US20070218985A1 - Gaming machine, service providing system and server - Google Patents

Gaming machine, service providing system and server Download PDF

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Publication number
US20070218985A1
US20070218985A1 US11/377,634 US37763406A US2007218985A1 US 20070218985 A1 US20070218985 A1 US 20070218985A1 US 37763406 A US37763406 A US 37763406A US 2007218985 A1 US2007218985 A1 US 2007218985A1
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means
number
output information
process
special
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US11/377,634
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Kazuo Okada
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Universal Entertainment Corp
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Universal Entertainment Corp
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Assigned to ARUZE CORP. reassignment ARUZE CORP. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: OKADA, KAZUO
Publication of US20070218985A1 publication Critical patent/US20070218985A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3267Game outcomes which determine the course of the subsequent game, e.g. double or quits, free games, higher payouts, different new games
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting

Abstract

A gaming machine of the present invention comprises: display means capable of displaying an image; reach deciding means for deciding whether or not a reach state is generated based upon the results of a lottery as to whether or not a special gaming state that is advantageous for the player is generated; reach state generation means for generating the reach state in accordance with the contents of the decision of the reach deciding means; counting means for counting the number of generation of reach states by the reach state generation means until a special gaming state is generated as the number of reaches; and display control means for conducting a control of displaying an output information image including predetermined output information to the display means, on the occasion that the number of reaches counted by the counting means has become a number no less than a predetermined number.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • The present application relates to Japanese Patent Application Nos. 2004-373955 and 2004-374626, filed on Dec. 24, 2004. The contents of these applications are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates to, for example, a gaming machine such as a pachinko gaming machine, a service providing system provided with such a gaming machine and a server, as well as such a server, and with respect to the gaming machine, the present invention more particularly concerns a gaming machine capable of displaying an output information image.
  • 2. Discussion of the Background
  • In a pachinko gaming machine, gaming balls are launched onto a gaming board by a player's operation of a launching handle and, gaming balls launched onto the gaming board are then flowed downwardly on the gaming board while colliding against nails and the like to change the direction of movement thereof. Then, in the event that gaming balls enter a starting opening provided on the gaming board, internal lottery is performed for determining whether or not a big hit should be generated, and if a big hit is generated as a result of the internal lottery, a predetermined combination of plural special symbols (for example, “7”-“7”-“7”) is stopped and displayed on a display device such as an LCD and, subsequently, a special gaming state is generated. A game in the special gaming state is generally the game in which a single game regarded as 1 round can be played up to 10 rounds, wherein the single game is from the time a special winning opening provided in the gaming board is brought into an open state to the time when ten gaming balls have entered the special winning opening or when a predetermined time has elapsed. Every time a gaming ball enters the special winning opening, a predetermined number of gaming balls are disbursed, which allows the player to acquire a great number of gaming balls in the special gaming state. In such a pachinko gaming machine, generally, in the event that the display state of special symbols becomes reach (one more to win), the variable display of remaining special symbols is changed to a different state from usual and also effect images are changed to reach effect images, which allows the player to have sense of expectancy and immediacy.
  • However, such internal lottery is independently performed by a computer in each game and, previous results are not reflected on the probability of the occurrence of a big hit. Therefore, in some cases, only reach may frequently be generated and no big hit may be generated for a long time (so-called “hamari” state) and, as a result, no special gaming state can be generated for a long time. In such cases, even when various reach effect images are displayed and ingenious effects are performed, the player can not enjoy himself and has complaints. Therefore, there is a need for providing a new service which can cast aside the player's dissatisfaction and uncomfortable feeling.
  • As a conventional pachinko gaming machine, for example, There have been a pachinko gaming machine in which two-dimensional codes including game information and the like are displayed on a display device such as an LCD, thereby enabling players to capture the two-dimensional codes through a portable telephone and the like for acquiring game information (for example, see JP-A 2004-236902).
  • With the pachinko gaming machine described in JP-A 2004-236902, it is possible to offer pleasure of acquisition of game information from pachinko gaming machine with the use of a portable telephone, in addition to pleasure of games and pleasure of effects.
  • However, with the pachinko gaming machine described in JP-A 2004-236902, only a two-dimensional code is displayed in the event of the occurrence of a big hit and, therefore, pleasure and satisfaction which a player can obtain by the displayed two-dimensional code reduce by half. Moreover, for example, in the case where, although only reaches frequently occur, no winning of a big-hit is given for a long time without an occurrence of a special gaming state, the two-dimensional code is not displayed, making it difficult to solve the dissatisfaction and displeasure that the player bears.
  • Moreover, in the above-mentioned gaming machine, the output information image is displayed automatically at a predetermined timing during the operation of a special game, and in order to obtain the display of the output information image, no game-playing skill of the player is required, with the result that the satisfaction of the player derived from the acquired display of the output information image is reduced, failing to enhance the desire of the player for the game.
  • Since the player's pleasure and satisfaction may vary depending on the timing when two-dimensional codes are displayed, the timing of displaying of two-dimensional codes is significantly important. Therefore, the pachinko gaming machine described in JP-A 2004-236902 has left much to be improved. Moreover, there is a state in which, during normal games, although the player has played a great number of games, no big-hit is obtained, with only money and time being spent. In such a case, the player tends to bear dissatisfaction and the like, and it is necessary to compensate for the long course of games without a big-hit. Moreover, it is necessary to produce a new item to be supplied so as to allow the player to maintain the desire for the game during a long course of normal games.
  • The contents of JP-A 2004-236902 are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention has been devised so as to solve the above-mentioned problems, and its objective is to provide a gaming machine which enhances the pleasure and satisfaction of the player derived from a displayed output information image such as a two-dimensional code, reduces the dissatisfaction and displeasure that the player bears when a big-hit has not been given for a long time, and allows the player to maintain desire for the game, and a service providing system and a server for such a gaming machine.
  • In order to achieve the above-mentioned objectives, the present invention provides the following configurations:
  • The following configurations are prepared as the first aspect of the present invention.
  • (1) A gaming machine comprising:
  • display means capable of displaying images;
  • reach deciding means for deciding whether or not a reach state is generated based upon the results of a lottery as to whether or not a special gaming state that is advantageous for the player is generated;
  • reach state generation means for generating the reach state in accordance with the contents of the decision of the reach deciding means;
  • counting means for counting the number of generated reach states by the reach state generation means as the number of reaches, until a special gaming state is generated; and
  • display control means for conducting a control of displaying an output information image including predetermined output information to the display means, on the occasion that the number of reaches counted by the counting means has become a number no less than a predetermined number.
  • According to the configuration (1) of the invention, on the occasion that the number of reaches has reached a predetermined number, an output information image containing predetermined output information (for example, a two-dimensional code, such as a QR code (registered trademark)) is displayed. Here, the player is allowed to acquire the output information by image capturing the output information image by using the image pickup means (for example, a CCD camera) of a cellular phone or the like. Moreover, by transmitting the output information to the server or the like through the cellular phone or the like, information corresponding to the output information (for example, image data for waiting images, music data for cellular phone ring melodies and the like) is transmitted from the server or the like to the cellular phone as an extra service.
  • According to the invention of the configuration (1), the player is allowed to get the output information in accordance with the number of reach states; therefore, for example, even in the case where, although only reaches frequently occur, no winning is given on a lottery as to whether or not a special gaming state is generated with the result that no special gaming state has occurred for a long time, to cause strong dissatisfaction and displeasure in the player, by displaying the output information image, the pleasure and satisfaction of the player can be increased.
  • (2) The gaming machine according to the configuration (1),
  • wherein
  • the reach state generation means generates either one of a common reach state which has a relatively low probability of generating a special gaming state or a special reach state which has a relatively high probability of generating a special gaming state, in accordance with the contents of the decision of the reach deciding means,
  • the counting means counts the number of generated special reach states by the reach state generation means as the number of special reaches until a special gaming state is generated, and
  • the display control means conducts a control of displaying an output information image including predetermined output information to the display means in such a manner that the output information image can be captured from the outside by image pickup means, on occasion that the number of special reaches counted by the counting means has become a number no less than a predetermined number.
  • According to the invention of the configuration (2), the player is allowed to get the output information in accordance with the number of occurrences of the special reach state that gives a particularly big expectation for the generation of a special gaming state; therefore, for example, even in the case where, although the special reach state has occurred a plurality of times, no special gaming state has occurred for a long time, by displaying the output information image, the pleasure and satisfaction of the player can be increased.
  • (3) A service providing system having:
  • the gaming machine according to the configuration (1); and
  • a server capable of transmitting and receiving data through a communication line to and from a portable terminal device provided with the image pickup means,
  • wherein
  • the server comprises:
  • information storage means for storing a plurality of types of information to be transmitted to the portable terminal device in a manner so as to correspond to respective pieces of output information;
  • extracting means which, upon receipt of output information from the portable terminal device that generates the output information based upon image data obtained by capturing an output information image displayed to the display means by using the image pickup means, extracts the information corresponding to the output information from the information storage means; and
  • transmission means for transmitting the information extracted by the extracting means to the portable terminal device through the communication line.
  • According to the invention of the configuration (3), the output information image is displayed on the gaming machine in accordance with the number of reaches that have occurred before an occurrence of a special gaming state; therefore, the player is allowed to capture the output information image by using the image pickup means of the portable terminal device, and by transmitting the output information generated from the output information image to the server through the portable terminal device, the player is allowed to obtain information corresponding to the output information, for example, image data for waiting images, music data for cellular phone ring melodies and the like. In this manner, in accordance with the invention of the configuration (3), information corresponding to the number of reaches that have occurred before an occurrence of a special gaming state is supplied; therefore, even in the case where no special gaming state has occurred for a long time, by displaying the output information image, it becomes possible to reduce the dissatisfaction and displeasure the player bears, and also to increase the pleasure and satisfaction the player obtains.
  • (4) A server capable of transmitting and receiving data through a communication line to and from a portable terminal device provided with image pickup means capable of capturing an output information image displayed to the display means of the gaming machine according to the configuration (1), the server comprising:
  • information storage means for storing a plurality of types of information to be transmitted to the portable terminal device in a manner so as to correspond to respective pieces of output information;
  • extracting means which, upon receipt of output information from the portable terminal device that generates the output information based upon image data obtained by capturing an output information image displayed to the display means by using the image pickup means, extracts the information corresponding to the output information from the information storage means; and
  • transmission means for transmitting the information extracted by the extracting means to the portable terminal device through the communication line.
  • According to the invention of the configuration (4), output information, generated based upon image data obtained by image capturing an output information image from the gaming machine by using the image pickup means of the portable terminal device, is received from the portable terminal device, and information corresponding to the output information can be transmitted to the portable terminal device. In this manner, in accordance with the invention of the configuration (4), information corresponding to the number of reaches that have occurred before an occurrence of a special gaming state is supplied; therefore, even in the case where no special gaming state has occurred for a long time, by displaying the output information image, it becomes possible to reduce the dissatisfaction and displeasure the player bears, and also to increase the pleasure and satisfaction the player obtains.
  • The following configurations are prepared as the second aspect of the present invention.
  • (5) A gaming machine comprising:
  • display means for displaying images;
  • detection means for detecting the executed time of a special game that is an advantageous game for the player; and
  • display control means for conducting a control of displaying output information image including predetermined output information on the display means in a manner so as to be captured from the outside by image pickup means, on the condition that the executed time of the special games has become smaller than a predetermined time as the result of detection of the detection means.
  • According to the invention of the configuration (5), in the course of normal games executed by the player, when the detection means has detected that the number of games has exceeded a predetermined number, an output information image (for example, an image of a two-dimensional code and the like) including predetermined information, such as a service point and gaming information, is displayed on the display means in a manner so as to be captured from the outside by the image pickup means. In this invention, in the case where no special gaming state has been executed during normal games, in order to compensate for the dissatisfaction and irritation that the player bears, the player is allowed to obtain the displayed output information image. In the second aspect of the present invention, under circumstances in which the player tends to feel dissatisfaction and irritation, the output information image is displayed on the display means, and the predetermined information is given to the player so that the player is allowed to have higher satisfaction and continuous desire for the game even during a long course of normal games.
  • (6) The gaming machine according to the configuration (5),
  • wherein
  • the display control means conducts a control of displaying the output information image on the display means in a manner so as to be captured from the outside by the image pickup means, on the condition that the number of games except for the number of reaches in the normal games has exceeded a predetermined number as the result of detection of the detection means.
  • According to the invention of the configuration (6), in addition to the effects of the invention of the configuration (5), under circumstances in which during normal games, the number of games has exceeded predetermined times without reaches that provide expectation for a special gaming state, that is, under circumstances that cause the player to feel much dissatisfaction and irritation, such an output information image is displayed on the display means in a manner so as to be captured by using the image pickup means from the outside; therefore, it becomes possible to alleviate the increased dissatisfaction of the player and also to effectively enhance the satisfaction of the player.
  • (7) A system having:
  • the gaming machine according to the configuration (5); and
  • a server capable of transmitting and receiving data through a communication line to and from a portable terminal device provided with the image pickup means,
  • wherein
  • the server comprises:
  • information storage means for storing a plurality of types of information to be transmitted to the portable terminal device in a manner so as to correspond to respective pieces of output information;
  • extracting means which, upon receipt of output information from the portable terminal device that generates the output information based upon image data obtained by image capturing an output information image displayed on the display means by using the image pickup means, extracts the information corresponding to the output information from the information storage means; and
  • transmission means for transmitting the information extracted by the extracting means to the portable terminal device through the communication line.
  • According to the invention of the configuration (7), during normal games, when the detection means has detected that the number of games has exceeded a predetermined number, an output information image (for example, an image of a two-dimensional code and the like) including predetermined information, such as a service point and gaming information, is displayed on the display means in a manner so as to be captured from the outside by the image pickup means. In the second aspect of the present invention, in the case where no special gaming state has been executed even after playing games many times in the course of normal games, in order to compensate for the increased dissatisfaction that the player bears, an output information image is displayed on the display means, and the player is allowed to capture the displayed output information image by using the image pickup means of the portable terminal device, and by transmitting the output information generated from the output information image by the portable terminal device, the player is allowed to acquire various pieces of information corresponding to the output information. In the second aspect of the present invention, under circumstances in which the player tends to feel dissatisfaction and irritation on the fact that no special gaming state is generated, the player is allowed to obtain information such as a service point and gaming information so that it becomes possible to effectively enhance the satisfaction of the player and also to allow the player to maintain continuous desire for the game even during a long course of normal games.
  • In accordance with the first aspect of the present invention, it is possible to further increase the pleasure and satisfaction the player obtains with the output information image being displayed. For example, even in the case where no special gaming state has been generated for a long time with the number of reaches exceeding a predetermined number of times, by displaying the output information image, it becomes possible to reduce the increased dissatisfaction and displeasure the player bears, and consequently to further increase the pleasure and satisfaction the player obtains.
  • Moreover, in accordance with the second aspect of the present invention, on the condition that the number of games has exceeded a predetermined number of games, the output information image containing predetermined information is displayed on the display means in a manner so as to be captured from the outside by image pickup means. In the case where no special gaming state has been executed even after playing games many times during normal games, in order to compensate for no execution of the special games, the player is allowed to acquire the displayed output information image so that, even under circumstances in which the player tends to feel dissatisfaction and irritation on the fact that no special gaming state is generated, it becomes possible to effectively enhance the satisfaction of the player and also to allow the player to maintain continuous desire for the game.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a network block diagram showing a service providing system in accordance with one embodiment of a first aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a perspective view schematically showing the pachinko gaming machine shown in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective schematic view showing the pachinko gaming machine shown in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 4 is a front view that shows an electro-decoration unit attached to the pachinko gaming machine shown in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 5 is a front view that schematically shows the pachinko gaming machine shown in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 6 is an explanatory drawing that shows a display screen displayed on the pachinko gaming machine shown in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 7 is a block diagram that shows a main control circuit and a sub control circuit that are configured in the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 8 is a flowchart showing a main process that is executed in the main control circuit;
  • FIG. 9 is a flowchart showing a system timer interruption process that is executed in the main control circuit;
  • FIG. 10 is a flowchart showing a subroutine of a special-symbol control process that is called for and executed in step S15 of the process shown in FIG. 8;
  • FIG. 11 is an explanatory drawing that shows a transition of states in the special-symbol control process shown in FIG. 10;
  • FIG. 12 is a flowchart showing a subroutine of a special-symbol storage checking process that is called for and executed in step S72 of the subroutine shown in FIG. 10;
  • FIG. 13 illustrates one example of a variation pattern determination table at the time of reach;
  • FIG. 14 is a flowchart showing a subroutine of an input detection process that is called for and executed in step S43 of the process shown in FIG. 9;
  • FIG. 15 is a flowchart showing a subroutine of an input process for a special-symbol related switch that is called for and executed at step 232 of the subroutine shown in FIG. 14;
  • FIG. 16 is a flowchart showing a subroutine of a process at the time of starting-opening detection that is called for and executed in step S266 of the subroutine shown in FIG. 15;
  • FIG. 17 is a flowchart showing a subroutine of a command receiving process that is executed in the sub control circuit;
  • FIG. 18 illustrates one example of an output information table;
  • FIG. 19 is a flowchart showing a subroutine of an encoding process that is called for and executed in step S286 of the subroutine shown in FIG. 17;
  • FIG. 20 is a flowchart showing a display control process that is executed in a display control circuit;
  • FIG. 21 is a block diagram showing an internal configuration of a cellular phone shown in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 22 is a block diagram showing an internal configuration of the server shown in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 23 is a flowchart showing a process that is executed between the cellular phone and the server;
  • FIG. 24 is a drawing showing one example of a premium data table;
  • FIG. 25 is a flowchart showing a subroutine of a two-dimensional code recognition process that is called for and executed in step S502 in the process shown in FIG. 23;
  • FIG. 26 is a drawing showing one example of waiting image that is transmitted to a cellular phone as a premium from a server;
  • FIG. 27 is a perspective view showing the outline of a system in accordance with one embodiment of a second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 28 is a perspective view showing the outline of a pachinko gaming machine in accordance with one embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 29 is a perspective view showing the outline of the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 30 is a front view showing the outline of the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 31 is an explanatory drawing showing a display screen that is given on the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 32 is an explanatory drawing showing an output information image that is displayed on the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 33 is a drawing showing a data table of output information in the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 34 is a block diagram showing a main control circuit and a sub control circuit that are configured in the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 35 is a flowchart showing a control process that is executed in the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 36 is a flowchart showing another control process that is executed in the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 37 is an explanatory drawing showing a transition of states in the control process that is executed in the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 38 is a flowchart showing still another control process that is executed in the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 39 is a flowchart showing still another control process that is executed in the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 40 is a flowchart showing the other control process that is executed in the pachinko gaming machine in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 41 is a block diagram showing a circuit that is configured in a server in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 42 is a block diagram showing a circuit that is configured in a cellular phone in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 43 is a flowchart showing a control process that is executed in the system in accordance with the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS
  • The following description will discuss a first aspect of the present invention and a second aspect of the present invention. Here, unless otherwise specified, when simply referred to as the present invention, this case includes both of the first aspect of the present invention and the second aspect of the present invention.
  • First Embodiment
  • Referring to the drawings, the following description will discuss one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention.
  • FIG. 1 is a network block diagram showing a service providing system in accordance with one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention. A service providing system 500 is provided with a pachinko gaming machine 10 and a server 600 that can carry out data transmitting and receiving processes to and from a cellular phone 400 having a CCD camera 408 as image pickup means (not shown, see FIG. 21) through the Internet by means of radio.
