Title:
GAMING MACHINE VARYING AN AWARD BASED ON THE NUMBER OF GAMES PLAYED
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gaming machine is provided, which includes a memory, a counter and a controller. The memory stores data of award tables each having a level of award correlated with a number of played games. The counter stores the number of played games. The controller is configured with logic to: (a) start a game; (b) cause the counter to increase the stored number of played games each time a game is executed; and (c) search the data of award tables for an award table having a level of award that corresponds to the number of played games, and pay a player in accordance with an award extracted from the searched award table.



Inventors:
Sakuma, Hiro (Tokyo, JP)
Application Number:
11/971064
Publication Date:
07/31/2008
Filing Date:
01/08/2008
Assignee:
Aruze Corp. (Tokyo, JP)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24; A63F5/04
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LIDDLE, JAY TRENT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ARENT FOX LLP (1717 K Street, NW, WASHINGTON, DC, 20006-5344, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A gaming machine, comprising: a memory for storing data of award tables each having a level of award correlated with a number of played games; a counter for storing the number of played games; and a controller configured with logic to: (a) start a game; (b) cause the counter to increase the stored number of played games each time a game is executed; and (c) search the data of award tables for an award table having a level of award that corresponds to the number of played games, and pay a player in accordance with an award extracted from the searched award table.

2. A gaming machine, comprising: a memory for storing data of award tables each having a level of award correlated with a number of played games; a counter for storing the number of played games; and a controller configured with logic to: (a) start a game; (b) cause the counter to increase the stored number of played games each time a game is executed; (c) when a result of the game satisfies a predetermined condition, cause the counter to reset the stored number of played games to a certain number; and (d) search the data of award tables for an award table having a level of award that corresponds to the number of played games, and pay a player in accordance with an award extracted from the searched award table.

3. A gaming machine, comprising: a display device for displaying an image related to a game; a memory for storing data of award tables each having a level of award correlated with a number of played games and symbol data corresponding to a plurality of types of symbols; a counter for storing the number of played games; and a controller configured with logic to: (a) start a game; (b) cause the counter to increase the stored number of played games each time a game is executed; (c) randomly determine symbol data to be displayed on the display device among the symbol data stored in the memory; (d) cause the display device to display symbols corresponding to the determined symbol data; and (e) search the data of award tables for an award table having a level of award that corresponds to the number of played games, and pay a player in accordance with an award corresponding to the symbols displayed on the display device.

4. A gaming machine, comprising: a display device for displaying an image related to a game; a memory for storing data of award tables each having a level of award correlated with a number of played games and symbol data corresponding to a plurality of types of symbols; a counter for storing the number of played games; and a controller configured with logic to: (a) start a game; (b) cause the counter to increase the stored number of played games each time a game is executed; (c) randomly determine symbol data to be displayed on the display device among the symbol data stored in the memory; (d) cause the display device to display symbols corresponding to the determined symbol data; (e) when a combination of the symbols displayed on the display device matches a specific combination, cause the counter to reset the stored number of played games to a certain number; and (f) search the data of award tables for an award table having a level of award that corresponds to the number of played games, and pay a player in accordance with an award corresponding to the symbols displayed on the display device.

Description:

This application is based on and claims the benefit of priority from Japanese Patent Application No. 2007-002712, filed on 10 Jan. 2007, the content of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a gaming machine which varies an award based on the number of games played.

2. Related Art

Conventionally, regarding a slot machine, which is a type of gaming machine, a game is generally started by inserting a game medium such as coins into the gaming machine. Then, the slot machine displays an image of a symbol line which is rotated in a predetermined area of the gaming machine. After a predetermined amount of time elapses, the slot machine displays an image of the symbol line which is stopped. Finally, the slot machine provides an award to a player based on the combination of the stationary symbols. Whether the combination which provides an award has been formed or not is generally determined based on whether or not a predetermined number of the same type of symbols (for example, “Cherry”, “7”, etc.) is arranged along a predetermined active pay line. In addition, U.S. Unexamined Patent Application, First Publication No. 2003/0069073 discloses a technique to randomly decide to provide a special award called a jackpot at a single slot machine when the amount of money that a player spends at the slot machine reaches a predetermined value. The technique can offer probabilities to provide more award than the jackpot to a player as well as awards which the player can get at his/her own slot machine, thereby enhancing players' motivation to games.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Since an award which a player can obtain from a jackpot is the cumulative amount of credits bet by a plurality of players or a single player, it can improve further entertainment properties based on a probability for the player to receive a jackpot. However, recently this technique has become ordinary, thereby making the player lose interest.

