination table is “WIN #A”, the remaining effect game counter value is “3”, and the game progress stage is “Lever” (that is, a game start command is received from the main control circuit 7), the image control CPU 85 selects “A3 (Lever)” as effect data.

[0239] Third, referring to an effect content table shown in FIG. 16, the image control CPU 85 determines the effect contents corresponding to the selected effect data.

[0240] As shown in FIG. 16, the effect content table is a table for defining the effect contents of effect data. The effect content table can also define, as effect contents, lighting patterns of lamps and LEDs implemented by the LEDs 10 a and the lamps 10 b, and effect sounds generated by the speakers 10, in addition to effect images displayed on the liquid crystal display 3.

[0241] For example, when “A4 (Lever)” is selected as effect data, the image control CPU 85 refers to the effect content table, and obtains effect images #A421 to A#425, a lamp and LED lighting pattern #A42, an effect sound #A42, and a background sound #A42 as the effect contents.

[0242] The effect contents of effect images stored in the effect content table include, for example, addresses in the image ROM 82 at which the effect images are stored, the positions (coordinates) and sizes of the effect images and the like.

[0243] When the effect images are moving images, a plurality of static images constituting part of the effect images and the display method (order and display time period) are included in the effect contents.

[0244] The image control CPU 85 also determines specific images to be provided in the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c, based on various parameters held in the work area of the work RAM 88.

[0245] For example, based on a gaming identifier, an effect identifier, and a reel rotation identifier held in the work area of the work RAM 88, the image control CPU 85 obtains specific image information on specific images to be provided in the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c corresponding to each of the reels 21, referring to a specific image determination table shown in FIG. 17.

[0246] As shown in FIG. 17, the specific image determination table is a table for relating a gaming identifier, an effect identifier, a reel rotation identifier and specific image information, each other.

[0247] The specific image information stored in the specific image determination table includes, for example, addresses in the image ROM 82 at which the specific images are stored, the positions and sizes (coordinates corresponding to a left reel, center reel or right reel and sizes) of the specific images, and the like.

[0248] After the command input processing in step S103, the image control CPU 85 performs the command output processing in step S104 shown in FIG. 9A.

[0249] In the command output processing, the LEDs 10 a, lamps 10 b and speakers 10 c are controlled through the audio/lamp control circuit 9. Specifically, based on the effect data determined by referring to the effect content table shown in FIG. 16, the lighting of the lamps and LEDs and the output of effect sounds are performed.

[0250] In step S105, the image control CPU 85 determines whether a buffer flag is on or off. The buffer flag is a parameter for identifying whether data is prepared in the image buffer of the control RAM 87 or not. When the data is prepared, the flag is set “on”, and when the data is not prepared, the flag is set “off”.

[0251] When it is determined that the buffer flag is “off” in step S105 (“N” in step S105 in FIG. 9A), in step S106, the image control CPU 85 prepares effect images selected as the effect contents in the image buffer, and in step S107, the image control CPU 85 sets the buffer flag “on”.

[0252] On the other hand, when it is determined that the buffer flag is “on” in step S105 (“Y” in step S105 in FIG. 9A), data have already been prepared in the buffer, so that the operation of the image control CPU 85 moves to step S108, skipping steps S106 to S107.

[0253] In step S108, the image control CPU 85 determines whether the VDP counter is “2” or not.

[0254] In this embodiment, the VDP counter is, as shown in FIG. 9B, a value periodically (every {fraction (1/60)} sec.) counted in the image control IC 86.

[0255] When the VDP counter is “2” (“Y” in step S108 in FIG. 9A), the image control CPU 85 switches an effect image displayed on the liquid crystal display device 3.

[0256] When the VDP counter is less than “2” (“N” in step S108 in FIG. 9A), the image control CPU 85 does not switch an effect image displayed on the liquid crystal display device 3, and repeats operations beginning at step S102 by loop handling.

[0257] As a result, in this embodiment, an effect image displayed on the liquid crystal display device 3 is switched every {fraction (1/30)} sec.

