Title:
Symobl Matching Gaming Machine and Program
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An object is to provide a gaming machine in which, when a part of a symbol combination for a winning combination is aligned on a winning line, a player can have increased expectation on an alignment of the winning combination even if the player is well-experienced in games of such a gaming machine. The game machine includes three reels to interchangeably display a plurality of types of symbols, and makes a selection for either an acceptance to select an almost-winning prize which corresponds to a combination of symbols having a different part of symbol from a winning combination (a symbol combination of three White 7 symbols) for a predetermined prize group (e.g., White 7 Prize), or a refusal not to select the almost-winning prize. When an acceptance is selected by the selection, in the combination of symbols corresponding to almost-winning prize, a part of symbols which is identical to that of the winning combination (a part for a left reel and a part for a right reel) is controlled to be stopped on a winning line to be displayed. Then, after another selection is made to determine whether the winning combination is aligned on the winning line or not, a middle reel is controlled to stop based on the result of the latter selection.



Inventors:
Ando, Makoto (Tokyo, JP)
Sasaki, Yosuke (Tokyo, JP)
Tsuruoka, Masahi (Tokyo, JP)
Ogura, Kazuyasu (Tokyo, JP)
Application Number:
11/568315
Publication Date:
11/15/2007
Filing Date:
04/20/2005
Assignee:
KONAMI DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT CO., LTD. (10-1, Roppongi 6-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo, JP)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F5/04; G07F17/34
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ROWLAND, STEVE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TOWNSEND AND TOWNSEND AND CREW, LLP (TWO EMBARCADERO CENTER, EIGHTH FLOOR, SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 94111-3834, US)
Claims:
1. A symbol matching gaming machine, comprising: display means including three or more interchangeably displaying sections which interchangeably display a plurality of types of symbols; first selecting means for selecting either an acceptance to select an almost-winning prize which corresponds to a combination of symbols having a different part of symbol from a winning combination for a predetermined prize group, or a refusal not to select the almost-winning prize; second selecting means for making a selection to determine if the winning combination is aligned on a winning line which runs across the three or more interchangeably displaying sections or not interchangeable display control means for controlling interchangeable displays of the three or more interchangeably displaying sections, wherein the interchangeable display control means controls so that a part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is identical to that in the winning combination is stopped on the winning line to be displayed when the first selecting means selects an acceptance, the second selecting means makes a selection by the second selecting means when the identical part of symbols is stopped on the winning line to be displayed, and the interchangeable display control means controls a specific interchangeably displaying section which corresponds to a part of symbol that is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is different from that in the winning combination based on a result of the selection made by the second selecting means.

2. The symbol matching gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein the interchangeable display control means controls the specific interchangeably displaying section so that a refusal symbol which does not form the winning combination is stopped to be displayed on the winning line when the first selecting means accepts an almost-winning prize, and when a selection is made by the second selecting means, the interchangeable display control means controls the interchangeable display of the specific interchangeably displaying section to resume to move, and then controls the interchangeable display of the specific interchangeably displaying section to stop base on the result of selection made by the second selecting means.

3. A symbol matching gaming machine, comprising: display means including three or more interchangeably displaying sections which interchangeably display a plurality of types of symbols; first selecting means for selecting either an acceptance to select an almost-winning prize which corresponds to a combination of symbols having a different part of symbol from a winning combination for a predetermined prize group, or a refusal not to select the almost-winning prize; second selecting means for making a selection to determine a number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed from when a specific interchangeably displaying section, which corresponds to the part of symbols that is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is different from that in the winning combination, is resumed to move until the specific interchangeably displaying section is stopped; and interchangeable display control means for controlling interchangeable displays of the three or more interchangeably displaying sections, wherein the interchangeable display control means controls so that the part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is identical to that in the winning combination is stopped on the winning line to be displayed when the first selecting means selects an acceptance, and after a symbol combination including the part of symbols identical to that of the winning combination is stopped on the winning line to be displayed, the interchangeable display control means causes interchangeable displays of a specific interchangeably displaying section to resume to move, and also causes the specific interchangeably displaying section to stop after only the interchangeable displays for the number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed, which is determined by the selection made by the second selecting means, are interchangeably displayed.

4. The symbol matching gaming machine according to claim 3, wherein selections made by the second selecting means, and controls of the resuming and the stopping of the specific interchangeably displaying section by the interchangeable display control means are repeatedly performed until a predetermined end condition is satisfied.

5. The symbol matching gaming machine according to claim 3, further comprising: reporting means for reporting a number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed which is determined by the selection made by the second selecting means to a player.

6. A program for enabling a computer in the symbol matching gaming machine to function, the symbol matching gaming machine having display means which includes three or more interchangeably displaying sections for interchangeably displaying a plurality of types of symbols, the program enabling the computer to function as: first selecting means for selecting either an acceptance to select an almost-winning prize which corresponds to a combination of symbols having a different part of symbol from a winning combination for a predetermined prize group, or a refusal not to select the almost-winning prize; second selecting means for making a selection to determine if the winning combination is aligned on a winning line which runs across the three or more interchangeably displaying sections or not; and interchangeable display control means for controlling interchangeable displays of the three or more interchangeably displaying sections, wherein the interchangeable display control means controls so that a part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is identical to that in the winning combination is stopped on the winning line to be displayed when the first selecting means selects an acceptance, the second selecting means makes a selection by the second selecting means when the identical part of symbols is stopped on the winning line to be displayed, and the interchangeable display control means controls a specific interchangeably displaying section which corresponds to a part of symbol that is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is different from that in the winning combination, based on a result of the selection made by the second selecting means.

7. A program for enabling a computer in the symbol matching gaming machine to function, the symbol matching gaming machine having display means which includes three or more interchangeably displaying sections for interchangeably displaying a plurality of types of symbols, the program enabling the computer to function as: first selecting means for selecting either an acceptance to select an almost-winning prize which corresponds to a combination of symbols having a different part of symbol from a winning combination for a predetermined prize group, or a refusal not to select the almost-winning prize; second selecting means for making a selection to determine a number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed from when a specific interchangeably displaying section, which corresponds to the part of symbols that is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is different from that in the winning combination, is resumed to move until the specific interchangeably displaying section is stopped; and interchangeable display control means for controlling interchangeable displays of the three or more interchangeably displaying sections, wherein the interchangeable display control means controls so that the part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is identical to that in the winning combination is stopped on the winning line to be displayed when the first selecting means selects an acceptance, and after a symbol combination including the part of symbols identical to that of the winning combination is stopped on the winning line to be displayed, the interchangeable display control means causes the specific interchangeably displaying section to be resumed to move, and also causes the specific interchangeably displaying section to stop after only the number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed, which is determined by the selection made by the second selecting means, are interchangeably displayed.

8. The symbol matching gaming machine according to claim 4, further comprising: reporting means for reporting a number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed which is determined by the selection made by the second selecting means to a player.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a symbol matching gaming machine such as a slot machine which is installed in pachinko parlor or game arcade, and to a program which enables a computer in the symbol matching gaming machine to function.

The following terms as used herein have meanings as described below respectively, unless otherwise specified.

The term “game award” means award a player gets.

The term “winning combination” means a combination of symbols which provides a game award.

The term “prize group” means a group of one or a plurality of winning combinations, or a range of number values for game awards on a prize group selection table.