  • In the pachinko gaming machine 10, upon occurrence of a reach, a normal reach or a super reach is generated. The normal reach refers to a reach which has a relatively low probability of generating a special gaming state following the reach, and corresponds to a common reach in the first aspect of the present invention. The super reach refers to a reach which has a relatively high probability of generating a special gaming state following the reach, and corresponds to a special reach in the first aspect of the present invention. The player is allowed to know whether a reach generated on the pachinko gaming machine 10 is the normal reach or the super reach by an image (not shown) displayed on a liquid crystal display device 32.
  • In the pachinko gaming machine 10, the number of super reaches that have been generated up to the generation of the special gaming state is counted as the number of reaches, and when the number of reaches has reached a predetermined number (for example, 10), a two-dimensional code 92 having predetermined output information in a coded state is displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32. The liquid crystal display device 32 functions as display means. A player can capture the two-dimensional code 92 with the CCD camera 408 included in the portable telephone 400. In the first embodiment, there will be described a case where such output information is an URL indicative of a predetermined address in the server 600 in the Internet (for example, an address of a website of the gaming machine maker). However, such output information is not limited to the aforementioned case, in the first aspect of the present invention.
  • The portable telephone 400 recognizes the two-dimensional code from image data acquired by capturing the two-dimensional code 92 with the CCD camera 408 and then generates output information from the recognized two-dimensional code. Then, the portable telephone 400 transmits the output information to the server 600.
  • A hard disk drive 605 (not shown) included in the server 600 stores plural types of premium data (for example, image data for waiting images, music data for cellular phone ring melodies and the like) in association with output information. Herein, the premium data is information stored in the server 600 and also is information to be transmitted to the portable telephone 400. The server 600 extracts the premium data on the basis of the output information received from the portable telephone 400 and transmits the premium data to the portable telephone 400.
  • As described above, with the service providing system 500, the player can capture, using the CCD camera 408 included in the portable telephone 400, the two-dimensional code 92 displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32 of the pachinko gaming machine 10 when the number of times of super reaches occurred before a generation of a special gaming state has reached a predetermined number, to acquire the output information through the portable telephone 400 and also can transmit the output information to the server 600 to acquire the premium data associated with the output information from the server 600.
  • The pachinko gaming machine 10 of the service supply system 500 corresponds to a gaming machine according to the first aspect of the present invention. The gaming machine according to the first aspect of the present invention is not limited to the aforementioned example and may be, for example, a pachi-slot gaming machine, a slot machine and the like.
  • The first embodiment will discuss a system in which a two-dimensional code is used as an output information image; however, not limited to the two-dimensional code, the output information image of the first aspect of the present invention includes a one-dimensional code (bar code). Moreover, the first embodiment will discuss a system in which a QR code (registered trademark) is used as the two-dimensional code; however, the first aspect of the present invention is not limited to this example, and includes other two-dimensional codes, such as DataMatrix (registered trademark) and PDF417.
  • The portable telephone 400 corresponds to a portable terminal device according to the first aspect of the present invention. Herein, the portable terminal device according to the first aspect of the present invention is not particularly limited and may be any portable terminal device including image pickup means and also being capable of transmitting and receiving data to and from the server through a communication line. For example, the portable terminal device may be a personal digital assistance, a dedicated portable terminal device for the aforementioned service providing system or the like.
  • Further, while, in the first embodiment, there will be described a case where the portable telephone 400 and the server 600 transmit and receive data to and from each other in a wireless manner, the first aspect of the present invention is not limited to the case and they may transmit and receive data to and from each other through wire communication. Namely, the communication line according to the first aspect of the present invention includes a wire communication path and a wireless communication path.
  • Moreover, the first aspect of the present invention will discuss a system in which, on the occasion that the number of times of occurrences of super reaches before a generation of the special gaming state has reached a predetermined number, an output information image is displayed; however, the first aspect of the present invention is not limited to this example, another system may be used in which, on the occasion that the number of times of occurrences of reaches (including normal reaches and super reaches) before a generation of the special gaming state has reached a predetermined number, an output information image is displayed.
  • FIG. 2 is a perspective view schematically illustrating the pachinko gaming machine illustrated in FIG. 1. FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view schematically illustrating the pachinko gaming machine illustrated in FIG. 1.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 2 and FIG. 3, the pachinko gaming machine 10 is constituted by a main body frame 12 having an opening 12 a formed through its front surface, various types of components placed within the opening 12 a of the main body frame 12, and a door 11 pivotally and openably mounted to the main body frame 12 at the front side thereof. As illustrated in FIG. 2, the door 11 is for closing the opening 12 a at the front side thereof and is usually kept closed during games. Further, there are placed an upper plate 20, a lower plate 22, a launching handle 26 and the like, on the front surface of the main body frame 12.
  • As will be described later, there are placed, within the opening 12 a of the main body frame 12, the liquid crystal display device 32 for displaying effect images, a spacer 31, a gaming board 14 and the like. Further, for ease of understanding, description of various types of components (not shown) other than the gaming board 14, the spacer 31 and the liquid crystal display device 32 will be omitted.
  • The gaming board 14 is entirely formed from a plate-shaped transparent resin (a transparent member). Such a transparent member may be various types of materials, such as an acrylic resin, a polycarbonate resin, a methacrylic resin. Further, the gaming board 14 includes, at its front side, a game region 15 which allows launched gaming balls to roll thereon. The game region 15 is a region which is surrounded by a guide rail 30 (more specifically, an outer rail 30 a illustrated in FIG. 5, which will be described later) and enables gaming balls to roll thereon. Further, plural nails 13 are driven in to the game region 15 of the gaming board 14. On the other hand, the gaming board 14 includes a number-of-rounds display device 51 on its back surface around the center portion thereof.
  • The liquid crystal display device 32 is placed behind the gaming board 14 (in the side of the back surface thereof) with the spacer 31 interposed therebetween. Namely, the liquid crystal display device 32 is placed behind the transparent member forming the gaming panel 14. The liquid crystal display device 32 has a display region 32 a capable of displaying images relating to games. The display region 32 a is placed such that the display region 32 is entirely or partially overlapped with the gaming board 14 from the side of the back surface thereof with the spacer 31 sandwiched therebetween. In other words, the display region 32 a is placed behind the gaming board 14 such that it is at least entirely or partially overlapped with the game region 15 of the gaming board 14. More specifically, the liquid crystal display device 32 is placed behind the gaming board 14 such that the display region 32 a thereof is entirely or partially overlapped with the game region 15 and also is entirely or partially overlapped with the outside region 16 of the game region. Various types of images such as effect images (not shown) and a two-dimensional code 92 are displayed on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32.
  • By providing the liquid crystal display device 32 behind the gaming board 14 as in the first embodiment, it is possible to expand the region in which nails can be driven and the region in which gaming members such as combination members, decoration members can be provided and also it is possible to further increase the degree of freedom in layout.
  • The spacer 31 is placed behind the gaming board 14 (in the side of the back surface thereof) and also is placed at the front of the liquid crystal display device 32 (in the side of the front surface thereof). Namely, the spacer 31 is sandwiched between the gaming board 14 and the liquid crystal display device 32. The spacer 31 is made of a transparent material and is provided with a large through hole 31 a at the center thereof. An electric decoration unit 53 is provided within the through hole 31 a. The electric decoration unit 53 is constituted by a display device case 37 housing a special symbol display device 33 and a normal symbol display device 35, special symbol hold lamps 34 a, 34 b, 34 c and 34 d and normal symbol hold lamps 50 a, 50 b, 50 c and 50 d, as illustrated in FIG. 4. The display device case 37 is covered, at its front side, with a transparent lens (not shown), in order to improve the view-ability.
  • In FIG. 3, for ease of understanding, there are illustrated a first warp path 47 and the number-of-rounds display device 51 provided on the back surface of the gaming board 14. The first warp path 47 is made of a transparent material and is provided for transferring gaming balls which entered a winning opening 24 (see FIG. 5) to a second warp path 49 which will be described later (see FIG. 5).
  • While, in the first embodiment, the number-of-rounds display device 51 is provided on the back surface of the gaming board 14 around the center thereof, the present invention is not limited thereto and the number-of-rounds display device 51 may be provided, for example, near the upper right end portion of the outer rail 30 a on the gaming board 14. Description of the number-of-rounds display device 51 will be provided later.
  • Next, with reference to FIG. 4, the special symbol display device 33, the normal symbol display device 35, the special symbol hold lamps 34 a to 34 d and the normal symbol hold lamps 50 a to 50 d will be described. FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of the electric decoration unit 53.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 4, the special symbol display device 33 housed in the display device case 37 is constituted by plural 7-segment LEDs 41. The 7-segment LEDs 41 are repeatedly turned on and off, when a predetermined special symbol variable display starting condition is satisfied. When the 7-segment LEDs 41 are turned on and off, ten numerical symbols from “0” to “9” are variably displayed as special symbols (also referred to as identification information). If a specific numerical symbol (for example, a numerical symbol of “3” or “7”) is statically displayed as a special symbol, then the gaming state is changed from a normal gaming state to a special gaming state advantageous to the player. In the event that the gaming state enters such a big-hit gaming state, a shutter 40 (see FIG. 5) is controlled to be in a state of open, which enables a special winning opening 39 (see FIG. 5) to receive gaming balls, as will be described later. On the other hand, if a numerical symbol other than the specific numerical symbol (for example, a numerical symbol other than “3” or “7”) is statically displayed as a special symbol, the normal gaming state is maintained. Games as described above are referred to as “special symbol games”, during which special symbols are variably displayed and then statically displayed and, depending on the result of the static displaying of special symbols, the gaming state is changed or maintained.
  • Further, in the pachinko gaming device 10, Effect images are displayed in association with the progress of special symbol games with the liquid crystal display device 32. Effect images displayed with the liquid crystal display device 32 include three effect identification information. These three effect identification information start to be variably displayed in synchronization with the start of variable displaying of special symbols and then are statically displayed in order and, finally, all the effect identification information are statically displayed when a special symbol is statically displayed. If two identical effect identification information are statically displayed, this means the occurrence of a reach state. Further, the effect image displayed at this time notifies the player whether the reach is normal reach or super reach.
  • The normal symbol display device 35 is provided at the right of the special symbol display device 33. The normal symbol display device 35 is constituted by two display lamps (not shown) and, these display lamps are alternately turned on and off, thereby for example a round mark and a cross mark are variably displayed as normal symbols.
  • The special symbol hold lamps 34 a to 34 d are provided at the right and left of the display device case 37. The special symbol hold lamps 34 a to 34 d indicate the number of times the variable display of special symbols has been held (so-called, “the number of holds”, “the number of holds relating to special symbols”) by turning on or off. For example, when the variable display of special symbols has been held a single time, the special symbol hold lamp 34 a is lighted.
  • The normal symbol hold lamps 50 a to 50 d are provided under the display device case 37. The normal symbol hold lamps 50 a to 50 d indicate the number of times the variable display of the normal symbols has been held (so-called, “the number of holds”, “the number of holds relating to the normal symbols”) by turning on and off, as will be described later. Similarly to special symbols, when the variable display of the normal symbols has been held a single time, the normal symbol hold lamp 50 a is lighted.
  • As described above, in the first embodiment, there has been described a case where reach states occur depending on the effect identification information. However, the first aspect of the present invention is not limited to the case and, for example, in cases where plural special symbols are variably displayed, reach states may occur depending on the special symbols.
  • The description of the external view of the pachinko gaming machine 10 will be continued using FIG. 2 and FIG. 3. A transparent protective plate 19 is placed on the door 11. The transparent protective plate 19 is placed such that it is faced to the front surface of the gaming board 14 in the state where the door 11 is closed.
  • The launching handle 26 is provided rotatably with respect to the main body frame 12. At the back side of the launching handle 26, there is provided a launching solenoid (not shown) which is a driving device. At the periphery portion of the launching handle 26, there is provided a touch sensor (not shown). When the player touches the touch sensor, it is detected that the player grasps the launching handle 26. When the player grasps the launching handle 26 and rotates it in the clockwise direction, the launching solenoid is fed with electric power depending on the angle of rotation, which causes gaming balls stored on the upper plate 20 to be successively launched to the gaming board 14 for progressing games.
  • On the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32 placed behind the gaming board 14 (in the side of the back surface thereof), an effect image relating to a special symbol being displayed on the aforementioned special symbol display device 33 is displayed.
  • Next, with reference to FIG. 5, the general view of the pachinko gaming machine 10 will be described in detail. FIG. 5 is a front view illustrating the general view of the pachinko gaming machine 10 according to the present embodiment. While the general view of the pachinko gaming machine 10 will be described with reference to FIG. 5, the portions of the external view of the pachinko gaming machine 10 which have been previously described with reference to FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 will not be redundantly described. Further, in FIG. 5, illustration of the plural nails 13 driven into the gaming board 14 is omitted.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 5, there are provided, on the gaming board 14, two guide rails 30 (30 a and 30 b) and gaming members such as obstruction members 55 and 57, passage gates 54 a and 54 b, a second warp path 49, an obstruction member 58, a starting opening 25, a starting opening 44 including blade members 48, a shutter 40, a special winning opening 39, regular winning openings 56 a, 56 b, 56 c and 56 d. Further, at the upper portion of the gaming board 14, the electric decoration unit 53 including the special symbol display device 33, the normal symbol display device 35 and the like is viewable. The starting openings 25 and 44 correspond to starting regions according to the first aspect of the present invention.
  • The obstruction member 55 is provided on the gaming board 14 at an upper portion thereof and the obstruction member 57 is provided on the gaming board 14 substantially at the center portion thereof. Further, the obstruction member 58 is provided on the gaming board 14 at the right of the center portion thereof.
  • The two guide rails 30 provided on the gaming board 14 at the left side thereof are constituted by an outer rail 30 a bounding (defining) the game region 15 and an inner rail 30 b placed inside the outer rail 30 a. Launched gaming balls are guided by the guide rail 30 provided on the gaming board 14, then moved to the upper portion of the gaming board 14, passed over the electric decoration unit 53 and then flowed toward the down side of the gaming board 14 while colliding against the aforementioned plural nails (not shown), the obstruction members 55, 57 and 58 and the like provided on the gaming board 14 to change the direction of movement thereof.
  • Further, the winning opening 24 is formed at the left end portion of the obstruction member 55. If gaming balls enter the winning opening 24, the gaming balls are passed through the first warp path 47 behind the gaming board 14, then are moved along the rail-shaped second warp path 49 and then are directed to the back side of the obstruction member 57. The gaming balls directed to the back side of the obstruction member 57 are ejected to the front side of the gaming board 14 through the ejecting opening (not shown) surrounded by the obstruction member 57 and then flowed downwardly toward the gaming board 14.
  • Further, the starting opening 44 is provided at the right of the obstruction member 55. The blade members (so-called normal electric combination members) 48 are provided at the right and left of the starting opening 44.
  • If a gaming ball enters the aforementioned starting opening 25 or the starting opening 44, the special symbol display device 33 starts to variably display special symbols. Also, if a gaming ball enters the aforementioned starting opening 25 or the starting opening 44 during variable displaying of special symbols, the execution (start) of variable display of special symbols on the basis of the entry of the gaming ball into the starting opening 25 or the starting opening 44 is held until the currently-executed variable display of special symbols ends and a special symbol is statically displayed. Thereafter, when a special symbol which has been variably displayed is statically displayed, the variable display of special symbols which has been held is started.
  • The passage gates 54 a and 54 b are provided on the gaming board 14 at the right and left sides thereof substantially at the middle position. In the passage gates 54 a and 54 b, there are-provided passed-ball sensors 114 and 115 (see FIG. 7), which will be described later. The passed-ball sensors 114 or 115 detect gaming balls being passed through the passage gates 54 a or 54 b. In the event that the passed-ball sensor 114 or 115 detects a gaming ball being passed therethrough, the normal symbol display device 35 starts to variably display the normal symbols and, after the elapse of a predetermined time, the normal symbol display device 35 stops the variable display of the normal symbols. As previously described, the normal symbols are symbols such as a round mark, a cross mark and the like.
  • If this normal symbol is statically displayed as the predetermined symbol, for example, the round mark, the blade members (so-called normal electric combination members) 48 provided at the right and left of the starting opening 44 are brought into an opened state from the closed state, which causes gaming balls to easily enter the starting opening 44. Further, when a predetermined time has elapsed since the blade members 48 are opened, the blade members 48 are brought into the closed state, which reduces the probability of entry of gaming balls into the starting opening 44. Games as aforementioned are referred to as “normal symbol games”, during which normal symbols are variably displayed and then statically displayed and, depending on the static displaying of normal symbols, the opening/closing state of the blade members 48 is varied.
  • Similarly to variable display of special symbols, if gaming balls pass through the passage gates 54 a and 54 b during variable display of normal symbols, the execution (start) of variable displaying of normal symbols on the basis of the passage of the gaming balls through the passage gates 54 a and 54 b is held until the currently-executed variable display of normal symbols ends and a normal symbol is statically displayed. Thereafter, when a single normal symbol which has been variably displayed is statically displayed, the variable display of normal symbols which has been held is started.
  • The openable shutter 40 is provided at the front side of the special winning port 39 (at the front thereof). In the event that a specific numerical symbol is statically displayed as a special symbol on the special symbol display device 33 and the gaming state enters a big-hit gaming state, the shutter 40 is driven into the opened state where it can easily receive gaming balls. As a result, the special winning port 39 is brought into an opened state (a first state) where it can easily receive gaming balls.
  • On the other hand, the special winning port 39 provided in the side of the back side of the shutter 40 (behind the shutter 40) has a specific region (not shown) provided with a V-counting sensor 102 (see FIG. 7) and a normal region (not shown) provided with a counting sensor 104 (see FIG. 7) and the shutter 40 is kept driven into the opened state, until a predetermined number (for example, ten) of gaming balls have passed through these regions or until a predetermined time (for example, 30 seconds) has elapsed. If the condition about the entry of the predetermined number of gaming balls into the special winning opening 39 or the condition about the elapse of the predetermined time is satisfied during the opened state, the shutter 40 is driven into the closed state where it can not easily receive gaming balls. As a result, the special winning opening 39 is brought into a closed state (a second state) where it can not easily receive gaming balls. A game which starts at the time the special winning port 39 is brought into the opened state (the first state) where it can easily receive gaming balls and ends at the time the special winning port 39 is brought into the closed state (the second state) where it cannot easily receive gaming balls is referred to as a round game. Accordingly, the shutter 40 is kept opened during round games while it is closed at intervals between round games. Further, such round games are counted as the number of rounds such as “1” round, “2” rounds. Further, a first round game is referred to as “a first” round and a second round game is referred to as “a second” round.
  • Subsequently, the shutter 40 driven into the closed state (the second state) from the opened state is driven into the opened state again, on the condition that a gaming ball enters the special winning opening 39 and passes through the V-counting sensor 102 during the opened state. Namely, on the condition that a gaming ball enters the special winning opening 39 and passes through the V-counting sensor 102 during the opened state of the shutter 40, the gaming state can continuously proceeds to the next round game. A game which starts with a “first” round game and ends with a (final) round game which can not proceed to the next round game is referred to as a special game.
  • In the event that a gaming ball enters or passes through the aforementioned starting openings 25 and 44, the regular winning openings 56 a to 56 d, or the specific region or the normal region of the special winning opening 39, gaming balls are ejected onto the upper plate (see FIG. 2) or the lower plate 22, wherein the number of ejected gaming balls is predetermined on the basis of the types of the respective winning openings.
