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Publication numberUS20070060266 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/512,404
Publication dateMar 15, 2007
Filing dateAug 30, 2006
Priority dateAug 31, 2005
Also published asCN1923327A
Publication number11512404, 512404, US 2007/0060266 A1, US 2007/060266 A1, US 20070060266 A1, US 20070060266A1, US 2007060266 A1, US 2007060266A1, US-A1-20070060266, US-A1-2007060266, US2007/0060266A1, US2007/060266A1, US20070060266 A1, US20070060266A1, US2007060266 A1, US2007060266A1
InventorsSakiko Kojima
Original AssigneeAruze Corp.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Gaming machine
US 20070060266 A1
Abstract
A gaming machine includes: an image display device that has a symbol display area; an operation unit that allows a player to input operations including a start command to start a game; and a processor that performs a game process for providing the player the game by controlling the image display device to display a progress of the game. The game process includes controlling the image display device to perform variable display for variably displaying a plurality of symbols in a predetermined sequence in the symbol display area. The predetermined sequence includes a three-symbols-continuous arrangement in which a first highest award symbol indicating a most highest award among the plurality of symbols, and a second highest award symbol indicating a second highest award among the plurality of symbols, are arranged adjacent to a blank symbol implemented as a blank display part with no symbol displayed thereon.
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Claims(15)
1. A gaming machine comprising:
an image display device that has a symbol display area;
an operation unit that allows a player to input operations including a start command to start a game; and
a processor that performs a game process for providing the player the game by controlling the image display device to display a progress of the game, the processor performing the game process comprising:
controlling the image display device to perform variable display for variably displaying a plurality of symbols in a predetermined sequence in the symbol display area when the start command is input through the operation unit;
determining a stop state of the symbol by determining a symbol from among the plurality of symbols to be displayed stopped on a pay line that is configured for determining a win of the game;
controlling the image display device to perform stop display of the determined symbol on the pay line in the stop state; and
performing a payout of an award to the player in accordance with the stop state,
wherein the predetermined sequence includes a three-symbols-continuous arrangement in which a first highest award symbol indicating a most highest award among the plurality of symbols, and a second highest award symbol indicating a second highest award among the plurality of symbols, are arranged adjacent to a blank symbol implemented as a blank display part with no symbol displayed thereon.
2. The gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein the image display device includes a mechanical reel that is arranged with the plurality of symbols in the predetermined sequence on a peripheral surface of the mechanical reel.
3. The gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein the image display device displays an image of a video reel that is formed by the plurality of symbols being arranged in the predetermined sequence.
4. The gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein the image display device has a plurality of symbol display areas that are arranged on a line, each of the symbol display areas being configured to be performed with the variable display and the stop display by the processor.
5. The gaming machine according to claim 4, wherein the symbol display areas include specific symbol display area in which the determined symbol is displayed stopped latest among the symbol display areas, and
wherein at least the specific symbol display area is configured to display the symbols in the predetermined sequence including the three-symbols-continuous arrangement.
6. The gaming machine according to claim 5, wherein the symbols display areas are arranged on a row, and
wherein the specific symbol display area is arranged at a rightmost position among the symbol display areas.
7. The gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein at least one of the first highest award symbol and the second highest award symbol is configured to be displayed larger than other symbols.
8. A gaming machine for allowing a player to play a variable display game based on a variable display and a stop display of a plurality of symbols and paying out an award responsive to the stopped symbol, the gaming machine comprising:
a variable display means for variably displaying a plurality of symbols;
a symbol determination means for determining a stop symbol from among the plurality of symbols to be displayed stopped on an activated pay line to determine a win; and
a symbol display control means for stop-displaying the stop symbols determined by the symbol determination means on the activated pay line,
wherein the variable display means has a three-symbols-continuous arrangement configuration wherein a first highest award symbol indicating the highest award among the plurality of symbols, and a second highest award symbol indicating a high award next to the first highest award symbol, the first and second highest award symbols being different in pattern, are arranged adjacent to a blank symbol implemented as a blank display part with no displayed pattern.
9. The gaming machine according to claim 8, wherein the variable display means has a plurality of symbol rows where the plurality of symbols are variably displayed, arranged in one line and at least a last stop-displayed specific symbol row of the plurality of symbol rows has the three-symbols-continuous arrangement configuration.
10. The gaming machine according to claim 9, wherein the plurality of symbol rows are arranged in a row and the specific symbol row is arranged at the rightmost position.
11. The gaming machine according to claim 8, wherein at least one of the first highest award symbol and the second highest award symbol is configured to be displayed larger than other symbols.
12. A gaming machine for allowing a player to play a variable display game based on a variable display and a stop display of a plurality of symbols and paying out an award responsive to the stopped symbol, the gaming machine comprising:
an image display means having a plurality of variable display sections each for displaying a variable display image of a plurality of symbols;
a symbol determination means for determining the symbols of the plurality of symbols to be displayed stopped on an activated pay line to determine a win on the variable display sections of the image display means; and
a symbol display control means for stop-displaying the stop symbols determined by the symbol determination means on the activated pay line,
wherein the image display means produces three-symbols-continuous arrangement display as a first highest award symbol indicating the highest award among the plurality of symbols and a second highest award symbol indicating a high award next to the first highest award symbol, the first and second highest award symbols being different in pattern, are arranged adjacent to a blank symbol implemented as a blank display part with no displayed pattern.
13. The gaming machine according to claim 12, wherein the image display means has the variable display sections displayed in one line and the three-symbols-continuous arrangement display is produced on at least a last stop-displayed specific variable display section of the plurality of variable display sections.
14. The gaming machine according to claim 13, wherein the plurality of variable display sections are arranged in a row, and the specific variable display section is arranged at the rightmost position.
15. The gaming machine according to claim 12, wherein at least one of the first highest award symbol and the second highest award symbol is configured to be displayed larger than other symbols.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO THE RELATED APPLICATION(S)