BACKGROUND ART

Conventionally, a slot machine is known as this type of symbol matching gaming machine, in which three or more reels (interchangeably displaying sections) having a plurality of types of symbols thereon are rotated and stopped. When a combination of symbols is stopped on a winning line to be displayed and forms one of winning combinations for a predetermined prize group, the slot machine provides a game award corresponding to the prize group to a player. For example, game awards such as a payout of tokens, permission for replay, or transfer to a special game period for playing a special game which may give more tokens to a player than a standard game are provided.

Generally, in a slot machine, when a player presses a bet button for a token and operates a start button and the like, an internal selection is performed by microcomputer or the like to select a prize group. If a prize group is selected by the internal selection to be accepted, reels are controlled to stop so that a winning combination which corresponds to the accepted prize group is likely aligned or is ensured to be aligned. On the contrary, if no prize group is selected by the internal selection to be refused, the reels are controlled to stop so that a winning combination which corresponds to the accepted prize group will not be aligned on a winning line. So, the alignment of a winning combination on a winning line depends on the result of the internal selection. And this is a well-known fact for a player who is well-experienced in games of slot machine. Thus, such a player already know that, even in an almost-winning (i.e., so called a ready-to-win) state in which one more stop and display of a remained symbol on a winning line makes an aligned winning combination, it has been already determined whether the remained symbol would stop on the winning line to be displayed to make the winning combination or not by the internal selection which had been performed before the almost-winning state occurred. Therefore, there is a problem for a player who is well-experienced in games of slot machine that even an almost-winning state does not provide a big expectation on an alignment of a winning combination.

Meanwhile, a slot machine which utilizes such a player's psychology is known. That is, in this slot machine, when a prize group is selected and accepted by an internal selection, reels are controlled to stop to form an almost-winning state, and the last reel is controlled to stop without making a winning combination. After the temporal stop of the last reel, an entertaining performance is provided by moving the last reel again, and then a winning combination is aligned on a winning line. This slot machine allows a player to recognize once that an internal selection refused a prize group by displaying a combination of symbols on a winning line which is not a winning combination. Since the reel moves again to align a winning combination after the recognition, the player would have a good result contrary to his/her recognition. Compared to the machine in which a winning combination is instantly aligned on a winning line, this slot machine can provide more fun to a player when a winning combination is aligned. However, players who are well-experienced in games of slot machine have already watched such an entertaining performance many times, and would get tired of it. In addition, such players already know that in this slot machine also, it has been already determined whether a winning combination would align at last or not by an internal selection before an almost-winning state occurs. Thus, this slot machine still has a problem that even an almost-winning state does not provide a big expectation on an alignment of a winning combination to a player who is well-experienced in games of slot machines.

This problem occurs not only in the almost-winning state in which one more stop and display of a remained symbol on a winning line makes an aligned winning combination, but also in a state in which a part of a combination of symbols for a winning combination is on a winning line, as well.

The present invention was made in view of the above problems, and one object of the present invention is to provide a symbol matching gaming machine which increases expectation on an alignment of a winning combination of a player who is well-experienced in games of symbol matching gaming machine such as slot machines when a part of a combination of symbols for a winning combination is aligned on a winning line, and a program which enables a computer in the symbol matching gaming machine to function.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

In order to achieve the above object, the present invention provides a symbol matching gaming machine, comprising: display means including three or more interchangeably displaying sections which interchangeably display a plurality of types of symbols; first selecting means for selecting either an acceptance to select an almost-winning prize which corresponds to a combination of symbols having a different part of symbol from a winning combination for a predetermined prize group, or a refusal not to select the almost-winning prize; second selecting means for making a selection to determine if the winning combination is aligned on a winning line which runs across the three or more interchangeably displaying sections or not; and interchangeable display control means for controlling interchangeable displays of the three or more interchangeably displaying sections, wherein the interchangeable display control means controls so that a part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is identical to that in the winning combination is stopped on the winning line to be displayed when the first selecting means selects an acceptance, the second selecting means makes a selection by the second selecting means when the identical part of symbols is stopped on the winning line to be displayed, and the interchangeable display control means controls a specific interchangeably displaying section which corresponds to a part of symbol that is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is different from that in the winning combination based on a result of the selection made by the second selecting means.

In this symbol matching gaming machine, the first selecting means makes a selection on an almost-winning prize, and when an almost-winning prize is accepted, the interchangeable display control means controls so that a part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is identical to that in a winning combination is stopped on a winning line to be displayed. When the part of symbols is stopped on the winning line to be displayed, the second selecting means makes a selection. Based on to the result of the selection, the interchangeable display control means controls a specific interchangeably displaying section so that the winning combination is aligned on the winning line or the winning combination is not aligned on the winning line. In a symbol matching gaming machine of the present invention, when a part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to an almost-winning prize and is identical to that in a winning combination is stopped on a winning line to be displayed, that is, a part of symbols for a winning combination is aligned on a winning line, it has not been determined yet by the previous selection (the selection by first selecting means) whether a winning combination will align on a winning line at last or not. Whether a winning combination will align on a winning line at last or not will be determined by a selection made by second selecting means after a part of symbols for a winning combination is aligned on a winning line.

In the above described symbol matching gaming machine, the interchangeable display control means can control the specific interchangeably displaying section so that a refusal symbol which does not form the winning combination is stopped to be displayed on the winning line when the first selecting means accepts an almost-winning prize, and when a selection is made by the second selecting means, the interchangeable display control means can control the interchangeable display of the specific interchangeably displaying section to resume to move, and then controls the interchangeable display of the specific interchangeably displaying section to stop base on the result of selection made by the second selecting means.

In this symbol matching gaming machine, when an almost-winning prize is accepted, the interchangeable display of the specific interchangeably displaying section is also controlled to stop once. At this time, if a part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is identical to that in a winning combination is stopped on a winning line to be displayed, the interchangeable display of the specific interchangeably displaying section resumes to move, and is controlled to stop based on a result of the selection made by the second selecting means. Thus, a symbol combination which is stopped on the winning line to be displayed at last will be fixed after the stop-move-stop of the interchangeable display of the specific interchangeably displaying section.

A symbol matching gaming machine according to the present invention comprises: display means including three or more interchangeably displaying sections which interchangeably display a plurality of types of symbols; first selecting means for selecting either an acceptance to select an almost-winning prize which corresponds to a combination of symbols having a different part of symbol from a winning combination for a predetermined prize group, or a refusal not to select the almost-winning prize; second selecting means for making a selection to determine a number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed from when a specific interchangeably displaying section, which corresponds to the part of symbols that is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is different from that in the winning combination, is resumed to move until the specific interchangeably displaying section is stopped; and interchangeable display control means for controlling interchangeable displays of the three or more interchangeably displaying sections, and the interchangeable display control means can control so that the part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is identical to that in the winning combination is stopped on the winning line to be displayed when the first selecting means selects an acceptance, and after a symbol combination including the part of symbols identical to that of the winning combination is stopped on the winning line to be displayed, the interchangeable display control means causes interchangeable displays of a specific interchangeably displaying section to resume to move, and also causes the specific interchangeably displaying section to stop after only the interchangeable displays for the number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed, which is determined by the selection made by the second selecting means, are interchangeably displayed.