  • The number-of-rounds display device 51 provided on the back surface of the gaming board 14 near the center portion thereof displays the number of rounds near the center portion of the game region 15, through the game region 15 of the gaming board 14. The number-of-rounds display device 51 is constituted by plural 7-segment LEDs 52 and is capable of displaying at least one-digit numbers. The number-of-rounds display device 51 may be also constituted by dot LEDs, a liquid crystal display portion or a transparent liquid crystal display portion. Further, the liquid crystal display device 32 is provided behind the number-of-rounds display device 51.
  • Also, while in the first embodiment the liquid crystal display device 32 constituted by a liquid crystal display panel is employed as a portion for displaying images, the present invention is not limited thereto and may employ other types of displaying portions, such as a Braun tube including a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) dot LEDs, segment LEDs, ELs (Electronic Luminescents), plasma or the like. Further, while, in the present embodiment, there has been described a case where the liquid crystal display device 32 is provided substantially at the center of the front surface of the gaming board 14 of the pachinko gaming machine 10 as a gaming machine, the liquid crystal display device 32 may be provided at any position which can be viewed from the player. Also, while, in the present embodiment, the special symbol display device 33 and the normal symbol display device 34 are provided in addition to the liquid crystal display device 32, the present invention is not limited thereto and the liquid crystal display device 32 may be configured to variably display special symbols and normal symbols. Further, while the liquid crystal display device 32 is employed as a variabled is play means, the present invention is not limited thereto and may employ other types of variable display means, such as a drum, a belt, a leaf and the like.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary image being displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32 when the number of super reaches generated before an occurrence of the special gaming state has reached a predetermined number. There are displayed three effect identification information 93 which are laterally arranged at the center portion of the liquid crystal display device 32. Among them, the right and left identification information “7” are being statically displayed while the center identification information “6” is being variably displayed. This means the occurrence of reach. Further, on the liquid crystal display device 32, there is displayed an effect image 94 indicating two characters fighting each other, as an effect image indicating that the current reach is super reach. A two-dimensional code 92 along with an image showing that “Super-reach frequency exceeded 10 times!!” is displayed above the effect identification information 93. The player can capture the two-dimensional code 92 displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32 through the transparent protective plate 19 and the gaming board 14 (see FIG. 3), with the CCD camera 408 of the portable telephone 400.
  • FIG. 7 is a block diagram illustrating a control circuit of the pachinko gaming machine 10 according to the first embodiment. As illustrated in FIG. 7, a main control circuit 60 includes a main CPU 66 as a controlling means, a main ROM (Read Only Memory) 68, and a main RAM (Read Access Memory) 70. The main control circuit 60 controls the progress of games.
  • The main ROM 68, the main RAM 70 and the like are connected to the main CPU 66 and, the main CPU 66 has the function of performing various types of processes in accordance with programs stored in the main ROM 68. The main ROM 68 stores programs for controlling the operations of the pachinko gaming machine 10 with the main CPU 66 and also stores various types of tables such as a big-hit determination table which is referred to in performing big-hit determination through random number lottery.
  • The main RAM 70 has the function of storing various flags and variable values, as a temporal storage region of the main CPU 66. As specific examples of data stored in the main RAM 70, there is data as follows. In the main RAM 70, there are positioned a control state flag, a specific region passage flag, a big-hit determination random number counter, a big-hit symbol determination random number counter, a failure symbol determination random number counter, an effect condition selection random number counter, a number-of-special-winning-opening-opens counter, a special winning opening entry counter, a number-of-rounds display counter, a waiting time timer, a special winning opening open time timer, data indicative of the number of holds relating to special symbols, data indicative of the number of holds relating to normal symbols, data for transmitting commands to a sub control circuit 20 which will be described later, variables and the like.
  • The control state flag indicates the control state for special symbols. The specific region passage flag is used for determining whether or not gaming balls have passed through the specific region.
  • The big-hit determination random number counter is used for determining whether or not a special symbol big hit should be occurred. The big-hit symbol determination random number counter is used for determining a special symbol to be statically displayed, if it is determined that a special symbol big hit should be occurred. The failure symbol determination random number counter is used for determining a special symbol to be statically displayed, if it is not determined that a special symbol big hit should be occurred. The effect condition selection random number counter is for determining an effect variation pattern. These counters are updated by the main CPU 66 such that their stored values are incremented one by one, and random numbers are sampled from the respective counters at predetermined timings to execute various functions of the main CPU 66. While, in the first embodiment, these random counters are provided and the main CPU 66 is configured to update these random counters such that their stored values are incremented one by one, in accordance with programs, the present invention is not limited thereto and there may be provided a separate random number generation circuit.
  • The waiting time timer is provided for synchronization between processes conducted by the main control circuit 60 and the sub control circuit 200. Further, the special winning opening open time timer is for measuring the time during which the shutter 40 is driven to keep the special winning opening 39 opened. Further, while in the first embodiment the timers are updated at predetermined intervals, in the main RAM 70, such that their count values are subtracted by the predetermined interval, the present invention is not limited thereto and the CPU and the like may include timers.
  • The number-of-special-winning-opening-opens counter indicates the number of times the special winning opening has been opened during a big-hit gaming state (so-called, the number of rounds). Further, the special winning opening entry counter indicates the number of gaming balls which have entered the special winning opening and passed through the V-counting sensor 102 or the counting sensor 104 during a single round. The data indicative of the number of holds relating to special symbols indicates the number of times a special symbol game has been held, since even if a gaming ball enters the starting opening 25 or 44, the start of a special symbol game is held when variable displaying of special symbols can not be executed. Further, the data indicative of the number of holds relating to normal symbols indicates the number of times a normal symbol game has been held, since even if a gaming ball passes through the passage gate 54 a or 54 b, the start of a normal symbol game is held when variable displaying of normal symbols can not be executed. The number-of-rounds display counter indicates the number of rounds to be displayed on the number-of-rounds display device 51.
  • Further, the main control circuit 60 includes a reset clock pulse generation circuit 62 for generating clock pulses with a predetermined frequency, an initial reset circuit 64 for generating a reset signal at power-up, and a serial communication IC 72 for transmitting commands to the sub control circuit 200 which will be described later. The reset clock pulse generation circuit 62, the initial reset circuit 64 and the serial communication IC 72 are connected to the main CPU 66. Further, the reset clock pulse generation circuit 62 generates clock pulses at predetermined intervals (for example, at 2-miliseconds intervals), in order to conduct a system timer interruption process which will be described later.
  • Further, to the main control circuit 60, there are connected various types of devices such as the V-counting sensor 102, the counting sensor 104, regular winning ball sensors 106, 108, 110 and 112, passed-ball sensors 114 and 115, starting winning ball sensors 116 and 117 as starting region detection means, a normal electric combination member solenoid 118, a special winning opening solenoid 120, a seesaw solenoid 122, a backup clearing switch 124, as illustrated in FIG. 7.
  • The V-counting sensor 102 is provided in the specific region of the special winning opening 39. In the event that a gaming ball passes through the specific region of the special winning opening 39, the V-counting sensor 102 transmits a predetermined detection signal to the main control circuit 60. The counting sensor 104 is provided in the normal region of the special winning opening 39 which is different from the specific region. In the event that a gaming ball passes through the normal region of the special winning opening 39, the counting sensor 104 transmits a predetermined detection signal to the main control circuit 60. The regular winning ball sensors 106, 108, 110 and 112 are provided in the regular winning openings 56 a to 56 d, respectively. In the event that a gaming gall passes through the normal winning openings 56 a to 56 d, the regular winning ball sensors 106, 108, 110 and 112 transmit a predetermined detection signal to the main control circuit 60.
  • The passed-ball sensors 114 and 115 are provided in the passage gates 54 a and 54 b, respectively. In the event that a gaming ball passes through the passage gate 54 a or 54 b, the passed-ball sensor 114 or 115 transmits a predetermined detection signal to the main control circuit 60. The starting winning ball sensors 116 and 117 are provided in the starting openings 25 and 44, respectively. In the event that a gaming ball enters the starting opening 25 or 44, the starting winning ball sensor 116 or 117 transmits a predetermined detection signal to the main control circuit 60. The normal electric combination member solenoid 118 is connected to the blade members 48 through a link member (not shown) and brings the blade members 48 into the opened state or the closed state, in response to driving signals transmitted from the main CPU 66.
  • The special winning opening solenoid 120 is connected to the shutter 40 illustrated in FIG. 5 and drives the shutter 40 to open or close the special winning opening, in response to driving signals transmitted from the main CPU 66. The seesaw solenoid 122 is connected to a plate-shaped seesaw (not shown) provided inside the shutter 40 and moves the seesaw to change the inclination of the seesaw, in response to driving signals transmitted from the main CPU 66. By inclining the seesaw, the seesaw is switched between a state which allows gaming balls to easily pass through the specific region and a state which allows gaming balls to easily pass through the normal region. The backup clearing switch 124 is incorporated in the pachinko gaming machine 10 and has the function of clearing data which was backed up at power-off and the like, in accordance with operations of an administrator of the game arcade.
  • The disbursement/launching control circuit 126 is connected to the main control circuit 60. A disbursement device 128 for disbursing gaming balls, a launching device 130 used for launching gaming balls and a card unit 150 are connected to the disbursement/launching control circuit 126.
  • The disbursement/launching control circuit 126 receives ball winning control commands transmitted from the main control circuit 60 and ball rental control signals transmitted from the cart unit 150 and transmits predetermined signals to the disbursement device 128 to cause the disbursement device 128 to disburse gaming balls. Further, the disbursement/launching control-circuit 126 transmits launching signals to the launching device 130 for controlling it to launch gaming balls. While, in the first embodiment, there will be described a case where the disbursement/launching control circuit 126 is connected to the main control circuit 60 and is controlled by the main CPU 66, the first aspect of the present invention is not limited thereto and, for example, the disbursement/launching control circuit 126 may be connected to the sub control circuit 200 and may be controlled by a sub CPU 206.
  • The launching device 130 includes devices for launching gaming balls, such as the aforementioned launching solenoid, the touch sensor and the like. When the player grasps the launching handle 26 and rotates it in the clockwise direction, the launching solenoid is fed with electric power according to the angle of rotation to successively launch gaming balls stored on the upper plate 20 towards the gaming board 14.
  • A lamp controller circuit 76 for controlling lamps 74 is connected to the main control circuit 60, and the lamps 74 are connected to the lamp controller circuit 76. The lamp controller circuit 76 transmits lamp (LED) controlling signals to the lamps 74. The lamps 74 include incandescent lamps, LEDs and the like and more specifically include the special symbol hold lamps 34 a to 34 d, the normal symbol hold lamps 50 a to 50 d, the special symbol display device 33 (7-segment LEDs 41), the normal symbol display device 35 (displaying lamps), the number-of-rounds display device 51 (7-segment LEDs 52) and the like.
  • On the other hand, the sub control circuit 200 is connected to the serial communication IC 72. The sub control circuit 200 controls the display on the liquid crystal display device 32, sound to be generated from a speaker 46, lamps 132, in response to various commands transmitted from the main control circuit 60. The lamps 132 include incandescent lamps, LEDs and the like and, more specifically, include decoration lamps (not shown) for displaying the gaming board 14 in a dark and bright manner.
  • While, in the present embodiment, the main control circuit 60 transmits commands to the sub control circuit 200 while the sub control circuit 200 is not capable of transmitting signals to the main control circuit 60, the present invention is not limited thereto and the sub control circuit 200 maybe configured to be capable of transmitting signals to the main control circuit 60.
  • The sub control circuit 200 is constituted by the sub CPU 206, a program ROM 208, a work RAM 210, a display control circuit 250 for controlling the display on the liquid crystal display device 32, a sound control circuit 230 for controlling sound to be generated from the speaker 46 and a lamp control circuit 240 for controlling the lamps 132. The sub control circuit 200 executes effects in accordance with the progress of games, in response to commands from the main control circuit 60.
  • The program ROM 208, the work RAM 210 and the like are connected to the sub CPU 206. The sub CPU 206 has the function of executing various types of processes, in accordance with programs stored in the program ROM 208. Particularly, the sub CPU 206 controls the sub control circuit 200, in accordance with various commands transmitted from the main control circuit 60. Particularly, the sub CPU 206 controls the display on the liquid crystal display device 32. Moreover, based upon a variation pattern designation command supplied from the main control circuit 60, the sub CPU 206 determines effect patterns that define the contents of display and the like of effect images. In the case where a super reach is generated based upon the effect patterns, the number of reaches, stored in the work RAM 210, is incremented by 1 and stored so that the number of reaches is counted.
  • Moreover, the sub CPU 206 determines whether or not the number of reaches has reached a predetermined number, and when it is determined that the number of reaches has reached the predetermined number, reads output information corresponding to the number of reaches from the program ROM 208, generates a two-dimensional code by encoding the output information, and allows the work RAM 210 to store the code. Further, the sub CPU 206 extracts a two-dimensional code display pattern from the program ROM 208 and transmits it to a VDP 212. The two-dimensional code display pattern includes various types of data for displaying the two-dimensional code, such as the position and the time period at and during which the two-dimensional code is to be displayed. As will be described later, on receiving the two-dimensional code display pattern, the VDP 212 conducts a process for reading the two-dimensional code from the work RAM 210 and displaying it on the liquid crystal display device 32, on the basis of the two-dimensional code display pattern. While, in the first embodiment, there will be described a case where output information is encoded to generate a two-dimensional code, the two-dimensional code may be pre-stored in an image data ROM 216 or the like, in the first aspect of the present invention.
  • The program ROM 208 stores programs for controlling game effects in the pachinko gaming machine 10 through the sub CPU 206 and also stores various types of tables such as tables for making determinations relating to effects, a table associating set values with output information (hereinafter, also referred to as an “output information table”). Further, in the first embodiment, the output information is an URL indicative of a predetermined address (the address of a web site of the gaming machine maker) in the server 600 in the Internet.
  • Further, the program ROM 208 stores plural types of effect patterns. The effect patterns relate to the progress of effect displaying which is executed in association with variable displaying of special symbols. In addition, the program ROM 208 stores plural types of effect patterns used during playing of special games. The effect patterns used during playing of special games relate to the progress of effect displaying which is executed in association with round games during special games.
  • While, in the first embodiment, the main control circuit 60 is configured to utilize the main ROM 68 and the sub control circuit 200 is configured to utilize the program ROM 208 as storage means for storing programs, tables and the like, the present invention is not limited thereto and may employ any other types of storage media which are readable by computers including control means and, for example, such programs, tables and the like may be stored in a storage medium such as a hard disk device, a CD-ROM, a DVD-ROM, a ROM cartridge and the like. As a matter of cause, the main ROM 68 may be utilized instead of the program ROM 208. Also, these programs may be downloaded after power-up and then recorded in the main RAM 70 in the main control circuit 60 and in the work RAM 210 or the like in the sub control circuit 200, rather than be pre-recorded. Also, the respective programs may be recorded in different recording media.
  • The work RAM 210 has the function of storing various flags and variable values, as a temporal storage region of the sub CPU 206. For example, there are positioned, therein, an effect display selection random number counter used for selecting effect patterns, various types of variable values and the like. Further, the work RAM 210 stores two-dimensional code generated by encoding output information.
  • Further, while, in the first embodiment, the main RAM 70 is utilized as a temporal storage region of the main CPU 66 and the work RAM 210 is utilized as a temporal storage region of the sub CPU 206, the present invention is not limited thereto and may employ any read-and-write storage media.
  • The display control circuit 250 functions as a display control means and is constituted by an image data processor (hereinafter, referred to as a VDP) 212, an image data ROM 216 for storing various types of image data, a D/A converter 218 for converting image data into image signals, and an initial reset circuit 220 for generating a reset signal at power-up. The aforementioned VDP 212 is connected to the sub CPU 206, the image data ROM 216, the D/A converter 218, and the initial reset circuit 220.
  • The VDP 212 is a device including circuits such as a so-called sprite circuit, a screen circuit, a palette circuit and capable of performing various processes for displaying images on the liquid crystal display device 32. Namely, the VDP 212 controls the display on the liquid crystal display device 32. Further, the VDP 212 includes a storage medium (for example, a video RAM) as a buffer used for displaying images on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32. By storing image data in a predetermined storage region of the storage medium, an image is displayed on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32 at predetermined timing.
  • The image data ROM 216 separately stores various types of image data, such as effect identification information image data indicative of effect identification information, background image data, effect image data and the like. As a matter of cause, it further stores related-image data indicative of related images.
  • The VDP 212 extracts various types of image data, such as effect identification information image data, background image data, effect image data and the like, from the image data ROM 216, in response to image display commands (commands) transmitted from the sub CPU 206. Further, on receiving a two-dimensional code display pattern from the sub CPU 206, the VDP 212 extracts a two-dimensional code from the work RAM 210 on the basis of the two-dimensional code display pattern.
  • The VDP 212 superimposes the various types of images extracted from the image data ROM 216 or the work RAM 210 on one another in the order in which they are to be placed from a rearmost position, for example, in the order of the background image, the effect image and the two-dimensional code, and stores them in the buffer (for example, a video RAM) to synthesize a screen image and then outputs it to the D/A converter 218 at predetermined timing. The D/A converter 218 converts the screen image into image signals and outputs the image signals to the liquid crystal display device 32. As a result, a two-dimensional code 92 is displayed in the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32 (see FIG. 6). The player can capture the two-dimensional code 92 displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32 with the CCD camera 408 included in the portable telephone 400.
  • While, in the first embodiment, there has been described a case where the sub CPU 206 encodes output information to generate a two-dimensional code, the two-dimensional code may be stored in a storage means included in the gaming machine in the first aspect of the present invention.
  • Further, the sound control circuit 230 is constituted by a sound source IC 232 for performing control relating to sound, an audio data ROM 234 for storing various types of sound data, and an amplifier 236 for amplifying sound signals (hereinafter, referred to as an AMP).
  • The sound source IC 232 is connected to the sub CPU 206, the initial reset circuit 220, the audio data ROM 234 and the AMP 236. The sound source IC 232 controls sound to be generated from the speaker 46.
  • The lamp control circuit 240 is constituted by a driving circuit 242 for generating lamp (LED) controlling signals and a decoration data ROM 244 storing plural types of lamp decoration patterns (LED lighting patterns) and the like.
  • Hereinafter, FIGS. 8 to 10 and FIGS. 12 to 20 illustrate a process which is conducted in the pachinko gaming machine 10. Further, with reference to FIG. 11, there will be described state transitions during special symbol control process (FIG. 10) conducted in the gaming machine 10.
  • FIG. 8 illustrates a main process conducted in the main control circuit 60.
  • First, as illustrated in FIG. 8, an initial setting process is conducted, wherein the initial setting process includes RAM access permission, backup restoration, initialization of work areas (step S11). Then, special symbol control process is conducted, wherein the special symbol control process relates to the progress of special symbol games and special symbols on the special symbol display device 33 (step S15), as will be described in detail with reference to FIG. 10. As described above, in the main process, after the completion of the initial setting processes in step S11, the process in step S15 is repeatedly conducted.
  • Further, even when the main CPU 66 is executing the main process, the main CPU 66 may interrupt the main process and conduct a system timer interruption process. In response to clock pulses which are generated from the reset clock pulse generation circuit 62 at predetermined intervals (for example, at 2-milisecond intervals), the main CPU 66 conducts the following system timer interruption process. The system timer interruption process will be described with reference to FIG. 9.
  • First, as illustrated in FIG. 9, the main CPU 66 conducts a random number update process for incrementing, by “1”, the respective counter values of the big-hit determination random number counter, the big-hit symbol determination random number counter and the like (step S42). Then, the main CPU 66 conducts an input detection process for detecting gaming balls entering or passing through the starting openings 25 or 44 or the like (step S43). Then, the main CPU 66 conducts a process for updating various types of timers, such as the waiting time timer used for synchronization between the main control circuit 60 and the sub control circuit 200, the special winning opening open time timer for measuring the time during which the special winning opening 39 has been opened, wherein the special winning opening 39 is opened in the event of the occurrence of a big hit (step S44). Then, the main CPU 66 conducts an output process, in order to transmit, to solenoids, a motor and the like, signals for driving and controlling them on the basis of various types of variable values (step S46). After the completion of this process, the process proceeds to step S47.
