Most slots are created by specialist software houses. Endemol are different. This is a global TV production company which owns many big name game shows. Big Brother, Deal or No Deal and Cash Drop are just 3 examples. In addition to licensing their shows (and producing many of them) across the globe – Endemol has created real money slot games based on their properties.
These are 5-reel video slots with bonus rounds and free spins. Many of the features are based on the game-play from the TV game shows. The slots often have a retro feeling to them, especially the ones based on the UK shows from the 1980’s like 3-2-1 and Catchphrase. What you will find is that the retro look is deliberate; and not the sign of an older game. It is the feature rounds and on-reel behaviour which gives this away. Technology to create these extras had not yet been developed when the original shows were being aired!
One thing that I have not seen before in a slot is the ability to pick from a long list of characters to become your wild symbol. This occurs in the UFC slot, where you get to choose your fighter when the slot initializes. This fighter not only appears on the reels, the video clips (for example for extra wilds) feature that fighter too.
Hulk Hogan appears in front of those reels in his own ‘Hulkmania’ slot, which another Endemol favourite. This has an innovation in the bonus round, where a wrestling match occurs. Either you or the Punk are assigned moves randomly, and the energy level of each character goes down until one of them hits zero.
There are also innovations in some of the game show slots. Rather than being different forms of play, these are more like pick-em games based on the games play on-air. Some of them do involve a small element of strategy. For example, in the Cash-Drop game, you need to decide how much cash to put over each trap-door. You can play in such a way as to maximize your potential for a win (by putting most of the money on one door). Alternatively you can spread the money around, giving yourself a bigger chance of winning, though with smaller amounts.
No doubt about what sets Endemol slots apart from others out there – the themes. All of these slots are based on TV franchises. There is a distinctive feel to the games, the way they are set up and the types of symbols they use becomes familiar very quickly. There are several games with random extra wilds, and the pick-em to get your free spins bonuses are prevalent throughout the range (though they take different visual forms, the tech is the same).
This is a tough choice, the slots are all high quality and all very similar in the number of features and prizes possible. I will admit finding the games which are based on the shows I remember as a kid being the most fun to play. Fortunately for those who do not remember the 80’s, there are more up to date titles.
3-2-1: This show was huge back in the day, and the mechanical ‘Dusty Bin’ was a household name. It is hard to believe that rooting for players to figure out a main prize based on some very odd clues was prime-time TV. This bonus round has been recreated. If you can name another slot where you can pick a farmhouse loaf and letter holder to reveal prizes, then I’d like to know about it. This slot has 3 different bonus games and some entertaining animations from Dusty Bin himself.
Hulkmania: It is impossible to leave out a slot which interrupts you to shout ‘Hulkmania has gone wild!’ when you get the on-reel extra wilds feature. Hulk is perhaps the only wrestler who is known to those who are not fans of the sport. If you would like something completely different, with a fight bonus and one where you try and defeat Hulk in an arm-wrestle – then this could well be the slot for you.
Cash Drop: I’m including this one at the expense of ‘Deal or No Deal’, thanks to the added strategy component in the cash drop bonus game. This is a nicely produced slot, which recreates the original show better than most.
This company was founded in 1994, which tells me they must have acquired rights to some of the earlier branded shows. They are now a TV giant, acting in 30 countries and with more than 300 different broadcasters. They have a headquarters in the Netherlands. In addition to the game shows which are turned into slots, Endemol also broadcast comedy and drama.
Many other slots makers have used comedy shows as themes for games. It is always a possibility that Endemol could follow suit.
These are quirky, deliberately retro looking and distinctive games. When you put them alongside the latest titles from software houses like Leander or Thunderkick, they do start to feel rather plain. I enjoyed the game-play, and of course the bonus games. I did have the feeling that without the theme tie-ins, these slots would not be as good. Take away Dusty Bin (for example) and there really is no reason left to play the game with a pick-em and spins round and not too much more besides.
If you do remember the shows, then giving the slots a shot can be an entertaining walk down memory lane – take and Endemol slot for a spin soon and see how much you remember.