In this symbol matching gaming machine also, as in the above described symbol matching gaming machine, when an almost-winning prize is accepted, interchangeable display control means controls so that a part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is identical to that in a winning combination is stopped on a winning line to be displayed. At this time, as in the above described symbol matching gaming machine, interchangeable displays of the specific interchangeably displaying section are also caused to stop. If a part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is identical to that in the winning combination is stopped on a winning line to be displayed, the interchangeable displays of the specific interchangeably displaying section are caused to resume to move, and is controlled to stop based on a result of the selection made by the second selecting means. Here, in a symbol matching gaming machine of the present invention, a number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed from when interchangeable displays of a specific interchangeably displaying section is resumed to move until the specific interchangeably displaying section is stopped is determined by the selection made by the second selecting means. After the resuming, the specific interchangeably displaying section is moved only by the determined number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed. So, in the specific interchangeably displaying section, if a symbol (winning symbol) which will make a winning combination by its stop and display on the winning line is displaced downstream in the moving direction of the interchangeable display by the determined number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed from the symbol which once stopped on the winning line to be displayed, the winning combination is allowed to align on the winning line when the interchangeable display control means causes the once stopped interchangeable display to resume to move and to stop again. On the contrary, in the specific interchangeably displaying section, if the above winning symbol is not displaced downstream in the moving direction of the interchangeable display by the determined number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed from the symbol which once stopped on the winning line to be displayed, the winning combination is not allowed to align on the winning line when the interchangeable display control means causes the once stopped interchangeable display to resume to move and to stop again. Since the second selecting means determines only a number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed by a selection, whether a winning combination will align at last or not depends on the type of symbol of the specific interchangeably displaying section which once stopped on the winning line, the order to interchangeably display the symbols of the specific interchangeably displaying section, and the like.

In the above described symbol matching gaming machine, selections made by the second selecting means, and controls of the resuming and the stopping of the specific interchangeably displaying section by the interchangeable display control means may be repeatedly performed until a predetermined end condition is satisfied.

In this symbol matching gaming machine, after an acceptance of an almost-winning prize, if a part of a symbol combination for a winning combination is aligned on a winning line, the interchangeable display will be repeatedly made for an alignment of the winning combination based on the result of selection made by the second selecting means until a predetermined end condition is satisfied.

In the above described symbol matching gaming machine, reporting means is further provided for reporting a number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed which is determined by the selection made by the second selecting means to a player.

In this symbol matching gaming machine, a player can know a number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed which is determined by the selection made by the second selecting means.

Furthermore, the present invention provides a program for enabling a computer in the symbol matching gaming machine to function, the symbol matching gaming machine having display means which includes three or more interchangeably displaying sections for interchangeably displaying a plurality of types of symbols, the program enabling the computer to function as: first selecting means for selecting either an acceptance to select an almost-winning prize which corresponds to a combination of symbols having a different part of symbol from a winning combination for a predetermined prize group, or a refusal not to select the almost-winning prize; second selecting means for making a selection to determine if the winning combination is aligned on a winning line which runs across the three or more interchangeably displaying sections or not; and interchangeable display control means for controlling interchangeable displays of the three or more interchangeably displaying sections, wherein the interchangeable display control means controls so that a part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is identical to that in the winning combination is stopped on the winning line to be displayed when the first selecting means selects an acceptance, the second selecting means makes a selection by the second selecting means when the identical part of symbols is stopped on the winning line to be displayed, and the interchangeable display control means controls a specific interchangeably displaying section which corresponds to a part of symbol that is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is different from that in the winning combination, based on a result of the selection made by the second selecting means.

An implementation of this program on a computer in the symbol matching gaming machine provides a symbol matching gaming machine which operates similarly to the above described symbol matching gaming machine.

Moreover, the present invention provides a program for enabling a computer in the symbol matching gaming machine to function, the symbol matching gaming machine having display means which includes three or more interchangeably displaying sections for interchangeably displaying a plurality of types of symbols, the program enabling the computer to function as: first selecting means for selecting either an acceptance to select an almost-winning prize which corresponds to a combination of symbols having a different part of symbol from a winning combination for a predetermined prize group, or a refusal not to select the almost-winning prize; second selecting means for making a selection to determine a number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed from when a specific interchangeably displaying section, which corresponds to the part of symbols that is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is different from that in the winning combination, is resumed to move until the specific interchangeably displaying section is stopped; and interchangeable display control means for controlling interchangeable displays of the three or more interchangeably displaying sections, wherein the interchangeable display control means controls so that the part of symbols which is included in a symbol combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize and is identical to that in the winning combination is stopped on the winning line to be displayed when the first selecting means selects an acceptance, and after a symbol combination including the part of symbols identical to that of the winning combination is stopped on the winning line to be displayed, the interchangeable display control means causes the specific interchangeably displaying section to be resumed to move, and also causes the specific interchangeably displaying section to stop after only the number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed, which is determined by the selection made by the second selecting means, are interchangeably displayed.

An implementation of this program on a computer in the symbol matching gaming machine provides a symbol matching gaming machine which operates similarly to the above described symbol matching gaming machine.

These programs may be transmitted via a record medium such as FD, CD-ROM, and the like into which the program is recorded as digital information, or via a communication line such as computer network and the like. Installation of the program on a communication terminal and upgrade of the program are performed with a device for reading in data from the above record medium being connected to the communication terminal by an interface cable such as a wired interface or wireless interface for example. Alternatively, the installation and upgrade of the program may be performed on-line via a communication network.

According to the above described present invention, because it has not been determined yet whether a winning combination is aligned on a winning line at last or not when a part of a combination of symbols for the winning combination is aligned on the winning line, a significant effect which can increase expectation on an alignment of a winning combination of a player who is well-experienced in games of symbol matching gaming machine when a part of a combination of symbols for the winning combination is aligned on a winning line is obtained.

In particular, a significant effect to allow a player to visually recognize that a selection was made by the second selecting means is obtained by resuming to move the once stopped interchangeable displays of a specific interchangeably displaying section and stopping it again.

Because whether a winning combination is aligned at last or not is not determined only by the result of selection made by the second selecting means, a significant effect which can increase expectation on an alignment of a winning combination of a player who is well-experienced in games of symbol matching gaming machine when a part of a combination of symbols for the winning combination is aligned on a winning line is obtained.

In particular, a significant effect which allows a player to have many chances to align a winning combination in a prize group corresponding to an almost-winning prize is obtained.

In addition, because a player can know a number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed that is determined by a selection made by the second selecting means, a significant effect which can increase expectation on an alignment of a winning combination when a part of a combination of symbols for the winning combination is aligned on a winning line is obtained.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a flowchart showing a flow of an upgrade game which is presented by a slot machine of a first embodiment according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing an outer appearance of the slot machine;

FIG. 3 is a schematic structural view showing an inside of the slot machine;

FIG. 4 is a detail front view showing a part of a front panel of the slot machine;

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view showing reels of the slot machine;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view showing a backlight device of the slot machine, which is seen from a front side of the slot machine 1;

FIG. 7 is a block diagram showing a part of an electrical circuit of the slot machine;

FIGS. 8(a) and 8(b) are a perspective view showing an outer appearance of main parts of a dice device in the slot machine, and a development of a dice section of the dice device, respectively;

FIG. 9 is a flowchart showing a flow of a standard game presented by the slot machine;

FIG. 10 is a flowchart showing a flow of a free game during a free game period of the slot machine; and

FIG. 11 is a schematic structural view showing the progressive device which is connected to the slot machine.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

Now, an embodiment will be explained below in which the present invention is applied, as a symbol matching gaming machine, to a slot machine to be installed in a game arcade.