  • Instep S47, command output process is conducted. In this process, the main CPU 66 transmits various types of commands to the sub control circuit 200. Specifically, these various types of commands include a variation pattern designation command indicative of the pattern of variable display of special symbols and the like. After the completion of the process, the process proceeds to step S49.
  • Then, in step S49, the main CPU 66 conducts a disbursement process for transmitting ball winning control commands for causing the disbursement device 128 to disburse balls, to the disbursement/launching control circuit 126. Further, the main CPU 66 transmits, to the disbursement/launching control circuit 126, ball winning control commands for causing it to disburse a predetermined number of balls, in the event of entry of a gaming ball into the various types of winning openings. After the completion of the process, this subroutine ends and main CPU 66 is restored to an address at which it existed prior to the occurrence of the interruption and conducts the main process.
  • With reference to FIG. 10, the subroutine conducted in step S15 of FIG. 8 will be described. In FIG. 10, the numerical values represented at the sides of steps S72 to S81 indicate the numerical values of the control state flag corresponding to the respective steps and, on the basis of the current numerical value of the control state flag, a single step corresponding to the numerical value is conducted to progress special symbol games.
  • First, as illustrated in FIG. 10, a process for loading the control state flag is conducted (step S71). In this process, the main CPU 66 reads the control state flag. After the completion of this process, the process proceeds to step S72.
  • Further, in steps S72 to S81 which will be described later, on the basis of the value of the control state flag, the main CPU 66 determines whether or not various types of processes at the respective steps should be conducted. The control state flag indicates the gaming state of special symbol games and allows one of the processes in steps S72 to S81 to be conducted. In addition thereto, the main CPU 66 conducts the process at the respective steps at predetermined timing based on the waiting time timer, wherein the predetermined timing is set for the respective steps. Further, prior to the predetermined timing, the subroutine ends without conducting the process at the respective steps and another subroutine is conducted. As a matter of cause, the system timer interruption process is conducted at predetermined intervals.
  • In step S72, special symbol storage check process is conducted. The detail thereof will be described later with reference to FIG. 12. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S73.
  • Instep S73, a special symbol variation management process is conducted. In the process, the control state flag has a value (01) indicative of special symbol variation management and, after the elapse of a variation time, the main CPU 66 sets the control state flag to a value (02) indicative of special symbol display management and also sets the waiting time timer to a post-determination waiting time (for example, one second). Namely, the process in step S74 is set to be conducted after the elapse of the post-determination waiting time. At the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S74.
  • In step S74, a special symbol display management process is conducted. The detail thereof will be described later with reference to FIG. 14. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S75.
  • In step S75, a big-hit starting interval management process is conducted. In this process, the control state flag has a value (03) indicative of big-hit starting interval management and, after the elapse of a time corresponding to the big-hit starting interval, the main CPU 66 stores, in the main RAM 70, data for opening the special winning opening 39, which has been read from the main ROM 68. Then, the main CPU 66 reads data for opening the special winning opening 39, which has been stored in the main RAM 70 in step S46 in FIG. 9, and transmits a signal commanding for opening the special winning opening 39 to the special winning opening solenoid 120. As described above, the main CPU 66 controls the opening/closing of the special winning opening 39. Namely, a special game in which a round game can be repeatedly executed in plural times is executed, wherein a predetermined advantageous gaming state (a gaming state which starts with an opened state where gaming balls can easily enter the special winning opening 39 and ends with a closed state where gaming balls can not easily enter the special winning opening 39) is offered in the round game.
  • Further, the main CPU 66 sets the control state flag to a value (04) indicating that the special winning opening is being opened and also sets the special winning opening open time timer to an opening upper limit time (for example, 30 seconds). Namely, the main CPU 66 sets the configuration such that the process in step S78 is conducted. Further, the main CPU 66 substitutes a predetermined number (for example, “15”) into the number-of-rounds display counter in the main RAM 70. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S76.
  • In step S76, a number-of-rounds display process is conducted. In this process, the main CPU 66 selects a single number-of-rounds displaying pattern from plural number-of-rounds displaying patterns stored in the main ROM 68, on the basis of the number substituted in the number-of-rounds display counter stored in a predetermined region of the main RAM 70, and stores the selected number-of-rounds displaying pattern in a predetermined region of the main RAM 70.
  • Further, the data indicative of the number-of-rounds displaying pattern stored in the predetermined region of the main RAM 70 is transmitted to the lamp controller circuit 76, as a signal for controlling the display on the number-of-rounds display device 51 (a number-of-rounds display controlling signal), through the process in step S46. On receiving the number-of-rounds display controlling signal, the lamp controller circuit 76 controls variable display and static display on the number-of-rounds display device 51, on the basis of the number-of-rounds display controlling signal. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S77.
  • In step S77, a special winning opening pre-reopening waiting time management process is conducted. In this process, the control state flag has a value (06) indicative of special winning opening pre-reopening waiting time management and, after the elapse of a time corresponding to the inter-round interval, the main CPU 66 updates the number-of-special-winning-opening-opens counter such that the stored value is incremented by “1”. The main CPU 66 sets the control state flag to a value (04) indicating that the special winning opening is being opened. The main CPU 66 sets the special winning opening open time timer to an opening upper limit time (for example, 30 seconds). Namely, the main CPU 66 sets the configuration such that the process in step S78 is conducted. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S78.
  • In step S78, a special winning opening open process is conducted. In this process, in the case where the control state flag has the value (04) indicating that the special winning opening is being opened, the main CPU 66 determines whether or not either the condition that the special winning opening entry counter is equal to or greater than “10” or the condition that the opening upper limit time has elapsed (the special winning opening open time timer is “0”) is satisfied. If any of the conditions is satisfied, the main CPU 66 updates the variable values positioned in the main RAM 70, in order to close the special winning opening 39. The main CPU 66 sets the control state flag to a value (05) indicative of monitoring of residual balls within the special winning opening. The main CPU 66 sets the waiting time timer to a special winning opening residual ball monitoring time (for example, 1 second). Namely, the main CPU 66 sets the configuration such that the process in step S79 is conducted after the elapse of the special winning opening residual ball monitoring time. Further, if either condition is not satisfied, the main CPU 66 does not conduct the aforementioned process. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S79.
  • In step S79, a special winning opening residual ball monitoring process is conducted. In this process, the control state flag has the value (05) indicative of monitoring of residual balls within the special winning opening and, after the elapse of the special winning opening residual ball monitoring time, the main CPU 66 determines whether or not the condition that no gaming ball has passed through the specific region of the special winning opening 39 or the condition that the number-of-special-winning-opening-opens counter is equal to or greater than a maximum number of continuous rounds (indicative of a final round) is satisfied. If any of the conditions is satisfied, the main CPU 66 sets the control state flag to a value (07) indicative of a big-hit completion interval and also sets the waiting time timer to a time corresponding to the big-hit completion interval. Namely, the main CPU 66 sets the configuration such that the process in step S80 is conducted after the elapse of a time corresponding to the big-hit completion interval. On the other hand, if both the conditions are not satisfied, the main CPU 66 sets the control stage flag to a value (06) indicative of special winning opening re-opening waiting time management. Further, the main CPU 66 updates the number-of-rounds display counter stored in the main RAM 70 such that the stored value is subtracted by “1”. Further, the main CPU 66 sets the waiting time timer to a time corresponding to the inter-round interval. Namely, the main CPU 66 sets the configuration such that the process in step S76 is conducted after the elapse of the time corresponding to the inter-round interval. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the proceeds in step S80.
  • In step S80, big-hit completion interval process is conducted. In this process, the control state flag has the value (07) indicative of the big-hit completion interval and, after the elapse of the time corresponding to the big-hit completion interval, the main CPU 66 sets the control state flag to a value (08) indicative of the completion of special symbol games. Namely, the main CPU 66 sets the configuration such that the process in step S81 is conducted. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S81.
  • In step S81, a special symbol game completion process is conducted. In this process, when the control state flag has a value (08) indicative of the completion of special symbol games, the main CPU 66 updates the data indicative of the number of holds relating to special symbols (starting storage information) such that it is subtracted by “1”. Further, the main CPU 66 sets data indicative of a number-of-starting-storage designation command for subtracting the starting storage information by “1” in a predetermined storage region of the main RAM 70. Further, the main CPU 66 updates the special symbol storage region, in order to perform the next variable display. The main CPU 66 sets the control state flag to a value (00) indicative of special symbol storage checking. Namely, the main CPU 66 sets the configuration such that the process in step S72 is conducted. After the completion of this process, this subroutine ends.
  • As previously described, by setting the control state flag, special symbol games are executed. Specifically, as illustrated in FIG. 11, when the gaming state is not a big-hit gaming state, if “failure” is resulted from a big-hit determination, the main CPU 66 sets the control flag state to “00”, “01”, “02” and “08” in the mentioned order to conduct the process in steps S72, S73, S74 and S81 illustrated in FIG. 10 at predetermined timing. Also, when the gaming state is not a big-hit gaming state, if a big hit is resulted from a big-hit determination, the main CPU 66 sets the control flag state to “00”, “01”, “02” and “03” in the mentioned order to conduct the process in steps S72, S73, S74 and S75 illustrated in FIG. 10 at predetermined timing to perform the control of a big-hit gaming state. Also, when the control of the big-hit gaming state is performed, the main CPU 66 sets the control flag state to “04”, “05” and “06” in the mentioned order to conduct the process in steps S78, S79 and S77 illustrated in FIG. 10 at predetermined timing to perform special games. Further, if the condition for completing special games (a big-hit gaming state) (the condition for completing special games, the condition for completing big-hit games) is satisfied, the main CPU 66 sets the control state flag to “04”, “05”, “07” and “08” in the mentioned order to conduct the process in steps S78 to 81 illustrated in FIG. 10 at predetermined timing to complete special games. Further, in the first embodiment, the condition for completing special games includes the condition that no gaming ball has passed through the specific region until a predetermined time has elapsed (“blown out state”) and the condition that the maximum number of continuous rounds has been completed.
  • FIG. 12 is a flowchart illustrating the subroutine of the special symbol storage check process which is called up and conducted in step S72 in the subroutine illustrated in FIG. 10.
  • First, as illustrated in FIG. 12, the main CPU 66 determines whether or not the control state flag has the value (00) indicative of special symbol storage check (step S101). If it is determined that the control state flag has the value indicative of special symbol storage check, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S102 and, if it is not determined that the control state flag has the value indicative of special symbol storage check, this subroutine ends.
  • In step S102, the main CPU 66 determines whether or not the number of holds relating to special symbols is “0”. If it is determined that the data indicative of the number of holds relating to special symbols is “0”, then the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S103 and, if it is not determined that the data indicative of the number of holds is “0”, then the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S104.
  • In step S103, a demonstration display process is conducted. In this process, the main CPU 66 stores, in the main RAM 70, a variable value used for transmitting a demonstration display command to the sub control circuit 200 for causing it to perform demonstration displaying. This causes the sub control circuit 200 to display a demonstration screen. After the completion of this process, this subroutine ends.
  • In step S104, a process for setting the control state flag to the value (01) indicative of special symbol variation management is conducted. In this process, the main CPU 66 stores the value indicative of special symbol variation management in the control state flag. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S105.
  • In step S105, a big-hit determination process is conducted. In this process, the main CPU 66 selects a big-hit determination value stored in the big-hit determination table. Further, the main CPU 66 refers to the big-hit determination random number extracted at starting winning and the big-hit determination value. Namely, the main CPU 66 determines whether or not a big-hit gaming state advantageous to the player should be occurred. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S106.
  • In step S106, it is determined whether or not a big hit has occurred. In this process, the main CPU 66 determines whether or not a big hit has occurred, on the basis of the result of the reference in step S105. If the main CPU 66 determines that a big hit has occurred, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S107 and, if it does not determine that a big hit has occurred, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S108.
  • In step S107, a big-hit symbol determination process is conducted.
  • In this process, the main CPU 66 extracts a big-hit symbol random number extracted at starting winning, then determines a special symbol to be statically displayed on the special symbol display device 33 on the basis of the big-hit symbol determination random number and stores data indicative of the special symbol in a predetermined region of the main RAM 70. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S109.
  • In step S108, a failure symbol determination process is conducted.
  • In this process, the main CPU 66 extracts a failure symbol determination random number from a failure symbol determination random number counter, then determines a special symbol to be statically displayed on the special symbol display device 33 as a failure symbol and stores data indicative of the special symbol in a predetermined region of the main RAM 70. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S109.
  • In step 5109, a process for determining a special symbol variation pattern is conducted. In this process, the main CPU 66 determines a variation pattern and stores it in a predetermined region of the main RAM 70. Specifically, in the case where a big-hit symbol has been determined in step S107, the main CPU 66 performs random number extracting and refers to a reach variation pattern determination table (see FIG. 13) stored in the program ROM 208 to determine the variation pattern. On the other hand, in the case where a failure symbol has been determined in step S109, the main CPU 66 performs random number extracting to determine whether or not a reach state should be occurred. If the main CPU 66 determines that a reach state should be occurred, it further performs random number extracting and refers to the reach variation pattern determination pattern (see FIG. 13) stored in the program ROM 208 to determine a variation pattern.
  • FIG. 13 is an exemplary reach variation pattern determination table.
  • In this figure, N1 to N6 indicate normal reaches and Si to S5 indicate super reaches. Further, S4 and S5 indicate super reaches having a big-hit expected value of 100% (so-called premium reaches).
  • Further, in the case where the main CPU 66 has determined a failure symbol in step S109 and further has determined that a reach state is not to be occurred, it performs random number extracting and refers to a normal variation pattern determination table (not shown) to determine a variation pattern.
  • Further, the main CPU 66 stores data indicative of the determined variation pattern in a predetermined region of the main RAM 70.
  • The stored data indicative of the variation pattern is transmitted, as a signal for driving and controlling the special symbol display device 33 (a special symbol driving/controlling signal), to the lamp controller circuit 76, through the process in step S46 of FIG. 9. On receiving the special symbol driving/controlling signal, the lamp controller circuit 76 controls the display on the special symbol display device 33, on the basis of the special symbol driving/controlling signal. Through the aforementioned process, the special symbol is variably displayed on the special symbol display device 33 and, after the elapse of a predetermined time, the special symbol is statically displayed thereon.
  • Further, the data indicative of this variation pattern is transmitted, as a variation pattern designation command, from the main CPU 66 in the main control circuit 60 to the sub CPU 206 in the sub control circuit 200, through the process in step S47 in FIG. 9. The sub CPU 206 in the sub control circuit 200 performs effect displaying according to the received variation pattern designation command. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S110.
  • In step S110, a process for setting the waiting time timer to a variable time according to the determined variation pattern is conducted. In this process, the main CPU 66 reads a variable time according to the variation pattern determined through the process in step S109 from a table and stores a value indicative of the variable time in the waiting time timer. Then, the main CPU 66 conducts a process for clearing the storage region which stores the big-hit determination random number used for the current variable display and the like (step S111). After the completion of this process, this subroutine ends.
  • FIG. 14 is a flowchart illustrating the subroutine of the input detection process which is called up and conducted in step S43 in the process illustrated in FIG. 9.
  • First, as illustrated in FIG. 14, the main CPU 66 conducts a winning ball-related switch check process (step S231). In this process, the main CPU 66 detects whether or not predetermined detection signals have been transmitted from the various types of sensors relating to ball disbursement, such as the V-counting sensor 102, the counting sensor 104, the regular winning ball sensors 106, 108, 110 and 112, the starting winning ball sensor 116 and the like. Then, after conducting the detecting processes for such predetermined signals, the main CPU 66 determines the number of balls to be disbursed on the basis of the sensor which transmitted a signal and stores it in the main RAM 70. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S232.
  • Instep S232, special symbol relating switch input process is conducted. As will be described in detail later with reference to FIG. 15, the main CPU 66 determines whether or not a predetermined signal has been transmitted from the V-counting sensor 102, the counting sensor 104 or the starting winning ball sensor 116 which relates to special symbols. After executing the detection process for such predetermined signals, the main CPU 66 conducts a process which will be described later. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S233.
  • In step S233, a normal symbol-related switch input process is conducted. In this process, the passed-ball sensor 114 transmits a predetermined detection signal to the main CPU 66. On receiving the predetermined detection signal, the main CPU 66 conducts a process such as a normal symbol starting storage process and the like. After the completion of this process, this subroutine ends.
  • FIG. 15 is a flowchart illustrating the subroutine of the special symbol-related switch input process which is called up and conducted in step S232 in the subroutine illustrated in FIG. 14.
  • First, as illustrated in FIG. 15, it is determined whether or not there is a counting switch input (step S261). In this process, if the main CPU 66 determines that there is a counting switch input, on the basis of a predetermined signal transmitted from the counting sensor 104, the main CPU 66 conducts a counting switch detection process for updating the special winning opening entry counter such that the stored value is incremented by “1” (step S262). On the other hand, if the main CPU 66 determines that there is no counting switch input, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S263.
  • In step S263, it is determined whether or not there is a V-counting switch input. In this process, if the main CPU 66 determines that there is a V-counting switch input, on the basis of a predetermined signal-transmitted from the V-counting sensor 102, the main CPU 66 conducts a V-counting switch detection process for setting a flag indicating that gaming balls have passed through the specific region and for updating the special winning opening entry counter such that the stored value is incremented by “1” (step S264). On the other hand, if the main CPU 66 determines that there is no V-counting switch input, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S265.
  • In step S265, it is determined whether or not there is a starting opening switch input. In this process, the main CPU 66 determines whether or not there is a starting opening switch input, by receiving a predetermined signal from the starting winning ball sensor 116. If the main CPU 66 determines that there is a starting opening switch input, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S266, and if it does not determine there is a starting opening switch input, this subroutine ends.
  • In step S266, a starting opening detection process is conducted and, after the completion of this process, this subroutine ends. As will be described in detail later with reference to FIG. 16, if the main CPU 66 determines that the data indicative of the number of holds is smaller than “4”, the main CPU 66 extracts a big-hit determination random number and a big-hit symbol random number and stores them in a predetermined region of the main RAM 70. After the completion of this process, this subroutine ends.
  • FIG. 16 is a flowchart illustrating the subroutine of the starting opening detection process which is called up and conducted in step S266 in the subroutine illustrated in FIG. 15.
  • First, as illustrated in FIG. 16, the main CPU 66 reads the number of starting storages (so-called “data indicative of the number of holds” as previously described) from a number-of-starting-storages counter and determines whether or not the number of starting storage is equal to or greater than “4” (step S501). In this process, if the main CPU 66 determines that the number of starting storages is equal to or greater than “4”, the subroutine ends. Namely, if the number of holds reaches an upper limit value, the subroutine ends, without storing starting storage information, even when a gaming ball has entered the starting opening 44. On the other hand, if the main CPU 66 determines that the number of starting storages is smaller than “4”, the number-of-starting-storages counter is incremented by “1” (step S502) and the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S503.