[0258] When it is determined in step S108 that the VDP counter is “2”, in step S109, the image control CPU 85 resets the VDP counter to “0”, and in step S110, the image control CPU 85 instructs the VDP 86 to switch an effect image displayed on the liquid crystal display device 3 (bank switching).

[0259] In step S111, the image control CPU 85 transmits an effect image stored in the image buffer to the VDP 86, and in step S112, the image control CPU 85 transmits a specific image determined in the command input processing to the VDP 86.

[0260] In step S113, the image control CPU 85 clears the image buffer, and in step S114, the image control CPU 85 sets the buffer flag “off”.

[0261] [Jump Destination Processing]

[0262] The image control CPU 85 performs the transmission of the specific image in step S112, according to the gaming identifier, the effect identifier and each reel rotation identifier set in the jump destination processing in step S205 in FIG. 12.

[0263] Consequently, the kind of a specific image to be displayed on the liquid crystal display device 3 and an arithmetic computation on an overlap portion overlapping a specific image over an effect image on the liquid crystal display device 3 are selected according to an internal winning combination and gaming progress state determined on the basis of a player's operation.

[0264] The above-described jump destination processing in step S205 will be described in detail below.

[0265] [1] Game Medal Insertion Processing

[0266]FIG. 18 is a flow diagram illustrating processing performed in the image control circuit 8, when a medal insertion command is received from the main control circuit 7 having detected a game medal insertion operation by a player.

[0267] As shown in FIG. 18, upon receiving a medal insertion command, in step S301, the image control CPU 85 determines whether the gaming machine “1” is not played (the gaming identifier is “0”) or not, based on the gaming identifier.

[0268] That is, the image control CPU 85 determines whether a game medal(s) is inserted or not, after a previous unit game is finished.

[0269] When the answer is YES (“N” in step S301 in FIG. 18), the image control CPU 85 terminates the process without performing effect data selection.

[0270] When the answer is NO in step S301 (“Y” in step S301 in FIG. 18), in step S302, the image control CPU 85 sets the gaming identifier at “1 (played)”.

[0271] Instep S303, the image control CPU 85 refers to the effect data table shown in FIG. 15, so as to select effect data (BET) according to an effect identifier and a remaining effect game counter value.

[0272] The effect identifier and the remaining effect game counter value are determined in game start processing to be described below, and are updated in winning processing to be described below.

[0273] Through the above steps, the effect data (BET) is set according to a player's operation of a game medal insertion operation.

[0274] [2] Game Start Processing

[0275]FIG. 19 is a flow diagram illustrating processing performed in the image control circuit 8, when a game is started by the operation of the control panel 6 by a player or the like.

[0276] A game start command transmitted from the main control circuit 7 having detected that a game start operation has been done includes a gaming state, an internal winning combination and so on determined or selected by random processing (e.g., the above-described probability lottery processing) in the main control circuit 7.

[0277] As shown in FIG. 19, in step S401, the image control CPU 85 extracts the gaming state and the internal winning combination from the game start command, and sets them as a gaming state identifier and an internal winning combination identifier.

[0278] In step S402, the image control CPU 85 determines whether the remaining effect game counter value is “0” or not.

[0279] When the answer is YES, in step S403, the image control CPU 85 refers to the effect determination table shown in FIG. 14 and determines an effect to be provided in the gaming machine 1, based on the internal winning combination identifier set in step S401 and the random number counter value for effect periodically updated in the image control CPU 85.

[0280] When the internal winning combination is “LOSE” and the random number counter value for effect is “1”, for example, the image control CPU 85 selects “LOSE #A” for effect.

[0281] In step S404, the image control CPU 85 sets the effect identifier corresponding to the effect determined in step S403 in the work area of the work RAM 88. In step S405, the image control CPU 85 sets the remaining effect game counter value in the work area of the work RAM 88.