First Embodiment

The following terms as used herein have meanings as described below respectively, unless otherwise specified.

The term “prize group selection table” means a group of ranges of number values (distribution for selection) which are defined for each of prize groups.

The term “internal selection” means a determination of either acceptance or refusal which is made by using a sampled number value as a result of a random number selection and the prize group selection table.

The term “acceptance” for a prize group means that a chance to win is invoked depending on the prize group.

The term “refusal” for a prize group means a chance to win is not invoked.

The term “win(ning)” means a winning combination appears on a valid winning line.

The term “bet operation” means an operation to make a winning line valid by game award. The bet operation can be achieved by supplying a game award medium into a gaming machine (for example, by inserting a token into a token slot), supplying a credited game award medium by a machine operation (for example, by supplying a credited token by pressing a bet button), and supplying both of these.

First, a basic structure of a slot machine according to this embodiment will be explained.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing an outer appearance of a slot machine according to this embodiment. This slot machine 1 includes a case housing 2, a front panel 3 which is mounted to a front surface of the case housing 2 in an openable and closable way. The front panel 3 is provided with a display window 4 for displaying a part of interchangeable display unit which will be explained below, a token slot 5, a start button 6 which functions as a operation starting device, a dice displaying window 7, a credit exchange button 8, a speaker 9, a token receiving tray 10 which has a token payout port 10a, an entertaining performance panel 11, a game step displaying section 12, a count displaying section 14, a BET operating section 15, and the like.

FIG. 3 is a schematic structural view showing an inside of the slot machine 1. The housing 2 has three reels 16a, 16b, and 16c built therein, each of which functions as an interchangeably displaying section having an outer circumferential surface with a plurality of types of symbols printed thereon. In addition to the reels, a main control circuit board 17 on which electronic circuits are formed by various electronic components such as CPU and ROM, a token payout device 18 having a token hopper 18a which is able to receive a number of tokens, a setting key switch 19, an inner speaker 20 are also built in the housing 2. The setting key switch 19 is used to switch a setting for an acceptance probability at an internal selection to be high or low by changing a prize group selection table to be used during a standard game which will be explained below.

The three reels 16a, 16b, and 16c (hereinafter, referred to as a “left reel”, a “middle reel”, and a “right reel”, starting from the left) are individually configured to be driven to rotate by a reel driving motor (not shown) formed of a stepping motor. On each reel, a plurality of types of symbols such as “White 7”, “Blue 7”, “Green 7”, “Red 7”, “Cherry”, “Stepup”, “Special character”, and “Blank” are printed in a predetermined order. In this embodiment, the symbol “Blank” does not form any winning combination.

FIG. 4 is a detail front view showing a part of the front panel 3. In FIG. 4, about three symbols of each reel 16a, 16b, and 16c which is rotating at a predetermined position can be seen through the displaying window 4 by a player. The displaying window 4 has five winning lines IL drawn across the reels 16a, 16b, and 16c. When a predetermined set of symbols for a winning combination corresponding to a prize group is aligned on the winning lines IL (hereinafter, simply referred to as “a winning combination is aligned”), a game award is given to a player, which includes a payout of a token to the token receiving tray 10, and a transfer to a special game period for a special game. In this embodiment, there are provided five winning lines IL to the slot machine 1, but the less or more number of lines may be provided. Also, the winning lines IL do not have to be visible to a player as far as a CPU 17a for controlling the slot machine to stop can recognize, which will be explained below.

The game step displaying section 12 includes a first step lamp 12a, a second step lamp 12b, a third step lamp 12c, and a fourth step lamp 12d.

The character displaying section 13 is provided with a White character displaying section 13a, a Blue character displaying section 13b, a Green character displaying section 13c, and a Red character displaying section 13d, and on each section, a character associated with each symbol of the above described “White 7”, “Blue 7”, “Green 7”, and “Red 7” is presented. Each character displaying section is individually controlled to be turned on or off by a backlight (not shown).

The count displaying section 14 is provided with a credit indicator 14a, a bonus count indicator 14b, and a payout token number indicator 14c.

The BET operating section 15 includes two buttons: a One BET button 15a and a Max BET button.

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view showing the above described reels 16a, 16b, and 16c. Since these reels 16a, 16b, and 16c have an identical configuration, FIG. 5 only shows the left reel for convenience. In FIG. 5, a reel frame 101 is a rotating body which is configured with a transparent member formed of an ABS resin (crylonitrile butadiene styrene resin) and the like having five spokes and an annular ladder-like section, and has a shape like a running wheel which is a breeding tool for hamster or squirrel. The five spokes radially extend from a shaft which is connected to a reel driving motor 28, and one of the spokes has a detecting plate 103 which is configured to project out into the inside of the annular ladder-like section. A rotation of the reel driving motor 28 causes the reel frame 101 to be rotated. The reel frame 101 has a backlight device 102 fixed therein for emitting a light toward the front side of the slot machine 1. The reel frame 101 has an outer circumferential surface to which a reel strip 106 is wrapped around as a strip having symbols. The backlight device 102 is provided, at a back surface thereof, with a reel position sensor 25 formed of a transmission type photo sensor. The reel position sensor 25 detects the detecting plate 103 when the reel frame 101 is rotated by a predetermined angle. This detection allows the CPU which will be explained below to recognize the rotation position of the reel 16a, which in turn enables the CPU to determine the position of each symbol on the reel.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view showing the backlight device 102 which is seen from a front side of the slot machine 1. As shown, the backlight device 102 has an inside divided into three portions to which an illuminating section 102a, an illuminating section 102b, and an illuminating section 102c are provided respectively. Illumination of each illuminating sections 102a, 102b, and 102c makes the three symbols which can be seen through the display window 4 of FIG. 4 be individually exposed to a light on a backside thereof. This exposure makes each symbol be brightly lighted up to be seen by a player. Each of the illuminating section 102a, 102b, and 102c can illuminate with a color including at least white, blue, green, and red. The illuminating section may be a known LED device and the like.

FIG. 7 is a block diagram showing a part of an electrical circuit of the slot machine 1. As shown, the slot machine 1 includes a main control circuit board 17 and a sub-control circuit board 21. In this embodiment, the main control circuit board 17 and the sub-control circuit board 21 are provided, but only one control circuit board may be used to achieve both of the functions of the two circuit boards. In this case, only one CPU, only one ROM, only one RAM, and the like are required.

The main control circuit board 17 has a CPU 17a, a clock generating circuit 17b, a ROM 17c, a RAM 17d, a random number generating circuit 17e, a data transmission circuit 17f, a transmission timing control circuit 17g, an input port 17h, an output port 17i, and the like. The clock generating circuit 17b outputs a clock signal of a predetermined frequency to the CPU 17a. The ROM 17c stores data such as various control programs and selection tables which will be explained later, and outputs these to the CPU 17a. The RAM 17d temporarily stores variable data computed by the CPU 17a, and the like. The random number generating circuit 17e generates a random number at every predetermined period of time, and outputs the data to the CPU 17a.

To the CPU 17a of the main control circuit board, output signals from the One BET button 15a, the Max BET button 15b, the start button 6, the credit exchange button 8, the setting key switch 19, a token insertion sensor 22, a left reel position sensor 25, a middle reel position sensor 26, and a right reel position sensor 27 are input via the input port 17h. Output signals from a token payout sensor 23, a token full-up sensor 24, and a progressive device 40 which will be explained later are also input to the CPU 17a.