  • In step S503, the main CPU 66 extracts a big-hit determination random number from the big-hit determination random number counter and extracts a big-hit symbol random number from the big-hit symbol determination random number counter. Then, the main CPU 66 stores the extracted big-hit determination random number and the big-hit symbol random number as starting storage information in a predetermined region of the main RAM 70 (step S504). The main CPU 66 reads data indicative of the stored big-hit determination random number and the stored big-hit symbol random number, in the process in step S105 and the like in FIG. 12, then determines whether or not a big hit occurs and determines the type of a special symbol to be statically displayed. As described above, in the event that a predetermined variable display holding condition is satisfied even when gaming balls have entered the starting opening 44, the main CPU 66 stores the starting storage information used for determining the result of variable display of special symbols up to a predetermined number as an upper limit, until a predetermined variable display starting condition which enables variable display of special symbols is satisfied. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S510.
  • In step S510, the main CPU 66 reads the data indicative of the number of starting storages and sets data indicative of the number-of-starting-storages designation command based on the data indicative of the number of starting storages, in a predetermined region of the main RAM 70. The data indicative of the number-of-starting-storage designation command which has been set as aforementioned is transmitted to the sub CPU 206 in the sub control circuit 200 from the main CPU 66 in the main control circuit 60, through the process in step S47 in FIG. 8. The sub CPU 206 of the sub control circuit 200 performs effects and notification relating to the number of starting storages, on the basis of the received number-of-starting-storage designation command, as will be described later. The number-of-starting-storage command includes data based on the big-hit determination random number and the big-hit symbol random number which have been extracted in step S503 (for example, whether or not the random number is a random number which causes transition to a special gaming state, the result of variable display of special symbols and the like), and the number-of-starting-storage command is transmitted from the main control circuit 60 to the sub control circuit 200 so that the sub control circuit 200 (the sub CPU 206) can recognize whether or not the random number is a random number which causes the transition to a special gaming state, the result of variable display of special symbols and the like. After the completion of this process, this subroutine ends.
  • On the other hand, the sub control circuit 200 receives various types of commands transmitted from the main control circuit 60 and conducts a command reception process as illustrated in FIG. 17.
  • First, as illustrated in FIG. 17, the sub CPU 206 determines whether or not it has received a number-of-starting-storages designation command (step S280). In this process, if the sub CPU 206 determines that it has received a number-of-starting-storages designation command from the main control circuit 60, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S281. On the other hand, if the sub CPU 206 does not determine that it has received a number-of-starting-storages designation command from the main control circuit 60, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S282.
  • In step S281, the sub CPU 206 conducts a number-of-holds update process. In this process, the sub CPU 206 sets starting storage information, data indicative of the number of starting storages before the updating and data indicative of the updated number of starting storages, in a predetermined region of the work RAM 210. Then, the sub CPU 206 determines the number of starting storages on the basis of the number-of-starting-storages designation command received from the main control circuit 60 and updates the data indicative of the number of starting storages positioned in the predetermined region of the work RAM 210. Further, in this process, the updating is performed, regardless of whether the number of holds is increased or decreased. After the completion of this process, this subroutine ends.
  • On the other hand, in step S282, the sub CPU 206 determines whether or not it has received a variation pattern designation command. In this process, if the sub CPU 206 determines that it has received a variation pattern designation command from the main control circuit 60, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S283. On the other hand, if the sub CPU 206 does not determine that it has received a variation pattern designation command from the main control circuit 60, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S293.
  • In step S283, the sub CPU 206 determines an effect pattern, on the basis of the received variation pattern designation command. For example, in the case where the variation pattern designation command indicates a normal reach, the sub CPU 206 determines an effect pattern corresponding to the normal reach and, in the case where the variation pattern designation command indicates a super reach, it determines an effect pattern corresponding to the super reach. Consequently, an effect based on the determined effect pattern is executed. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S284.
  • In step S284, the sub CPU 206 determines whether or not the variation pattern designation command indicates a super reach. In this process, if the sub CPU 206 determines that the variation pattern designation command indicates a super reach, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S285. On the other hand, if the sub CPU 206 does not determines that the variation pattern designation command indicates a super reach, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S291.
  • In step S285, the sub CPU 206 increments the number of reaches stored in the work RAM 210 by one and stores the resulting number. By carrying out the process of step S285, the number of reaches is counted, and the resultant number is stored in the work RAM 210. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S286.
  • In step S286, based upon the number of reaches stored in the work RAM 210, the sub CPU 206 refers to the output information table stored in the program ROM 208 (see FIG. 18), and determines whether or not the number of reaches has reached a predetermined number (for example, 5 times, 10 times, and the like). In this process, when it is determined that the reach number has reached the predetermined number, the sequence proceeds to step S287. In contrast, when it is determined that the reach number has not reached the predetermined number, the sequence proceeds to step S291.
  • In step S287, the sub CPU 206 refers to an output information table (see FIG. 18) and extracts output information according to the number of reaches. FIG. 18 is a view illustrating an exemplary output information table. In the output information table, as illustrated in FIG. 18, the number of reaches is associated with output information (URLs). After the completion of this process, the sub CPU 206 proceeds to the process in step S288.
  • In step S288, the sub CPU 206 encodes the output information generated in step S287 in to a two-dimensional code. The encoding process will be described later. After the completion of this process, the sub CPU 206 proceeds to the process in step S289.
  • In step S289, the sub CPU 206 stores the two-dimensional code generated in step S288 in the work RAM 210. After the completion of this process, the sub CPU 206 proceeds to the process in step S290.
  • In step S290, the sub CPU 206 reads a two-dimensional code display pattern data from the program ROM 208 and transmits it to the display control circuit 250. Thereafter, the sub CPU proceeds to the process in step S291.
  • In step S291, the sub CPU 206 determines whether or not the variation pattern designation command is indicative of the generation of a special gaming state. In this process, when it is determined that the variation pattern designation command allows the generation of a special gaming state, the sub CPU 206 proceeds to the process in step S292. In contrast, when it is determined that the variation pattern designation command is not indicative of the generation of a special gaming state, the present subroutine is completed.
  • In step S292, the sub CPU 206 clears the number of reaches stored in the work RAM 210 as data to be set to zero. Thereafter, the subroutine ends. Instep S282, if the sub CPU 206 determines that it has not received a variation pattern designation command, it conducts a process according to received commands in step 293 and, thereafter, the subroutine ends.
  • FIG. 19 is a flowchart illustrating the subroutine of the encoding process which is called up and conducted in step S287 in the subroutine illustrated in FIG. 17.
  • First, the sub CPU 206 sets the output information (URL) stored in the program ROM 208 in the work RAM 210 (step S400) In the figure, there is illustrated “http://***.***.001.htm” as an example of output information.
  • Next, the sub CPU 206 generates a mode identifier corresponding to the type of characters of the output information (for example, numerical characters, alphanumeric characters, Chinese characters), in the work RAM 210 (step S401).
  • Next, the sub CPU 206 generates a number-of-characters identifier according to the number of characters of the output information, in the work RAM 210 (step S402).
  • Next, the sub CPU 206 conducts a process for binarizing the output information (step S403). Next, the sub CPU 206 conducts a process for adding an end pattern to the data obtained from steps S401 to S403 (step S404).
  • Next, the sub CPU 206 conducts code language conversion on the data obtained in step S404 (step S405), then generates an error correction code language on the basis of the data obtained in step S405 and adds it to the data obtained in step S405 (step S406). Next, the sub CPU 206 conducts a process for binarizing the data obtained in step S406 and arranging it in a matrix shape (step S407).
  • Next, the sub CPU 206 conducts a process for masking the data obtained in step S407 with a predetermined pattern (step S408). Next, it conducts a process for adding format information including an error correction level and a mask identifier (step S409) and generates a two-dimensional code (step S410). The generated two-dimensional code is stored in the work RAM 210. Thereafter, this subroutine ends.
  • While, in the first embodiment, there has been described a case where only an URL as output information is encoded (coded) into a two-dimensional code, output information and other data (for example, data indicative of the machine model of the gaming machine, data uniquely allotted for the gaming machine for identification of the gaming machine itself or the like) may be encoded in the first aspect of the present invention.
  • FIG. 20 is a flowchart illustrating the subroutine of the display control process conducted in the display control circuit.
  • The VDP 212 generates a screen image according to various types of data transmitted from the sub CPU 206.
  • When the VDP 212 has received no effect pattern data from the sub CPU 206 (step S300: NO), it extracts a demonstration image from the image data ROM 216, on the basis of a demonstration display command, and stores it in the buffer (step S301).
  • When the VDP 212 has received an effect pattern data from the sub CPU 206 (step S300: YES), it extracts an effect image from the image data ROM 216, on the basis of the effect pattern data, and stores it in the buffer (step S305). The effect image includes effect identification information images representing the aforementioned effect identification information.
  • After conducting the process in step S301 or the step S305, if the VDP 212 has received a two-dimensional code display pattern data (step S320: YES), it extracts a two-dimensional code from the work RAM 210 and stores it in the buffer (step S321). At this time, the two-dimensional code is stored such that it is superimposed on the effect image which has been extracted and stored in the buffer in step S301 or the step S305.
  • Thereafter, when the timing of completion of displaying of the two-dimensional code comes (step S323: YES), the two-dimensional code display pattern data is cleared (step S324).
  • Then, at every predetermined timing (for example, at every 1/30-seconds) (step S307: YES), the screen image is output to the liquid crystal display device 32 (step S308). As a result, a two-dimensional code 92 is displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32, as illustrated in FIG. 6.
  • On the other hand, when the predetermined timing has not come (step S307: NO), the subroutine returns to the process in step S307.
  • Thereafter, when the effect has not been completed (step S310: NO), the subroutine returns to the process in step S300. On the other hand, if the effect has been completed (step S310: YES), the effect pattern data is cleared (step S311) and the subroutine returns to the process in step S300.
  • FIG. 21 is a block diagram illustrating the internal structure of the portable telephone illustrated in FIG. 1.
  • The portable telephone 400 corresponds to the portable terminal device according to the present invention.
  • The portable telephone 400 includes an operating portion 404, a liquid crystal display panel 406, a CCD camera 408 as an image pickup means, a wireless communication portion 410, a sound circuit 412, a speaker 414, a microphone 416, a transmission/reception antenna 418, a nonvolatile memory 420, a microcomputer 422 and a secondary battery 424.
  • The wireless communication portion 410 performs transmission and reception to and from a base station, by using radio waves as media, through the transmission/reception antenna 418, under the control of the microcomputer 422. The sound circuit 412 outputs, to the speaker 414, reception signals output from the wireless communication portion 410 through the microcomputer 422 and also outputs sound signals output from the microphone 416, as sound signals, to the wireless portion 410 through the microcomputer 422.
  • The speaker 414 converts the reception signals output from the sound circuit 412 into reception sounds and outputs them, and the microphone 416 converts transmission sounds generated by an operator into sound signals and outputs them to the sound circuit 412.
  • The CCD camera 408 is capable of capturing the two-dimensional code 92 displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32 of the pachinko gaming machine 10 and the image data resulted from the capturing it is stored in the nonvolatile memory 420. While, in the first embodiment, there will be described a case where the CCD camera is employed as the image pickup means, the image pickup means is not particularly limited and may be, for example, a CMOS sensor camera, in the first aspect of the present invention.
  • The nonvolatile memory 420 stores, in a nonvolatile manner, various types of data, such as image data generated by capturing the two-dimensional code 92 with the CCD camera 408, image data for waiting images, sound data for cellular phone ring melodies, and various types of programs.
  • The secondary battery 424 supplies electric power to the respective circuits. The microcomputer 422 is constituted by a CPU, a ROM and a RAM and conducts, for example, a phone sending/receiving processing, e-mail generating/sending/receiving processing, Internet processing and the like. The transmission/reception of e-mails and the transmission/reception of data via the Internet are performed by the microcomputer 422, through the wireless communication portion 410 and the transmission/reception antenna 418.
  • The microcomputer 422 downloads predetermined programs from the server 600 via the Internet, on the basis of a predetermined command input through the operating portion 404 and stores them in the nonvolatile memory 420. Then, the microcomputer 422 reads the aforementioned program from the nonvolatile memory 420 and executes them to provide the following functions (A) to (B).
  • (A) The microcomputer 422 recognizes a two-dimensional code from image data generated by capturing the two-dimensional code 92 with the CCD camera 408 and generates output information from the recognized two-dimensional code.
  • (B) The microcomputer 422 transmits the output information generated as in the aforementioned (A) to the server 600, via the Internet, through the wireless communication portion 410 and the transmission/reception antenna 418.
  • While, in the first embodiment, there will be described a case where the portable telephone 400 downloads programs from the server 600, such programs may be previously stored (pre installed) in the nonvolatile memory 420 of the portable telephone 400.
  • FIG. 22 is a block diagram illustrating the internal structure of the server illustrated in FIG. 1 The server 600 includes a CPU 601 as a calculation processing device, a ROM 602, a RAM 603, a communication interface circuit 604 for communication with the portable telephone 400 via the Internet, and a hard disk drive 605.
  • The hard disk drive 605 stores plural types of premium data, for example, image data for waiting images representing characters appearing in effects in the pachinko gaming machine 10, music data for cellular phone ring melodies which are made of BGMs in the pachinko gaming machine 10 and the like. The premium data is not limited to these examples and may be, for example, information about games. Further, the hard disk drive 605 stores a premium data table.
  • On receiving the output information and the ID data of the portable telephone 400 from the portable telephone 400, the CPU 601 refers to the premium data table (see FIG. 24) stored in the hard disk drive 605, on the basis of the aforementioned output information, and selects premium data associated with the aforementioned output information. Next, the CPU 601 extracts the selected premium data, from plural types of premium data stored in the hard disk drive 605. Then, the CPU 601 transmits the premium data extracted from the hard disk drive 605, to the portable telephone 400, via the Internet.
  • Further, the hard disk drive 605 stores programs to be downloaded to the portable telephone 400. On receiving a request signal for downloading a program thereto from the portable telephone 400, the CPU 601 reads the program from the hard disk drive 605 and transmits the program to the portable telephone 400 through the communication interface circuit 604 via the Internet.
  • FIG. 23 is a flowchart illustrating a process conducted by the portable telephone and the server.
  • First, the microcomputer 422 included in the portable telephone 400 drives the CCD camera 408 as an image pickup means, on the basis of a command input through the operating portion 404, and the CCD camera 408 captures a two-dimensional code 92 included in a screen image displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32 of the pachinko gaming machine 10 (step S800).
  • Then, the microcomputer 422 stores the image data obtained in step S800 in the nonvolatile memory 420 (step S801).
  • Then, the microcomputer 422 conducts two-dimensional code recognition process (step S802) to recognize the two-dimensional code from the image data obtained in step S800 and generates output information from the recognized two-dimensional code. The two-dimensional code recognition process will be described in detail later.
  • Next, the microcomputer 422 transmits the output information resulted from the two-dimensional code recognition process in step S802 along with the ID data of the portable telephone 400, to the server 600, through the wireless communication portion 410 and the transmission/reception antenna 418, via the Internet (step S803).
  • On receiving the output information and the ID data of the portable telephone 400, via the Internet from the portable telephone 400, the CPU 601 included in the server 600 stores the output information and the ID data in the hard disk drive 605 (step S601).
  • Then, on the basis of the output information, the CPU 601 refers to the premium data table (see FIG. 24) stored in the hard disk drive 605 and extracts, from the hard disk drive 605, premium data corresponding to the output information (step S602).
  • FIG. 24 is an exemplary premium data table.
  • In the premium data table, as illustrated in FIG. 24, output information and premium data are associated with each other.
  • Next, the CPU 601 transmits the premium data extracted in step S602 to the portable telephone 400 (step S605). At this time the CPU 601 functions as a transmission means for transmitting the premium data extracted in step S602 to the portable telephone 400.
  • The microcomputer 422 in the portable telephone 400 stores the premium data transmitted from the server 600 in the nonvolatile memory 420 (step S804). As a result, the player can acquire the premium data.
  • FIG. 25 is a flowchart illustrating the two-dimensional code recognition process which is called up and conducted in step S801 in the process illustrated in FIG. 23.
  • First, the microcomputer 422 conducts an image conversion process on the image data stored in the nonvolatile memory 420 (step S700). The image converting process is a process for extracting image data of the region in which a two-dimensional code is displayed, from image data generated by capturing a two-dimensional code, then performing corrections of the inclination and the distortion thereon and converting the image data into a monochrome image with a predetermined threshold value to generate image data including a frontward-faced two-dimensional code.
  • Next, the microcomputer 422 extracts the two-dimensional code from the image data obtained in step S700 and performs corrections such as noise elimination (step S701).
  • Next, the microcomputer 422 conducts a binarization process on the two-dimensional code obtained in step S701 to substitute “0” or “1” for the respective dots constituting the two-dimensional code (step S702) and then generates binarized matrix data (step S703).
  • Next, the microcomputer 422 decodes the binarized matrix data (step S704) and generates output information (step S705). Subsequently, this subroutine ends and the process proceeds to step S803 in the flowchart illustrated in FIG. 23.
  • As described above, when the portable telephone 400 transmits the output information and the ID data of the portable telephone 400 to the server 600 (FIG. 23, step S803), the premium data corresponding to the output information is transmitted to the portable telephone 400 (FIG. 23, step S605) and the premium data is stored in the nonvolatile memory 420 included in the portable telephone 400. As a result, for example, an image as illustrated in FIG. 26 is displayed on the liquid crystal display panel 406 included in the portable telephone 400.
  • FIG. 26 is a view illustrating an exemplary image being displayed on the liquid crystal display panel 406 of the portable telephone 400. This image is a waiting image obtained by capturing a two-dimensional code 92 through the portable telephone 400 and transmitting output information, which is generated from the resultant image data in the portable telephone 400, to the server 600.
  • In accordance with the first embodiment, a two-dimensional code 92 is displayed on the pachinko gaming machine 10 in response to the number of reaches that are generated before the occurrence of a special gaming state, and the player is allowed to capture the image of the two-dimensional code 92 by using the CCD camera 408 of a cellular phone 400, and by sending output information (URL) generated from the two-dimensional code 92 to the server 600 by the cellular phone 400, the player is allowed to obtain, for example, image data for waiting images, music data used for cellular phone ring melodies and the like, as premium data in accordance with the output information. In this manner, in accordance with the first embodiment, since premium data can be supplied in accordance with the number of reaches generated before the occurrence of a special gaming state, it is possible to increase pleasure and satisfaction of the player by the two-dimensional code 92 thus displayed; therefore, for example, even in the case where the special gaming state has not been generated for a long time, by displaying the two-dimensional code 92, it is possible to reduce the dissatisfaction and displeasure that the player bears.
  • Moreover, the first aspect of the present invention may adopt the following configuration: The gaming machine is characterized by including: display means (for example, a liquid crystal display device 32) capable of displaying an image; a gaming board (for example, a gaming board 14) having a gaming area on which gaming balls are allowed to roll (for example, a gaming area 15); starting area detection means (for example, a starting winning ball sensor 116 or 117) that detects a gaming ball that has passed through a starting area (for example, a starting opening 25 or 44) placed on the gaming area, determining means (for example, main CPU 66) that determines whether or not a special gaming state be generated upon detection of a gaming ball by the starting area detection means; reach determining means (for example, a main CPU 66) that determines whether or not a reach state be generated based upon the contents of the determination by the determining means; reach state generation means (for example, a sub CPU 206) that generates a reach state in accordance with the content of the determination by the reach determining means; count means (for example, a sub CPU 206) that counts the number of reach states generated by the reach state generation means up to the occurrence of a special gaming state as the number of reaches; and display control means (for example, a display control circuit 250) which, on the occasion that the number of reaches counted by the count means has reached a predetermined number or more, displays an output information image including predetermined output information on the display means.
