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Publication numberUS20050181861 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/058,277
Publication dateAug 18, 2005
Filing dateFeb 16, 2005
Priority dateFeb 17, 2004
Also published asCN1657123A, EP1564699A2, EP1564699A3
Publication number058277, 11058277, US 2005/0181861 A1, US 2005/181861 A1, US 20050181861 A1, US 20050181861A1, US 2005181861 A1, US 2005181861A1, US-A1-20050181861, US-A1-2005181861, US2005/0181861A1, US2005/181861A1, US20050181861 A1, US20050181861A1, US2005181861 A1, US2005181861A1
InventorsRyu Kodachi
Original AssigneeAruze Corp.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Gaming machine
US 20050181861 A1
Abstract
The gaming machine includes a plurality of main reels 3 (L, C, R), on the periphery of which are arranged a plurality of symbols; and a stop switch 7 (L, C, R) enabling input of an instruction to stop rotation of the main reels 3; in which the rotation of the plurality of main reels 3 is stopped based on the timing of the input from the stop switch 7 by a player, and the gaming machine further includes a rotation speed modification switch 101 enabling modification of the rotation speed of the main reels 3 and being provided in a manner so as to be operable by the player; and a sub reel 3S, on the periphery of which are arranged a plurality of symbols for producing effects, in which the rotation speed modification switch 101 becomes operable when a particular effect is displayed by the symbol of the sub reel 3S that is stopped/displayed.
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Claims(8)
1. A gaming machine, comprising:
a plurality of reels, having a plurality of symbols arranged on the periphery thereof; rotation stop instruction input unit which gives an instruction to stop the rotation of the reels; and
rotation speed modification instruction input unit which modifies the rotation speed of the reels when a predetermined condition is satisfied;
wherein the rotation speed modification instruction input unit is operable by a player of the gaming machine.
2. The gaming machine according to claim 1, further including a condition determination reel, separate from the plurality of reels, wherein the satisfaction of the predetermined condition is determined according to a display pattern on the condition determination reel.
3. The gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein the predetermined condition is a condition that occurs during a bonus game.
4. The gaming machine according to claim 3, wherein the game during the bonus game is a free game.
5. The gaming machine according to claim 1,
wherein the plurality of reels is a plurality of main reels,
the rotation stop instruction input unit is a stop switch, and
the rotation speed modification instruction input unit is a rotation speed modification switch provided in a manner so as to be operable by a player,
wherein the gaming machine further comprises a sub reel, on the periphery of which are arranged a plurality of symbols for producing effects,
wherein the rotation speed modification switch becomes operable when a particular effect is displayed by the symbol on the sub reel that is stopped/displayed.
6. The gaming machine according to claim 5, further comprising:
point awarding unit which awards a predetermined number of points when a predetermined condition is satisfied;
point subtracting unit which subtracts a predetermined number of points when the rotation speed modification switch is operated; and
point storing unit which stores a total sum of points, based on the results of the operations by the point awarding unit and the point subtracting unit;
wherein the rotation speed modification switch becomes operable when the number of points stored by the point storing unit is equal to or greater than the number of points to be subtracted by the point subtracting unit.
7. The gaming machine according to claim 6, wherein numbers of points to be subtracted by the point subtracting units are categorized into a plurality of levels.
8. A gaming machine playing method, in which said gaming machine is provided with a plurality of reels, having a plurality of symbols arranged on the periphery thereof; rotation stop instruction input unit which gives an instruction to stop the rotation of the reels, and rotation speed modification instruction input unit which modifies the rotation speed of the reels when a predetermined condition is satisfied,
wherein the method comprises:
a rotation speed modification instruction input step in which the rotation speed modification instruction input is performed by a player of the gaming machine.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the priority of Japanese Patent Application No. 2004-040648 filed on Feb. 17, 2004, which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to gaming machines such as pachislo gaming machine, a slot machine, and the like.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Explanation will be given using an example of a slot machine, especially the type of pachislo gaming machine. This type of slot machine has three reels lined up side-by-side, which display a plurality of types of symbols on their outer surfaces. If coins have been inserted, when a start switch is operated the reels start to rotate and the symbols displayed on the outer surface of each reel are variably displayed. In this state, when stop switches for each reel are then operated the respective reels stop.

When all the reels have been stopped by this operation, if the symbols that stopped on a pay line determined by the number of coins inserted meet a predetermined winning combination, then a benefit is awarded to the player. The “benefit” awarded to the player is a benefit of having coins paid out to him as a prize depending on the winning combination, or a benefit referred to as a big bonus (below, BB) or a regular bonus (below, RB), which enables special game where coins can be won in greater amounts than in normal game.

Therefore, the player operates the stop switch so that the combination of symbols meets the winning combination. When the player operates the stop switch skillfully, the player can obtain benefits and can enjoy playing games. Operating the stop switch in this way so that the combination of symbols meets the winning combination is commonly called “observation stop”. However, when the reels are rotating the symbols are variably displayed at high speeds, so not all players are able to perform the observation stop operation. In other words, the observation stop operation is an operation which can be performed only by a subset of players having superior visual ability to perceive variable objects and who have practiced playing a lot.

Meanwhile, the popularity of pachislo gaming machines has increased recently. However, younger players who are prohibited to play this type of pachislo gaming machine legally also wish to play, and a differential has developed in a benefit obtainable not by mere luck but by the technique the player has. Therefore, the number of players who want to practice pachislo gaming machine is increasing, and pachislo gaming machines that are the same as those in Japanese pachinko-halls are being placed in game arcades now.

The above-mentioned players use the pachislo gaming machines that are placed in game centers to polish their technique. However, since observation stop is difficult for beginners, in order to get used to it they have to go through repeated failures to grasp the observation stop technique. In this way, on the conventional pachislo gaming machine grasping the observation stop technique required a lot of time, perseverance and money to play the game, and there is a problem that this put off many players.

Therefore, conventionally, in order to let a person who is unpracticed at playing to perform the observation stop operation easily, gaming machines have been proposed in which the reel rotation speed is reduced when a predetermined condition is met.

In one gaming machine of this type, a proposal has been made for a gaming machine in which BB, RB and other winning flags are established internally, and when a predetermined number of continuous misses have occurred where the player is unable to stop the appropriate symbols, the rotating reels' rotation speed is modified from high speed (the normal rotation speed) to low rotation speed (see Japanese Unexamined Patent Publication Nos. H5-003943, 2001-062039, 2002-233610, 2003-062169, and 2003-210666).

However, these gaming machines are not built so that the reel rotation speed can be modified by operations performed by the player. Modifications are made by controls internal to the slot machine.

In the method where the internal control slows down the rotating reels' rotation speed when the winning flag is established internally, there are cases where the benefit to the player is too great. This damages the balance of benefits between the Japanese pachinko-hall and the player, thus creating a new problem of disadvantage to the Japanese pachinko-halls.

Further, instead of the Japanese pachinko-hall, when a pachislo gaming machine installed in a game arcade is installed with this type of automatic speed reduction function, the rotation of the rotating reel is different from an actual pachislo gaming machine. This creates a problem in that an accustomed player cannot use it for practice.

Furthermore, in the method where the rotation speed of the rotating reel is reduced when the winning flag is established internally, the winning flag thus gets announced to the player. Thus, for an accustomed player, it is too easy to learn what the effect will be. This creates a problem in that the enjoyment of guessing whether or not the flag has been established internally gets reduced.

In one gaming machine for resolving these types of problems, a gaming machine has been considered which has a rotation speed modification switch that the player can operate himself to reduce the reels' rotation speed. In the gaming machine having the above-mentioned rotation speed modification switch, the player can select the reels' rotation speed according to the player's level of practice. This creates an engaging gaming machine. However, depending on the player, one can image the player always operating the rotation speed modification switch, whereby greatly reducing the relevance of technique. This would defeat the pachislo gaming machine's original attractiveness.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention has been made to solve the above-mentioned problems. An object of this invention is to provide a gaming machine that enables the player to select the reels' rotation speed according to the player's level of practice, and also enables the player to operate the rotation speed modification switch only when, for example, the effect shows that the possibility of a specific flag being established is high, thus increasing or adding to the attractiveness unique to pachislo gaming machines.

In order to solve the above-mentioned problems, the present invention provides the following.

