Zynga's slot-machine simulator fails to reel us in.
Gambling's one of those things you either get or you don't I suppose. I've had the full Las Vegas experience, and while it was entertaining enough watching the more social games at play, the sight of thousands of machines, dutifully manned by hypnotized operators was a sobering experience.
Zynga Slots attempts to recreate that experience although with a few of the twists that only videogames can provide. Focusing on one machine causes it to 'level up' so that you can play more lines and increase the bets that you play, for example. There are only six of these differently themed machines spread across two resorts at the moment, although more are promised for the future.
Over in Las Vegas you can take on Wonderland, Zynga's slot-machine take on the classic Alice novels. It goes without saying that it's the tardy white rabbit racing against the clock at the top of the screen. Over at Sea Whirl'd it's a dolphin. You'll unlock the remainder of the tables as you work your way through the first few that are available.
As you play and increase your stakes, you'll approach a fever mode of higher payouts and juicier lines. It only lasts a fixed amount of time but will usually give you a solid boost of coins, although it goes without saying that you can top up your funds with a purchase from the in-app store. It's here that the experience begins to unravel a little.
With a game like Zynga Poker, you're playing a game of skill mixed in with the luck of the draw: fair enough. With Zynga Slots, you are merely pressing a button over and over again, at the mercy of the numbers being generated behind the scenes. Now, of course, that's exactly the same criticism that can be leveled at the real-world strip, so I could be accused of missing the point.
But while I'd argue that Zynga Slots doesn't make for much of a videogame anyway, it also lacks the adrenaline buzz that comes from receiving real cash payouts, and there's something that unsettles me more. In the real-world of gambling you have legislation to guarantee payouts, to make sure that while the house might always win overall, a certain amount of money has to come out of those machines.
Slots on the other hand is a game created by a company that has no such obligations. Zynga may feel morally inclined to adhere to the same values with those coins you've purchased with real money, but I can't lose myself in the experience with any particularly high amount of faith. Combine that with what is rather a dull videogame experience, and you're going to start running out of nice things to say rather soon.
In Slots' defense, it has a good variety of machines, a pleasant styling and is as high a quality slot-machine simulator as you can hope for. What it can never simulate of course is the rush of a win, and what you're left with is a rather depressing experience: a true simulator of our bleak economic times where no-one can afford to do much that's real anyway.
What's Hot: A good variety of machine themes and the technical implementation is solid.
What's Not: As a videogame it falls short. As a gambling simulator, it surely misses the point.