The present application is based upon and claims priority from prior Japanese Patent Application No. 2005-252307, filed on Aug. 31, 2005, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a gaming machine for enabling a player to play a variable display game according to variable display and stop display of a plurality of symbols.

BACKGROUND

Hitherto, various gaming machines such as a slot machine have been known as a gaming machine for paying out game medium used with a game, such as medals or coins, (which will be hereinafter simply referred to as “coins”).

For example, some slot machines are designed for allowing a player to play a variable display game (also called slot game) by variably displaying a plurality of symbols on a plurality of rows using mechanical reels each with a plurality of symbols drawn on the outer peripheral surface thereof or displaying reel images on display unit such as a liquid crystal display for producing variable display and stop display. With any of the slot machines, if the player performs predetermined operation, the reels rotate or scroll and when the reels stop, whether or not the player wins the variable display game and the winning state if the player wins the game are determined according to the combination of the symbols on the reels on a predetermined activated pay line (pay line) (hereinafter, the combination of the symbols will be referred to as the symbol combination). An exemplary configuration of the above-described slot machine is disclosed in JP-A-2005-073829. An exemplary pachinko gaming machine that is applicable to the above-described slot machine is disclosed in JP-A-7-096072.

The slot machine in the related art described above has a dispersed arrangement configuration where high award symbols indicating the highest award among the symbols on the reels (for example, “7,” etc.; as the symbols are complete on the pay line, a large profit (award) is given to the player) are dispersed appropriately in the rotation direction of each reel (different symbols are arranged between the high award symbols). This is intended mainly for distributing the expectation of the player on award gain over the reels as a win and a loss are made to appear in a mixed manner and a high award symbol indicating that the player gains a large award occurs properly.

However, if each reels has the dispersed arrangement configuration, as a high award symbol is displayed only a little deviating from the activated pay line, another symbol is displayed and the player recognizes that a high award is impossible. If this is repeated, later it is made impossible for the player to play a game with a wish to gain a high award.

In this regard, it is also possible to enlarge a win symbol as with the gaming machine in the document JP-7-096072, for example. However, although the player considers that seemingly it becomes easy to win the game as the win symbol is displayed largely, since the win symbols are arranged in a dispersed manner, the situation in which the player cannot gain the expected high award when the win symbol is displayed deviating from the activated pay line remains unchanged, and the problem is not solved.

On the other hand, the symbols displayed on the reel include a symbol called blank symbol (a symbol implemented as a blank display part with no displayed symbol, meaning a lose (blank), and giving no profit). This blank symbol generally has no special role except that it gives the player an at-a-glance picture of a lose (blank). In this regard, the document JP-2005-073829 discloses a gaming machine for assigning the blank symbol a role as a trigger to make a transition to a bonus game. If the blank symbol thus has the role as a trigger to make a transition to a bonus game, the player can have an indirect expectation on award gain such that the player may gain an award if a transition is made to a bonus game. Nevertheless, the player cannot always gain his or her expected high award.

SUMMARY

One of objects of the present invention to provide a gaming machine that enables a player to play a variable display game with a continuous wish to gain a high award and enhance the amusement of the variable display game.

According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a gaming machine including: an image display device that has a symbol display area; an operation unit that allows a player to input operations including a start command to start a game; and a processor that performs a game process for providing the player the game by controlling the image display device to display a progress of the game. The processor performs the game process including: controlling the image display device to perform variable display for variably displaying a plurality of symbols in a predetermined sequence in the symbol display area when the start command is input through the operation unit; determining a stop state of the symbol by determining a symbol from among the plurality of symbols to be displayed stopped on a pay line that is configured for determining a win of the game; controlling the image display device to perform stop display of the determined symbol on the pay line in the stop state; and performing a payout of an award to the player in accordance with the stop state. The predetermined sequence includes a three-symbols-continuous arrangement in which a first highest award symbol indicating a most highest award among the plurality of symbols, and a second highest award symbol indicating a second highest award among the plurality of symbols, are arranged adjacent to a blank symbol implemented as a blank display part with no symbol displayed thereon.