  • (1) A gaming machine, comprising: a plurality of reels, having a plurality of symbols arranged on the periphery thereof; rotation stop instruction input means for giving an instruction to stop the rotation of the reels; and rotation speed modification instruction input means for modifying the rotation speed of the reels when a predetermined condition is satisfied, wherein the rotation speed modification instruction input means is operable by a player of the gaming machine.
  • (2) The gaming machine according to (1) mentioned above, further including a condition determination reel, separate from the plurality of reels, wherein the satisfaction of the predetermined condition is determined according to a display pattern on the condition determination reel.
  • (3) The gaming machine according to (1) mentioned above, wherein the predetermined condition is a condition that occurs during a bonus game.
  • (4) The gaming machine according to (3) mentioned above, wherein the game during the bonus game is a free game.
  • (5) A gaming machine comprising: a plurality of main reels, on the periphery of which are arranged a plurality of symbols; and a stop switch enabling input of an instruction to stop rotation of the main reels, wherein the rotation of the plurality of main reels is stopped based on the timing of the input from the stop switch by a player,
    • the gaming machine further comprising: a rotation speed modification switch enabling modification of the rotation speed of the main reels and being provided in a manner so as to be operable by the player; and a sub reel, on the periphery of which are arranged a plurality of symbols to produce an effect, wherein the rotation speed modification switch becomes operable when a particular effect is displayed by the sub reel symbol that is stopped/displayed.
  • (6) The gaming machine according to (5) mentioned above, further comprising:
    • point awarding means for awarding a predetermined number of points when a predetermined condition is satisfied; point subtracting means for subtracting a predetermined number of points when the rotation speed modification switch is operated; and point storing means for storing a total sum of points, based on the results of the operations by the point awarding means and the point subtracting means;
    • wherein the rotation speed modification switch becomes operable when the number of points stored by the point storing means is equal to or greater than the number of points to be subtracted by the point subtracting means.
  • (7) The gaming machine according to (6) mentioned above, wherein quantities of points to be subtracted by the point subtracting means are categorized into a plurality of levels.
  • (8) The gaming machine playing method, in which said gaming machine is provided with a plurality of reels, having a plurality of symbols arranged on the periphery thereof; rotation stop instruction input unit which gives an instruction to stop the rotation of the reels, and rotation speed modification instruction input unit which modifies the rotation speed of the reels when a predetermined condition is satisfied, wherein the method comprises: a rotation speed modification instruction input step in which the rotation speed modification instruction input is performed by a player of the gaming machine.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view schematically showing a pachislo gaming machine in accordance with a first embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a front view schematically showing the pachislo gaming machine shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing a construction of a main control circuit of the pachislo gaming machine shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram schematically showing a construction of a sub control circuit of the pachislo gaming machine shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a flowchart showing a sub routine executed on the pachislo gaming machine according to the first embodiment;

FIG. 6 is a flowchart showing a sub routine executed on the pachislo gaming machine according to the first embodiment;

FIG. 7 is a front view showing an external appearance of a gaming machine of the present invention according to a second embodiment;

FIG. 8 is a block diagram showing a main control circuit, peripheral devices and the like constituting the gaming machine of the present invention according to the second embodiment;

FIG. 9 is a flowchart showing a sub routine executed in the pachislo gaming machine according to the second embodiment;

FIG. 10 is a flowchart showing a sub routine executed in the pachislo gaming machine according to the second embodiment;

FIGS. 11A through 11C are explanatory diagrams showing effect patterns of a sub reel in the pachislo gaming machine according to the second embodiment;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view showing an external appearance of the gaming machine of the present invention according to a third embodiment;

FIG. 13 is a flowchart showing processing operations of main processing executed on the gaming machine according to the third embodiment; and

FIG. 14 is a flowchart showing processing operations of bonus game processing executed on the gaming machine according to the third embodiment.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS First Embodiment

Explanation is given regarding an embodiment of the present invention, based on the diagrams. A gaming machine 1 is a perspective view showing an external view of a gaming machine in accordance with a first embodiment. FIG. 2 is a front view of the above-mentioned gaming machine. FIG. 1 is a so-called “pachislo gaming machine”. This gaming machine 1 is a gaming machine that can be played using a coin, a medal, or a token, or a card or other such gaming medium which is given to the player or which stores game value information that has been given to the player. Below, explanation is given using a gaming machine that uses coins.

On a front surface of a cabinet 2 that forms the entirety of a gaming machine 1, there is formed a panel display portion 2 a made of a substantively perpendicular face, in the center of which are provided vertically rectangular display windows 4L, 4C and 4R. In the display windows 4L, 4C and 4R, serving as pay lines, there are provided a center line 8 a, a top line 8 b and a bottom line 8 c running in horizontal directions, and a cross-down line 8 d and a cross-up line 8 e running at diagonal directions. One, three or five of these pay lines are activated by operating a 1-BET switch 11, a 2-BET switch 12, or a maximum-BET switch 13 which are described below, or by inserting coins into a coin insertion slot 22. Which lines are activated is displayed by lighting up BET lamps 9 a, 9 b and 9 c, which are described below.

Inside the cabinet 2 are provided three main reels 3L, 3C and 3R, arranging columns of symbols made of a plurality of types of symbols on the outer surface of each reel, the main reels 3L, 3C and 3R being provided side by side and rotating freely, thus forming variable display means (variable display portion). The symbols on each main reel can be observed through display windows 4L, 4C and 4R.

Furthermore, to the right side of the display windows 4L, 4C and 4R there is further provided a display window 4S, inside which there is provided a freely rotating sub reel 3S, on the outside surface of which is arranged a symbol column made of a plurality of types of symbols that are different from the main reels.

Detailed explanation is given below, but the main reels can rotate at a normal rotation speed (for example, 80 rotations/minute), and also, upon operation of a rotation speed modification switch 101 described below, the rotation speed can be modified to 70 rotations/minute, if predetermined conditions are met.

To the left side of the display windows 4L, 4C and 4R, there are provided the 1-BET lamp 9 a, the 2-BET lamp 9 b, the maximum-BET lamp 9 c, and a stored coin number display portion 19. The 1-BET lamp 9 a, the 2-BET lamp 9 b, and the maximum-BET lamp 9 c light up according to the number of coins that have been bet to play one game (below, referred to as “BET number”). Here, in the present embodiment one game ends when all the main reels stop, or, when the gaming medium is to be paid out, when the payout of the gaming medium has been made. The 1-BET lamp 9 a lights up when the BET number is “1” and one pay line is activated. The 2-BET lamp 9 b lights up when the BET number is “2” and three pay lines are activated. The maximum-BET lamp 9 c lights up when the BET number is “3” and all (five) pay lines are activated. The game start display lamp 25 lights up when at least one line is activated. The stored coin number display portion 19 is made of a seven-segment LED, and displays the number of coins that have been stored.

To the right of the display windows 4L, 4C and 4R there are provided a WIN lamp 17, a payout display portion 18 and a game coin insertion lamp 24. The WIN lamp 17 lights up at a predetermined probability when an internal winning occurs for BB or RB, or when a BB or RB win is established. The payout number display portion 18 is made of a seven-segment LED, and displays the number of coins to be paid out when a win is established. The game coin insertion lamp 24 lights up when game coins can be accepted.

On the upper-right portion of the panel display portion 2 a there is provided a service game operation times display portion 20. The service game operation times display portion 20 is made of a seven-segment LED, and displays the number of possible RB games, the number of possible RB game wins, and the like, which are described below. Below the display windows 4L, 4C and 4R there is provided a base portion 10 made of a horizontal surface. Between the base portion 10 and the display windows 4L, 4C and 4R, there is provided a liquid crystal display device 5. Various effect images are displayed on a display screen 5 a of the liquid crystal display device 5.

At an upper-left position on the panel display portion 2 a, there are provided a game stop display 31, a replay display 32, an RB operation display 33, and a BB operation display 34. The game stop display 31 lights up while waiting for the elapse of a predetermined duration of time (for example, 4.1 seconds) from the rotation of the previous main reel until the rotation of the current main reel. The replay display 32 lights up when replay occurs. The RB operation display 33 lights up when RB occurs. The BB operation display 34 lights up when BB occurs.

On the right side of the liquid crystal display device 5 there is provided a coin insertion slot 22. To the bottom left of the liquid crystal display device 5 there are provided a 1-BET switch 11, a 2-BET switch 12, and a maximum-BET switch 13. Furthermore, to the upper left of the liquid crystal display device 5 there are provided a cross-shaped button 26, an “o” button 27, and an “x” button 28.

The 1-BET switch 11 is pushed one time to bet one of the credited coins on the game. The 2-BET switch 12 is pushed one time to bet two of the credited coins on the game. The maximum-BET switch 13 is pushed one time to bet the maximum possible number of coins that can be bet on the game. Operation of these BET switches activates predetermined pay lines as described above.

The cross-shaped button 26, the “o” button 27 and the “x” button 28 can be operated to change the liquid crystal display screen 5 a and make inputs.

Toward the left on the front surface portion of the base portion 10, there is provided a stored coin settlement switch 14, which is pushed to switch between giving credit/payout for the coins that the player won during the game. When this stored coin settlement switch 14 is switched, the coins get paid out from a coin payout opening 15 at a frontal bottom portion. The coins that are paid out are collected in a coin tray 16. To the right side of the stored coin settlement switch 14, there is a start lever 6 that can rotate freely within a predetermined angle range, which the player operates to make the main reels rotate and start the variable display of symbols in the display windows 4L, 4C and 4R (i.e., start the game).

Furthermore, toward the right of the base portion 10 there is provided the rotation speed modification switch 101. When this rotation speed modification switch 101 is operated as described above and a predetermined condition is satisfied, the main reel's rotation speed can be modified from 80 rotations/minute to 70 rotations/minute, for example.

According to the present embodiment, by operating the rotation speed modification switch 101, the speed gets modified to a given rotation speed that is lower than normal (below, “low rotation speed”). However, the rotation speed modification switch 101 is for example a 3-level switch, and in addition to switching to the low speed, it can also set a higher speed than normal such as 90 rotations/minute, in order to engage in observation stop practice.