  • Moreover, in the first embodiment, on the occasion that the number of reaches generated before the occurrence of a special gaming state has reached any one of a plurality of predetermined numbers (for example, 5 times, 10 times, . . . ) that have been set stepwise, a two-dimensional code 92 including output information corresponding to the predetermined number is displayed on the pachinko gaming machine 10 (see FIG. 18); therefore, even in the case where only reaches have been generated many times without the occurrence of a special gaming state, more output information can be prepared so that it becomes possible to reduce the dissatisfaction and displeasure that the player bears.
  • The first embodiment has discussed a case where the condition that triggers the display of the output information image is given as the fact that the number of reaches generated before to the occurrence of a special gaming state has reached a predetermined number; however, the first aspect of the present invention is not limited thereto. With respect to the condition that triggers the display of the output information image, for example, the fact that the number of reaches generated during a predetermined period of time before the occurrence of a special gaming state has reached a predetermined number of times may be adopted.
  • In the present invention, an output information image can include time-limited information. Namely, the gaming machine can display a two-dimensional code which is created by coding data indicative of output information and the current time and date. Further, on receiving or generating output information based on a two-dimensional code and data indicative of the time and date of the current, the server determines whether or not a predetermined time (for example, one day, one week and the like) has elapsed, on the basis of the time and date of reception or generation of these data and the time and date when the output information was coded into the two-dimensional code. If the server determines that a predetermined time has elapsed, it does not transmit premium data to the portable telephone and may transmit, thereto, data for displaying an image indicative of expiration of limitation period on the portable telephone.
  • Further, in the present invention, the gaming machine may display a two-dimensional code which is generated by coding data indicative of output information and the current time and date. Further, on receiving or generating output information based on a two-dimensional code and data indicative of the time and date of the current, the server determines whether or not it has received output information associated with the two-dimensional code which was displayed at the same time, on the basis of the output information, the data indicative of the time and date of the current time and the ID data of the portable telephone. Preferably, if the server determines that it has received output information associated with the two-dimensional code which was displayed at the same time, it does not transmit premium data to the portable telephone. This can prevent premium data from being acquired unrighteously by transmitting output information which was generated by capturing a two-dimensional code only a single time to the server plural times
  • Second Embodiment
  • Hereinafter, a preferred embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention will be described with reference to the drawings. In the following description of the embodiment, there will be described a case where the present invention is applied to a first type of a pachinko gaming machine (also referred to as “digi-pachi”) as a preferred embodiment of a gaming machine according to the present invention.
  • A gaming machine relating to the second embodiment has the same structure as the gaming machine relating to the first embodiment, except for the following points. Therefore, in the second embodiment, constituents corresponding to those of the gaming machine according to the first embodiments are described, being provided with the same numerals/symbols as those provided to the corresponding constituents in the first embodiments.
  • (System Structure)
  • First, referring to FIGS. 1 to 27, the following description will discuss the outline of the system. Here, since FIG. 1 has been discussed in the first embodiment, only the points different from those of the first embodiment will be explained. FIG. 27 illustrates the system structure in accordance with the second embodiment. This system 1 is constituted by a pachinko gaming machine 10 that functions as a display device, a portable terminal device 400 functions as a receiver device capable of receiving an output information image, and a server 600 capable of transmitting and receiving information to and from the portable terminal device 400 through the Internet 500.
  • In the system 1, which will be described later in detail, when it is detected that the number of games has exceeded a predetermined number of times by the detection means (main CPU 66 (see FIG. 34)) inside the pachinko gaming machine 10, an output information image (for example, an image, such as a two-dimensional code 300) in which predetermined information such as a service point and gaming information is coded is displayed on the pachinko gaming machine 10. Here, in the second embodiment, “the number of games” refers to the number of “special symbol games”. The two-dimensional code 300 is captured by a portable terminal device 400 with a camera such as a CCD camera functioning as a receiver device. The portable terminal device 400 generates output information based upon the two-dimensional code 300. Moreover, the portable terminal device 400 transmits the output information thus generated to the server 600 through the Internet 500. Upon receipt of this output information, extracting means (microcomputer 610 (see FIG. 41)) inside the server 600 extracts the information (for example, premium data such as cellular phone ring melodies) corresponding to the output information from the information storing means (hard disk drive 620 (see FIG. 41)). The transmission means inside the server 600 (communication interface 650 (see FIG. 41)) transmits the information to the portable terminal device 400 through a communication line.
  • For this reason, the player captures the image of the output information image by the image pickup means (CCD camera 480) of the portable terminal device 400, and by transmitting the output information generated from the output information image (two-dimensional code 300) to the server 600 through the portable terminal device 400, the player is allowed to obtain various pieces of information corresponding to the output information, such as service points, gaming information and a gaming program. In other words, in the case where no special gaming has been executed during normal games, in order to compensate for the dissatisfaction and irritation that the player tends to bear, the player is allowed to obtain the displayed output information image. Therefore, in the second aspect of the present invention, under circumstances in which the player tends to feel dissatisfaction and irritation, the output information image is displayed by the display means, and the predetermined information is given to the player so that the player is allowed to have higher satisfaction and continuous desire for the game even during a long course of normal games.
  • (Structure of Gaming Machine)
  • Referring to FIGS. 2 to 5 as well as FIGS. 28 to 30, the following description will discuss the outline of a gaming machine in accordance with the second embodiment. Here, since FIGS. 2 to 5 have been discussed in the first embodiment, only the points different from those of the first embodiment will be explained. FIG. 28 is a perspective view that shows the outline of the pachinko gaming machine 10 in accordance with the second embodiment. FIG. 29 is an exploded perspective view that shows the outline of the pachinko gaming machine 10 in accordance with the second embodiment. Moreover, FIG. 30 is a front view that shows the outline of the pachinko gaming machine 10 in accordance with the present embodiment.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 28 and 29, the pachinko gaming machine 10 is constituted by a main body frame 12 having an opening 12 a formed through its front surface, various types of components placed within the opening 12 a of the main body frame 12, and a door 11 pivotally and openably mounted to the main body frame 12 at the front side thereof. On the front face of the main body frame 12, an upper tray 20, a lower tray 22, a launching handle 26 and a reading device 50 are arranged.
  • As will be described later, a liquid crystal display device 32 as display means for displaying an effect image, a spacer 31, a gaming board 14 and the like are placed inside the opening 12 a of the main body frame 12. Moreover, a round number display 51 as round number display means is placed in the vicinity of the upper right end of the outer rail 30 a on the gaming board 14.
  • The liquid crystal display device 32 has a display region 32 a capable of displaying images relating to games. Various images, such as an effect image for use in effect and decoration images for use in decoration, are displayed on the display region 32 a in the liquid crystal display device 32. In particular, an effect image for use in effect is displayed on the display region 32 a in the liquid crystal display device 32 during a special gaming state after a transition to a big-hit gaming state.
  • Here, in FIG. 29, for convenience of explanation, a first warp path 47 installed on the back surface portion of the gaming board 14 is shown. The first warp path 47 is made of a transparent material and is provided for transferring gaming balls which entered a winning opening 24 (see FIG. 30) to a second warp path 49 which will be described later (see FIG. 30).
  • At the periphery of the shooting handle 26, there is provided an operating switch 264. The reading device 50 is provided near the lower left portion of the main body frame 12.
  • The player can place the two-dimensional code 300 displayed on the liquid crystal panel 460 (see FIG. 27) of the portable terminal device 400 oppositely to the reading device 50 and can push the operating switch 264 for causing the reading device 50 to read the two-dimensional code 300.
  • On the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32 placed behind the gaming board 14 (in the side of the back surface thereof), an effect image relating to a special symbol being displayed on the aforementioned special symbol display device 33 shown in FIG. 4 is displayed.
  • For example, during the variable display of special symbols on the special symbol display device 33, symbols (that is, identification information for use in effect; for example, figures from “0” to “9”), made of figures, marks and the like are variably displayed for each of a plurality of symbol columns (three columns, in the second embodiment). Moreover, the special symbol that has been variably displayed on the special symbol display device 33 is stop-displayed, with the identification information for use in effect is also stop-displayed in the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32.
  • Further, if a specific numerical symbol (for example, a numerical symbol of “7”) is statically displayed as a special symbol on the special symbol display device 33, an effect image which notifies the player of the occurrence of a big hit is displayed on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32. More specifically, if a specific numerical symbol is statically displayed as a special symbol on the special symbol display device 33, the combination of effect identification information being displayed on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32 is brought into a specific display state (for example, a state where anyone of the numerical numbers “1” to “9” is statically displayed in all the plural symbol rows), and also a letter image describing “Big Hit!!” is displayed along with a character image illustrating a delighting character, on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32.
  • Moreover, in the present embodiment, “reach state” refers to a state in which, after figure symbols have been stop-displayed on the special symbol display device 33 as special symbols, two identification information images for effect, which have been variably displayed, are stop-displayed on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display 32 in a predetermined mode, with the rest one of the identification information images is being variably displayed. The term “number of reaches” refers to the number of the reach states.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 30, there are provided, on the gaming board 14, two guide rails 30 (30 a and 30 b) and gaming members such as obstruction members 55 and 57, passage gates 54 a and 54 b, a second warp path 49, an obstruction member 58, a starting opening 25, a starting opening 44 including blade members 48, a shutter 40, a special winning opening 39, a number-of rounds display device 51, regular winning openings 56 a, 56 b, 56 c and 56 d. Further, at the upper portion of the gaming board 14, the electric decoration unit 53 including the special symbol display device 33, the normal symbol display device 35 and the like is viewable.
  • If a gaming ball enters the aforementioned starting opening 25 or the starting opening 44, the special symbol display device 33 starts to variably display special symbols. Also, if a gaming ball enters the aforementioned starting opening 25 or the starting opening 44 during variable displaying of special symbols, the execution (start) of variable display of special symbols on the basis of the entry of the gaming ball into the starting opening 25 or the starting opening 44 is held until the currently-executed variable display of special symbols ends and a special symbol is statically displayed. Thereafter, when a special symbol which has been variably displayed is statically displayed, the variable display of special symbols which has been held is started.
  • Another condition (of the variable display start of predetermined special symbols) is that special symbols are stop-displayed. In other words, every time the condition of the variable display start of predetermined special symbols is satisfied, the variable display of the special symbols is started. In the second embodiment, the fact that a gaming ball has entered the starting opening 25 or 44 is defined as a condition of the variable display start of predetermined special symbols; however, not limited to this condition, another mode may be adopted.
  • In the case where a gaming ball has entered the starting opening 25 or the starting opening 44 during the variable display of special symbols, the execution (start) of the variable display of special symbols derived from the entering of a gaming ball into the starting opening 25 or the starting opening 44 is held. In the held state of the execution of the variable display of special symbols, when the special symbols are stop-displayed, the execution of the variable display of the held special symbols is started. Herein, there is placed an upper limit on the number of times the execution of the variation display of special symbols is held and, for example, the variation display of special symbols can be held up to four times as an upper limit.
  • During special games, the number of rounds (the maximum number of continuous rounds) from the first round to the final round game, in cases where round games continue as many as possible, is varied depending on the special symbol which is statically displayed. For example, in the present embodiment, if a numerical symbol of “3” is statically displayed on the special symbol display device 33, the maximum number of continuous rounds is 2 rounds and, if a numerical symbol of “7” is statically displayed on the special symbol display device 33, the maximum number of continuous rounds is 15 rounds. However, the maximum number of continuous-rounds is not limited to 2 rounds or 15 rounds. For example, the maximum number of continuous rounds may be selected from “1” to “15” rounds, through lottery using a number-of-rounds lottery means (the control circuit 60 (see FIG. 34) including a main CPU 66, which will be described later).
  • As described above, since there is provided the number-of-rounds display means for displaying the number of rounds during special games, separately from the effect display means for displaying effect images, it is possible to appropriately and clearly display the number of rounds.
  • Further, since the number-of-rounds display means is provided at the front of the liquid crystal display device 32 which functions as effect display means for displaying effects relating to the number of rounds, it is possible to display the number of rounds more clearly, with the positional relationship between the display of the number of rounds and the display of the effects.
  • (Explanation of Display Screen)
  • Moreover, on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32 that is one example of the display means for displaying an image, an effect image is displayed during the operation of a special game. Here, in the case where the number of games has exceeded a predetermined number of times, an output information image and an effect image relating to the output information image are displayed thereon.
  • (Explanation of Output Information Image Display)
  • Referring to FIG. 31, the following description will discuss the display of the output information image (for example, a two-dimensional code 300) on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32 in accordance with the second embodiment. After the special symbol has been stop-displayed on the special symbol display device 33, on the condition that the number of games during normal games has exceeded a predetermined number, the main CPU 66, which is detection means for detecting the number of games, displays an output information image display notification effect image used for notifying that an output information is to be displayed, such as “Access Code Get!! Ready for Image-Capturing”, on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32 as the display means.
  • After a lapse of a predetermined period of time since the display of the notifying effect image, as shown in FIG. 31, an output information image, such as a two-dimensional code 300, is displayed on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32 in a manner so as to be captured from the outside. Simultaneously, output information image related effects, such as a character image 90 like “Get Code!” and an image 92 like an arrow, are displayed on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32.
  • In the course of normal games executed by the player, when the detection means detects that the number of games has exceeded a predetermined number (for example, 500 times), an output information image (for example, an image of a two-dimensional code and the like) including predetermined information, such as a service point and gaming information, is displayed on the display means in a manner so as to be captured from the outside by the image pickup means. For this reason, in the case where no special gaming state has been executed during normal games, in order to compensate for the dissatisfaction and irritation that the player bears, the player is allowed to obtain the displayed output information image. In other words, in the second aspect of the present invention, under circumstances in which the player tends to feel dissatisfaction and irritation, the output information image is displayed on the display means, and the predetermined information is given to the player so that the player is allowed to have higher satisfaction and continuous desire for the game even during a long course of normal games.
  • As a result of detection by the main CPU 66, that is, as a result of detection by the detection means, on the condition that the number of games in the normal gaming state except for the number of reaches has exceeded a predetermined number (for example, 300 times), a controlling process may be carried out so that an output information image (for example, a two-dimensional code 300) including predetermined information is displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32.
  • In this case, under circumstances in which in the normal gaming state, the number of games has exceeded predetermined times without reaches that provide expectation for a special gaming state, that is, under circumstances that cause the player to feel much dissatisfaction and irritation, such an output information image is displayed on the display means; therefore, it becomes possible to alleviate the increased dissatisfaction of the player and also to effectively enhance the satisfaction of the player.
  • Moreover, by carrying out such a controlling process as to display effects relating to output information image, such as a character image 90 and an image 92, around the output information image (two-dimensional code 300) displayed on the display region 32 a of the display device 32, the display of the output information image is emphasized. For this reason, under such a circumstance as to cause the player dissatisfaction and irritation, the player is allowed to easily recognize the displayed output information image so that it becomes possible to alleviate the increased dissatisfaction of the player and also to effectively enhance the satisfaction of the player.
  • By carrying out such a controlling process as to display an output information image display notifying effect image that notifies the display of the output information image (for example, two-dimensional code 300) on the display region 32 a of the display device 32 prior to the output information image, the player is allowed to have higher expectation for obtaining the output information image, making it possible to alleviate the increased dissatisfaction of the player and also to effectively enhance the satisfaction of the player. Here, in the second embodiment, the output information image is displayed after a lapse of predetermined time from the display of the output information image notifying effect image; however, the second aspect of the present invention is not limited to this arrangement, and the output information image may be displayed after the output information image notifying effect image has been displayed and the variable display of special symbols on the special symbol display device 33 has been stopped.
  • In the second embodiment, the predetermined number with respect to the number of games during the operation of normal games is set to 500 times; however, the second aspect of the present invention is not limited to this arrangement, and the predetermined number can be freely set to 400 times, 500 times, or the like, by the manufacturer of the gaming machine or the manager of the gaming parlor by using setting means such as the main RAM 70 (see FIG. 34) of the gaming machine 10. Moreover, in the second embodiment, the predetermined number of the games except for the number of reaches in the normal game is set to 300 times; however, the second aspect of the present invention is not limited to this arrangement, and the predetermined number can be freely set to 200 times, 400 times, or the like, by the manufacturer of the gaming machine or the manager of the gaming parlor by using setting means such as the main RAM 70 (see FIG. 34) of the gaming machine 10. For this reason, since it becomes difficult to predict the predetermined number, the player is allowed to have higher satisfaction upon obtaining the display of the output information image, making it possible to alleviate the increased dissatisfaction of the player and also to effectively enhance the satisfaction of the player.
  • (Description of Two-Dimensional Codes)
  • With reference to FIG. 32, there will be described output information images displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32, according to the second embodiment. FIG. 32 is an explanation view illustrating an output information image which is displayed in the pachinko gaming machine according to the second embodiment.
  • The output information image according to the second embodiment is a two-dimensional code 300 as illustrated in FIG. 32 and includes, as information, a shop ID 310, a machine model ID 320, a product ID 330, information 340 and a generation time 350. The two-dimensional code can include a greater amount of information than conventional bar codes. The shop ID 310 is an ID indicative of the game arcade in which the pachinko gaming machine 10 is installed. The machine model ID 320 is an ID indicative of the machine model of the pachinko gaming machine 10. The product ID 330 is an ID indicative of the production number of the pachinko gaming machine 10. The information 340 is predetermined information such as output information (the details will be described later). The generation time 350 indicates the time when the output information image was generated.
  • The output information image according to the second embodiment includes code counterfeiting prevention means such as the shop ID 310, the machine model ID 320, the product ID 330 and the generation time 350. Accordingly, the output information image indicates the game arcade, the machine model, the production number and the time where and when the output information image was generated, which can prevent the counterfeiting of the output information image.
  • FIG. 33 illustrates an exemplary table storing plural information 340, which is stored in a program ROM 208 (see FIG. 34). As shown in FIG. 33, patterns and the pieces of information 340 are associated with each other. For example, when pattern S1 is selected by the sub CPU 206 (see FIG. 34), a URL (http://***.***.001.htm) is supplied as premium data. When pattern S2 is selected by the sub CPU 206 (see FIG. 34), a URL (http://***.***.002.htm) is supplied as premium data.
  • In the second embodiment, the information 340 corresponds to a URL for a specific home page; however, the second aspect of the present invention is not limited to this arrangement. The information 340 may be prepared as image data for waiting images, music data for cellular phone ring melodies and the like. Moreover, the information 340 maybe prepared as a service point and gaming information. The information 340 may be various programs, such as game programs.
  • Thus, in the course of normal games executed by the player, when the detection means detects that the number of games has exceeded a predetermined number, an output information image (for example, an image such as a two-dimensional code 300) including predetermined information, such as a service point and gaming information, is displayed on the display means in a manner so as to be captured from the outside by the image pickup means. For this reason, in the case where no special gaming state has been executed during normal games, the present invention allows the player to obtain a displayed output information image in order to compensate for the dissatisfaction and irritation that the player bears. In other words, in the second aspect of the present invention, under circumstances in which the player tends to feel dissatisfaction and irritation, the output information image is displayed on the display means, and the predetermined information is given to the player so that the player is allowed to have higher satisfaction and continuous desire for the game even during a long course of normal games.
  • Further, while, in the present embodiment, two-dimensional codes are realized by employing specifications such as QR codes (registered trademark), the present invention is not limited to two-dimensional codes (registered trademark) and may employ other specifications such as DataMatrix (registered trademark).
  • (Electrical Structure of Gaming Machine)
  • Referring to FIGS. 9 and 34, the following description will discuss the controlling circuit of the pachinko gaming machine 10 in accordance with the second embodiment. Here, since FIG. 9 has been explained in the first embodiment, only the different points from the first embodiment will be explained. FIG. 34 is a block diagram that shows the control circuit of the pachinko gaming machine 10 of the second embodiment.
  • The main control circuit 60 functions as game controlling means.
