This invention relates to player-operable entertainment machines,
particularly coin-operated amusement with prizes (AWP) machines, such as
"fruit" or "poker" machines of the kind having a main display device for
displaying a selected combination of symbols at a win zone. As used
herein, the term coin is intended also to cover tokens, charge or credit cards
or any other means of supplying credit or monetary value.
The main display device of a fruit machine may comprise multiple
side-by-side reels which are rotatable about a common horizontal axis within
a housing behind a window at the win zone. Each reel has symbols at
equally spaced positions around its periphery and the reels can be brought
to rest with one symbol on each reel displayed through the window on a
If the displayed combination of symbols constitutes a predetermined
winning combination an award may be made available to the player.
It is well known to provide a supplementary display or 'games
feature' which can be used to enhance the entertainment value of the
machine and provide additional or alternative opportunities for winning.
In particular, it is known to provide a panel having sections which can
be selectively illuminated to represent movement from location to location
around a region, e.g. so as to simulate the playing of a board game.
Play is transferred from the main reels to the supplementary feature
on a random or predetermined basis, and then illumination of the panel
sections may be effected by, or in correspondence with, a rotatable
subsidiary feature reel, or otherwise, representing the spin of a reel or roll
of a dice or other selection method.
Awards or award possibilities may be made available to the player in
dependence on the location on the region to which play has progressed.
An object of the present invention is to provide a games feature
having enhanced award possibilities.
According to the invention, there is provided an entertainment
machine having a main display device which displays selected symbols at
a win zone and a supplementary game-playing display region whereby play
can transfer between the main display device and the supplementary game-playing
region, characterised in that the supplementary display region
comprises a matrix of selectable zones including one or more award zones
wherein play can advance through the matrix in correspondence with
selected symbols on the main display device.
With this arrangement, there may be enhanced award possibilities, in
the sense of a wider range of kinds of awards and/or a wider range of
routes to the attainment of awards, which can enhance game-playing
As desired, but not necessarily, there may be enhancement of award
value or frequency.
The main display device may take any suitable form and may be in
the form of actual or simulated rotatable reels bearing symbols, e.g. as
The said selected symbols may include one or more transfer symbols
whereby play can transfer to the matrix only on selection of one or more of
said transfer symbols.
The main symbols and each transfer symbols may take any suitable
form and may be displayed on the main display device in any arrangement.
For example, the or each transfer symbols may be displayed with or
be adjacent to one or more main symbols. Each transfer symbol may be
incorporated in the main symbols.
Alternatively, or additionally, the transfer symbols may actually take
the place of a main symbol.
For example, where the main device is in the form of actual/simulated
rotatable reels bearing symbols, the reels may also bear one or more
transfer symbols adjacent to or in place of a main symbol.
For play to transfer to the supplementary game playing region, the
transfer symbols may be displayed anywhere in view within the win zone,
or it may be required that the transfer symbols are displayed in a
predetermined position in the win zone, e.g. on a win line.
The matrix may take any suitable form and may be any regular or
irregular shape or configuration of zones.
However, preferably, the matrix comprises rows and columns of
zones, which may be mutually transverse.
The matrix may comprise any number of zones which may be any
shape e.g. square, rectangular, circular or with a curved outer perimeter.
In a preferred embodiment the matrix comprises rectangular said zones
within a rectangular field.
As described above, play can advance through the matrix according
to selected symbols.
The symbols may indicate to the player the route that play can
advance through the matrix. For example, the symbol may indicate the
allowed distance and/or direction of movement through the matrix. The
symbol may also indicate the number of zones that may be traversed,
and/or the direction.
Alternatively, or additionally, the symbol may indicate a destination
in the matrix, to which play can advance.
The or each said award zone may bear a symbol to indicate the award.
Alternatively, the matrix may incorporate digital or other displays
capable of operation to indicate different awards.
Progression of play through the matrix may be indicated in any
suitable manner e.g. by back illumination of a number of panels.
Additionally or alternatively, progress of play through the matrix,
may be simulated by display of moving images e.g. a video screen. Indeed,
display of the selected symbols may be by way of a video screen.