Furthermore, the rotation speed modification switch 101 may also be constructed with an analog switch, such that the rotation speed of the main reel can be set freely within a given range (for example, from 60 to 80 rotations/minute). By adopting a method of accelerating the main reel rotation speed little by little, for example, one can engage in practice according to one's skill level. This type of modification to the function of the rotation speed modification switch can also be applied in the gaming machine of the present invention according to the second embodiment, which is described below. The aforementioned explanation illustrated particular rotation speeds, but in the present invention the reel rotation speeds that get modified are not restricted to the aforementioned values.

Toward the right on the front surface portion of the base portion 10 there is provided a door open/close and stop-release device 29. Using a predetermined key, the door open/close and stop-release device 29 is turned to the right to open/close a front door, and turned to the left to release a stop.

To the upper left and right of the cabinet 2, there are provided speakers 21L, 21R. Between these to speakers 21L, 21R there is provided a payout table panel 23 that displays combinations of winning symbols, a number of payout, and the like. In the center of the front surface portion of the base portion 10, below the liquid crystal display device 5, there are provided three stop switches 7L, 7C, 7R to stop each of the main reels 3L, 3C, 3R.

Each of the main reels 3L, 3C, 3R have twenty-one symbols of a plurality of symbol types, which are aligned to make columns of symbols. Each symbol has a code number “00” to “20”, which are stored as a data table on a ROM 32 which is explained below. Each of the main reels 3L, 3C, 3R displays a column of symbols made of symbols such as “blue 7”, “red 7”, “BAR”, “bell”, “plum”, “replay”, and “cherry” for example. Each of the main reels 3L, 3C, 3R is driven to rotate such that the column of symbols move in a predetermined direction.

A ROM 42 stores a plurality of types of probability lottery tables used for determining internal winning combination symbols. The internal winning probability lottery table varies depending on the game status, but each one is a table that establishes correspondences between a range of predetermined random numbers selected from a range from 0 to 16383, and the hit combination symbol. When determining the internal winning combination symbol, one numeric value (a random number) that is extracted by the internal lottery is used to determine the internal winning combination symbol. In the above-mentioned internal winning probability lottery table, the internal winning probability in the normal game status can be set to 55/16384 for BB, 28/16384 for RB, 2245/16384 for replay, 63/16384 for cherry, and so on.

When the lineup along the activated line is “blue 7-blue 7-blue 7” or “red 7-red 7-red 7” for example, a BB win occurs, so fifteen coins are paid out, and the game status for the next game becomes “BB game status”.

“RB game status” occurs in “normal game status” when the combination of symbols lined up along the activated line is for example “BAR-BAR-BAR”, or in “normal game status within BB” when the combination of symbols lined up along the activated line is for example “Replay-Replay-Replay” (so-called “JAC IN”), and so fifteen coins are paid out. Sometimes a distinction is drawn where RB that starts in “normal game status” is called normal RB, and RB that starts from “normal game status within BB” is called RB within BB.

“RB game status” is a game status where the player can bet one coin, and if a predetermined combination of symbols such as for example “Replay-Replay-Replay” is produced, then the generation to win fifteen coins can be won easily. In a single instance of the “RB game status” the maximum number of games that can be played (this is called the “RB possible number of games”) is twelve, for example. The number of wins that can occur (this is called the “RB possible number of wins”) is eight, for example. In other words, “RB game status” ends for example after twelve games or after eight wins. Then, when the RB game status ends, the game status shifts to normal game status.

A single instance of BB ends when thirty games have been played in the “normal game status within BB”, or when the game status shifts to RB game status three times it ends on the third RB. Then, when the BB game status ends, the game status shifts to normal game status.

In normal game status, a replay is won when the combination of symbols along the activated line is “Replay-Replay-Replay”. When a replay is won, the same number of coins as are inserted get automatically inserted so the player can play without spending medals.

The sub reel 3S has a plurality of types of symbols aligned making a column of symbols. Each symbol has a code number, and these are stored on a ROM 85 of a sub control circuit 82 which is explained below. The symbols arranged on the sub real 3S are not particularly limited. They may be collections of various scenes of particular animation (cartoons), various combination signs, drawings or the like, or depictions of famous entertainers, actors, athletes or the like in action. The sub reel 3S is rotated/driven such that the column of symbols moves in a predetermined direction. However, movement is not restricted to one direction and may sometimes rotate in the opposite direction.

Typically, the symbol that is stopped/displayed on the sub reel 3S indicates that RB, BB, small combination symbol or other specific hit combination symbol has hit internally, or to show that a specific hit combination symbol has a high possibility of hitting internally, or to suggest combinations of symbols that may be hitting internally, or to indicate other various types of game status.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing a circuit structure and the like, which include a main control circuit 81 for controlling game processing operations in the gaming machine 1, a peripheral device (actuator) that is electrically connected to the main control circuit 81, and a sub control circuit 82 for controlling the liquid crystal display device 5 and the speakers 21L, 21R based on control commands sent from the main control circuit 81.

The main constitutive element of the main control circuit 81 is a microcomputer 40 arranged on a circuit board. To this is added a circuit for sampling random numbers. The microcomputer 40 includes a CPU 41 for performing control operations according to a pre-configured program, and a ROM 42 and RAM 43 which are storage means.

Connected to the CPU 41 are a clock pulse generation circuit 44 and a frequency divider 45 for generating a standard pulse, and a random number generator 46 and a sampling circuit 47 for generating random numbers to be sampled. Note that, as the means for performing the random number sampling, the random sampling may be executed inside the microcomputer 40, which is to say in an operation program of the CPU 41. In this case the random number generator 46 and the sampling circuit 47 can be omitted or may be left to serve as backup for the random sampling operation.

The ROM 42 of the microcomputer 40 stores the probability lottery tables used to determine the random number sampling performed upon each operation of the start lever 6 (each start operation), stop control tables for determining the stop state of the main reels in response to the operation of the stop switches, various control commands (commands) for sending to the sub control circuit 82, and the like. Note that communications are performed unidirectionally from the main control circuit 81 to the sub control circuit 82, without commands, information or the like being inputted from the sub control circuit 82 to the main control circuit 81.

In the circuitry in FIG. 3, the main actuators whose operations are controlled by the control signals from the microcomputer 40 are the various lamps (1-BET lamp 9 a, 2-BET lamp 9 b, maximum-BET lamp 9 c, WIN lamp 17), the various display portions (the payout display portion 18, the stored coin number display portion 19, and the service game operation times display portion 20), the hopper (including a drive unit for making the payouts) 50 which serves as game value awarding means for storing the coins and paying out the predetermined number of coins according to a command from a hopper drive circuit 51, and stepping motors 59L, 59C, 59R for driving the rotation of the main reels 3L, 3C, 3R.

Furthermore, a motor drive circuit 49 for driving/controlling the stepping motors 59L, 59C, 59R, the hopper drive circuit 51 for driving/controlling the hopper 50, a lamps drive circuit 55 for driving/controlling the various lamps, and a display drive circuit 58 for driving/controlling the various display portions are connected via an I/O port 48 to an output portion of the CPU 41. These drive circuits each receive drive commands and other control signals that are outputted from the CPU 41, and control the operations of each actuator.

Furthermore, as the main input signal generation means for generating necessary input signals for the microcomputer 40 to generate the control commands, there are a start switch 6S, the 1-BET switch 11, a 2-BET switch 12, the maximum-BET switch 13, the stored coin settlement switch 14, the rotation speed modification switch 101, an inserted coin sensor 22S, a reel stop signal circuit 56, a reel position detection circuit 60, and a payout completion signal circuit 61. These, too, are connected to the CPU 41 via the I/O port 48.

The start switch 6S detects the operation of the start lever 6. The inserted coin sensor 22S detects coins inserted into the coin insertion slot 22. The reel stop signal circuit 56 generates a stop signal in response to the operation of each of the stop switches 7L, 7C, 7R. The reel position detection circuit 60 receives the pulse signal from the reel rotation sensor and provides a signal for detecting the positions of each of the main reels 3L, 3C, 3R to the CPU 41. The payout completion signal circuit 61 generates a signal for detecting the completion of the payout of the coins when a calculated value from the coin detection unit 50S (the number of coins paid out from the hopper 50) attains designated coin number data.

In the circuitry in FIG. 3, the random number generator 46 generates a random number within a given range. The sampling circuit 47 samples one random number at appropriate timing after the operation of the start lever 6. The internal winning combination symbol is determined based on the random number that is generated in this way and the probability lottery tables stored in the ROM 42. After the internal winning combination symbol is determined, the random number sampling is performed again in order to determine the “stop control table”.

After the rotation of the main reels 3L, 3C, 3R has started, the number of drive pulses that have been provided to each of the stepping motors 59L, 59C, 59R are totaled. The total sum value is written into a predetermined area of the RAM 43. A result pulse is obtained from the main reels 3L, 3C, 3R upon each rotation, and these pulses are inputted into the CPU 41 via the reel position detection circuit 60. The result pulses thus obtained clear back to “0” the total sum values of the drive pulses that are added up in the RAM 43. Accordingly, for each of the main reels 3L, 3C, 3R, the RAM 43 stores a total sum value that corresponds to the rotation position within a single rotation.