[0282] When “LOSE #A” is selected as in the above example, for example, the image control CPU 85 sets effect identifier “3”, and sets remaining effect game counter value “4” according to the set effect identifier (“3”) and the effect data table shown in FIG. 15.

[0283] On the other hand, when the remaining effect game counter value is anything other than “0” in step S402, the image control CPU 85 skips steps S403 to S405 and the operation of the image control CPU 85 moves to step S406.

[0284] In step S406, the image control CPU 85 selects effect data (Lever) based on the set effect identifier and the remaining effect game counter value.

[0285] When the effect identifier is “3” and the remaining effect game counter value is “4”, for example, the image control CPU 85 selects “A4 (Lever)” as effect data.

[0286] In step S407, the image control CPU 85 sets the left/center/right reel rotation identifiers at “1”.

[0287] Through the above steps, the effect data (Lever) according to the internal winning combination determined on the basis of a player's operation of a game start operation is set.

[0288] [3] Reel Stop Processing

[0289]FIG. 20 is a flow diagram illustrating processing performed in the image control circuit 8, when a reel is stopped by a player's lever operation or the like.

[0290] A reel stop command transmitted from the main control circuit 7 having detected that a reel was stopped includes a stopped reel identifier, an identifier capable of identifying a symbol displayed on the stopped reel and the like.

[0291] As shown in FIG. 20, the image control CPU 85 sets a stopped reel identifier according to the reel identifier included in the received reel stop command, and sets the reel rotation identifier corresponding to the stopped reel at “0”.

[0292] More specifically, in step S502, the image control CPU 85 determines whether the stopped reel identifier set in step S501 is “0 (left reel)” or not.

[0293] When the stopped reel identifier is “0”, the image control CPU 85 identifies the stopped reel as the left reel, and in steps S503, the image control CPU 85 sets the left reel stop identifier at “0 (stopped)”.

[0294] When it is determined in step S502 that the stopped reel identifier is not “0”, the image control CPU 85 determines whether the stopped reel identifier is “1 (center reel)” or not.

[0295] When the stopped reel identifier is “1”, the image control CPU 85 identifies the stopped reel as the center reel, and in steps S505, the image control CPU 85 sets the center reel rotation identifier at “0 (stopped)”.

[0296] When it is determined in step S504 that the stopped reel identifier is not “1”, the image control CPU 85 identifies the stopped reel as the right reel, and in steps S506, the image control CPU 85 sets the right reel rotation identifier at “0 (stopped)”.

[0297] Through these steps, transmission processing of a specific image to the VDP 86 (see FIG. 22), which will be described below, can be performed according to a player's reel stopping operation.

[0298] [4] Winning Processing

[0299]FIG. 21 is a flow diagram illustrating processing performed in the image control circuit 8, when the stage of progress of a game by a player reaches a winning state.

[0300] After all the reels 21 are stopped, the main control circuit 7 checks a stop mode of the stopped reels 21, determines whether or not a predetermined combination is won, so as to determine a winning combination, and transmits an identifier enabling the identification of the determined winning combination as a winning command to the image control circuit 8.

[0301] When the winning processing is started as shown in FIG. 21, in step S601, the image control CPU 85 having received the winning command sets the identifier enabling the identification of the winning combination included in the received winning command as a winning combination identifier.

[0302] In this embodiment, the winning combination identifier is set at the same value as that of the internal winning combination identifier.

[0303] In step S602, the image control CPU 85 selects effect data (winning), referring to the effect data table, based on the effect identifier and the remaining effect game counter value set in the above-described game start processing.

[0304] In step S603, the image control CPU 85 reduces the remaining effect game counter value by “1”, and in step S604, the image control CPU 85 sets the gaming identifier at “0 (not played)”.

[0305] Through these steps, an effect image and a specific image are selected according to a winning mode related to the internal winning combination identifier determined at the start of the game.

[0306] [Specific Image Transmission Processing]

[0307] As shown in FIG. 9A, an effect image selected based on identifiers set in the above-described processing at the jump destination is buffered in the image buffer in step S106.