The CPU 17a outputs a control signal, via the output port 17i, to the left reel driving motor 28, the middle reel driving motor 29, the right reel driving motor 30, the progressive device 40, the token payout motor 18b of the token payout device 18, the token block solenoid 31, the first step lamp 12a, the second step lamp 12b, the third step lamp 12c, the fourth step lamp 12d, the backlight for the White character displaying section 13a, the backlight for the Blue character displaying section 13b, the backlight for the Green character displaying section 13c, the backlight for the Red character displaying section 13d, the credit indicator 14a, the bonus count indicator 14b, and the payout token number indicator 14c.

The sub-control circuit board 21 is mounted to a backside of the front panel 3, and includes a CPU 21a, a clock generating circuit 21b, a ROM for entertaining performance 21c, a RAM 21d, a sound ROM 21e, an sound LSI 21f, a display controlling circuit 21g, an amplifier circuit 21h, a data input circuit 21i, a control ROM 21j, a drive control circuit 21k. The clock generating circuit 21b outputs a clock signal of a predetermined frequency to the CPU 21a. The ROM for entertaining performance 21c stores display control programs for the entertaining performance panel 11 to present a performance for a character accepted by a character selection which will be explained below or display an accumulated number of token accumulated by a progressive device which will be explained below, and outputs the programs to the CPU 21a as needed. The entertaining performance panel 11 includes a dot matrix display in which a number of illuminators are arrayed, and display an image such as a static image or time-varying image of a predetermined figure or letters as the whole illuminators by making only predetermined illuminators illuminate according to a control signal from the display controlling circuit 21g. The RAM 21d temporarily stores variable data computed by the CPU 17a, and the like. The sound ROM 21e stores sound data including various sound information, and outputs the data to the sound LSI 21f as needed. The drive control circuit 21k controls the driving of a dice device 50, which functions as a report means, in response to a control command issued by the CPU 21a.

FIG. 8(a) is a perspective view showing an outer appearance of main parts of a dice device 50, and FIG. 8(b) is a development of a dice section 51. The dice device 50 has a cubical dice section 51. The dice section 51 has, as shown in FIG. 8(b), numbers from “2” to “6” and the letter “END” put on each side individually. The dice section 51 has a set of diagonal corners 51a and 51b to which a rotating shaft 52 is individually fixed at one end thereof. The rotating shafts 52 extend along an extension of a diagonal line between the set of diagonal corners 51a and 51b, and the other ends of the rotating shafts 52 are attached to a rotation shaft driving section (not shown) which is provided to an annular rotation shaft holding member 53. The rotation shaft driving section is fixed on the rotation shaft holding member 53, and causes each rotating shaft 52 to be rotated relative to the rotation shaft holding member 53 in forward and backward directions as shown by an arrow A of FIG. 8(a), by applying a driving force of a driving motor (not shown). The rotation shaft holding member 53 can be rotated about the center of its circular ring as an imaginary rotation axis in forward and backward directions as shown by an arrow B of FIG. 8(a), upon an application of a driving force of a holding member driving section (not shown).

The dice device 50 is provided behind the front panel 3 of the slot machine 1, and is disposed so that a side surface of the dice section 51 which is facing to the front side shown in FIG. 8(a) can be seen by a player through the dice displaying window 7. The rotation shaft driving section and the holding member driving section are driven and stopped by a control signal from the drive control circuit 21k of the sub-control circuit board 21. Based on this control signal, the rotating shaft 52 and the rotation shaft holding member 53 stop at predetermined rotation positions, individually. Thus, the control signal from the drive control circuit 21k can make any side surface of the dice section 51 stop to be seen by a player through the dice displaying window 7.

Next, a game flow of the slot machine 1 will be explained.

In order to play a game, first, a player has to insert a token into the token insertion slot 5 as a preparation. The inserted token by the player into the token insertion slot 5 passes through a path (not shown) to be dropped into a token hopper 18a (see FIG. 3). The path is provided with an opening through which a smaller tokens than regular tokens are dropped back to the token payout port 10a (see FIG. 2), the token block solenoid 31 for blocking a token from passing through the path to return the token to the token payout port 10a or allowing a token to pass through the path, the token insertion sensor 22 including a photo sensor and the like for detecting each token which has passed through the path. The token insertion sensor 22, after detecting each token, outputs a token detecting signal to the CPU 17a of the main control circuit board 17 described above. When an inserted token is dropped into the token hopper 18a and is authorized after the detection by the token insertion sensor 22, The CPU 17a outputs a control signal to cause the credit indicator 14a to increase a displayed value by 1, and increases the number of credit number data which is stored in the RAM 17d by 1. Usually, a plurality of tokens are inserted at once to deposit some credit tokens therein. When a player operates the BET operation section 15 for a bet(s), The CPU 17a controls so that the credit value in the credit number data which is stored in the RAM 17d is decreased by the number of bet and the displayed value in the credit indicator 14a is decreased by the number of bet. The CPU 17a also recognizes the winning lines IL which are valid depending on the number of bet. The player wins when a winning combination is aligned on the valid winning line IL, and if a winning combination is aligned on an invalid winning line IL, the player does not win.

FIG. 9 is a flowchart showing a flow of a standard game.

When a player presses the start button 6 (S1), the main control circuit board 17 function as start command accepting means by executing a start command accepting program which is stored in the ROM 17c of the CPU17a, and receives an interchangeable display start command from the start button 6 via the input port 17h. Upon a receipt of the interchangeable display start command, the CPU 17a causes all of the reels 16a, 16b, and 16c to be driven to rotate by reel driving motors 28, 29, and 30 (S2). Also, upon a receipt of the interchangeable display start command, the main control circuit board 17 functions as means for performing an internal selection, by making the CPU 17a execute a prize group selecting program stored in the ROM 17c, for selecting either an acceptance to select a prize group from a plurality of prize groups or a refusal not to select a prize group, and performs a internal selection (S3). The internal selection is performed by matching data of random numbers from the random number generating circuit 17e to a prize group selection table stored in the ROM 17c. The prize group selection table shows associations between each random number and any one of the prize groups or a refusal. According to the associations, an acceptance of any one of the prize groups occurs at a predetermined probability for each group, or a refusal occurs at a predetermined probability.

The rotating positions of the reels 16a, 16b, and 16c which have started to rotate are detected by the reel position sensor 25, 26, and 27, respectively. Then the CPU 17a computes each rotational speed of the reels 16a, 16b, and 16c based on output signals from each reel position sensor 25, 26, and 27. After the rotational speed of the reels 16a, 16b, and 16c becomes consistent, the CPU 17a recognizes the position for each symbol on each reel 16a, 16b, and 16c based on output signals from each reel position sensor 25, 26, and 27. The CPU 17a executes a stop controlling program stored in the ROM 17c to control the reels 16a, 16b, and 16c to stop so that a predetermined combination of symbols will be displayed on a winning line based on a result of the selection made by the internal selection described above (S4). Specifically, when a prize group was accepted by the internal selection, a combination of symbols for the winning combination which corresponds to the accepted prize group is controlled to stop on a winning line IL to be displayed. On the contrary, when any prize group was not selected by the internal selection and was refused, a combination of symbols which does not correspond to any prize group is controlled to stop on a winning line IL to be displayed.