A symbol table is stored inside the ROM 42 in order to establish correspondences between the above-mentioned rotation positions of the main reels 3L, 3C, 3R and the symbols arranged on the outer surfaces of the main reels. In this symbol table, the rotation position where the above-mentioned reset pulses are generated serve as a reference point, and correspondences are established between the code numbers that are sequentially assigned to given rotation pitch intervals of each main reel 3L, 3C, 3R, and the symbol codes indicating the symbols corresponding to each of the code numbers.

According to the gaming machine of the present invention, within a predetermined area of the RAM 43 there is set an area for storing whether or not to change to the low-speed rotation (a rotation speed modification flag). When the rotation speed modification switch 101 is operated, this rotation speed modification flag stands up. When the reel rotation is about to start, for example, the CPU 41 reads the rotation speed modification flag, and when the flag is standing up the intervals between the drive pulses that are provided to each of the stepping motors 59L, 59C, 59R are modified to change the rotation speed of the reels to “low-speed rotation”. However, in the present invention, if another condition is not satisfied then the rotation speed modification flag will have been cleared, the modification of the rotation speed of the reels will not be realized.

Note that the rotation speed modification flag is automatically cleared when one game ends. In the next game, the main reels will rotate at the normal rotation speed if the rotation speed modification switch 101 is not operated.

Furthermore, inside the ROM 42 there is stored a winning symbol combination table. The winning symbol combination table establishes correspondences between the combinations of symbols that produce wins, the number of payout coins for a win, and win determination codes that indicate wins. The above-mentioned winning symbol combination table is referenced when the stop control is performed on the left main reel 3L, the middle main reel 3C and the right main reel 3R, and when performing a win confirmation after the reels have been stopped.

When the lottery processing (probability lottery processing) that is performed based on the above-mentioned random number sampling produces an internal winning, the CPU 41 sends, to the motor drive circuit 49, the signal for stopping/controlling the main reels 3L, 3C, 3R, based on the operation signal sent from the reel stop signal circuit 56 when the player operates the stop switches 7L, 7C, 7R and based on the selected “stop control table”.

When the stop pattern indicates a win for a combination symbol that has hit internally, the CPU 41 then provides the payout command signal to the hopper drive circuit 51, and performs the payout of a predetermined number of coins from the hopper 50. At this time, the coin detection unit 50S calculates the number of coins to be paid out from the hopper 50. When the total sum value attains the designated number, a coin payout completion signal is inputted into the CPU 41. Accordingly, the CPU 41 stops driving the hopper 50 via the hopper drive circuit 51, and thus the “coin payout processing” ends.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram showing a construction of a sub control circuit 82. The sub control circuit 82 performs such things as display controls for the liquid crystal display device 5 and output control of sound from the speakers 21L, 21R, based on control commands from the main control circuit 81. The sub control circuit 82 is constructed on a circuit board that is not the circuit board where the main control circuit 81 is constructed. A main constitutive element is a microcomputer (below, called “sub microcomputer”) 83. The sub control circuit 82 is constructed with an image control circuit 91 serving as display control means for the liquid crystal display device 5, a sound source IC 88 for controlling the sound outputted from the speakers 21L, 21R, and a power amp 89 serving as an amplifier.

The sub microcomputer 83 includes a sub CPU 84 for performing controls/operations according to control commands sent form the main control circuit 81, a program ROM 85 serving as storage means, and a work RAM 86. The sub control circuit 82 does not have a clock pulse generation circuit, a frequency divider, a random number generator, or a sampling circuit, but is constructed so as to execute random number sampling in the operation programs of the sub CPU 84.

The program ROM 85 stores a control program to be executed on the sub CPU 84. The work RAM 86 functions as temporary storage means when the above-mentioned control program is executed on the CPU 84. Furthermore, the program ROM 85 also stores a program for driving the sub reel 3S. Note that the sub reel 3S starts rotating simultaneously with the main reels when the start switch 6S is operated.

Connected to the sub CPU 84 via the I/O port is a motor drive circuit 110 for driving/controlling a stepping motor 59S that rotates/drives the sub reel 3S, a motor drive circuit 110 that drives/controls the stepping motors 59S. Furthermore, a reel position detection circuit 111 for generating an input signal is also connected.

The ROM 85 stores a data base in which code numbers are assigned to each of the symbols on the sub reel 3S. The position of the reel is detected in the same manner as the main reel. The sub reel 3S displays a predetermined effect (symbol) after a predetermined time duration has elapsed since the start switch 6S is operated. The sub CPU 84, after detected the position of the reel by the aforementioned method, performs a stop request to stop at a desired symbol, in correspondence to the symbol. For the sub reel 3S there is no restriction on the number of sliding frames or the like, so it can slide until stopping at the desired symbol.

Note that, in accordance with the present embodiment, a particular effect is shown when a particular hit combination symbol hits internally. The ROM 42 of the main control circuit 81 stores a sub reel effect table in which are written a plurality of combinations of symbols on the main reel and combinations of symbols that stop on the sub reel 3S. The CPU 41 emits a signal to the sub control circuit 82 based on the sub reel effect table. The CPU 84 of the sub control circuit 82 stops the sub reel 3S at the desired symbol after a predetermined duration of time elapses after the start switch 6S is operation.

Furthermore, when the rotation speed modification switch 101 is operated, a table for determining whether or not the modification to the rotation speed of the main reel is effective or not, namely a particular effect table in which are written the sub reel 3S effects (symbols) and particular internal winning combination symbols and the like, is stored into the ROM 42 of the main control circuit 81. Based the particular effect table, a determination is made as to whether the effect (symbol) that is stopped/displayed on the sub reel 3S is an effect (symbol) enables the main reels' rotation speed modification switch to be operated.

The image control circuit 91 is constructed with an image control CPU 92, an image control work RAM 93, an image control program ROM 94, an image ROM 96, a video RAM 97, and an image control IC 98. The image control CPU 92, based on parameters that are set by the sub microcomputer 83, determines the display content of the liquid crystal display device 5 according to an image control program stored inside the image control program ROM 94. The image control program ROM 94 stores the image control program and various selection tables relevant to the display on the liquid crystal display device 5. The image control work RAM 93 is constructed as temporary storage means when the above-mentioned image control program is executed on the image control CPU 92.

The image control IC 98 forms the image in response to the display content determined by the image control CPU 92, and outputs this to the liquid crystal display device 5. The image ROM 96 stores dot data that forms the image. The video RAM 97 is constructed as temporary storage means when the image control IC 98 forms the image.

FIG. 5 through FIG. 6 are flowcharts showing sub routines that are executed on the gaming machine shown in FIG. 1 through FIG. 2. The sub routines are called up and executed at predetermined timing from a main routine that is already being executed. Explanation of the gaming execution processing routines is given with separate explanation for a gaming execution processing routine 1 in FIG. 5, and a gaming execution processing routine 2 in FIG. 6.

First, as shown in gaming execution processing routine 1 of FIG. 5, the CPU 41 determines whether or not there is a request for automatic insertion of coins (step S10). Note that in the case where there is a request for automatic insertion, a replay has to be won in previous game. When there is a request for automatic insertion of coins, the requested number of coins is automatically inserted (step S11), and a coin insertion command is sent to the sub control circuit 82 (step S12).

On the other hand, at step S10, when it is determined that there is no request for automatic insertion of coins, the CPU 41 determines whether or not coins are actually inserted (step S13). In other words, the CPU 41 determines whether or not the detection signal emitted by the inserted coin sensor 22S that detects coins are inserted into the coin insertion slot 22 is received, thus determining whether or not coins are inserted.

In step S13, in the case where it is determined that coins are not inserted, the CPU 41 returns the processing to step S10. At step S13, in the case where it is determined that coins are inserted or in the case where the processing of step S12 is executed, a determination is then made as to whether or not the start lever 6 is operated (step S14). In other words, the CPU 41 determines whether or not the input signal is received from the start switch 6S.

At step S14, in the case where it is determined that the start lever 6 is not operated, the CPU 41 then returns the processing to step S14. On the other hand, in the case where it is determined at step S14 that the start lever 6 is operated, the CPU 41 then performs the various settings (step S15).

In the processing for the various settings, when the start lever 6 is operated the random number generator 146 performs sampling of the random numbers. Based on the random number value that is sampled and based on the probability lottery tables that are set in the RAM 43, lottery processing is performed to generate the internal winning combination symbol (winning flag). Furthermore, in the processing for the various settings, for example, WIN lamp light-up lottery processing, processing for selecting the stop control table for stopping the rotating reels, processing for sending a start command to the sub control circuit 82 as sending processing when starting game, and processing for initialization to start the reel rotation and the like are performed, and this starts the rotation of the main reels 3 (3L, 3C, 3R). At this time, the CPU 41 sends a control signal to the sub control circuit 82 and causes the sub reel 3S to rotate simultaneously with the main reels 3 (3L, 3C, 3R).

After that, the CPU 41 determines whether or not a predetermined duration of time has elapsed (whether or not it is time to stop the sub reel) (step S16). When the predetermined duration of time has not elapsed, the processing is returned to step S16. The predetermined duration of time in step S17 is preferably about 1 to 5 seconds.

When the CPU 41 determines that the predetermined duration of time has elapsed, the sub reel effect table stored in the above-mentioned ROM 42 is referenced based on the combination of symbols (the hit combination symbols) obtained in the internal winning to determine which symbol to stop the sub reel 3S on, and then a control signal is sent to the sub control circuit 82 so as to stop on that symbol (step S17).