  • The main ROM 68, the main RAM 70 and the like are connected to the main CPU 66 and, the main CPU 66 has the function of performing various types of processes in accordance with programs stored in the main ROM 68. As described above, the main CPU 66 functions as various means as will be described later, such as special game execution means and lottery means.
  • The main ROM 68 stores a program that allows the main CPU 66 to control the operations of the pachinko gaming machine 10, and in addition to this, also stores various tables, such as a big-hit deciding table that is referred to upon determining a big-hit through a random number lottery and an effect condition selection table that is referred to upon selecting an effect.
  • In the main RAM 70, there are positioned a control state flag, a specific region passage flag, a big-hit determination random number counter, a big-hit symbol determination random number counter, a failure symbol determination random number counter, an effect condition selection random number counter, a number-of-special-winning-opening-opens counter, a special winning opening entry counter, a number-of-rounds display counter, a number-of-rounds display device effect starting counter, a waiting time timer, a special winning opening open time timer, data indicative of the number of holds relating to special symbols, data indicative of the number of holds relating to normal symbols, a number of game counter, a number of failure game counter, a number of game constant, a number of failure game constant, a reach symbol deciding random number counter, data for transmitting commands to a sub control circuit 20 which will be described later, variables and the like.
  • The number-of-rounds display device effect starting counter is used for determining whether or not the display of the number-of-rounds is conducted while the normal games are being executed. The number-of-games counter is used for indicating the number of games in the course of normal games. Moreover, the number-of-failure games counter is used for indicating the number of games except for the number of reaches in the course of normal games. The game number constant is a constant used for determining the number of games in the course of normal games. The game number constant is a constant used for determining the number of games except for the number of reaches while the normal games are being executed. The reach symbol deciding random number counter is a counter used for determining a reach state.
  • The sub control circuit 200 is constituted by a sub CPU 206, a program ROM 208 as storage means, a work RAM 210, a display control circuit 250 as display control means for carrying out display controls on the liquid crystal display device 32, a voice control circuit 230 for controlling sound generated from the speaker 46 and a lamp control circuit 240 for controlling the lamps 132. The sub control circuit 200 executes effects in accordance with the progress of the game in response to instructions from the main control circuit 60. The sub CPU 206 is connected to the program ROM 208, the work RAM 210, the reading device 50 and the like. The sub CPU 206 is allowed to function as various means, which will be described later.
  • The program ROM 208 stores programs for controlling game effects in the pachinko gaming machine 10 on the sub CPU 206 and also stores various types of tables such as a table used for making determinations relating to effects, an output information image display notification effect pattern, an output information image display timer, an output information image-related information pattern, output information image patterns, the shop ID 310, the machine model ID 320, and the product ID 330. The output information image patterns are patterns of output information images associated with image data for waiting images, music data for cellular phone ring melodies, URL data, various types of programs and the like. Moreover, the program ROM 208 also stores an output information image display timer used for determining a period of time up to the display of the output information image or the like after the output information image display notifying effect has been given.
  • The VDP 212 reads, from the image data ROM 216, various types of image data such as effect identification information image data, background image data, effect image data, and the like in response to image displaying commands sent from the sub CPU 206, and generates image data to be displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32. The VDP 212 superimposes the generated image data on one another in order from image data to be placed at a rearmost position, then stores them in a buffer and then sends it to the D/A converter 218 at predetermined timing. The D/A converter 218 converts the image data into image signals and sends the image signals to the liquid crystal display device 32 to cause an image to be displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32.
  • The reading device 50 includes a CCD camera 266 for capturing a two-dimensional code 300 displayed on the liquid crystal panel 460 of the portable terminal device 400, an image processing circuit 268 for executing various types of processes on image data obtained by capturing the two-dimensional code 300 through the CCD camera 266, a buffer 269 for temporarily storing the image data obtained by capturing the two-dimensional code 300 through the CCD camera 266, and a reading device control circuit 262 including a CPU (not shown) for controlling the operations of the CCD camera 266 and the image processing circuit 268 on receiving reading command signals from the operating switch 264.
  • The player makes the two-dimensional code 300 displayed on the liquid crystal panel 460 (see FIG. 27) of the portable terminal device 400 face to face with the reading device 50 so that by pressing the operation switch 264, the two-dimensional code 300 can be read by the reading device 50.
  • In other words, upon receipt of a reading request signal from the operation switch 264, the CPU in the reading control circuit 262 drives the CCD camera 266 so that the two dimensional code 300 displayed on the liquid crystal panel 460 of the portable terminal device 400 is captured by the CCD camera 266; thus, the resulting image data is stored in the buffer 269. Next, the CPU in the reading device control circuit 262 operates the image-processing circuit 268 to carry out various processes on image data stored in the buffer 269 and generate data from the image data. Moreover, the CPU in the reading device control circuit 262 transmits the generated data to the sub control circuit 200. The generated data includes image data for waiting images, music data for cellular phone ring melodies, URL data and various programs.
  • Herein, the structure of the reading device 50 is not limited to the aforementioned example and it is possible to employ any conventionally-known devices capable of reading output information image such as two-dimensional codes 300 b.
  • (Operation of Gaming Machine)
  • Referring to FIGS. 8 to 20 as well as FIGS. 35 to 40, the following description will discuss operations to be executed on a pachinko gaming machine 10 in accordance with the second embodiment. Moreover, FIGS. 11 and 37 explain the state of transition of special symbol controlling processes (FIGS. 10 and 36) that are executed in the pachinko gaming machine 10. With respect to FIGS. 8 to 20, since the explanation thereof has been given in the first embodiment, only the points different from the first embodiment will be discussed.
  • Here, the main process of the second embodiment is the same as that of the first embodiment, which has been described by reference to FIG. 8; therefore, only the points different from the first embodiment will be discussed.
  • As will be described by reference to FIG. 36 later in detail, in step S15, special symbol controlling processes, which relate to the progress of a special symbol game, the special symbols displayed on the special symbol display device 33 and identification information for effects displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32, are executed.
  • Referring to FIGS. 9 and 35, the following description will discuss a system timer interruption process in the second embodiment. Since FIG. 9 has been explained in the first embodiment, only the points different from the first embodiment will be discussed. FIG. 35 is a flowchart that shows the sequence of system timer interruption processes.
  • In step S42, the main CPU 66 executes random number updating processes so that the count value of each of the big-hit deciding random counter, the big-hit symbol deciding random number counter, the round-number display effect starting counter and the like is incremented by “1”.
  • Instep S47, command output process is conducted. In this process, the main CPU 66 transmits various types of commands to the sub control circuit 200. Specifically, these various kinds of commands include a demonstration display command, an effect-use stop symbol designating command indicative of the kinds of identification information for effects that are stop-displayed on the left column, middle column and right column, a variable pattern specifying command that defines a variable pattern of identification information for effects, an output information image display command and the like.
  • Referring to FIGS. 10 and 36, the following description will discuss the special symbol controlling process in the second embodiment. Since FIG. 10 has been explained in the first embodiment, only the points different from the first embodiment will be discussed. FIG. 36 is a subroutine that is executed in step S15 of FIG. 8.
  • In step S73, a special symbol variation time management process is conducted. In the process, the control state flag has a value (01) indicative of special symbol variation time management and, after the elapse of a variation time, the main CPU 66 sets the control state flag to a value (02) indicative of special symbol display time management and also sets the waiting time timer to a post-determination waiting time (for example, one second).
  • In step S74, a special symbol display time management process is conducted. In this process, the control state flag has the value (02) indicative of special symbol display time management and, after the elapse of the post-determination waiting time, the main CPU 66 determines whether or not a big hit occurs. If a big hit occurs, the main CPU 66 sets the control state flag to a value (03) indicative of big-hit starting interval management and also sets the waiting time timer to a time corresponding to a big-hit starting interval (for example, 10 seconds). Namely, the process in step S75 is set to be conducted, after the elapse of the time corresponding to the big-hit starting interval. On the other hand, if a big hit does not occur, the main CPU 66 sets the control state flag to a value (08) indicative of the completion of special symbol games. Namely, the process in step S80 is set to be conducted.
  • In the processes of steps S75 to S80, the main CPU 66 functions as a special game executing means for executing a special game.
  • In step S76, a round-number display controlling process is executed. In the process, the lamp control circuit 76 controls the display of the number of rounds display device 51 based on a number-of-rounds display control signal, if received the number-of-rounds display control signal. In this manner, the lamp control circuit 76 is one example of main control means for controlling the display of the number-of-rounds in the number-of-rounds display means during the execution of the special game.
  • In step S79, a special winning opening residual ball monitoring process is conducted. In this process, the control state flag has the value (05) indicative of monitoring of residual balls within the special winning opening and, after the elapse of the special winning opening residual ball monitoring time, the main CPU 66 determines whether or not the condition that no gaming ball has passed through the specific region of the special winning opening 39 or the condition that the number-of-special-winning-opening-opens counter is equal to or greater than “2” (in the case where a specific numerical symbol of “3” was statically displayed on the special symbol display device 33) or equal to or greater than “15” (in the case where a specific numerical symbol of “7” was statically displayed on the special symbol display device 33) (indicative of a final round) is satisfied. If any of the conditions is satisfied, the main CPU 66 sets the control state flag to a value (07) indicative of a big-hit completion interval and also sets the waiting time timer to a time corresponding to the big-hit completion interval.
  • FIGS. 11 and 37 are explanatory drawings that show the state of transition of special symbol controlling processes that are executed in the pachinko gaming machine 10 shown in FIGS. 10 and 36. Here, FIG. 11 has been explained in the first embodiment, and the contents of explanation of FIG. 36 overlap with those of FIG. 11; therefore, the description thereof is omitted.
  • Referring to FIGS. 12 and 38, the following process will discuss a special symbol storage checking process in accordance with the second embodiment. Here, since FIG. 12 has been explained in the first embodiment, only the different points from the first embodiment will be explained. FIG. 38 shows a subroutine that is executed in step S72 of FIG. 36.
  • In step S104, a process for setting the control state flag to the value (01) indicative of special symbol variation time management is conducted. In this process, the main CPU 66 stores the value indicative of special symbol variation time management in the control state flag.
  • In step S105, a big-hit determination process is conducted. In this process, the main CPU 66 selects a big-hit determination value stored in the big-hit determination table. Further, the main CPU 66 refers to the big-hit determination random number extracted at starting winning and the big-hit determination value. In this manner, the main CPU 66 serves as one example of the lottery means used for determining whether or not a special image be executed through a lottery.
  • In step S107, a big-hit determination process is conducted. Moreover, the main CPU 66 extracts the random number value for the big-hit notice determination from the round-number display effect starting counter, and based upon the random number value for the big-hit notice determination, stores data indicating the notice effect in a predetermined area in the main RAM 70.
  • In step S108, a failure symbols determination process is conducted. As will be described later in detail, the main CPU 66 decides the failure symbols, and determines whether or not the number of games and the number of games except for the number of reaches have exceeded predetermined numbers. In other words, the main CPU 66 is one example of the detection means for detecting the number of games while the normal games are being executed.
  • Moreover, the data indicating notice effects stored in the predetermined area of the main RAM 70 through the process instep S107 and step S108 is supplied as a notice effect command from the main CPU 66 of the main control circuit 60 to the sub CPU 206 of the sub control circuit 200 through a process in step S47 of FIG. 35.
  • Next, in step S109, a variation pattern determination process is conducted. In this process, the main CPU 66 extracts an effect condition selection random number. The main CPU 66 selects a variation pattern dispersion table for determining the variation pattern for the effects on the basis of the special symbol determined in step S107 and step S108. Specifically, a variation pattern dispersion table is selected such that the effect displaying time for the special symbol determined in step S107 and step S108 is increased in the order of the failure special symbol, the reach special symbol and the big-hit special symbol. Then, the main CPU 66 determines an effect variation pattern, on the basis of the effect condition selection random number extracted from the effect condition selection random number counter and the selected variation pattern dispersion table, and stores it in a predetermined region of the main RAM 70. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S110.
  • Then, in step S109, data indicative of the stored variation pattern is supplied, as a variation pattern designation command, from the main CPU 66 in the main control circuit 60 to the sub CPU 206 in the sub control circuit 200, through the process in step S47 in FIG. 35. In accordance with the received variation pattern designation command, on the basis of an effect pattern set in the predetermined region of the work RAM 210, the sub CPU 206 in the sub control circuit 200 transmits data for displaying the effect pattern, to the display control circuit 250. On the basis of the data for displaying the effect pattern, the display control circuit 250 controls the display of effects on the liquid crystal display device 32. As described above, the display control circuit 250 is exemplary image effect display control means for controlling the display of effect images on the effect display means.
  • Moreover, in step S109, by the processes in step S107 and step S108, the main CPU 66 selects one LED lighting pattern from a plurality of kinds of LED lighting patterns stored in the main ROM 68 based upon the data indicating the special symbols stored in the predetermined area of the main RAM 70 so that the selected LED lighting pattern is stored in a predetermined area of the main RAM 70.
  • Here, the data indicating the LED lighting pattern stored in the predetermined area of the main RAM 70 is transmitted to the lamp control circuit 76 through the process of step S46 in FIG. 35 as a signal (special symbol driving control signal) used for drive-controlling the special symbol display device 33. Upon receipt of the special symbol driving control signal, the lamp control circuit 76 carries out display controls on the special symbol display device 33 based upon the special symbol driving control signal. By the above-mentioned processes, special symbols are variably displayed on the special symbol display device 33, and the special symbols that have been variably displayed are stop-displayed after a lapse of a predetermined period of time.
  • Referring to FIG. 39, the following description will discuss a failure symbols deciding process in the second embodiment. FIG. 39 is a subroutine that is executed in step S108 of FIG. 38.
  • In step S120, a reach determining process is executed. This process determines whether or not the reach symbol deciding random value has exceeded a predetermined value. The main CPU 66 extracts a reach symbol deciding random number value from the reach symbol deciding random number counter, and when the reach symbol deciding random number value has exceeded a predetermined value, the sequence proceeds to the process of step S121; in contrast, when the reach symbol deciding random number value is less than the predetermined value, the sequence proceeds to the process of step S122.
  • In step S121, a reach symbol settling process is executed. In this process, based upon the reach symbol deciding random number value, the main CPU 66 determines special symbols as effects displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32, and stores these symbols in a predetermined area of the main RAM 70. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S124.
  • In step S122, a failure symbol settling process is executed. In this process, the main CPU 66 extracts a failure symbol deciding random number value from a failure symbol deciding random number counter, and based upon the failure symbol deciding random number value, the main CPU 66 determines special symbols that are stop-displayed on the special symbol display device 33 as failure symbols, and stores data representing these symbols in a predetermined area of the main RAM 70. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S123.
  • In step S123, a failure game number settling process is executed. In this process, the main CPU 66 increments a failure game number counter by “1”. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S124. In this manner, the main CPU 66 serves as one example of the addition means.
  • In step S124, a number-of-games settling process is executed. In this process, the main CPU 66 increments a game number counter by “1”. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S125.
  • In step S125, a number of games determining process is carried out. In this process, it is determined whether or not the number of games has exceeded a predetermined number. In the case where the counted number of games has exceeded the value of a number of games constant stored in the main RAM 70, the main CPU 66 shifts the sequence of processes to step S127; in contrast, in the case where the counted number of games is less than the value of the number of games constant stored in the main RAM 70, the sequence proceeds to step S126.
  • In step S126, a number of failure games determining process is carried out. In this process, it is determined whether or not the number of games except for the number of reaches in normal games has exceeded a predetermined number. In the case where the counted number of failure games has exceeded the value of a number of failure games constant stored in the main RAM 70, the main CPU 66 shifts the sequence of processes to step S127; in contrast, in the case where the counted number of failure games is less than the value of the number of failure games constant stored in the main RAM 70, the present subroutine is completed.
  • In step S127, a display command settling process is executed. In this process, the main CPU 66 selects a display command stored in the main ROM 68, and stores the selected command in a predetermined position of the main RAM 70. Upon completion of this process, the present subroutine is completed. In this manner, the main CPU 66 serves as one example of the detection means.
  • In the sub control circuit 200, on the other hand, upon receipt of various commands transmitted from the main control circuit 60, the following effects are executed.
  • Referring to FIG. 40, the following description will discuss an output information display controlling process in accordance with the second embodiment. FIG. 40 is a flowchart that shows the sequence of processes of the output information display controlling process in the liquid crystal display device 32.
  • In step S210, a command receiving process is carried out. In this process, the sub CPU 206 receives an output information image display command transmitted from the main CPU 66. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S212.
  • In step S212, an output information image notifying display selection process is carried out. In this process, the sub CPU 206 selects an output information image display notifying effect pattern stored in the program ROM 208. Moreover, the sub CPU 206 sets the output information image display notifying effect pattern in a predetermined area of the work RAM 210. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S214.
  • In step S214, an output information image display timer setting process is conducted. In this process, the sub CPU 206 selects an output information image display timer stored in the program ROM 208. Further, the sub CPU 206 sets the output information image display timer in a predetermined region of the work RAM 210. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S216.
  • In step S216, an output information image display selecting process is carried out. In this process, the sub CPU 206 decides a pattern from the data table (see FIG. 33) stored in the program ROM 208, and selects output information (information 340). Moreover, the sub CPU 206 selects an output information image display related effect pattern. Furthermore, the sub CPU 206 sets the output information image display related effect pattern in a predetermined area of the work RAM 210. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S218.
  • In step S218, an encoding process is conducted. In this process, as will be described in detail later, the sub CPU 206 determines the generation time 350, encodes data for generating the output information image, the shop ID 310, the machine model ID 320 and the product ID 330 stored in the program ROM 208 and sets the data for displaying a two-dimensional code, in a predetermined region of the work RAM 210. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S220.
  • In step S220, an outputting process is executed. In this process, the sub CPU 206 transmits data used for displaying the effect pattern to the display control circuit 250 based upon the output information image display informing effect pattern set in the predetermined area of the work RAM 210. Moreover, after a lapse of a predetermined period of time based upon the output information image display timer set in the predetermined area of the work RAM 210, the sub CPU 206 transmits data used for displaying the two-dimensional code set in the predetermined area of the work RAM 210 and data used for displaying the effect pattern based upon the output information image display related effect pattern to the display control circuit 250. Upon completion of this process, the present subroutine is completed.
  • In the display control circuit 250, the VDP 212 reads various kinds of image data, such as the effect-use identification information data representing the identification information for effects, back ground data and image data for effects, from the image data ROM 216 based upon data used for displaying the effect pattern given from the sub CPU 206, and displays these on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32 in a superposed manner. Moreover, based upon the data used for displaying the two-dimensional code generated in step S218, the VDP 212 displays the two-dimensional code 300 on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32. In this manner, the display control circuit 250 serves as one example of the display control means that carries out effect image display controlling processes in the liquid crystal display device.
  • Since the encoding process relating to the second embodiment is the same as that of the first embodiment and has been explained by reference to FIG. 19, the description thereof is omitted.
  • The second embodiment has discussed a case in which a URL is encoded (coded) into a two-dimensional code as premium data; however, in addition to the above-mentioned data, the second aspect of the present invention may include image data for waiting images and music data for cellular phone ring melodies as the encoded data. Here, data such as a service point and gaming information may be used as the encoded data. Moreover, various programs such as games may be used as the encoded data.
  • In addition to these, the sub control circuit 200 receives various commands transmitted from the main control circuit 60, and carries out the corresponding processes. For example, upon receipt of a variable pattern specifying command, the sub CPU 206 selects an effect pattern corresponding to the variable pattern specifying command, and sets the selected effect pattern at a predetermined area of the work RAM 210. Moreover, based upon the effect pattern and the like set in the predetermined area of the work RAM 210, the sub CPU 206 transmits data used for displaying the effect pattern to the display control circuit 250.