Play may transfer between the main display device and the
supplementary game-playing region automatically (i.e. outside the influence
of the player) on selection of one or more symbols.
Alternatively, on selection of the said one or more transfer symbols,
transfer of play to the supplementary display game may be under control of
the player. The possibility of transfer of play to the supplementary display
game may be indicated by e.g. illumination of the matrix or a zone thereof
or, indeed, any suitable part of the machine.
There may be a predetermined entry position in the matrix, that is to
say each time play transfers to the matrix, it may be necessary to start at
a particular position.
Alternatively, there may be provision for play to begin from a position
(e.g. the last position) gained in a previous game in the supplementary
Awards available from award zones may be automatically awarded,
or may be credited to the player for future award, or the player may be
given the option of trying to increase the award, e.g. by gambling this with
a conventional 'gamble' feature, prior to award or credit.
Awards may be of any suitable nature, including monetary pay out,
free games, scored points, extra 'nudges' or 'holds' or other games features
(such as the main game). For example, at least one award zone may
correspond to a predetermined number of 'nudges' made available to the
player in the main game.
One or more award zones may allow the player a 'bonus' move, i.e.
may allow or offer the player further progress through the matrix by
effecting or contributing to movement between the zones.
One or more award zones may offer the player a multi-level start into
a further supplementary games feature of the machine. Alternatively, or
additionally, one or more award zones may offer a second entry into the
The awards of different zones may be of different kinds. For
example, awards may change by increase in value from zone to zone , or
throughout the matrix from one part to another part. For example, in the
case of a square grid, awards may increase in value from one corner zone
to another corner zone. Awards may be located so as to be concentrated
in a particular area of the matrix e.g. in the zones along all or part of the
perimeter of the matrix.
There may be incentive for the player to seek to move in a particular
direction, from one zone to another zone in addition to or rather than
obtaining an award already offered by a zone, in the hope of obtaining a
higher value award.
Provision may be made for storage or accumulation of awards e.g. for
subsequent use in the supplementary game or in another games feature of
To this end there may be provided player operable control means to
allow the player to choose either to obtain an award or to store the award.
More preferably the entertainment machine is a coin-operated
machine, particularly a coin-operated 'amusement with prizes' (AWP)
machine which may be of the fruit machine or poker machine kind using
actual (or simulated) rotatable reels as mentioned above the main display
The invention will now be described further by way of example only
and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:-
- Fig. 1
- is a diagrammatic perspective view of one form of an
entertainment machine according to the invention;
- Fig. 2
- is an enlarged diagrammatic view of part of the display
of the machine of Fig. 1;
- Fig. 3
- is a block circuit diagram of the machine; and
- Figs. 4a & 4b
- show symbols which can be selected and displayed.
Referring to the drawings, Fig. 1 shows a fruit machine having a
floor-standing box shaped housing 1 having a front wall which includes
upper and lower glass panels 2, 3, a number of operating buttons 5, 6, a
coin slot 7 and a payout opening 8.
Within the housing 1 there are three axially aligned reels 9 having say
twenty main symbols 30 at regularly spaced positions around their
peripheries. The reels 9 are axially rotatable and are drivably connected to
respective stepper motors 10. The reels 9 are arranged behind a main
display device including a window 11 at a win zone, the window being
defined by a printed region of the lower glass panel 3. Each reel 9 can
be arrested by the respective stepper motor 10 in any of twenty stopping
positions in which one main symbol 30 is displayed in precise registration
with a horizontal win line 50 in the centre of the window 11 and two further
main symbols 30 are visible above and below the win line 50.
It will be appreciated that the above configuration could be replaced,
at least in part, by simulated reels using a video screen or other suitable
As described in more detail hereinafter, the upper glass panel 2 has a
back-illuminated printed region 15 which defines a matrix 17 of zones 18.
