Happy Days Slots
Happy Days was a sitcom that ran for more than a decade in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The concept of Happy Days is simple – it presents an idealized vision of life in America during the 1950s, and (later) 1960s. Happy Days was conceived of by Garry Marshall, that grandmaster of American shlock-art. The show's two main stars were played by Ron Howard and Henry Winkler, and launched both of their long careers in TV and movies.
WMS Gaming's Happy Days slot is an online slot game based on the popular TV show. It isn't a totally accurate replica of the experience of watching the show or anything like that. It doesn't contain video clips or even real audio from the show. In fact, the only thing tying this game directly to the TV show is the cartoon likeness of Henry Winkler as The Fonz, whose image is plastered all over the game.
The big appeal of Happy Days (besides the goofy visage of Henry Winkler) is the progressive jackpot system, which is (unfortunately) not a wide-area progressive. That means the jackpots are pretty small. That doesn't mean they aren't worth playing for. We just checked the value of the top progressive prize on this game at a WMS-gaming powered site, and it was up above $100,700. Okay, so that isn't as sexy a number as the progressives promising millions of dollars. But it benefits from the fact that it is a much more attainable prize, meaning you're much more likely to win the progressive on WMS' Happy Days slot, compared to, say, the MegaBucks series.
One unusual feature of Happy Days by WMS Gaming – it doesn't use any sort of pay line system. Instead, bettors choose their total wager per-spin on a range between $0.40 and $200. Since the game's largest fixed payouts come from bet multipliers, you have an incentive to wager as much as you can afford per round. Also, since the game's top prizes (in the form of progressives) don't depend at all on the total amount you wager, you can bet on the low end and still win an ever-growing top prize. A shot at a multi-tier progressive jackpot series for just $0.40 per spin is a great deal in the online slot industry.
If you know the TV show Happy Days, you'll recognize some of the game's symbols right away. We cover the other ones below, including details on their features and what sort of payouts they lead to.
- Golden Jukebox
A scatter symbol. Three or more triggers an instant prize of five free spins and opens one of the game's bonus rounds.
A standard symbol, five of which reward 400 credits.
A standard symbol, five of which reward 300 credits.
A standard symbol, five of which reward 200 credits.
A standard symbol, five of which reward 200 credits. Identical to Joanie. Fans will get it.
- Playing Cards (9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace)
A standard symbol, five of which are worth tiny payouts.
- Happy Days Logo
A stacked wild symbol that looks like glowing neon. Substitutes for all other symbols to form winning combos. Can stack up to four deep, which creates multiple spins worth of wild symbols. Five on any line equals a 500-credit win plus five free spins.
Happy Days Bonus Rounds
The following are the bonus rounds and special features found in the Nostradamus online slot from Ash Gaming:
Spin three or more Golden Jukebox symbols and you'll enter the Golden Record Bonus. This is a pick'em game without much in the way of them relevance or replay value. You pick and win free spins, anywhere from five to fifty. It is not retriggerable.
If you spin three or four Happy Days Logo symbols on any line, you activate the Record Picker Bonus. This is a pick'em game in which you select different sealed records to open, revealing prizes like free spins and instant credit rewards. If you spin five Happy Days Logo symbols, you are eligible for the progressive jackpot as described below.
If a player enters the Record Picker bonus round (by landing five Happy Days Logo symbols on a line), and then selects the Rock the Jackpot Progressive symbol during the pick'em game, he wins the top progressive jackpot. This prize resets to $50,000, but since it is a local-area only progressive, it rarely gets above $125,000. The frequent wins paired with the relatively-low cost of the max bet makes this one of WMS Gaming's most popular progressives, even though the theme is underdeveloped, little more than a skin on a weird game without pay lines.
More about Happy Days
Happy Days was one of the most popular shows of the 70s, though its popularity waned beginning with the eighth season. The first episode aired on ABC on January 15, 1974. The final episode aired on September 24, 1984. The idea for the sitcom came from a Ron Howard-produced segment on the ABC variety show Love, American Style.
Wannabe TV producer Garry Marshall saw a hit in the segment and put together a pilot episode for a full TV series based on its ideas. The concept was simple – look at how much better the world was back in the 50s. Understand that at the time of the show's production, America was in crisis. Unemployment was high, money was stagnant, fuel had only recently stopped being rationed, and the country was still in the throes of serious civil rights issues. A show idealizing the past was just what the doctor ordered for people sick and tired of the real world.
Happy Days was meant to revolve around do-gooder teenager Richie Cunningham and his friends, though it eventually focused mainly on his mother and father, Marion and Howard.
Happy Days gave birth to a concept still used by TV critics and enthusiasts – "jumping the shark." A show is said to have "jumped the shark" when it airs an episode or a conceit that is so ridiculous as to indicate that the show is on the way to cancellation. The phrase comes from an episode near the end of Happy Days' run in which Fonzie jumps over a shark on his motorcycle as a stunt. Happy Days was cancelled within days of the airing of that episode.
WMS Gaming is not known as a producer of top-notch licensed slots. This game doesn't do much for Happy Days fans, other than offer a passing resemblance to one or two of the show's main characters. What could WMS have done to produce a better game? Fans want video and audio clips, they want to hear real audio from the show they love, and they want a game with some replay value. The bonus rounds are boring and they don't seem to have much to do with Happy Days itself.
That said, not everyone plays licensed games because they are fans of the original material. I think Happy Days by WMS Gaming provides a lot of value to people looking to chase small (easy-to-win) progressive prizes that don't cost much per spin. You could play this game for two hours at $0.40 per spin chasing that progressive win and not feel it much. The bonus rounds are frequent and lucrative enough, even if the free spins can't be retriggered.