According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a gaming machine for allowing a player to play a variable display game based on a variable display and a stop display of a plurality of symbols and paying out an award responsive to the stopped symbol. The gaming machine includes: a variable display means for variably displaying a plurality of symbols; a symbol determination means for determining a stop symbol from among the plurality of symbols to be displayed stopped on an activated pay line to determine a win; and a symbol display control means for stop-displaying the stop symbols determined by the symbol determination means on the activated pay line. The variable display means has a three-symbols-continuous arrangement configuration wherein a first highest award symbol indicating the highest award among the plurality of symbols, and a second highest award symbol indicating a high award next to the first highest award symbol, the first and second highest award symbols being different in pattern, are arranged adjacent to a blank symbol implemented as a blank display part with no displayed pattern.

According to a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a gaming machine for allowing a player to play a variable display game based on a variable display and a stop display of a plurality of symbols and paying out an award responsive to the stopped symbol. The gaming machine includes: an image display means having a plurality of variable display sections each for displaying a variable display image of a plurality of symbols; a symbol determination means for determining the symbols of the plurality of symbols to be displayed stopped on an activated pay line to determine a win on the variable display sections of the image display means; and a symbol display control means for stop-displaying the stop symbols determined by the symbol determination means on the activated pay line. The image display means produces three-symbols-continuous arrangement display as a first highest award symbol indicating the highest award among the plurality of symbols and a second highest award symbol indicating a high award next to the first highest award symbol, the first and second highest award symbols being different in pattern, are arranged adjacent to a blank symbol implemented as a blank display part with no displayed pattern.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the accompanying drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view to show the general configuration of the slot machine according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view to show a main display of the slot machine shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front view to show the configuration of reels;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view to show one of the reels shown in FIG. 3

FIG. 5 is a perspective view to show the schematic configuration of a liquid crystal display viewed from the rear of a cabinet;

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of a part of the liquid crystal display;

FIG. 7 is a block diagram of the slot machine according to the embodiment of the invention shown centering on the internal configuration;

FIG. 8 is a block diagram to show an image control circuit;

FIG. 9 is a flowchart to show an operation procedure of main processing from the game start to end of the slot machine according to the embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 10 is a flowchart to show an operation procedure of lottery processing;

FIG. 11 is a flowchart to show an operation procedure of base game processing;

FIG. 12 is a drawing to show an example of the contents of a stop table;

FIG. 13 is a drawing to show an example of the contents of a stop symbol determination table;

FIG. 14 is a front view of the main display to show a state in which a blank symbol is stop-displayed on a pay line;

FIG. 15 is a perspective view to show the general configuration of a slot machine according to a second embodiment;

FIG. 16 is a block diagram of the slot machine according to the second embodiment shown centering on the internal configuration;

FIG. 17 is a flowchart to show an operation procedure of base game processing in the second embodiment; and

FIG. 18 is a front view to show the configuration of reels in another second embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Embodiments of the invention will be discussed with reference to the accompanying drawings. In the following description, the identical elements or the elements having the identical functions are denoted by the same reference numerals and will not be discussed again.

First Embodiment

In the description of a first embodiment, a slot machine 1 is taken as an example as the case where the invention is applied to a gaming machine having a reel unit 5 as a variable display means (image display device) in the invention for variably displaying a plurality of symbols by mechanical reels. The slot machine 1 requires that the play input a coin to start a game.

General configuration of slot machine

To begin with, the general configuration of the slot machine 1 according to a first embodiment will be discussed with reference to FIG. 1. FIG. 1 is a perspective view to show the general configuration of the slot machine according to the embodiment.

The slot machine 1 has a subsidiary display 3 and a main display 4 from the top on the front of a cabinet 2. The main display 4 is arranged almost at the center of the top and bottom of the cabinet 2 and has the reel unit 5 with three mechanical reels 5L, 5C, and 5R arranged in one horizontal row for rotation in the cabinet 2 so as to correspond to the main display 4.

The reels 5L, 5C, and 5R can be visually recognized from the outside through symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R (described later) of the main display 4. The reels 5L, 5C, and 5R have each an outer peripheral surface on which a symbol row having different types of symbols is drawn, can be rotated so as to variably display the symbols, and rotate at a constant speed (for example, 80 revolutions/min) although described later in detail.

One pay line L1 extended horizontally is provided in the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R corresponding to the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R, as shown in FIG. 2. Although not shown, a different pay line may be provided above and below the pay line L1 in addition to the pay line L1, in which case two pay lines may be further provided in the slanting direction. When a plurality of pay lines are provided, it is advisable to change the number of pay lines in response to the number of input coins. In this case, each pay line is activated in response to the number of input coins and operation of a BET switch 10 or 11 described later. The pay line L1 which becomes activated is also called activated pay line or pay line. For example, if the player inputs one coin into a coin insertion slot 7 described later, only the pay line L1 at the center becomes an activated pay line; if the player inputs two coins, the top and bottom pay lines are added to the pay line L1; and if the player inputs three coins, all pay lines become activated pay lines.

The slot machine 1 is provided with a roughly horizontal operation panel 6 below the main display 4. The operation panel 6 is provided with the coin insertion slot 7, a bill insertion slot 8, a spin switch 9, the 1BET switch 10, and the maximum BET switch 11.

