Fremantle is not a slot software house in the traditional sense. This is a TV company, which owns some of the biggest brand shows around. They have a long history (all the way back to 1917), though the ‘Fremantle Media’ arm was formed in 2001. What this company does is find other outlets for their branded shows (for example Family Fortunes, Blockbusters and Play Your Card’s Right). The reason that they are featured here is that slots are one of the ways that the brands are made available to new audiences.
It would be easy to use the brand names and create some mediocre games – as many slot makers have done before. You’ll be pleased to know that Fremantle games are actually very good. Graphics are often deliberately on the retro side (some of the shows are quite old), though the bonus features and general game-play give away that these are well produced and modern slots.
The innovation driving these games is mostly an obvious one – the break out bonus features are based on well-known TV gameshows. There are some which you’ll need to have watched the show to fully understand, for example fitting your avatar through a person-shaped hole in the ‘Hole in the Wall’ game. Others include the famous ‘High-Low’ game on Play Your Card’s Right, and the duelling families of Family Fortunes.
These are not the only innovations, there are some great shrinking / expanding symbols (again on Hole in the Wall) and there is a feature bonus with progressive prizes in ‘the Good the Bad and the Ugly’ too.
Fremantle simply do not make a slot if it does not have a tie-in to their branded shows or licensed movies. Aside from the games already mentioned there is a ‘Take Me Out: Date Night’ game, one based on the film Robocop, and a very nicely produced slot based on the TV sci-fi classic Stargate SG1.
If I had to name one other characteristic which goes through all of the Fremantle games it would be the deliberately slightly retro look to the symbols. These are all 5 reel video slots.
All of the titles are pretty good. My feeling is that some work better without familiarity with the brand behind them than others. If you do not know the ‘Date Night’ show, then that slot could be confusing to the point of being unbearable – though I am sure fans of the original show will love it!
Family Fortunes was the best produced game for me. The general play is set up to feel like it is under studio lights, though the main action happens in the 2 different bonus games. One is a free spins round, which goes on until you hit 3 of the orange ‘X’ symbols. The nice touch here is the duelling families (or at least their silhouettes) are in front of the reels. You will also get to play a game where you choose the answer to show type questions, along with a bonus for hitting top answers.
The Good the Bad and the Ugly instantly became one of my favourite Western slots. Again the game-play is solid and atmospheric, with the main attraction being the bonus games. The shooting gallery one is entertaining, and the Graveyard bonus can earn you a (smaller) progressive jackpot.
Robocop has some interesting play, and is worth a look. The main attraction is the ‘Assault on OCR’ bonus, which is like a 1990’s console fighting game in look and feel.
The ownership of this company and subsidiaries is quite complex down the years. With big TV names like Pearson brought into the main business and the whole being a part of the RTL group. From a slot fans perspective, the important factor is that this company is based in London, and that slots are a small part of a large company focused on making money from their successful big-brand shows.
I was almost surprised to find the Fremantle slots are very good. Production is professional enough to break out of the ‘just another tie-in’ space, and these games are bound to have wide appeal – especially among fans of the show. One question is whether we will be seeing an X-factor, or maybe ‘How clean is your house?’ slot coming through soon!