Next, the CPU 41 determines whether or not the predetermined time duration has elapsed (whether or not the time duration to allow the operation of the rotation speed modification switch 101 has ended) (step S18). In the case where the predetermined time duration has not elapsed, the processing is returned to step S18. The predetermined time duration in step S18 is preferably about 1 to 3 seconds. Preferably, the liquid crystal display device or the like displays whether or not the time duration for allowing the operation of the rotation speed modification switch 101 has ended. Furthermore, the ending of the time duration to operate the rotation speed modification switch 101 may also be transmitted by voice via the speakers 21R, 21S.

The reason why the time duration for operating the rotation speed modification switch 101 is set in this way is because there are many cases where one looks at the effect on the sub reel and determines whether or not to operate the rotation speed modification switch 101.

Next, the CPU 41 determines whether or not the rotation speed modification switch 101 is operated (step S19). That is, when the rotation speed modification switch 101 is operated within the above-mentioned time duration, the rotation speed modification flag provided in the RAM 43 stands up. In this case, the CPU 41 determines whether or not the rotation speed modification switch 101 is operated by determining whether or not the rotation speed modification flag in the RAM 43 is standing up.

In the case where it is determined that the rotation speed modification switch 101 has not been operated the rotation speed is not modified so the processing advances to step S22. On the other hand, in the case where it is determined that the rotation speed modification switch 101 is operated, the CPU 41 then determines whether or not the particular effect is shown by the symbol that is stopped/displayed on the sub reel 3S, based on the above-mentioned particular effect table (step S20).

In the case where it is determined that the particular effect is not being displayed on the sub reel 3S it is necessary to invalidate the operation of the rotation speed modification switch 101, so the rotation speed modification flag is cleared and the processing is advanced to step S22.

In the case where it is determined that the particular effect is being displayed on the sub reel 3S, the CPU 41 then modifies the rotation speed of the main reel 3 to “low-speed rotation” based on the rotation speed modification flag (step S21). In other words, the CPU 41 sends a control signal to modify the intervals between the drive pulses provided to each of the stepping motors 59L, 59C, 59R, thus reducing the rotation of the main reels 3 to low speed.

The “particular effect” refers to, for example, an effect such as one which shows that the probability of an internal winning for a particular hit combination symbol is high. FIGS. 11A through 11C show examples of effect symbols shown on the sub reel. An effect method may be to have a piglet character discovering a treasure or relaxing in the tropics as shown in FIGS. 11A and 11B. Examples are given of internal winnings for RB, BB, watermelon and other small combination symbol, but the effect method in the present invention is not restricted to these examples. For example, it is also possible to show a particular signs or the like, or show the specific symbol that hit, or the like. Note that FIG. 11C shows a case where the combination of symbols on the main reels is not a win.

When there is a high probability that an internal winning has occurred for a particular hit combination symbol, there is still a low possibility that the internal winning has not occurred for the particular hit combination symbol. Therefore, in this case, for example even when the combination of main reel symbols is not a win, it is still necessary to set the sub reel effect table to produce the particular effect. However, this probability must be low, such as below 5% for example.

In the present invention, when the sub reel 3S has produced this type of particular effect, a win occurs for the RB, BB, small combination symbol or other hit combination symbol due to the lineup of particular symbols. However, it is difficult to line up the intended symbols, especially for a beginner. Therefore, the rotation speed of the main reels 3 is reduced, and thus it becomes easier to line up the symbols on the main reels by observation stop.

Next, the CPU 41 determines whether or not the stop switches (stop buttons) 7 (7L, 7C, 7R) are “ON”, based on whether or not there is an input signal from the reel stop signal circuit 56 (step S22). In the case where it is determined that the stop switches 7 are not “ON”, the CPU 41 determines whether or not the value of an automatic stop timer is “0” (step S23). In the case where it is determined not to be “0”, the processing returns to step S22.

On the other hand, in the case where it is determined at step S22 that the stop switches 7 are “ON”, or in the case where it is determined at step S23 that the value of the automatic stop timer is “0”, the CPU 41 stops the rotation of the main reels 3 in accordance with the stop switches 7. When doing this, the number of sliding frames is determined based on the hit request (internal winning combination symbol), the symbol positions (the rotation positions of the main reels 3 when the operation is performed), the selected stop control table, and the like (step S24).

Next, the CPU 41 performs processing to stop the main reels 3 after making them rotate the number of sliding frames determined in step S24 (step S25), and sets the stop request for one of the main reels 3 (step S26).

Next, the CPU 41 determines whether or not all of the three main reels (3L, 3C, 3R) have stopped (step S27). In the case where it is determined that not all the main reels have stopped, the processing is returned to step S22.

Next, as shown in the gaming execution processing routine 2 in FIG. 6, when it is determined that all the main reels have been stopped the CPU 41 searches for a win (step S30). At this time, the CPU 41 references such things as the winning symbol combination table that is stored in the ROM 42. Furthermore, the CPU 41 also determines whether or not the win flag is normal or not, and if not, then an illegal error may be displayed and processing may be suspended.

The CPU 41 determines whether or not there is a coin payout, which is to say it determines the presence/absence of a number of win coins (step S31). In the case where it is determined that there is a coin payout, the CPU 41 either stores or pays out the number of coins determined by the game status and the win combination symbol (step S32). In the case where the coins are to be stored, the CPU 41 performs processing to tally up the number of coins stored in the RAM 43. On the other hand, in the case where the coins are paid out, the CPU 41 sends a payout command signal to the hopper drive circuit 51 and a predetermined number of coins are paid out from the hopper 50. When doing this, the coin detection unit 50S adds up the number of coins to be paid out from the hopper 50. When the total sum value attains a designated number, a coin payout completion signal is inputted into the CPU 41. Accordingly, the CPU 41 stops the drive on the hopper 50 via the hopper drive circuit 51 and ends the coin payout processing.

Next, the CPU 41 determines whether or not an RB win occurred (step S33). When an RB win has occurred, the CPU 41 performs the RB settings (step S34). Here at step S34, the CPU 41 performs the settings in the RB probability lottery table and the RB winning symbol combination table. Furthermore, here at step S34, the CPU 41 starts adding up the number of RB game wins and the like, and starts processing to display the total sum value on the service game operation times display portion 20.

In the case where the step S34 processing is performed or when it is determined at step S33 that an RB win has not occurred, the CPU 41 determines whether or not a BB win has occurred (step S35). When it is determined that a BB win has occurred, the CPU 41 performs the BB settings (step S36). Here at step S36, the CPU 41 performs the settings in the BB probability lottery table and the BB winning symbol combination table. Furthermore, here at step S36, the CPU 41 starts adding up the number of BB games that have been used up and the like, and starts displaying the total sum value thereof on the service game operation times display portion 20, and starts adding up the paid out coins and the like.

In the case where the step 36 processing is performed, or when it is determined at step S35 that a BB win has not occurred, the CPU 41 determines whether or not a RB has ended (step S37). When it is determined that a RB has ended, the CPU 41 then performs processing to release the RB settings (step S38). Here at step S38, the CPU 41 uses the RB probability lottery table that is set in the processing at step S34, the RB winning symbol combination table and the like to perform processing to switch to the probability lottery table used for the normal game status (not RB or BB).

In the case where the step S38 processing is to be executed or when it is determined at step S37 that the RB win has not ended, the CPU 41 then determines whether or not BB has ended (step S39). When it is determined that BB has ended, the CPU 41 then performs the processing to release the BB settings (step S40). Here at step S40 the CPU 41 uses the BB probability lottery table that is set in the processing at step S36, the BB winning symbol combination table and the like to perform processing to switch to the probability lottery table to be used in normal game status.

In the case where the step S40 processing is to be executed, or when it is determined at step S39 that BB has not ended, the CPU 41 then clears the rotation speed modification flag and configures the settings to recover the normal rotation speed of the main reels (step S41). Therefore, in the next game, the main reels will rotate at the normal rotation speed if the rotation speed modification switch 101 is not operated. When the processing at step S41 is executed this sub routine ends.

Next, simple explanation is given regarding a method of playing the gaming machine according to the first embodiment. First, the player performs such things as inserting the coins, and operates the start lever to start the rotation of the main reels and the sub reel. Once the main reels and the sub reel have started rotating and a predetermined duration of time elapses, the sub reel stops at a symbol that shows a predetermined effect pattern.

FIGS. 11A through 11C show examples of effect patterns displayed on the sub reel. As shown in FIGS. 11A through 11B, when the piglet character is discovering a treasure or relaxing in the tropics or the like, this indicates that there is a high possibility that an internal winning occurred for RB, BB, watermelon, or other small combination symbol. On the other hand, when the piglet is crying as in FIG. 11C, this indicates that there is a high chance of a non-win symbol.

When the effect symbol displays a particular effect such as shown in FIGS. 11A and 11B, a player who believes that this indicates a high probability of an internal winning for a particular hit combination symbol and who wants to make his intended symbol stop and be displayed, or a beginner, will operate the rotation speed modification switch 101.

When the above-mentioned effect indicates an internal winning for a particular hit combination symbol, the operation of the rotation speed modification switch 101 causes the rotation speed of the main reels to drop, and so the player can perform observation stop more easily and can line up the combination of symbols which he intends. However, even with the same symbols, the main reels may not have an internal winning for the particular hit combination symbol, in which case the rotation speed of the main reels is not reduced.

