Cheers Slot Machine
Cheers was a long-running situation comedy on American television. The show lasted for 11 seasons and spun off two other shows, of which Frasier was the more successful. The Cheers show finale was one of the most watched television shows of the 1990s.
The idea for the show emerged from a long period brainstorming by brother Glen and Les Charles and their partner James Burrows. The creators discarded several ideas based on older, well-known concepts including the famous BBC show Fawlty Towers. They gradually decided upon a bar setting.
Once they knew they wanted a show about a bar and its patrons, the creators had to figure out where it would exist. They eventually chose to place the bar in Boston and for the fee of $1 they acquired the right to use pictures of the inside and outside of the Bull & Finch Pub. The pub owner subsequently made a fortune by licensing the business' image.
WMS and Scientific Games
Slot machine maker WMS launched the first Cheers slot machine in 2012. It was not quite a hit with fans of the show and casino games. Using pictures of the show's beloved stars and the voice of John Ratzenberger (mailman Cliff Clavin) for ambient dialog, the game featured an interactive bonus wheel.
Scientific Games acquired WMS in 2013 and announced a new Cheers slot machine game in early 2016. Scientific Games is merging platforms for WMS, Bally, and Shuffle Master into the Twinstar programmable slot machine cabinet. Players can now enjoy their favorite Bally and WMS games on the same platform, where casinos decide to showcase the Twinstar-supported brands.
Game Design Features for Cheers Slots
The 2012 Cheers slot machine uses its Lucky Round Wheel to determine whether the player won credits or a special bonus round. Cliff's bonus round is a pick game where the player can win multiples of credits played or WinAll. Norm's bonus round is a pick game where the player chooses a coaster for a multiplier. The Sam Re-spin feature replaces the wheel's options with new prizes. The free spins feature doubles all prizes.
The 2012 game uses ragtime piano music for much of the ambient music but the show's theme song pops up on a regular basis and plays during the free spins feature. The game has 25 pay lines
The second generation Cheers slot machine is built on Scientific Games' Pro 2242 cabinet. The most distinctive difference between this version of the game and the older WMS cabinet is that the Scientific Games bonus wheel is fully separated from the video screen. In the WMS game the player swipes the lower part of the bonus wheel through the video touch screen.
The 2016 Cheers slot machine also features a three-level progressive jackpot, more clips from the show, and updated graphics. The character tiles have a more modern appearance, including 3-D shadowing and portraits overlaid on icons symbolic of the characters (a beer mug for Norm and a vintage postage stamp for Cliff, for example).
What's a Progressive Jackpot?
A progressive jackpot is a top prize that increases gradually over time. The slot machine game takes a tiny percentage of each bet to "fuel" this jackpot. A game with 3 levels has 3 progressive jackpots of 3 different sizes—you could think of them as small, medium, and large. The best example of multi-level progressive jackpots online are the Marvel slot machine games from Playtech.
In one bonus game for the 2016 Cheers machine the player is presented with four bartenders (Sam, Coach, Carla, and Diane). Choosing a bartender reveals how the free spins game will be modified such as with a multiplier.
The 2016 free spins game is called Cliff's Little Known Fact and offers 10 spins. The game uses an updated theme song but the old melody is still discernible.
The disappointing performance of the first Cheers slot game may have proven to be a golden opportunity for Scientific Games. Instead of shelving the old game they decided to re-engineer it as part of their new wave of remastered slot games on their combined platforms. Although the game's appeal to players has yet to be decided, it has the advantage of using updated graphical design, the latest in high quality video technology, and an improved soundtrack.
To be honest, that old ragtime music may have seemed like a good idea when they were designing the machine but the piano music is too tinny and nerve-wracking. A slot machine's ambient sounds and soundtrack can get on a player's nerves after 20-30 minutes. That is why the machines come equipped with an on/off switch for the sound.
Listening to the video clips from the show may not be so bad in either version of the game. The designers were careful to select clips with great punch lines. But at the end of the day the slot game is about spinning the reels, getting the bonus wins, and collecting a few more credits (hopefully) than you put in. If the game experience falls short in that department then all the great jokes and beautiful songs in the world won't keep the players hanging around.
The future may be less cheerful for older television show themed slots because they afford fewer opportunities for interactivity. The millennial generation slots players want an immersive experience with a chance to affect how game play proceeds from clicking on the "Spin". The new Cheers game may turn out to be exactly what was needed five years ago. Will that be good enough to help it succeed for the five to seven years a slot machine game needs to survive in order to pay for itself and make a profit?