In a standard game, a prize group selection table which corresponds to the standard game is used for an internal selection. The prize groups which can be accepted by the internal selection for a standard game include token payout prizes such as: Cherry Prize corresponding to a Cherry winning combination of “Cherry-ANY (of whatever symbol)-ANY (of whatever symbol)”; ANY 7 Prize corresponding to an ANY 7 winning combination having a plurality colors of 7 of “ANY 7 (of whatever color of ‘7’)-ANY 7 (of whatever color of ‘7’)-ANY 7 (of whatever color of ‘7’)”; White 7 Prize corresponding to a White 7 winning combination of “White 7-White 7-White 7”; Blue 7 Prize corresponding to a Blue 7 winning combination of “Blue 7-Blue 7-Blue 7”; Green 7 Prize corresponding to a Green 7 winning combination of “Green 7-Green 7-Green 7”; and Red 7 Prize corresponding to a Red 7 winning combination of “Red 7-Red 7-Red 7”. After any one of the token payout prizes is accepted by the internal selection and a winning combination corresponding to the token payout prize is aligned on a winning line IL (S5, S6), the CPU 17a causes the a payout token number indicator 14c of the count displaying section 14 to display a payout number of tokens which corresponds to the accepted prize. Then the CPU 17a performs a token payout process to payout tokens of the number which corresponds to the accepted prize (S7). Specifically, the CPU 17a increases the number of credit number data which is stored in the RAM 17d by the number of payout tokens, and controls to cause the credit indicator 14a to increase a token credit value by the number of payout tokens. The above prize group examples are listed in increasing order of the numbers of payout tokens.

In this embodiment, the prize groups which can be accepted by the internal selection for a standard game include Stepup Prize corresponding to a Stepup winning combination of “Stepup-Stepup-Stepup”. When the Stepup Prize is accepted (S8), no token is paid out, but the player is allowed to play a next game under the same token inserted condition. Also when the Stepup Prize is accepted, the CPU 17a performs a step count process for increasing a step count data which is stored in the RAM 17d by 1 (S9). The Stepup winning combination may be aligned on two valid winning lines IL in one game. In this case, the CPU 17a increases the step count data stored in the RAM 17d by 2. The CPU 17a controls the turning on of the first to fourth step lamps 12a, 12b, 12c, and 12d depending on a count value of the step count data. Specifically, only the first step lamp 12a is turned on for a count value “1”, only the first step lamp 12a and the second step lamp 12b are turned on for a count value “2”, only the first to third step lamps 12a, 12b, and 12c are turned on for a count value “3”, and all of the first to fourth step lamps 12a, 12b, 12c, and 12d are turned on for a count value “4” or “5”. This control of turning on/off allows the player to understand a in which stage the game step is currently executed.

In the slot machine 1 of the present invention, when the count value of the step count data stored in the RAM 17d turns to be “4” (S10), the player is allowed to be transferred from the standard game to a special game, that is, a free game (S11).

FIG. 10 is a flowchart showing a flow of a free game during a free game period.

After being transferred to the free game, a player obtains a free game period to play a free game ten times in total, and when the free game period is over, the player returns to the standard game. When the count value of the step count data turns to be “4”, the CPU 17a outputs a control signal to set the remained game number data stored in the RAM 17d to be “10” and to set the displayed count value in the bonus count indicator 14b to be “10” (S21). In the free game, a selection which is similar to the internal selection in the standard game is performed (hereinafter, referred to as a “almost-winning selection”). However, in this almost-winning selection, an almost-winning selection table is used which is different from the prize group selection table used in the internal selection. In this embodiment, a plurality of almost-winning selection tables are prepared. Specifically, a plurality of almost-winning selection tables are prepared to set each prize to have a probability of acceptance as shown in Table 1 below. The “White 7 Almost-winning Prize” corresponds to a combination of symbols which includes two “White 7”s. In this embodiment, the middle reel 16b has a symbol of “Special character”, and the “White 7Almost-winning Prize” corresponds to a White 7 almost-winning combination of “White 7-Special character-White 7”. However, the “White 7 Almost-winning Prize” may correspond to a White 7 almost-winning combination of “White 7-ANY (any symbol except ‘7’)-White 7”, without providing the “Special character”. A “Blue 7 Almost-winning Prize”, a “Green 7 Almost-winning Prize” and a “Red 7 Almost-winning Prize” correspond to combinations individually as in the case of the “White 7 Almost-winning Prize”.

TABLE 1
Number ofWhite 7Blue 7Green 7Red 7
Almost-winningAlmost-winningAlmost-winningAlmost-winningAlmost-winning
Selection TablePrizePrizePrizePrize
1High probability
to be accepted
2High probability
to be accepted
3High probability
to be accepted
4High probability
to be accepted
5High probabilityHigh probability
to be acceptedto be accepted
6High probabilityHigh probability
to be acceptedto be accepted
7High probabilityHigh probability
to be acceptedto be accepted
8High probabilityHigh probability
to be acceptedto be accepted
9High probabilityHigh probability
to be acceptedto be accepted
10High probabilityHigh probability
to be acceptedto be accepted
11High probabilityHigh probabilityHigh probability
to be acceptedto be acceptedto be accepted
12High probabilityHigh probabilityHigh probability
to be acceptedto be acceptedto be accepted
13High probabilityHigh probabilityHigh probability
to be acceptedto be acceptedto be accepted
14High probabilityHigh probabilityHigh probability
to be acceptedto be acceptedto be accepte
15High probabilityHigh probabilityHigh probabilityHigh probability
to be acceptedto be acceptedto be acceptedto be accepted

In the slot machine 1 of the present invention, after the player is transferred to a free game, the CPU 17a executes a character selecting program stored in the ROM 17c as shown in FIG. 10, to perform a character selection process for selecting one character from the above described “White character”, “Blue character”, “Green character”, and “Red character” (S22). This selection is again performed by matching data of random numbers from the random number generating circuit 17e to a prize group selection table stored in the ROM 17c as in the case of the above described internal selection. In a character selection table of this embodiment, the “White character”, the “Blue character”, the “Green character”, and the “Red character” are set to have a probability of acceptance in the order of lowest to highest.

After the character selection, the CPU 17a controls the turning on of the character displaying section 13 corresponding to the accepted character. For example, when the “White character” is accepted by a character selection, the White character displaying section 13a of the character displaying section 13 is controlled to be turned on.

After the character selection, the CPU 17a also outputs data for the accepted character which presents the accepted character from the data transmission circuit 17f. The data for the accepted character is input to the data input circuit 21i on the sub-control circuit board 21 to be received at the CPU 21a. Upon the receipt, the CPU 21a reads out an entertaining performance program from the ROM for entertaining performance 21c, and executes the program to allow an image of the accepted character to be presented on the entertaining performance panel 11, via the display controlling circuit 21g.

Now, a character selection will be explained below by way of an example where the “White character” is accepted. The other character selections for characters other than the “White character” are performed in the same way.

Upon an acceptance of the “White character”, the CPU 17a functions as first selecting means by executing an almost-winning selecting program stored in the ROM 17c, and first reads out a first almost-winning selection table shown in the above Table 1 from the ROM 17c. When a player presses the start button 6 (S23), as in the standard game, all of the reels 16a, 16b, and 16c are driven to rotate by reel driving motors 28, 29, and 30 (S24), and at the same time, an almost-winning selection is performed for selecting either an acceptance to select one of the White 7 Almost-winning Prize, the Blue 7 Almost-winning Prize, the Green 7 Almost-winning Prize, and the Red 7 Almost-winning Prize or a refusal not to select any almost-winning prize (S25). The almost-winning selection is performed by matching data of random numbers from the random number generating circuit 17e to the first almost-winning selection table.