Therefore, instead, when the player operates the rotation speed modification switch, the player can judge whether or not the particular hit combination symbol has hit internally, based on whether or not the rotation speed of the main reels has been reduced.

After that the stop switches are operated to stop the rotation of the main reels in a pattern displaying a combination of given symbols.

The gaming machine of the present invention according to the first embodiment is constructed as described above. Therefore, it is possible operate the rotation speed modification switch to slow down the rotation speed of the main reels only when it is indicated that there is a high probability of an internal winning for the particular hit combination symbol. In any other case, the rotation speed of the main reel does not reduce, and so is possible to maintain the normal level of relevance of skill and maintain the pachislo gaming machine's original attractiveness.

Furthermore, when the rotation speed modification switch is operated and the rotation speed of the main reels is slowed down, the probability of lining up a combination of intended symbols rises, the possibility of winning coins increases, and furthermore, using the sub reel increases the effectiveness. As a result, it becomes possible to fully enjoy game using the pachislo gaming machine.

Second Embodiment

Next, explanation is given regarding a gaming machine of the present invention according to a second embodiment. The gaming machine according to the second embodiment is further provided with point awarding means for awarding a predetermined number of points when a predetermined condition is satisfied, point subtracting means for subtracting a predetermined number of points when the above-mentioned rotation speed modification switch is operated, and point storing means for storing a total sum of points based on the results of operations by the above-mentioned point awarding means and the above-mentioned point subtracting means. The above-mentioned rotation speed modification switch becomes operable when, in addition to the symbols on the sub reel displaying that particular effect, the number of points stored in the above-mentioned point storing means is equal to or greater than the number of points to be subtracted by the above-mentioned point subtracting means.

FIG. 7 is a front view showing the external appearance of the gaming machine of the present invention in accordance with the second embodiment. FIG. 8 is a block diagram showing a main control circuit, a peripheral devices and the like constituting the gaming machine of the present invention in accordance with the second embodiment.

The gaming machine in accordance with the second embodiment is provided with a point display portion 201 for showing a number of points located on the right side in the middle area of the panel display portion 2 a. Other than this, the construction is substantially similar to the gaming machine in accordance with the first embodiment shown in FIG. 1 through FIG. 2. Furthermore, in the block diagram shown in FIG. 8, the display drive circuit 58 is provided with a point display portion 201. Other than this, the construction is substantially similar to the gaming machine in accordance with the first embodiment shown in FIG. 1 through FIG. 2. Therefore, explanations are omitted here, except for the explanation of the point display portion.

The point display portion 201 is a display device for displaying the number of points stored by the point storing means (point counter) of the RAM 43. The number of points is increased by “a” points or by “b” points when a win occurs for a particular small combination symbol, replay combination symbol or the like. That is, a win for a particular small combination symbol, replay combination symbol or the like causes the numeric value in the point display portion to become a numeric value of P=P+a or P=P+b. On the other hand, when the rotation speed modification switch is operated and the rotation speed of the reels is reduced, “A” points are subtracted. That is, the number of points shown in the point display portion becomes a value of P−A. The number of points cannot be negative. When the value of P is less than A, the rotation speed modification switch 101 cannot be operated to reduce the rotation speed of the main reels. Therefore, the player must operate the rotation speed modification switch at a time when the effect of reducing the rotation speed of the main reels is greatest.

As described above, the gaming machine according to the second embodiment is different in that it is provided with the point awarding means for awarding a predetermined number of points when a predetermined condition is satisfied, the point subtracting means for subtracting a predetermined number of points when the above-mentioned rotation speed modification switch is operated, and the point storing means for storing the total sum of points based on the results of operations by the above-mentioned point awarding means and the above-mentioned point subtracting means. Moreover, this embodiment is different in that the above-mentioned rotation speed modification switch becomes operable when, in addition to the condition required in the gaming machine according the above-mentioned first embodiment, the number of points stored by the above-mentioned point storing means is equal to or greater than the number of points to be subtracted by the above-mentioned point subtracting means. This is explained using the flowcharts.

FIG. 9 though FIG. 10 are flowcharts showing sub routines that are executed in the gaming machine of the present invention in accordance with the second embodiment. Note that when performing the same processing as in the gaming machine of the present invention in accordance with the first embodiment, the same step numbers are used and the detailed explanations are omitted for steps that perform the same processing.

First, as shown in the gaming execution processing routine 1 in FIG. 9, at steps S10 through S20 the same processing is performed as in the gaming machine of the present invention in accordance with the first embodiment.

In other words, the processing of steps S10 through S15 is performed. At step S16 the CPU 41 determines whether or not the predetermined duration of time has elapsed. At step S17 the sub reel is stopped. At step S18 the determination is made as to whether or not the time duration to permit the operation of the rotation speed modification switch 101 has ended. Furthermore, the CPU 41 determines at step S19 whether or not the rotation speed modification switch 101 is operated, and determines at step S20 whether or not there is a particular effect on the sub reel.

When there is a particular effect on the sub reel, the CPU 41 then determines whether or not the number of points (P) stored by the point storing means (point counter) in the RAM 43 from steps S53 and S55 of the previous game is equal to or greater than a determined value (A), in other words, whether P≧A (step S50). Note that the processing at steps S53 and S55 are explained below.

When the number of points (P) stored by the point storing means is not equal to or greater than the determined value (A), in other words, when it is determined that the number of points (P) is less than the determined value (A), it is necessary to invalidate the operation of the rotation speed modification switch 101, so the rotation speed modification flag is cleared and the processing is advanced to step S22.

On the other hand, when it is determined that the number of points (P) stored in the point counter is equal to or greater than the determined value (A), the CPU 41 then modifies the rotation speed of the main reels 3 to “low-speed rotation” based on the rotation speed modification flag (step S21). In other words, the CPU 41 sends a control signal to modify the intervals between the pulses provided to each of the stepping motors 59L, 59C, 59R, and thus reduces the rotation of the main reels 3 to a low speed. In the aforementioned case there is particular effect on the sub reel and P≧A, so observation stop is easy and a win easily occurs for the particular internal winning combination symbol.

Next, the CPU 41 subtracts “A” number of points from the number of points (P) stored in the point counter in exchange for having modified the rotation speed of the main reels, in other words, P=P−A and this value is stored into the point counter (step S51).

The subsequent processing from step S22 to step S41 is performed similarly to the gaming machine of the present invention in accordance with the first embodiment, so explanations are omitted here.

At step S41 in the gaming execution processing routine 2 shown in FIG. 10, after configuring settings to recover the normal rotation speed of the main reels 3, the CPU 41 then determines whether or not there is a win has occurred with the replay combination symbol (step S52).

In the case where it is determined that a win has occurred for the replay combination symbol, the CPU 41 then adds “a” number of points for the replay combination symbol win to the number of points (P) in the point counter and stores this (step S53). In other words, the number of points in the point counter becomes P=P+a.

On the other hand, in the case where it is determined that the win has not occurred for the replay combination symbol, or after the number of points in the point counter has become P=P+a, the CPU 41 then determines whether or not a small combination symbol hit has occurred (step S54).

When it is determined that a small combination symbol hit occurs, the CPU 41 then adds “b” number of points for the small combination symbol hit to the number of points (P) in the point counter (step S55). In other words, the number of points in the point counter becomes P=P+b. The number of points may differ depending on the type of small combination symbol hit and the game status. The player keeps in mind the points that are thus displayed as described above, and then when there is a particular effect on the sub reel at step S20, the player determines whether or not to operate the rotation speed modification switch. When the processing at step S55 is performed this sub routine ends.

Next, simple explanation is given regarding a method of playing the gaming machine in accordance with the second embodiment. First, the player performs such things as inserting the coins. After that, the player then operates the start lever to start the rotation of the main reels and the sub reel. Once the main reels and the sub reel have started rotating and a predetermined duration of time elapses, the sub reel stops at a symbol that shows a predetermined effect pattern such are shown in FIGS. 11A through 11C.

When the effect symbol is displayed as a particular effect such as are shown in FIGS. 11A and 11C, the player checks the number of points P displayed in the point display portion 201 of the display panel.

The number of points P are increased by “a” or “b”, depending on the small combination symbol hit and the like, and thus indicate the current points after A is subtracted when rotation speed modification switch is used to reduce the speed of the main reels. If the number of points P is less than A, then the rotation speed of the main reels cannot be reduced. On the other hand, if P is equal to or greater than A, then the rotation speed modification switch can be operated to reduce the rotation speed of the main reels.

When the number of points P is equal to or greater than A, a player who believes that this indicates a high probability that a particular hit combination symbol has hit internally and who wants to make his intended symbol stop and be displayed, or a beginner, will operate the rotation speed modification switch.

In a case where the above-mentioned effect indicates that a particular hit combination symbol has hit internally, operation of the rotation speed modification switch reduces the rotation speed of the main reels. Thus, the player can perform observation stop more easily and can line up his intended combination of symbols (the hit combination symbols).