The coin insertion slot 7 is provided for the player to input a coin to be bet on a game and has an input coin sensor 7 a for outputting a signal indicating coin input (see FIG. 7). The bill insertion slot 8 is provided for the player to input a bill and has a bill insertion sensor 8 a for outputting a signal indicating bill insertion (see FIG. 7). The spin switch 9 is provided for the player to perform operation to start variable display of symbols with rotation of the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R in the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R, namely, to start a slot game. The 1BET switch 10 is provided for the player to make setting of bet of one coin by operating the switch once. The maximum BET switch 11 is provided for the player to make setting of bet of the maximum number of coins that can be bet on one game by operating the switch once.

Further, the slot machine 1 is provided with speakers 12L and 12R, a coin payout opening 13 positioned so as to be sandwiched between the speakers 12L and 12R, and a coin receiving tray 14 at the bottom of the cabinet 2.

Description of displays

The main display 4 has the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R, window frame display areas 22L, 22C, and 22R, and an effect display area 4 a, as shown in FIG. 2. The display of the main display 4 changes in response to the variable display state and the stop state of each of the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R and the operation of the slot machine 1.

The symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R are areas provided corresponding to the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R respectively for displaying the symbols drawn on the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R to allow the player to visually recognize the drawn symbols. Transparent display for enabling the player to visually recognize the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R being scrolled and the symbols drawn thereon when the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R are rotating and stop is produced in the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R.

The window frame display areas 22L, 22C, and 22R are provided so as to surround the corresponding symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R and function as display windows of the symbols drawn on the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R.

Effects to increase player's interest and information for the player to advantageously advance a game are displayed in the effect display area 4 a.

The display of the subsidiary display 3 changes in response to the operation of the slot machine 1.

Configuration of reels

Next, the configuration of the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R will be discussed with reference to FIGS. 3 and 4. FIG. 3 is a front view to show the configuration of the reels. FIG. 4 is a perspective view to show one of the reels shown in FIG. 3.

The reels 5L, 5C, and 5R are arranged in one horizontal row as shown in FIG. 3 and can rotate. The reel 5L has two annular frames of the same shape 23 and 23 are arranged with a predetermined spacing and has a cylindrical frame having the annular frames 23 and 23 joined by a plurality of joint members 25, as shown in FIG. 4. The reel 5L also has a transfer member 26 for transferring the drive force of a stepping motor M1 (see FIG. 7) arranged in the center of the cylindrical frame to the annular frames 23 and 23, and a reel sheet (not shown) with a plurality of symbols drawn thereon is put on a side of the reel 5L so as to cover the joint members 25. The reel 5C, 5R has the same configuration as the reel 5L.

On the reel sheet, symbol rows R1 to R3 with a plurality of symbols corresponding to a stop table 90 shown in FIG. 12 arranged in the rotation direction of the reels are drawn corresponding to the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R. FIG. 12 shows the contents of the stop table 90 described later. The symbol rows R1 to R3 drawn on the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R will be discussed with reference to FIG. 12. The symbol rows R1 to R3 are drawn on the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R. A plurality of symbols are drawn on the symbol rows R1 to R3 in the order as the symbols are drawn in columns of R1 to R3 in FIG. 12. Each of the symbol rows R1 to R3 contains a high award symbol W1 (first highest award symbol) indicating that the largest award in the slot machine 1 according to the embodiment (for example, paying out 1199 coins) is given to the player as the symbols W1 are stop-displayed completely on the activated pay line L1, a high award symbol W2 (second highest award symbol) indicating that a large award smaller than and next to the high award symbol W1 (for example, paying out 300 coins) is given to the player when the symbols W2 are stop-displayed completely on the activated pay line L1, and a blank symbol W3 indicating that no award is given if the symbols W3 are stop-displayed on the activated pay line L1. Each of the symbol rows R1 to R3 has a three-symbols-continuous arrangement configuration wherein the high award symbol W1 and the high award symbol W2 are arranged adjacent to the blank symbol. If both the high award symbol W1 and the high award symbol W2 are stop-displayed on the activated pay line L1, a large award smaller than and next to the high award symbol W2 (for example, paying out 200 coins) is given to the player.

The high award symbol W1 is a symbol containing a digit of “7” as a pattern and a flame pattern W1 drawn behind the digit and is drawn largely with a size of about three times the size of any other symbol. In the high award symbol W1, the upper end and the lower end of the flame pattern W1 are drawn so as to a little project to the adjacent blank symbols W3. The high award symbol W2 is a symbol with a digit of “7” drawn as a pattern. Further, the blank symbol W3 is a symbol implemented as a blank display part with nothing displayed as a pattern. When the high award symbol W1 is stop-displayed on the pay line L1, the high award symbol W1 is larger than any other symbol and thus only the high award symbol W1 is displayed as shown in FIG. 2. In contrast, when any other symbol than the high award symbol W1 is stop-displayed, three symbols are displayed in the longitudinal arrangement in the symbol display area 21R, for example, as shown in FIG. 14 (the same also applies to the symbol display areas 21L and 21C).