In the first almost-winning selection table, as shown in Table 1, the “White 7 Almost-winning Prize” is set to have a high probability of acceptance, so that the “White 7Almost-winning Prize” is likely to be accepted in the above almost-winning selection. The CPU 17a functions as interchangeable display control means by executing a stop controlling program stored in the ROM 17c to control the reels 16a, 16b, and 16c to stop so that a predetermined combination of symbols will be displayed on a winning line based on a result of the selection made by the almost-winning selection described above (S26). Specifically, when an almost-winning prize was accepted by the almost-winning selection, a combination of symbols for the almost-winning combination which corresponds to the accepted almost-winning prize is controlled to be stopped on a winning line IL to be displayed. On the contrary, when any almost-winning prize was not selected by the almost-winning selection and was refused, a combination of symbols which does not correspond to any almost-winning prize is controlled to be stopped on a winning line IL to be displayed.

After any one of the almost-winning prizes is accepted by the almost-winning selection and a winning combination corresponding to the almost-winning prize is aligned on a winning line IL, the player wins the almost-winning prize for the almost-winning combination (S27). In this case, the player is allowed to be transferred from the free game to an upgrade game which is another special game (S28). On the contrary, when the almost-winning prize for the almost-winning combination is refused and the player cannot win the almost-winning prize, the CPU 17a controls to decrease the number in the remained game number data stored in the RAM 17d by “1”, and to decrease the displayed count value in the bonus count indicator 14b by “1” (S29). Until the displayed count value in the bonus count indicator 14b turns to be “0”, the player can continue the free game (S30).

Next, an upgrade game which is a feature of the present invention will be explained below.

FIG. 1 is a flowchart showing a flow of an upgrade game. The explanation below is on the assumption that the “White character” is accepted by the almost-winning selection in the free game, and a White 7 almost-winning combination is aligned on a winning line IL so that a player wins the White 7 Almost-winning Prize. Other upgrade games for characters other than the “White character” are performed generally in the same way.

First, the CPU 17a executes an upgrade game controlling program stored in the ROM 17c. This allows an upgrade game to be performed in the slot machine 1 of the present invention. In the upgrade game, the CPU 17a functions as second selecting means by executing a dice selecting program stored in the ROM 17c, and performs a dice selection step (S41). The dice selection step is performed by matching data of random numbers from the random number generating circuit 17e to a dice selection table. The dice selection table shows associations between a symbol on each side surface of the dice section 51 of the dice device 50 shown in FIG. 8(b) and each random number. In this embodiment, each symbol is set to have a probability of ⅙. The dice selection table includes number symbols from “2” to “6” which correspond to the number of the symbols to advance the middle reel 16b forward (a number of symbols to be interchangeably displayed), and a letter symbol “END” to end the upgrade game.

When a selection result of the dice selection is obtained, the driving of the dice device 50 is controlled (S42). Specifically, the CPU 17a on the main control circuit board 17 causes the data transmission circuit 17f to output the selection result data which shows the result of the selection. The result of the selection is input to the data input circuit 21i on the sub-control circuit board 21 to be received by the CPU 21a. Upon the receipt, the CPU 21a reads out a drive control program from control ROM 211 and executes the program, thereby first, outputs a control signal to the dice device 50 via the display controlling circuit 21k for driving the dice section 51. This causes the dice section 51 to rotate, which provides an entertaining performance as if the selection is being performed by using a real dice to a player. After a predetermined period of time, based on the received selection result data, the CPU 21a outputs a control signal to the dice device 50 via the drive control circuit 21k which makes a dice cast according to the election result data stop at a position where the player can see the dice cast through the dice displaying window 7. Thus, the player can see the result of the dice selection through the dice displaying window 7.

In the dice selection, when the symbol “END” is accepted (S43), the CPU 17a ends the upgrade game control program, and resumes the free game. On the contrary, when the number symbols from “2” to “6” are accepted, the CPU 17a executes a stop control program stored in ROM 17c. Then the CPU 17a resumes the driving of the middle reel 16b, and makes the middle reel 16b stop when the symbols on the middle reel 16b are displaced forward by the number of symbols according to the selection result of the dice selection (S44). At this time, the middle reel 16b may be controlled to be driven so that a symbol, after being displaced by the number of symbols according to the selection result of the dice selection, will be stopped on a winning line to be displayed instantly after the resuming of driving of the middle reel 16b, but the middle reel 16b may be controlled to be driven so that each symbol on the middle reel 16b temporarily is stopped on the winning line one by one, and eventually a symbol, after being displaced as described above, will be stopped on the winning line to be displayed.

At this time before the dice election is performed, the symbol combination “White 7-Special character-White 7” has been stopped on the winning line to be displayed. Therefore, if the “White 7” is stopped on the winning line of the middle reel 16b, a White 7 winning combination is aligned to get a White 7 Prize (S45). If one of the “Blue 7”, the “Green 7”, or the “Red 7” is stopped to be displayed on the winning line of the middle reel 16b, an ANY 7 winning combination is aligned to provide a winning of an ANY 7 Prize to a player (S45). That is, after a number symbol is accepted by the dice election, if a symbol of the middle reel 16b, which is stopped on the winning line after a displacement of the accepted number of symbols, is “White 7”, the player wins the White 7 Prize; while if the symbol of the middle reel 16b on the winning line is one of the “Blue 7”, the “Green 7”, and the “Red 7”, the player wins the ANY 7 Prize. When a player wins a prize in this way, as in the case of the standard game, the CPU 17a performs a token payout process for paying out the number of tokens corresponding to the prize (S46).

In this embodiment, the upgrade game is repeatedly played until the middle reel 16b rotates more than one time. That is, the upgrade game is repeatedly played until a symbol of Special character of the middle reel 16b on the winning line at the starting time of the upgrade game will pass the winning line one more time (S47). This means that the upgrade game is repeatedly played until one of the conditions is satisfied: a predetermined ending condition in which the symbol “END” is accepted; and another predetermined ending condition in which the symbol of Special character passes the winning line after the upgrade game started. However, in this embodiment, when the middle reel 16b rotates just one time after the start of an upgrade game, that is, the symbol of Special character is just stopped on the winning line again to be displayed, the upgrade game can be replayed from the first one more time (S48).

When the predetermined condition is satisfied so that the upgrade game ends and the player returns to the free game, the remained game number data for the free game has been maintained as it was before the player was transferred to the upgrade game. Upon the returning from the upgrade game, the CPU 17a controls to decrease the remained game number data stored in the RAM 17d by “1”, and also to decrease the displayed count value in the bonus count indicator 14b by “1” (S31). When the remained game number data turns to be “0”, the player finished the free game and goes back to the standard game, while as far as the remained game number data is not “0”, the player continues to play the free game (S32). Therefore, a player has a chance up to ten times to play an upgrade game, after the transfer from a standard game to a free game.