The gaming machine of the present invention in accordance with the second embodiment is constructed as described above. Therefore, for example, the rotation speed modification switch is operable only when the value after adding the number of points awarded when the so-called replay combination symbol or small combination symbol hits is greater than the number of points to be subtracted when the above-mentioned rotation speed modification switch is operated. Therefore, the rotation speed modification switch cannot always be operated to slow down the rotation speed of the main reels. It becomes necessary for each player to judge the appropriate timing to operate the rotation speed modification switch. Therefore, the game content becomes varied, and gaming can be enjoyed more.

Third Embodiment

Next, explanation is given regarding a third embodiment of the present invention. The gaming machine in accordance with a third embodiment is a slot machine in which the game described in the first and second embodiments is applied to a bonus game.

The gaming machine according to the third embodiment shares many points in common with the gaming machine according to the first embodiment shown in FIG. 1 through FIG. 6, and the second embodiment shown in FIG. 7 through FIG. 11, so detailed explanations of these points are omitted here. Only points which are different are explained in detail. Here, FIG. 12 is a perspective view showing an outer appearance of the gaming machine of the present invention according to the third embodiment. Namely, a slot machine 300 according to the present embodiment is provided with a housing 312 and a main door 350.

A surface of the housing 312 which faces the player is open and the housing 312 is installed at a given location in a casino, for example. In the housing 312 there are provided a control device described below for electrically controlling the slot machine 300, and a hopper not shown in the diagrams for controlling insertion, storage and payout of coins, and other various constitutive structures.

A main door 350 is a structure covering the inside of the housing 312 so it is not exposed to the outside. The main door 350 is hinged on the left side as viewed from the front of the housing 312. The hinge portion serves as a support point, and the door 350 can be rotated forward and backward around, whereby it can be opened and closed freely. A liquid crystal display device 330 is provided in the approximate center of the main door 350.

The liquid crystal display device 330 is a means for displaying various symbols relevant to game, including effect images, informational images, and the like. The player views the various images displayed on the liquid crystal display device 330 as he plays. The liquid crystal display device 330 is provided with a transparent liquid crystal panel. In the liquid crystal panel, a portion or the entirety of the panel can be switched between transparent/non-transparent states (switching is determined by whether the liquid crystal display device 330 is driven or not driven). The liquid crystal display device 330 also enables display of various images.

On a rear surface side of the liquid crystal display device 330, there are provided three mechanical main reels in a row side-by-side, on the periphery of each of which are arranged various types of symbols. Furthermore, to the right side, there is provided a mechanical sub reel, provided so as to be capable of rotating, on the periphery of which are arranged various types of symbols differing from those on the main reels. The various symbols on each of the mechanical reels (main and sub) can be viewed when the liquid crystal panel is in the transparent state. The constructions of each of the mechanical reels (main and sub) are substantially similar to each of the mechanical reels (main reels and sub reel) in the first embodiment described above, so detailed explanations thereof are omitted. Note that the slot machine of the present invention is not limited to three main reels and one sub reel; the pattern of quantities may be modified as necessary.

Below the liquid crystal display device 330 there is provided a substantially horizontal control panel 328. To the right side of this control panel 328 there is provided a coin insertion slot 331 for inserting coins into the slot machine 300. On the other hand, on the left side of the control panel there is provided a BET switch 322 for selecting a number of coins to bet on the activated line, which is described below. There is also provided a spin repeat bet switch 324 for performing game again without making any modification to the number of coins bet on the above-mentioned activated line in the previous game. The number of coins to bet on the above-mentioned activated line is determined by whether the BET switch 322 or the repeat bet switch 324 is pushed/operated.

In the above-mentioned control panel 328, to the left side of the BET switch 322 there is provided a start switch 332. Pushing/operating either the start switch 332 or the spin repeat bet switch 324 serves as a trigger to start the game, and the rotation of the above-mentioned three mechanical reels starts in a predetermined pattern.

On the other hand, in the above-mentioned control panel 328, near the coin insertion slot 331, there is provided a payout switch 336. When the player pushes/operates the payout switch 336, the coins that have been inserted are paid out from a payout opening 338 that is open on the front lower portion of the door 350. The coins that are paid out are collected in a coin tray 340. Above the coin tray 340, flanking the left and right side of the coin payout opening 338, there are provided speakers 342 for transmitting sound effects that are emitted from the speakers lodged inside the housing 312 to the outside of the housing 312.

Note that, although omitted from the diagrams, various display portions are provided at predetermined positions on the door 350, including a payout number display portion, a credit number display portion (stored coin number display portion), and a BET number display portion.

Furthermore, in the present slot machine 300, five pay lines L1 (corresponding to the center line 8 a in FIG. 1), L2 (corresponding to the top line 8 b in FIG. 1), L3 (corresponding to the bottom line 8 c in FIG. 1), L4 (corresponding to the cross-down line 8 d in FIG. 1), and L5 (corresponding to the cross-up line 8 e in FIG. 1) are displayed on the transparent liquid crystal panel of the liquid crystal display device 330. The display patterns of these pay lines L1 through L5 are basically similar to each of the lines 8 a through 8 e in the first embodiment, so detailed explanations are omitted.

Furthermore, in the present slot machine 300, on the control panel 328, there are provided a rotation speed switch 301 and stop switches 307L, 307C, 307R, which are similar to the rotation speed switch 101 and the stop switches 7L, 7C, 7R in the above-mentioned first embodiment.

The rotation speed switch 301 and the stop switches 307L, 307C, 307R have similar functions to the rotation speed switch 101 and the stop switches 7L, 7C, 7R. Therefore, detailed explanations are abbreviated. However, in the present slot machine 300, the operations of the rotation speed switch 301 and the stop switches 307L, 307C, 307R are activated after switching to the bonus game. During a normal game they are inactivated. This is different form the rotation speed switch 101 and the stop switches 7L, 7C, 7R described above. In other words, in this regard the present slot machine 300 differs greatly from the slot machines according to the above-mentioned first and second embodiments. Note that, the rotation speed switch 301 and the stop switches 307L, 307C, 307R are not limited to the patterns shown in FIG. 12. They may be provided to other positions on the housing 312. Also, it goes without saying they may be touch panels displayed on the transparent display panel of the liquid crystal display device 330.

Note that, it is also possible to have only part of the display screen of the above-mentioned liquid crystal display device 330 be designated as the area that switches between transparent/non-transparent status. Furthermore, the entire display screen may also be designated as the area that switches between transparent/non-transparent status.

The control device of the present slot machine 300 is constructed basically in a substantially similar manner as the control device shown in FIG. 3 (or as the control device shown in FIG. 8). However, the instruction signal for rotation speed modification that is outputted when the rotation speed switch 301 is pushed/operated, and the reel stop signal that is outputted when the stop switches 307L, 307C, 307R are pushed/operated, are determined to be valid only during a bonus game. Furthermore, in the control device 12 shown in FIG. 3 and FIG. 8, the input signals for the speakers 21L, 21R and the liquid crystal display device 5 were inputted from the I/O port 48 of the main control circuit 81 via the sub control circuit 82. However, the control device of the present slot machine 300 is not provided with a sub control circuit. Thus, the signal from the I/O port of the main control circuit 81 is inputted directly into the speakers and the liquid crystal display device 330.

FIG. 13 and FIG. 14 illustrate main processing routines for controlling the slot machine 300, which are executed by the control device of the present slot machine 300 described above.

Turning to FIG. 13, in the main processing routine, first, the CPU of the control device determines whether or not there is remaining credit, which is the remaining number of inserted coins (step S101). Specifically, the CPU reads out the number of credits C stored in the RAM, and performs the above-mentioned determination operation based on the number of credits C that is read out.

Shifting to step S102, the CPU determines whether or not the spin repeat bet switch 324 is pushed/operated (step S102). In a case where the spin repeat bet switch 324 is pushed and the operation signal is inputted from the switch 324, the CPU shifts the processing to step S114. On the other hand, in a case where the operation signal from the spin repeat bet switch 324 still is not inputted even after a predetermined duration of time elapses, the CPU then determines that the switch 324 is not pushed, and then shifts the processing to step S103.

When the processing shifts to step S103, the game conditions are set. Specifically, based on the operation of the BET switch 322, the CPU determines the number of coins to be bet for the activated lines L1 through L5 in the current game. At this time, the CPU receives the operation signal that is emitted from BET switch 322 due to the operation of the switch 322, and based on the number of times that this received signal is received, the CPU stores the BET numbers for the above-mentioned lines L1 through L5 into specific memory areas of the RAM. The CPU reads out the credits number C that is written in the specific memory area on the above-mentioned RAM. From the credit number C that is read out, the CPU then subtracts a total BET number, which is produced by adding the above-mentioned BET number. This value that is subtracted is then stored into the particular area of the RAM.

When the game conditions are set, the CPU then waits for the start switch 332 to be operated (step S104). In the case where the start switch 332 is pushed and causes the operation signal to be inputted from the switch 332, the CPU determines that the start switch 332 is operated, and the processing shifts to step S105.

On the other hand, when the processing shifts to step S114, the CPU determines whether or not the credit number C value is equal to or greater than the total bet number from the previous game. In the case where it is determined that the above-mentioned credit number C value is below the total bet number value from the previous game, game cannot be started, so the CPU ends the present routine without performing any processing. On the other hand, in the case where it is determined that the above-mentioned credit number C value is equal to or greater than the total bet number from the previous game, the CPU subtracts the total bet number value of the previous game from the credit number C value, and stores the subtracted value into the particular memory area of the RAM. After that, the CPU shifts the processing to step S105.