Description of liquid crystal display

Next, a liquid crystal display 31 implementing the main display 4 will be discussed with reference to FIGS. 5 and 6. FIG. 5 is a perspective view to show the schematic configuration of the liquid crystal display viewed from the rear of the cabinet. FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of a part of the liquid crystal display.

The liquid crystal display 31 is provided in front of the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R with a predetermined spacing from the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R across the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R. The liquid crystal display 31 has protective glass 32 and a display plate 33 having a translucent property, a liquid crystal panel 34, a light guide plate 35, a reflecting film 36, fluorescent lamps 37 a, 37 b, 38 a, and 38 b as white light sources, and a flexible board (not shown) connected to a terminal section of the liquid crystal panel 34 and made of a table carrier package (TCP) on which a drive IC of the liquid crystal panel 34 is installed.

The liquid crystal panel 34 is formed with the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R. The liquid crystal panel 34 enables the player to visually recognize the symbols drawn on the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R through the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R and play a variable display game by visually recognizing variable display and stop display of the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R. The light guide plate 35 has transparency and is placed on the rear of the liquid crystal panel 34 for guiding light from the fluorescent lamps 37 a and 37 b to the liquid crystal panel 34.

The reflecting film 36 is provided for reflecting light guided to the light guide plate 35 toward the surface of the light guide plate 35. The reflecting film 36 has reflecting area 36A and non-reflecting areas 36BL, 36BC, and 36BR. The reflecting area 36A reflects incident light and operates as illumination means mainly for the areas corresponding to the window frame display areas 22L, 22C, and 22R and the effect display area 4 a of the liquid crystal panel 34. The non-reflecting areas 36BL, 36BC, and 36BR are formed corresponding to the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R and are placed ahead of stop symbols stop-displayed when the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R stop rotation.

The fluorescent lamps 37 a and 37 b generate light guided to the light guide plate 35 and operates as illumination means mainly for the areas corresponding to the window frame display areas 22L, 22C, and 22R and the effect display area 4 a of the liquid crystal panel 34. The fluorescent lamps 38 a and 38 b operate as illumination means for the symbols arranged on the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R and illumination means for the areas of the reflecting film 36 corresponding to the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R.

Internal configuration of slot machine

FIG. 7 is a block diagram of the slot machine 1 shown centering on the internal configuration. The slot machine 1 has components centering on a control board 41. The control board 41 has a microcomputer 42, a random number generator 43, a sampling circuit 44, a clock pulse generation circuit 45, and a frequency divider 46.

The microcomputer 42 has a CPU (Central Processing Unit) 47, RAM (Random Access Memory) 48, and ROM (Read-Only Memory) 49. The CPU 47 operates as symbol determination means and symbol display control means in the invention in accordance with programs stored in the ROM 49 and also inputs/outputs signals from/to other components through an I/O port 50 and controls the whole operation of the slot machine 1. The RAM 48 stores data and programs used when the CPU 47 operates. That is, for example, the RAM 48 temporarily holds the random number sampled by the sampling circuit 44 described later after a game is started and also stores the code numbers of the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R, etc. The ROM 49 stores the programs executed by the CPU 47 and permanent data.

The random number generator 43 operates in accordance with a command of the CPU 47 and generates random numbers in a given range. The sampling circuit 44 extracts an arbitrary random number from among the random numbers generated by the random number generator 43 in accordance with a command of the CPU 47 and inputs the extracted random number to the CPU 47. The clock pulse generation circuit 45 generate a reference clock to operate the CPU 47, and the frequency divider 46 inputs a signal provided by dividing the reference clock in a given period to the CPU 47.

The control board 41 has a hopper drive circuit 51, a payout completion signal circuit 52, a sound control circuit 53, and an image control circuit 54.

The hopper drive circuit 51 drives a hopper 55 under the control of the CPU 47. The hopper 55 performs the operation to pay out coins and pays out coins through the coin payout opening 13.

The payout completion signal circuit 52 inputs number-of-coins data from a connected coin detection section 56 and when the number of coins reaches the setup value of the number of coins, the payout completion signal circuit 52 inputs a notification signal of coin payout completion to the CPU 47. The coin detection section 56 measures the number of coins paid out by the hopper 55 and inputs the measured number-of-coins data to the payout completion signal circuit 52.

The sound control circuit 53 inputs a command from the CPU 47 and controls a sound signal to output a sound from the speakers 12L and 12R for causing the speakers 12L and 12R to output a sound. Accordingly, for example, a sound for augmenting a game at an appropriate timing after the game starts is output from the speakers 12L and 12R.

The image control circuit 54 controls image display of the subsidiary display 3 and the main display 4. The image control circuit 54 has an image control CPU 54 a, work RAM 54 b, program ROM 54 c, image ROM 54 d, video RAM 54 e, and a VDP (Video Display Processor) 54 f as shown in FIG. 8.