  • In the display control circuit 250, the VDP 212 reads various kinds of image data, such as the effect-use identification information data representing the identification information for effects, back ground data and image data for effects, from the image data ROM 216 based upon data used for displaying the effect pattern given from the sub CPU 206, and displays these on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32 in a superposed manner.
  • Through these processes, identification information for effects is variably displayed on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32, and after a lapse of a predetermined period of time, the identification information for effects is stop-displayed on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32.
  • Upon receipt of a special opening open-state notifying command, the sub CPU 206 selects an effect pattern to be used during the operation of a special game, and sets the selected effect pattern during the operation of a special game in a predetermined area of the work RAM 210. Moreover, based upon the effect pattern during the operation of a special game and the like that are set in the predetermined area of the work RAM 210, the sub CPU 206 transmits data used for displaying the effect pattern during the operation of a special game to the display control circuit 250.
  • In the display control circuit 250, based upon the data used for displaying the effect pattern during the operation of a special game given from the sub CPU 206, the VDP 212 reads the image data used for displaying an effect image and image data used for displaying an effect image related to the rest of the number of rounds to be displayed on the number-of-rounds display device 51 from the image data ROM 216, and displays these data on the display region 32 a of the liquid crystal display device 32 in a superposed manner.
  • Here, the liquid crystal display device 32 serves as one example of the display means used for displaying images. Moreover, the main CPU 66 serves as one example of the detection means used for detecting the number of games during the operation of normal games. The display control circuit 250 serves as one example of the display control means.
  • (Structure of Server)
  • Referring to FIG. 41, the following description will discuss the structure of a server in accordance with the second embodiment. FIG. 41 is a block diagram that shows the internal structure of the server 600 shown in FIG. 27.
  • FIG. 41 is a block diagram that shows the internal structure of the server 600 shown in FIG. 27. The server 600 is provided with a microcomputer 610 as extracting means, a hard disk drive 620 as information storing means, an external input terminal 630, an external output terminal 640 and a communication interface 650 as transmitting-receiving means.
  • The microcomputer 610, constituted by a CPU, a RAM and a ROM, carries out processes, such as extracting information from the hard disk drive 620. The hard disk drive 620 functions as information storage means that stores information (premium data) to be transmitted to the portable terminal device 400 in association with the output information. Moreover, the hard disk drive 620 also stores a data table (FIG. 24) that is referred to upon extracting premium data (for example, image data for waiting images, music data for cellular phone ring melodies and the like) based upon the output information received from the portable terminal device 400.
  • Upon receipt of a URL as output information and ID data of the portable terminal device 400 from the portable terminal device 400, the microcomputer 610 reads data representing a site corresponding the URL (for example, HTML data and the like) and the above-mentioned premium data from the hard disk drive 620, and transmits these data to the portable terminal device 400 from the communication interface 650 through the Internet 500. As a result, the site corresponding to the URL is displayed on the liquid crystal panel 460 of the portable terminal device 400 as the output information so that the premium data corresponding to the output information is acquired from the site.
  • Further, the hard disk drive 620 stores programs to be downloaded to the portable terminal device 400. On receiving a signal commanding for downloading a program therefrom from the portable terminal device 400, the microcomputer 610 reads the program from the hard disk drive 620 and transmits the program to the portable terminal device 400 through the communication interface 650 and through the Internet.
  • Herein, the structure of the server 600 is not limited to the aforementioned structure and it is possible to employ other well-known server structures including information storage means, extraction means and transmission means.
  • (Structure of Cellular Phone)
  • Referring to FIG. 42, the following description will discuss the structure of a cellular phone in accordance with the second embodiment. FIG. 42 is a block diagram that shows the internal structure of the portable terminal device 400 shown in FIG. 27.
  • FIG. 42 is the block diagram that shows the internal structure of the portable terminal device 400 shown in FIG. 27. The portable terminal device 400 includes an operating portion 470, a liquid crystal panel 460, a CCD camera 480 as image pickup means, a wireless communication portion 450, a sound circuit 440, a speaker 442, a microphone 444, a transmission/reception antenna 452, a memory 420, a microcomputer 410 and a secondary battery 430.
  • The wireless communication portion 450 performs transmission and reception to and from a base station, by using radio waves as a medium, through the transmission/reception antenna 452, under the control of the microcomputer 410. The sound circuit 440 outputs, to the speaker 442, reception signals output from the wireless communication portion 450 through the microcomputer 410 and also outputs sound signals output from the microphone 444, as transmission signals, to the wireless portion 450 through the microcomputer 410.
  • The speaker 442 converts the reception signals output from the sound circuit 440 into reception sounds and outputs them, and the microphone 444 converts transmission sounds generated by an operator into sound signals and outputs them to the sound circuit 440.
  • The CCD camera 480 is capable of capturing a two-dimensional code 300 displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32 of the pachinko gaming machine 10, and the image data obtained from the capturing is stored in the memory 420. While, in the second embodiment, there will be described a case where the CCD camera is employed as the image pickup means, the image pickup means is not particularly limited and maybe, for example, a CMOS sensor camera in the present invention.
  • The memory 420 stores in a nonvolatile manner, for example, various data, such as image data derived from the two-dimensional code 300 captured by the CCD camera 480, image data for waiting images, music data used for cellular phone ring melodies and URL data, as well as various kinds of programs.
  • The secondary battery 430 supplies electric power to the respective circuits. The microcomputer 410 is constituted by a CPU, a ROM and a RAM and performs, for example, phone incoming/outgoing call processing, e-mail generating, transmitting and receiving processing, internet processing and the like. The transmission/reception of e-mails and the transmission/reception of data through the Internet are performed by the microcomputer 410, through the wireless communication portion 450 and the transmission/reception antenna 452.
  • The microcomputer 410 drives the CCD camera 480 based upon a predetermined instruction inputted through the operation unit 470, captures the two-dimensional code 300 by using the CCD camera 480 (see FIG. 27) and stores the resulting image data in the memory 420.
  • Moreover, based upon a predetermined instruction inputted through the operation unit 470, the microcomputer 410 carries out processes, such as reading image data stored in the memory 420 and displaying the two-dimensional code 300 on the liquid crystal panel 460 (see FIG. 27).
  • (Processes Between Server and Cellular Phone)
  • Referring to FIGS. 23 and 43, the following description will discuss processes between the server and the cellular phone in accordance with the second embodiment. Here, since FIG. 23 has been explained in the first embodiment, only the points different from the first embodiment will be explained. FIG. 43 is a flowchart that shows processes carried out between the portable terminal device 400 and the server 600.
  • In step S800, a screen image capturing process is carried out. In this process, based upon an instruction inputted through the operation unit 470, the microcomputer 410 installed in the portable terminal device 400 drives the CCD camera 480 as the image pickup means so that the CCD camera 480 captures the two-dimensional code 300 contained in the screen image displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32 of the gaming machine 10. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S801.
  • In step S801, an image data storing process is executed. In the process, the microcomputer 410 stores the image data obtained in step S600 in the memory 420. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S802.
  • In step S802, a two-dimensional code recognition process is conducted. In this process, the microcomputer 410 conducts a two-dimensional code recognition process to recognize the output information image such as the two-dimensional code 300 a from the image data obtained in step S800 and generates data (output information) from the recognized two-dimensional code. The two-dimensional code recognition process will be described in detail later. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S803.
  • In step S802, the microcomputer 410 functions as output information generation means for recognizing output information images such as the two-dimensional code 300 from the image data generated by capturing the two-dimensional code 300 (output information image) through the CCD camera 480 (image pickup means) and generating data (output information) from the recognized two-dimensional code.
  • In step S803, an output information/ID data transmission process is conducted. In this process, the microcomputer 410 transmits the data resulted from the two-dimensional code recognition process in step S802 along with the ID data of the portable terminal device 400, to the server 600, through the wireless communication portion 450 and the transmission/reception antenna 452, through the Internet 500 (see FIG. 27). After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S600.
  • In step S803, the microcomputer 410 functions as the data transmission means that transmits data generated in step S502 to the server 600.
  • In step S600, storing processes of output information and ID data are carried out. In these processes, upon receipt of the data (URL) and the ID data of the portable terminal device 400 from the portable terminal device 400 through the Internet, the microcomputer 610 installed in the server 600 stores the data (URL) and the ID data in the hard disk drive 620. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S601. In this manner, the hard disk drive 620 serves as one example of the information storing means.
  • In step S601, a data extracting process is carried out based upon the output information. In this process, the microcomputer 610 extracts the data (for example, HTML data and the like) representing the site corresponding to the URL as the data received in step S601 and information (premium data (for example, a service point, cellular phone ring melodies and the like)) corresponding to this site from the hard disk drive 620. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S602.
  • At this time, the microcomputer 610 refers to the data table (see FIG. 24) stored in the hard disk drive 620, and based upon the data, extracts the information (premium data). Upon executing the process of step S601, the microcomputer 610 functions as the extracting means for extracting the premium data from the hard disk drive 620 (information storage means) based upon the data received from the portable terminal device 400.
  • In step S602, a data transmitting process is executed. In this process, the microcomputer 610 transmits data representing, for example, a site and information (premium data) to the portable terminal device 400 by using the communication interface 650 through the Internet 500. Upon completion of this process, the sequence proceeds to step S804.
  • The communication interface 650 functions as the transmission means, which transmits information 340 (premium data) extracted in step S602 to the portable terminal device 400.
  • In step S804, a data storage process is conducted. In this process, the microcomputer 410 in the portable terminal device 400 stores, in the memory 420, the data transmitted from the server 600 (the data indicative of the site and the premium data). Then, the microcomputer 410 displays the site associated with the URL as data, on the liquid crystal panel 460, on the basis of the aforementioned data. Further, the player can acquire the-information (premium data), by inputting a predetermined command through operations of the operating portion 470. After the completion of this process, this process ends.
  • During the operation of normal games, when the main CPU 66 as the detection means detects that the number of games has exceeded a predetermined number of times, an output information image (for example, an image such as a two-dimensional code) including predetermined information, for example, a service point and gaming information, is displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32 as the display means in a manner so as to be captured from the outside by using image pickup means. For this reason, in order to compensate for the case where no special gaming state has been executed during normal games of many times, a two-dimensional code 300, that is, the output information image, is displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32, and the player is allowed to capture the two-dimensional code 300 by using the CCD camera 480 as the image pickup means of the portable terminal device 400 so that, by transmitting output information generated from the two-dimensional code 300 to the server 600 through the portable terminal device 400, the player is allowed to obtain various kinds of information corresponding to the output information. Consequently, under circumstances in which the player tends to feel dissatisfaction and irritation due to no occurrence of a special game, by allowing the player to obtain information such as a service point and gaming information, it becomes possible to effectively enhance the satisfaction of the player and allow the player to maintain continuous desire for the game even during a long course of normal games.
  • In the second embodiment, image data for waiting images and cellular phone ring melodies are used as information as the premium data; however, the second aspect of the present invention is not limited to this arrangement. The premium data may be prepared as various data, such as a service point, gaming information, image data for waiting images and URL data, and various programs.
  • (Two-Dimensional Code Recognizing Process)
  • Referring to FIG. 25, the following description will discuss a two-dimensional code recognizing process in accordance with the second embodiment.
  • FIG. 25 is a flowchart that shows the two-dimensional code recognizing process to be carried out in the portable terminal device 400 in step S802 of FIG. 43.
  • In step S700, an image conversion process is conducted. In this process, the microcomputer 410 conducts an image conversion process on the image data stored in the memory 420. The image conversion process is a process for extracting image data of the region at which an output information image such as a two-dimensional code 300 is displayed, from the image data obtained by capturing, then correcting the inclination or distortion thereof and converting it into a monochrome image with a predetermined threshold value to provide image data including the two-dimensional code 300 viewed from the front side thereof. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S701.
  • In step S701, a two-dimensional code extraction/correction process is conducted. In this process, the microcomputer 410 extracts the two-dimensional code from the image data obtained in step S700 and performs corrections such as noise elimination. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S702.
  • In step S702, a binarization process is conducted. In this process, the microcomputer 410 conducts a binarization process on the two-dimensional code obtained in step S701 and substitutes “0” or “1” for the respective dots constituting the two-dimensional code. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S703.
  • In step S703, a binarized matrix data generation process is conducted. In this process, the microcomputer 410 generates binarized matrix data, from the two-dimensional code constituted by “0” and “1” substituted for the dots, which has been resulted from the binarization process in step S702. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S704.
  • In step S704, a binarized matrix data decoding process is conducted. In this process, the microcomputer 410 decodes the binarized matrix data. After the completion of this process, the subroutine proceeds to the process in step S705.
  • In step S705, an information generation process is conducted. In this process, the microcomputer 410 generates output information and image information. After the completion of this process, this subroutine ends.
  • The player is allowed to capture the two-dimensional code 300 displayed on the liquid crystal display device 32 by using the portable terminal device 400 having the CCD camera 480 as the image pickup means; thus, the player is allowed to obtain an output information image, and by using this, the player is further allowed to obtain information such as a service point and gaming information. Therefore, in the case where no special gaming state has been executed during normal games, in order to compensate for the dissatisfaction and irritation that the player bears, the player is allowed to obtain the displayed output information image. For this reason, even under circumstances in which the player tends to feel dissatisfaction and irritation, the output information image is displayed on the display means, and the predetermined information is given to the player so that the player is allowed to have higher satisfaction and continuous desire for the game even during a long course of normal games.
  • FIG. 24 shows one example of a data table to be used in step S601 of FIG. 43. As shown in FIG. 24, on the data table, data (output information) and information are associated with each other.
  • For example, in the case where the data is given as a URL, upon accessing the server 600 by using the URL (http://***.***.001.htm), image data representing a waiting image A is transmitted to the portable terminal device 400. Moreover, in the case of a URL (http://***.***.002.htm), a waiting image B is given as the premium data; in the case of a URL (http://***.***.003.htm), a waiting image C is given as the premium data; in the case of a URL (http://***.***.004.htm), music data X is given as the premium data; in the case of a URL (http://***.***.005.htm), music data Y is given as the premium data; and in the case of a URL (http://***.***.006.htm), music data Z is given as the premium data.
  • In the second embodiment, image data for waiting images and cellular phone ring melodies are used as information as the premium data; however, the second aspect of the present invention is not limited to this arrangement. The premium data may be prepared as various data, such as a service point, gaming information, image data for waiting images and URL data, and various programs.
  • While in the aforementioned embodiment a first type of pachinko gaming machine has been exemplified, the present invention is not limited thereto and may be applied to other types of pachinko gaming machines such as a second type of pachinko gaming machine referred to as a blade type machine, an aircraft type machine, a third type of pachinko gaming machine referred to as a right-providing type pachinko gaming machine or other types of pachinko gaming machines.
  • Moreover, in the second embodiment, the second aspect of the present invention is applied to a gaming machine such as a pachinko gaming machine; however, the present invention may be applied to a pachi-slot machine, a game machine or the like.
  • Also, while in the present embodiment 7-segment LEDs are employed as the displaying portion of the number-of-rounds display device 51, the present invention is not limited thereto and may employ other types of displaying portions, such as a liquid crystal display panel, a picture tube including a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube), dot LEDs, ELs (Electronic Luminescents), plasma or the like.
  • While an embodiment of the present invention has been described, the embodiment has been merely exemplified as a concrete example and the present invention is not limited thereto. In other words, the second aspect of the present invention relates to a gaming machine which is mainly constituted by display means used for displaying images; detection means used for detecting an executed time of a special game that is an advantageous gaming state for the player; and display control means which, on the condition that, as the results of the detection of the detection means, the executed time of a special game becomes shorter than a predetermined period of time, carries out a display controlling process so that an output information image including predetermined output information is displayed on the display means in a manner so as to be captured by image pickup means from outside, and in this gaming machine, the specific components, such as the display means, detection means and the display control means, may be appropriately designed and modified on demand.
  • Further, the effects described in the embodiments of the present invention are only most preferred effects of the present invention, and the effects of the present invention are not limited to those described in the embodiments of the present invention.

Claims (7)

1. A gaming machine comprising:
display means capable of displaying images;
reach deciding means for deciding whether or not a reach state is generated based upon the results of a lottery as to whether or not a special gaming state that is advantageous for the player is generated;
reach state generation means for generating the reach state in accordance with the contents of the decision of said reach deciding means;
counting means for counting the number of generated reach states by said reach state generation means as the number of reaches, until a special gaming state is generated; and
display control means for conducting a control of displaying an output information image including predetermined output information to said display means, on the occasion that the number of reaches counted by said counting means has become a number no less than a predetermined number.
2. The gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein
said reach state generation means generates either one of a common reach state which has a relatively low probability of generating a special gaming state or a special reach state which has a relatively high probability of generating a special gaming state, in accordance with the contents of the decision of the reach deciding means,
said counting means counts the number of generated special reach states by said reach state generation means as the number of special reaches until a special gaming state is generated, and
said display control means conducts a control of displaying an output information image including predetermined output information to said display means in such a manner that said output information image can be captured from the outside by image pickup means, on occasion that the number of special reaches counted by said counting means has become a number no less than a predetermined number.
3. A service providing system having:
the gaming machine according to claim 1; and
a server capable of transmitting and receiving data through a communication line-to and from a portable terminal device provided with said image pickup means, wherein
said server comprises:
information storage means for storing a plurality of types of information to be transmitted to said portable terminal device in a manner so as to correspond to respective pieces of output information;
extracting means which, upon receipt of output information from the portable terminal device that generates the output information based upon image data obtained by capturing an output information image displayed to said display means by using said image pickup means, extracts the information corresponding to the output information from said information storage means; and
transmission means for transmitting the information extracted by said extracting means to said portable terminal device through said communication line.
4. A server capable of transmitting and receiving data through a communication line to and from a portable terminal device provided with image pickup means capable of capturing an output information image displayed to the display means of the gaming machine according to claim 1,
the server comprising:
information storage means for storing a plurality of types of information to be transmitted to said portable terminal device in a manner so as to correspond to respective pieces of output information;
extracting means which, upon receipt of output information from the portable terminal device that generates the output information based upon image data obtained by capturing an output information image displayed to said display means by using said image pickup means, extracts the information corresponding to the output information from said information storage means; and
transmission means for transmitting the information extracted by said extracting means to said portable terminal device through said communication line.
5. A gaming machine comprising:
display means for displaying images;
detection means for detecting the number of games during the operation of normal games prior to an execution of a special game that is an advantageous game for a player; and
display control means for conducting a control of displaying output information image including predetermined output information on said display means in a manner so as to be captured from the outside by image pickup means, on the condition that the number of games has exceeded a predetermined number as a result of detection of said detection means.
6. The gaming machine according to claim 5, wherein
said display control means conducts a control of displaying said output information image on said display means in a manner so as to be captured from the outside by said image pickup means, on the condition that the number of games except for the number of reaches in said normal games has exceeded a predetermined number as the result of detection of said detection means.
7. A system having:
the gaming machine according to claim 5; and
a server capable of transmitting and receiving data through a communication line to and from a portable terminal device provided with said image pickup means, wherein
said server comprises:
information storage means for storing a plurality of types of information to be transmitted to said portable terminal device in a manner so as to correspond to respective pieces of output information;
extracting means which, upon receipt of output information from the portable terminal device that generates the output information based upon image data obtained by image capturing an output information image displayed to said display means by using said image pickup means, extracts the information corresponding to the output information from said information storage means; and
transmission means for transmitting the information extracted by said extracting means to said portable terminal device through said communication line.
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