When the processing shifts to step S105, the CPU performs processing to determine the win combination symbol by means of an internal lottery.

When the above-mentioned lottery processing ends, the CPU then shifts the processing to step S106.

As shown in FIG. 13, when the processing shifts to step S106, the CPU starts the rotation of the mechanical main reels. Specifically, the CPU makes each of the mechanical reels rotate in sequence or simultaneously, based on a symbol arrangement table stored in the above-mentioned RAM.

When the rotation of the mechanical main reels is started, the CPU then waits for a predetermined duration of time to elapse (step S107). When the specific duration of time has elapsed, the CPU then stops the rotation of each of the mechanical main reels (step S108).

When the rotation of all the mechanical main reels has stopped, the CPU then determines whether or not a win combination symbol has occurred (step S109). Specifically, the CPU performs the determination processing based on the state of the win flag. When the win flag is not turned ON, the CPU determines that the win combination symbol has not occurred, and then ends the present processing. On the other hand, when the CPU determines that the win flag is turned ON, the CPU determines that the win combination symbol has occurred, and shifts the processing to step S110.

When the processing shifts to step S110, the CPU then determines whether or not the win combination symbol that occurred is a combination symbol that permits a shift to a bonus game. Specifically, the CPU performs the above-mentioned determination processing based on the type of the above-mentioned win flag. In a case where the win flag that is turned on is a flag showing that the player won a shift to the above-mentioned bonus game, the CPU determines that the winning combination does indicate the bonus game shift, and then shifts the processing to step S111. On the other hand, in the case where the flag that is turned on is not the flag indicating the shift to the above-mentioned bonus game, the CPU determines that the winning combination is a win combination symbol for something other than the bonus game shift, and shifts the processing to step S113.

When the processing shifts to step S111, the CPU then pays out, in a predetermined manner, the number of coins appropriate for the combination symbol permitting to enter bonus game mentioned above.

Upon completion of the payout triggered by the combination symbol permitting to enter bonus game, the CPU then performs bonus game processing (step S112). This bonus game is, for example, a game which can be played for a predetermined number of games without betting coins (free game). The present embodiment, for example, is set so that the free game can be played for 15 games. When executing the processing for the bonus game, the CPU first activates the rotation speed switch 301 and the stop switches 307L, 307C, 307R. Furthermore, the CPU reads out the credit number C written into the predetermined memory area on the above-mentioned RAM, and adds to this value a number of coins determined by the bonus (“BONUS”) symbol win, and then stores this sum value into the predetermined memory area of the RAM. The CPU then reads the bonus game lottery table and the winning combination table which are stored in the ROM, and then writes the bonus game lottery table and winning combination table which are read over the basic game lottery table and the winning combination table which are stored in the above-mentioned predetermined memory area of the RAM. In the above-mentioned bonus game lottery table, the hit probabilities of the combination symbols are set higher than in the above-mentioned basic game lottery table. The CPU stores data indicating the predetermined number of bonus games (which is “15” in the present embodiment) into a predetermined memory area of the RAM (this corresponds to processing for setting the bonus games number N at step S201, which is described below). Accordingly, when the bonus game has started, for example, the player anticipates playing a game where win combination symbols occur easily for 15 games, thus raising the player's interest in the game.

When the processing for bonus game ends, the CPU ends the present main processing routine.

On the other hand, when the processing shifts to step S113, the CPU pays out, in a given manner, the number of coins appropriate for a win combination symbol other than the above-mentioned win combination symbol permitting to enter the above-mentioned bonus game.

Upon completion of the payout for a win combination symbol other than the win combination symbol permitting to enter the bonus game, the CPU then ends the present main processing routine.

Note that, in each payout processing mentioned above, the number of coins that must be paid out is stored as credit. However, a payout command may be emitted to the hopper drive circuit so as to cause the coins to be actually paid out from the payout opening 338 via the hopper.

Next, as shown in FIG. 14, in the bonus game processing routine the CPU first sets the bonus games number N as described above (step S201).

When the number of bonus games N is set, the CPU performs processing to determine the win combination symbol by means of an internal lottery (step S202).

Next, when the processing shifts to step S203, the CPU makes each of the mechanical main reels rotate either in sequence or simultaneously, based on the symbol arrangement table stored in the above-mentioned RAM.

After that, each processing that is explained at steps S16 through S27 in the above-mentioned first embodiment is performed, and the controls for the processing to modify the rotation speed of the mechanical main reels are performed, but this part is similar to the explanation of the first embodiment described above, so detailed explanation is omitted.

When the rotation of all the mechanical main reels stops, the CPU determines whether or not a win combination symbol has occurred, based on the status of the win flag (step S206). In the case where the win flag is ON, the CPU determines that the win combination symbol did occur. Then, the CPU calculates the coin payout number corresponding to the win combination symbol, and pays out the calculated number of coins in a given manner (step S207).

Next, the CPU performs processing to recover the normal rotation speed of each of the mechanical main reels (step S41), but this processing is similar to the explanation of step S41 given in the first embodiment, so detailed explanation is omitted.

After that, the CPU shifts the processing to step S208. On the other hand, in the case where the win flag is not ON, the CPU determines that the win combination symbol does not occur. Then the CPU shifts the processing to step S41 without performing the above-mentioned payout processing, and then performs the processing at step S208.

When the processing shifts to step S208, the CPU reduces the number of bonus games N.

When the number of bonus games N is reduced, the CPU determines whether or not any of the number of bonus games N is remaining. In the case where any of the number of bonus games N is remaining, the CPU returns the processing to step S202 and performs lottery processing. On the other hand, in the case where no bonus game N remains, the CPU invalidates the rotation speed switch 301 and the stop switches 307L, 307C, 307R (step S210), and then ends this bonus game processing routine.

Note that, in the above-mentioned payout processing, the number of coins that should be paid out is stored as credit. It is possible to emit a payout command to the hopper drive circuit so that the coins are actually paid out from the payout opening 338 via the hopper.

Furthermore, it goes without saying that various conventionally known free game content may be used as the content of the free game that is given as the bonus game.

Note that the above-mentioned third embodiment is explained based on the first embodiment. However, instead, construction may be based on the second embodiment which is provided with the point storing means and the point subtracting means.

Furthermore, in the above-mentioned third embodiment, whether or not the win combination symbol has occurred is determined during the bonus game according to the timing of the pushing/operation of the stop switches 307L, 307C, 307R. However, it is also possible to adopt a construction in which the occurrence of the win combination symbol is not controlled by the timing of the pushing/operation of the stop switches 307L, 307C, 307R. The stop switches 307L, 307C, 307R may simply function as dummies with the occurrence of the win combination symbol being determined solely by an internal lottery.

Furthermore, in the third embodiment the main reels and the sub reel are constructed as mechanical reels. However, they may also be constructed as so-called video slot reels displayed on the screen of the above-mentioned liquid crystal display device 330 or the like.

The gaming machine of the present invention according to the third embodiment is constructed as described above. Thus, the rotation speed modification switch can be operated to slow down the rotation speed of the main reels only when, for example, the effect on the above-mentioned sub reel and the like during the bonus game indicates a high probability that an internal winning occurred for a particular hit combination symbol. At this moment the probability of lining up the intended combination of symbols rises, and the possibility of winning coins during the bonus game increases, whereby the player's sense of expectation for the bonus game can be raised even further, thus raising the effectiveness.

Note that the gaming machine of the present invention is explained in specific terms based on gaming machines according to the respective embodiments in the first, second and third embodiments. However, the present invention is not restricted to the above-mentioned gaming machines so long as the constructions and effects of the present invention are present.

In the above-mentioned embodiments, explanation is given regarding the case where there is one sub reel, but the number of sub reels is not restricted. There may be two or more than two. Furthermore, the points may be displayed on the liquid crystal device.

The timing at which the rotation speed modification switch is operated may be before the operation of the start switch. In this case, the player operates the rotation speed modification switch based on the effect displays from the previous game, so the CPU also determines whether or not the operation to change the rotation speed is valid based on the effect displays from the previous game.

Furthermore, the condition for enabling modification of the rotation speed of the above-mentioned main reels is not restricted only to the display pattern of the sub reel. It is also possible to establish condition setting means other than the sub reel. For example, a lamp or the like may be provided at a position located somewhere on the housing of the gaming machine (a position visible to the player, for example on the front surface panel or on the housing's top surface), and the condition may be satisfied when this lamp or the like lights up or blinks at predetermined timing or in a predetermined color. Furthermore, the condition may also be satisfied when a predetermined symbol is displayed on the screen of the liquid crystal display device or the like.

Furthermore, the modification of the rotation speed of the main reels is not restricted to only two levels, and may be set to three levels or more. Furthermore, the above-mentioned number of points to be consumed can be set to a plurality of levels and the number of points to be consumed may be applied as appropriate. Also the instruction pattern (an instruction signal which can be perceived by the visual sense, auditory senses, or the like) as a premise of point consumption may be any sort of patterns.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/20
International ClassificationA63F5/04, G07F17/34
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/34, G07F17/3262
European ClassificationG07F17/34, G07F17/32M2
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 16, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: ARUZE CORP., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:KODACHI, RYU;REEL/FRAME:016281/0137
Effective date: 20050203