[0308] After the effect image visible to the player is switched in step S110, the buffered effect image in the image buffer is transmitted to the image control IC (VDP) 86 in step S111.

[0309] Subsequent to these steps, in step S112, a specific image is transmitted to the VDP 86.

[0310] That is, in this embodiment, a specific image is transmitted every {fraction (1/30)} sec. to the VDP 86. FIG. 22 is a flow diagram illustrating transmission processing of a specific image to the image control IC (VDP) 86.

[0311] In step S701, the image control CPU 85 determines whether the gaming machine 1 is being played or not, based on the gaming identifier.

[0312] In step S702, the image control CPU 85 determines whether a certain effect (e.g., “WIN #A”) is being provided or not, based on the effect identifier.

[0313] In this embodiment, when the gaming identifier is “0 (not played)” or the effect identifier is one of “1” to “6” (an effect other than “WIN #A”), the image control CPU 85 performs steps S712 to S714. That is, the image control CPU 85 transmits an overlay image 1 (for the transmissive display area 3 a), an overlay image 2 (for the transmissive display area 3 b) and an overlay image 3 (for the transmissive display area 3 c), to the VDP 86.

[0314] As a result, when no game is played or an effect other than “WIN #A” is provided, white overlay images are preferentially displayed in the reel display windows 2 a.

[0315] On the other hand, when it is determined in steps S701 and S702 that a game is being played and the effect of “WIN #A” is being provided, the image control CPU 85 sequentially judges the reel rotation identifiers corresponding to the reels 21, so as to select a specific image corresponding to the rotating state of each reel 21, and to determine an arithmetic computation on an overlap portion overlapping the specific image over the effect image.

[0316] In step S703, the image control CPU 85 determines whether the left reel rotation identifier is “1 (rotating)” or not.

[0317] When determining that the left reel is rotating, in step S705, the image control CPU 85 transmits the overlay image 1 to the VDP 86. When determining that the left reel is stopped, in step S704, the image control CPU 85 transmits an add image 1 (for the transmissive display area 3 a) to the VDP 86.

[0318] Similarly, in steps S706 and S709, the image control CPU 85 determines whether the center reel rotation identifier and the right reel rotation identifier are “1 (rotating)” or not.

[0319] When determining that the center reel and the right reel are rotating, in steps S708 and S711, the image control CPU 85 transmits the overlay image 2 and the overlay image 3 to the VDP 86. When determining that the center reel and the right reel are stopped, in steps S707 and S710, the image control CPU 85 transmits add images 2 and 3 to the VDP 86.

[0320] As a result, in the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c corresponding to the rotating reels 21, white overlay images are preferentially displayed, allowing the player to clearly see the rotating reels 21, so that a player's reel stopping operation is not obstructed by an effect image displayed on the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c.

[0321] In the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c corresponding to the stopped reels 21, blue add images are displayed, and an addition processing on color information of each pixel is performed on an overlap portion overlapping a specific image over an effect image, so that the color information on the overlap portion are varied.

[0322] According to the gaming machine 1 in the above-described embodiment, a display mode in a portion of an effect image displayed in the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c, that is, an overlap portion of the effect image over the reel display windows 2 a can be varied. Therefore, it is possible to facilitate distinction between the display of symbols and the display of the effect image in the reel display windows 2 a, and to provide a more visible display of the effect image.

[0323] In particular, in this embodiment, the specific image 5 a in blue (0, 0, 255) or the specific image 5 b in white (255, 255, 255) can be selectively displayed according to the operations of the reels 21 displayed in the reel display windows 2 a, so as to provide variation in winning mode display and to provide a more visible display in the reel display windows 2 a.

[0324] That is, in the reel display windows 2 a in which the reels 21 are stopped, the blue specific images 5 a are displayed in an overlapping manner, and an overlap portion overlapping the specific image 5 a over the effect image 4 is varied by an addition processing, so as to provide a clear contrast between the specific image 5 a and the effect image 4, making the effect image 4 more visible.