The image control CPU 54 a determines the images to be displayed on the subsidiary display 3 and the main display 4 in accordance with an image control program (concerning display on the subsidiary display 3 and the main display 4) previously stored in the program ROM 54 c based on a parameter set in the microcomputer 42. The work RAM 54 b is implemented as temporary storage means when the image control CPU 54 a executes the image control program. The program ROM 54 c stores the image control program, various selection tables, etc. The image ROM 54 d stores dot data for forming images. The video RAM 54 e is implemented as temporary storage means when an image is formed by the VDP 54 f. The VDP 54 f has control RAM 54 g and forms images responsive to the display of the subsidiary display 3 and the main display 4 determined by the image control CPU 54 a and outputs the formed images to the subsidiary display 3 and the main display 4 for display.

A reel drive unit 57 has a reel position detection circuit 59 for detecting the positions of the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R and a motor drive circuit 60 for inputting a drive signal to motors M1, M2, and M3 for rotating the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R. The drive signal is input from the motor drive circuit 60, whereby the motors M1, M2, and M3 are operated for rotating the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R.

The input coin sensor 7 a, the bill insertion slot 8, the spin switch 9, the 1BET switch 10, and the maximum BET switch 11 are connected to the control board 41, so that signals are input from the components to the control board 41.

Operation of slot machine

Next, the operation of the described slot machine 1 will be discussed with reference to flowcharts of FIGS. 9 to 11. FIG. 9 is a flowchart to show an operation procedure of main processing from the game start to end of the slot machine according to the embodiment. FIG. 10 is a flowchart to show an operation procedure of lottery processing. FIG. 11 is a flowchart to show an operation procedure of base game processing. In FIGS. 9 to 11, a step is abbreviated as S.

In the slot machine 1, when the main processing shown in FIG. 9 is started, start acceptance processing, lottery processing, and base game processing are performed in order at steps 1 to 3. The blocks will be discussed below in detail:

To begin with, at step 1, start acceptance processing is performed. That is, the player inputs any desired number of coins into the coin insertion slot 7 and when credit remains, the player operates the 1BET switch 10 or the maximum BET switch 11. Subsequently, the player operates the spin switch 9 (hereinafter, the operation will be referred to as “start operation”). As the start operation is performed, a start signal is input from the spin switch 9 to the CPU 47.

Next, at step 2, lottery processing is performed. When the lottery processing is performed, the process goes to step 11 shown in FIG. 10 and the CPU 47 performs symbol determination processing. In this symbol determination processing, the CPU 47 operates as symbol determination means in response to input of the start signal and determines the symbols to be stop-displayed (stop symbols) on a pay line L1 for the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R. During the lottery processing, the CPU 47 may instruct the image control circuit 54 to produce game effect display on the subsidiary display 3 and the main display 4.

In the lottery processing, when the CPU 47 detects start operation of the player according to the start signal from the spin switch 9, upon reception of the detection (namely, with the start of a slot game as a trigger), the CPU 47 instructs the random number generator 43 to generate random numbers in a given range (in the embodiment, 0 to 254). The CPU 47 instructs the sampling circuit 44 to extract an arbitrary random number from among the random numbers generated by the random number generator 43. When a random number is extracted by the sampling circuit 44, the CPU 47 sets the random number as a search key, references a stop symbol determination table (a table storing symbol code numbers and random numbers in association with each other) 91 shown in FIG. 13, stored in the ROM 49, and acquires the symbol code number corresponding to the search key (random number) (the random numbers only in a partial range are shown in FIG. 13). The stop symbol determination table 91 has a symbol code number area 91 b for storing the symbol code numbers and a random number area 91 a for storing the random numbers ranging from 0 to 254 associated with the symbol code numbers, as shown in FIG. 13. That is, the probability that one symbol will be stop-displayed as a stop symbol on the pay line L1 is determined by the random number range associated with the symbol code number.

Next, the acquired code number is set as a search key, the stop table 90 shown in FIG. 12 is referenced, and a search is made for the symbols to be stop-displayed (stop symbols) on the pay line L1 when the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R stop. The stop table 90 is a table having a code number area 90 a for storing the symbol code numbers and a symbol area 90 b for storing the symbols corresponding to each code number, as shown in FIG. 12, and with the code number set as a search key, the code number area can be searched for the corresponding symbols for each of the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R. The symbols corresponding to the symbol rows R1 to R3 drawn on the reel sheets put on the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R are registered in the symbol area 90 b in a one-to-one correspondence with the code numbers. For example, C1 in FIG. 12 shows a symbol combination made up of symbols when the acquired code numbers are all “0” relative to the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R.

In the slot machine 1, random number lottery and searching the stop symbol determination table 91 and the stop table 90 are executed three times in total for the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R. This means that the tables 90 and 91 are searched as many times as the number of the reels. When the stop symbols are determined relative to the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R, the reel stop positions to stop the symbols on the pay line L1 are determined.

When the reel stop positions are determined, the process goes to step 12 (winning combination determination processing) The CPU 47 references a winning combination determination table (not shown) (a table in which winning symbol combinations and non-winning symbol combinations are registered so that they can be distinguished from each other in association with each code number combination (which will be hereinafter referred to as “code number pattern”) stored in the ROM 49, and determines a winning combination or a non-winning combination using the code number pattern. Subsequently, the CPU 47 references a state table (not shown) stored in the ROM 49 and determines the winning state (also called “combination”) when a winning combination occurs. The state table is provided for determining the winning state and the award responsive to each winning state is registered in the state table.