In addition to the-main symbols on the reels 9, transfer symbols are
also provided either adjacent to a main symbol, as shown in Fig. 4a, or in
place of a main symbol 30 as shown in Fig. 4b. The transfer symbols
comprise a directional arrow and a number which correspond respectively
to the direction of movement which is allowed through the matrix 17 and the
number zones 18 that may be traversed.
Thus the configuration of the transfer symbols 32 comprising an
upwardly directed arrow containing a number three as shown in Fig. 4a,
allows movement through three zones 18 in an upward direction.
The stepper motors 10 are connected to a microprocessor-based
control unit 12. This unit is also connected to a coin-mechanism 13, a
payout mechanism 14 and the buttons 5, 6.
In use, the player inserts coins into the coin mechanism 13 through
the slot 7 sufficient to generate credit for one or more games, and the
machine is actuated so that a game can now be played. The game
commences after a start button 5 has been pressed and the reels 9 spin and
then come to rest so as to select a combination of symbols displayed on the
win line. The displayed symbol combination is assessed by the control unit
12 and a win indication is given in the event that the combination is of a
predetermined winning nature. This is the main feature game.
The control buttons 6 can be used to perform 'hold' or 'nudge'
functions, when made available to the player, so that the player can seek
to influence the outcome of a game, in conventional manner.
The upper panel 2 is a transparent glass panel and, as mentioned,
within this there is the printed display region 15, which can be back-illuminated
with a bank of lights 16, and which provides a supplementary
As shown, this games feature consists of a matrix 17 containing a
grid of printed zones 18. The matrix 17 is a rectangular field of like
rectangular zones 18 arranged in mutually perpendicular rows and columns.
The matrix includes a plurality of award zones 20, 22 and these are
marked with symbols, relating to awards as will be described below. Four
awards zones 20 are located in a diagonal across the matrix 17. The
remaining fourteen award zones 22 are located in perimeter positions on
two sides of the matrix.
Play can progress through the matrix 17 by successive back
illumination of the zones 18 simulating movement through a number of
steps. The movement corresponds to the transfer symbol selected with the
main reel 9.
The award zones 20 are marked with one or more 'bonus' symbols,
and the perimeter zones 22 are marked with one or more 'nudge' symbols.
Play transfers to the matrix 17 when a transfer symbol on the main
reels 9 is selected on the win line.
On each transfer to the matrix 17, play automatically begins at the
zone 18a in the lower left hand corner of the matrix 17. Depending on the
transfer symbol 32 selected play then progresses through the matrix to a
zone which is then back-illuminated. In the case where an 'bonus' award
zone is illuminated , this offers a bonus to the player. Certain 'bonus' zones
allow further advancement of the players position within the matrix 17. The
bonus may be indicated by a symbol indicating the distance (i.e. number of
zones) and direction of movement which is offered. The symbol may be
configured as for the transfer symbols shown in Fig. 4a or Fig. 4b.
Other 'bonus' zones may offer the player a multi-level start into a
secondary bonus game (not shown) which is provided in addition to the
matrix. Alternatively, or additionally, other 'bonus' zones may offer the
player a second entry into the matrix providing a multi-level entry into the
matrix. Other 'bonus' zones may offer cash prizes which may be of
If, in accordance with the selected transfer symbol or above
mentioned bonus, play advances to a zone 18 in which no award is offered
then play automatically reverts back to the main 'reel' games feature to
continue there if play advances to the perimeter 'nudge' zones 22, then the
player is given a number of nudges (between 1 and 8 as indicated in Figure
2) for use in playing the main 'reel' games feature. Play then transfers
automatically to the main games feature and the number of 'nudges'
allocated become available.
The number of nudges may also be displayed within an area of the
main display device.
One or more limitations may be imposed on the foregoing by virtue
of time, or number of operations, or game duration or game outcome or
otherwise. Accumulated 'nudges' or 'bonuses' gained may be maintained
throughout successive games or may be reset or cancelled at the end of a
game or at the end of play of the feature game.
With the arrangement described above, there are enhanced
possibilities for attaining awards in the feature game which provided
additional player entertainment.
It is of course to be understood that the invention is not intended to
be restricted to the details of the above embodiment which are described by
way of example only.