[0325] In the reel display window 2 a in which the reel 21 is rotating, the white specific image 5 b is preferentially displayed, so as to make the reel 21 more visible, resulting in a more visible important display in a game and an effective attraction in a game.

[0326] The above-described embodiment of the present invention is only for illustrative purposes, and the present invention is not especially limited thereto.

[0327] That is, the present invention is characterized by including a display device configured to display an effect image according to the progress of a game by a player, the display device including a winning mode display area capable of displaying a predetermined winning mode determined on the basis of the player's operation, and a display mode altering unit configured to alter a display mode in a portion of the effect image displayed in the winning mode display area.

[0328] However, the specific configuration and the like of this invention can be changed as appropriate.

[0329] Alternatively, the gaming machine 1 according to this invention may be configured without the stop buttons 62 to 64 for stopping the reels 21. In that case, the reels 21 are designed to be automatically stopped after an elapse of a predetermined period of time after the start of rotation.

[0330] Alternatively, the gaming machine 1 according to this invention may be configured to include the function of the sub-control circuit in the main control circuit 7.

[0331] The functions and effects described in the above embodiment are the most preferable functions and effects produced by the present invention, and the functions and effects of the present invention are not limited to those described in the above embodiment.

[0332] [Modification]

[0333] The present invention has been described with the embodiment in which the gaming machine of the invention is adapted for a slot machine, but the present invention is not limited thereto.

[0334] The present invention is also applicable to other gaming machines such as a pachinko machine equipped with a display device including a winning mode display area capable of displaying a winning mode, provided in such a manner as to cover the winning mode display area.

[0335] The present invention is also applicable to devices for displaying a virtual slot machine, pachinko machine or the like as described above on a television screen, such as arcade video game machines and home video game machines.

[0336] In those cases, software written in predetermined program language as described above is executed on a computer provided to a game machine, thereby establishing a virtual main control circuit 7 and image control circuit 8 as described above on the computer, displaying a virtual display device on the television screen, and performing the above-described processes.

[0337] In the above-described embodiment, in the transmission processing of a specific image to the VDP 86 (FIG. 22), a specific image is transmitted to the VDP 86 only when a certain effect (e.g., “WIN #A”) is produced, but the present invention is not limited thereto. Alternatively, a specific image may be transmitted to the VDP 86 whenever a game is being played.

[0338] The condition and the timing for the VDP 86 to cause the liquid crystal display device 3 to display a specific image may alternatively be set as appropriate.

[0339] For example, the image control CPU 85 may be configured to select a specific image from among a plurality of specific images for generating an image to be displayed on the liquid crystal display device 3 according to an internal winning combination, and transmit the selected specific image to the VDP 86, or to determine whether to transmit a specific image according to an internal winning combination or not. In this case, the transmission timing and the like may be set as desired.

[0340] In the above-described embodiment, a specific image is exemplarily shown as the one which varies the degree of visibility of an effect image displayed in the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c, or the degree of visibility of symbols displayed through the transmissive display areas 3 a to 3 c. However, the present invention is not limited thereto, the specific image can be any image.

[0341] The image control CPU 85 and the image control IC 86 may be configured to select a subtract image as the specific image to be provided in the winning mode display area when the reel is stopped, and to subtract color information of each pixel of a selected subtract image from color information of each pixel of the portion of the effect image to be displayed in the winning mode display area.

[0342] As described above, the present invention allows for the display of a winning mode and the display of an effect image easily understandable to players.

[0343] Additional advantages and modifications will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the invention in its broader aspects is not limited to the specific details and the representative embodiment shown and described herein. Accordingly, various modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the general inventive concept as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Classifications
U.S. Classification463/31
International ClassificationG07F17/34, G07F17/32
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3211, G07F17/34, G07F17/32
European ClassificationG07F17/32C2F, G07F17/34, G07F17/32
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 31, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: ARUZE CORP., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:OKADA, KAZUO;REEL/FRAME:015752/0528
Effective date: 20040520