Next, when base game processing is started at step 3, a slot game is executed. At this time, the process goes to step 21 shown in FIG. 11 and rotation processing is executed. That is, the CPU 47 instructs the motor drive circuit 60 to operate the motors M1, M2, and M3. Then, the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R rotate at a constant speed for a given time. Next, the process goes to step 22 and stop control processing is performed. The CPU 47 operates as symbol display control means of the invention and instructs the motor drive circuit 60 to stop the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R in this order (in the order of the left, the center, and the right) so that the stop symbols determined in the symbol determination processing at step 11 appear and are stop-displayed on the pay line L1. Since the slot machine 1 has the three reels of the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R, stop position determination of each of the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R (determination of the symbol to be stopped on the pay line L1) is executed three times. The process goes to step 23 (payout processing). If it is determined in the winning combination determination processing at step 12 that a winning combination occurs, the CPU 47 instructs the hopper drive circuit 51 to drive the hopper 55 for paying out as many coins as the number of coins of the award responsive to the winning state. Then, the main processing is terminated.

As described above, in the embodiment, the symbol rows R1 to R3 containing the high award symbols W1 and W2 and the blank symbol W3 are drawn on the reel sheets put on the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R and have each the three-symbols-continuous arrangement configuration wherein the high award symbol W1 and the high award symbol W2 are arranged adjacent to the blank symbol W3. Thus, if either the high award symbol W1 or the high award symbol W2 deviates from the activated pay line, the other is easily stop-displayed on the activated pay line and if the symbol is not stop-displayed, either the high award symbol W1 or the high award symbol W2 is arranged near the activated pay line and is easily visually recognized, for example, as shown in FIG. 14. Moreover, the blank symbol W3 is arranged between the high award symbol W1 and the high award symbol W2, so that when the blank symbol W3 is stop-displayed on the activated pay line, the player can be made to feel regret at failing to obtain a high award if the symbol is displayed with one shift (the blank symbol W3 can be utilized as “regret item” for making the player feel regret). Consequently, it is made possible for the player to play a variable display game with the slot machine 1 with a continuous wish to gain a high award and the amusement of the variable display game can be enhanced. In the embodiment, in the high award symbol W1, the upper end and the lower end of the flame pattern are drawn so as to a little project to the adjacent blank symbols, so that when the blank symbol W3 is stop-displayed on the activated pay line, the upper end or the lower end of the flame of the pattern of the high award symbol W1 is stop-displayed near the activated pay line (see FIG. 14). Thus, the player can be furthermore made to feel regret at failing to obtain a high award and can be made to have a further expectation on the subsequent variable display game.

In the first embodiment, the high award symbol W1 is displayed larger than the high award symbol W2, so that the high award symbol W1 is highlighted. Thus, the player can be made to recognize that the largest profit is given when the high award symbols W1 are complete on the activated pay line.

Second Embodiment

Next, a slot machine 100 according to a second embodiment will be discussed based on FIGS. 15 and 16. A slot machine 100 according to the second embodiment differs from the slot machine 1 according to the first embodiment described above in that the slot machine 100 is a video slot machine having no reel unit 5 and has variable display sections 105L, 105C, and 105R for displaying variable display images of symbols and enables a player to play a variable display game with the variable display images displayed on the variable display sections 105L, 105C, and 105R. A description will be given centering on the differences and common points will not be discussed again or will be discussed briefly.

The slot machine 100 has a main display 4 as an image display means (image display device) and the main display 4 has the variable display sections 105L, 105C, and 105R for displaying variable display images of symbols. A scroll display image as if symbols moved from the top to the bottom in the order as the symbols are shown on R1 to R3 of the stop table 90 shown in FIG. 12 (a reel image displayed as if mechanical reels rotated) is displayed on the variable display sections 105L, 105C, and 105R of the main display 4. Therefore, also in the slot machine 100 according to the second embodiment, three-symbols-continuous arrangement display is produced as a high award symbol W1 and a high award symbol W2 are arranged adjacent to a blank symbol W3.

The slot machine 100 has components centering on a control board 41. The control board 41 has an image control circuit 54 as one of the components. The image control circuit 54 controls image display of the main display 4 for displaying various images such as variable display images of symbols on the main display 4.

Next, the operation of the slot machine 100 will be discussed with reference to flowcharts of FIGS. 9 and 17. In the slot machine 100, when main processing shown in FIG. 9 is started, start acceptance processing, lottery processing, and base game processing at steps 1 to 3 are performed as with the slot machine 1 described above. In FIG. 17, a step is abbreviated as S.

When the base game processing at step 3 is started, the process goes to step 31 shown in FIG. 17 and scroll processing is performed. The variable display sections 105L, 105C, and 105R are displayed on the main display 4 and a CPU 47 instructs the image control circuit 54 to display a variable display image scrolling a plurality of symbols on the variable display sections 105L, 105C, and 105R. Subsequently, the process goes to step 32 and stop control processing is performed. While the scroll speed is gradually lowered, stop symbols corresponding to the result of the lottery processing at step 2 shown in FIG. 9 are displayed on the variable display sections 105L, 105C, and 105R. Then, at step 33, when a winning combination occurs, coins responsive to the winning state are paid out and the base game processing is exited.