When a player goes back from the upgrade game to a free game, as shown in FIG. 10, a character selection is performed one more time (S22). In this character selection, a character is selected out of the characters except the one (“White character” in this embodiment) which has been accepted in the previous character selection during the same free game period. If the “Blue character” is accepted in this character selection, the CPU 17a executes an almost-winning selecting program stored in the ROM 17c, and reads out the fifth almost-winning selection table shown in Table 1 from the ROM 17c. The almost-winning selection is performed by using the fifth almost-winning selection table. Similarly, if the “Green character” or “Red character” is accepted instead of the “Blue character”, an almost-winning selection is performed by using the sixth almost-winning selection table or the seventh almost-winning selection table, respectively. That is, an almost-winning selection table, in which all of the almost-winning prizes corresponding to all characters that have been accepted in previous character selections during the same free game period have a high acceptance probability, is used. Thus, when four or more character selections are performed during one free game period, an almost-winning selection is performed by using the fifteenth almost-winning selection table in which all of the almost-winning prizes corresponding to all characters have a high acceptance probability.

In this embodiment, when both of the White character and a character of other color are accepted, the “White 7” corresponding to the White character is treated as a “7” of the color corresponding to the accepted character of the other color. For example, when the White character and the Blue character are accepted, the “White 7” corresponding to the White character is treated as a “Blue 7”. So, when an aligned Blue 7 almost-winning combination is transferred to an upgrade game with the White character and the Blue character being accepted, a aligned combination of symbols of “Blue 7-White 7-Blue 7” on a winning line in the upgrade game is treated as a Blue 7 winning combination instead of an ANY 7 winning combination, so that a payout process is performed for paying out the number of tokens corresponding to the Blue 7 Prize. Similarly, when a aligned White 7 almost-winning combination is transferred to an upgrade game with the White character and the Blue character being accepted, a aligned combination of symbols of “White 7-Blue 7-White 7” on a winning line in the upgrade game is treated as a Blue 7 winning combination instead of an ANY 7 winning combination, so that a payout process is performed for paying out the number of tokens corresponding to the Blue 7 Prize.

When an aligned White 7 almost-winning combination is transferred to an upgrade game with one or more characters being accepted except the White character, upon an alignment of the White 7 winning combination, the total number of tokens corresponding to prizes of the colors corresponding to all of the accepted characters, instead of the White 7 Prize, will be paid out. For example, when an aligned White 7 almost-winning combination is transferred to an upgrade game with the Blue character and the Green character being accepted, upon an alignment of the White 7 winning combination, the total number of tokens corresponding to the Blue 7 Prize and the Green 7 Prize, instead of the White 7 Prize, will be paid out.

When a plurality of characters are accepted, the illuminating sections 102a, 102b, and 102c of the backlight device 102 provides an entertaining performance by alternately illuminating the colors of each accepted character.

In this embodiment, when an aligned White 7 almost-winning combination is transferred to an upgrade game with all of the characters being accepted, upon an alignment of a White 7 winning combination in the upgrade game, a number of tokens which is accumulated by the progressive device 40 will be paid out. Now, the progressive device 40 will be explained below.

FIG. 11 is a schematic structural view showing the progressive device 40 of this embodiment. The progressive device 40 includes a CPU 41, a clock generating circuit 42, a ROM 43, a RAM 44, a data transmitting and receiving circuit 45. The ROM 43 stores various control programs, and outputs the programs to the CPU 41. The RAM 44 stores the data for accumulated number of tokens. The progressive device 40 is connected to the input port 17g and output port 17i of the main control circuit board 17 in the slot machine 1 via the data transmitting and receiving circuit 45. This configuration allows the CPU 41 of the progressive device 40 to communicate various data with the CPU 17a of the main control circuit board 17 in the slot machine.

Upon an insertion of a token by a player, the slot machine 1 outputs a token insertion signal from the output port 17i of the main control circuit board 17. When the progressive device 40 receives the token insertion signal via the data transmitting and receiving circuit 45, the progressive device 40 causes the CPU 41 to perform an accumulating process for accumulating a part of the received token insertion signal to the data for accumulated number of tokens in the RAM 44. This allows a part of the number of the tokens inserted by the player to be accumulated to the data for accumulated number of tokens. In this embodiment, an initial value of the data for accumulated number of tokens is set to 500 for example, and a part of the number of the tokens inserted by the player is going to be accumulated to this initial value. The progressive device 40 of the present invention is connected to two slot machines 1 as shown in FIG. 11. Thus, the data for accumulated number of tokens in the RAM 44 will be the total number of a part of the tokens inserted by players into the two slot machines individually. Since this configuration increases the number of the inserted tokens which concerns with the data for accumulated numbers of tokens, compared to the case in which the progressive device 40 is connected to only one slot machine, the data for accumulated numbers of tokens may be expanded. Of course, three or more slot machines or only one slot machine may be connected.

The CPU 41 in the progressive device 40 regularly outputs the data for accumulated numbers of tokens in the RAM 44 via the data transmitting and receiving circuit 45. The slot machine 1 receives the data for accumulated numbers of tokens at the input port 17h. When the data for accumulated numbers of tokens is received by the CPU 17a on the main control circuit board 17, the data for accumulated numbers of tokens is output via the data transmission circuit 17f to be received by the CPU 21a on the sub-control circuit board 21 via the data input circuit 21i. Upon the receipt, the CPU 21a reads out an entertaining performance program from the ROM for entertaining performance 21c and executes the program to cause the entertaining performance panel 11 to display an accumulated number of tokens according to the data for accumulated numbers of tokens. This allows a player to recognize the current data for accumulated numbers of tokens which has been accumulated by the progressive device 40.

In the slot machine 1, after an aligned White 7 almost-winning combination is transferred to an upgrade game with all characters being accepted, upon an alignment of a White 7 winning combination in the upgrade game, the CPU 17a of the main control circuit board 17 executes a predetermined entertaining performance on the entertaining performance panel 11 via the sub-control circuit board 21. Also, the CPU 17a outputs a request signal for requesting data for accumulated numbers of tokens to the progressive device 40 via the input port 17h, and receives a correspondence of data for accumulated numbers of tokens from the progressive device 40 via the output port 17i. Then the CPU 17a executes a token payout process for the accumulated number of tokens according to the received data for accumulated numbers of tokens. This allows a player to get a payout of a large number of tokens. When the progressive device 40 receives the request signal from the slot machine 1, the CPU 41 transmits the data for accumulated numbers of tokens stored in the RAM 44 to the slot machine 1 in response to the request, and then resets the data for accumulated numbers of tokens to an initial value. According to this embodiment, when an almost-winning prize is accepted by an almost-winning selection which is performed during a free game period of the slot machine 1, among symbol combinations corresponding to almost-winning prizes, a symbol which matches with a winning combination (one of White 7, Blue 7, Green 7, or Red 7) is controlled to stop to be displayed on the left reel 16a and the right reel 16c individually. After the symbols stop on the winning line to be displayed, that is, an almost-winning combination is aligned, a dice selection is performed, so that the middle reel 16b is controlled to align a winning combination or not to align a winning combination on the winning line based on the result of the dice selection. In this configuration, an alignment of a winning combination on a winning line in a free game eventually depends on the dice selection after an almost-winning combination is aligned. Therefore, even if a player is well-experienced in games of slot machine, the player can have increased expectation on an alignment of a winning combination when he/she is almost winning.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

In this embodiment, a slot machine which is installed in game arcade has been explained, but the present invention can be applied to a pachislot machine which is installed in pachinko parlor, as well.