Although the preferred embodiment and its second embodiment of the invention have been described in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the specific embodiment or the second embodiment. For example, in the embodiment, each of the symbol rows R1 to R3 drawn on the reel sheets put on the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R has the three-symbols-continuous arrangement configuration wherein the high award symbol W1 and the high award symbol W2 are arranged adjacent to the blank symbol W3. However, at least the last stopped specific symbol row of the symbol rows R1 to R3 may have the three-symbols-continuous arrangement configuration. More preferably, at least the symbol row R3 (the right symbol row) put on the reel 5R arranged at the right toward the slot machine 1 has the three-symbols-continuous arrangement configuration and other symbol rows R1 and R2 may have no three-symbols-continuous arrangement configuration. In the slot machine 1, symbol stop display is last produced in the symbol row R3 put on the reel 5R and the player plays a variable display game while paying the most attention to the symbol stop-displayed in the right symbol row, so that the function of the three-symbols-continuous arrangement configuration can be demonstrated more effectively.

As for the slot machine 100 having the video reels in the second embodiment, three-symbols-continuous arrangement display may be produced as the high award symbol W1 and the high award symbol W2 are arranged adjacent to the blank symbol W3 on at least the last stop-displayed specific variable display section of the variable display sections 105L, 105C, and 105R. More preferably, three-symbols-continuous arrangement display is produced on at least the variable display sections 105R (the right variable display section) arranged at the right toward the slot machine 100 and no three-symbols-continuous arrangement display may be produced on the variable display section 105L or 105C.

In the embodiment, the slot machine 1 has the reel unit 5 with the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R arranged in one horizontal row, but may have a reel unit 205 with reels 205T, 205C, and 205B arranged in one vertical row as shown in FIG. 18. Also in this case, at least the last stopped specific symbol row of symbol rows drawn on reel sheets put on the reels 205T, 205C, and 205B may have the three-symbols-continuous arrangement configuration.

In the embodiment, when the high award symbols W1 are stop-displayed completely on the pay line L1, the largest award is given to the player, but the invention is not limited to the mode. In addition to giving the largest award when the high award symbols W1 are stop-displayed completely on the pay line L1, a transition may be made from the usual gaming state in which the player can play a usual slot game to a special gaming state such as a free game wherein the player can play free spin (operation of automatically rotating the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R without inputting any new coin, stopping the reels 5L, 5C, and 5R after the expiration of a given time, and paying out coins in response to the combination of the stopped symbols) a predetermined number of times involved in the game, for example. That is, the CPU 47 may determine whether or not a trigger of a free game is established by whether or not a code number pattern of stop display of the high award symbols W1 completely on the pay line L1 occurs after the base game processing at step 3 shown in FIG. 9 is exited and when the trigger is established, a transition may be made to the special gaming state. In so doing, the player can gain a high award as the high award symbols W1 are complete and can also enjoy a free game, etc., so that the amusement of the slot machine 1 can be improved.

In the embodiments described in detail in the above, the reel unit 5 in the first embodiment and the main display 4 in the second embodiment serves as an image display device that has a symbol display area (the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R; and the variable display sections 105L, 105C, and 105R).

The spin switch 9, the 1BET switch 10, and the maximum BET switch 11 serves as an operation unit that allows a player to input operations including a start command to start a game.

The microcomputer 42 serves as a processor that performs a game process for providing the player the game by controlling the image display device to display a progress of the game. As described in the first and the second embodiments, the microcomputer 42 performs the game process including: controlling the image display device to perform variable display for variably displaying a plurality of symbols in a predetermined sequence in the symbol display area when the start command is input through the operation unit; determining a stop state of the symbol by determining a symbol from among the plurality of symbols to be displayed stopped on a pay line that is configured for determining a win of the game; controlling the image display device to perform stop display of the determined symbol on the pay line in the stop state; and performing a payout of an award to the player in accordance with the stop state.

As described in the first and the second embodiments, the predetermined sequence includes a three-symbols-continuous arrangement in which a first highest award symbol indicating a most highest award among the plurality of symbols, and a second highest award symbol indicating a second highest award among the plurality of symbols, are arranged adjacent to a blank symbol implemented as a blank display part with no symbol displayed thereon.

The foregoing description of the embodiment has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed, and modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teachings or may be acquired from practice of the invention. The embodiment was chosen and described in order to explain the principles of the invention and its practical application to enable those skilled in the art to utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the claims appended hereto, and their equivalents.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8007359 *Nov 16, 2007Aug 30, 2011Universal Entertainment CorporationGaming machine and gaming method thereof
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/16, 463/31
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/32
European ClassificationG07F17/32
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 9, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: ARUZE CORP., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:KOJIMA, SAKIKO;REEL/FRAME:018574/0277
Effective date: 20061016