The object of the present invention is to provide a gaming machine which can further improve entertainment properties.

In an aspect of the present invention, a gaming machine is provided, which includes a memory, a counter and a controller. The memory stores data of award tables each having a level of award correlated with a number of played games. The counter stores the number of played games. The controller is configured with logic to: (a) start a game; (b) cause the counter to increase the stored number of played games each time a game is executed; and (c) search the data of award tables for an award table having a level of award that corresponds to the number of played games, and pay a player in accordance with an award extracted from the searched award table.

The gaming machine described above allows the player to have a chance to obtain a higher award in proportion as the player accumulates the number of played games.

Since the player may expect to gradually recover credits lost in the games while increasing the number of games, the gaming machine can provide more fun to the player.

In another aspect of the present invention, a gaming machine is provided, which includes a memory, a counter and a controller. The memory stores data of award tables each having a level of award correlated with a number of played games. The counter stores the number of played games. The controller is configured with logic to: (a) start a game; (b) cause the counter to increase the stored number of played games each time a game is executed; (c) when a result of the game satisfies a predetermined condition, cause the counter to reset the stored number of played games to a certain number; and (d) search the data of award tables for an award table having a level of award that corresponds to the number of played games, and pay a player in accordance with an award extracted from the searched award table.

The gaming machine described above allows the player to have a chance to obtain a higher award in proportion as the player accumulates the number of played games. However, the gaming machine, which resets the number of played games for the predetermined condition, the player has a risk to decrease the award. In this way, the gaming machine allows the player to feel more excited in playing the game.

In still another aspect of the present invention, a gaming machine is provided, which includes a display device, a memory, a counter and a controller. The display device displays an image related to a game. The memory stores data of award tables each having a level of award correlated with a number of played games and symbol data corresponding to a plurality of types of symbols. The counter stores the number of played games. The controller is configured with logic to: (a) start a game; (b) cause the counter to increase the stored number of played games each time a game is executed; (c) randomly determine symbol data to be displayed on the display device among the symbol data stored in the memory; (d) cause the display device to display symbols corresponding to the determined symbol data; and (e) search the data of award tables for an award table having a level of award that corresponds to the number of played games, and pay a player in accordance with an award corresponding to the symbols displayed on the display device.

The gaming machine described above allows the player to have a chance to obtain a higher award in accordance with the symbols displayed on the display device in proportion as the player accumulates the number of played games. Since the player may expect to gradually recover credits lost in the games while increasing the number of games, the gaming machine can provide more fun to the player.

In yet another aspect of the present invention, a gaming machine is provided, which includes a display device, a memory, a counter and a controller. The display device displays an image related to a game. The memory stores data of award tables each having a level of award correlated with a number of played games and symbol data corresponding to a plurality of types of symbols. The counter stores the number of played games. The controller is configured with logic to: (a) start a game; (b) cause the counter to increase the stored number of played games each time a game is executed; (c) randomly determine symbol data to be displayed on the display device among the symbol data stored in the memory; (d) cause the display device to display symbols corresponding to the determined symbol data; (e) when a combination of the symbols displayed on the display device matches a specific combination, cause the counter to reset the stored number of played games to a certain number; and (f) search the data of award tables for an award table having a level of award that corresponds to the number of played games, and pay a player in accordance with an award corresponding to the symbols displayed on the display device.

The gaming machine described above allows the player to have a chance to obtain a higher award in accordance with the symbols displayed on the display device in proportion as the player accumulates the number of played games. However, the gaming machine, which resets the number of played games for the predetermined condition, the player has a risk to decrease the award. In this way, the gaming machine allows the player to feel more excited in playing the game.

Accordingly, the more a player plays the game, the more the size of awards that the player can receive increases. Consequently, it can gradually increase the probability that the total game cash flow becomes positive. Thus, the player can enjoy the game with further entertainment properties.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a flowchart showing the flow of a game which is executed in a slot machine according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an external perspective view showing the slot machine according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged front view showing an enlarged view of a display region of the slot machine according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram showing a controller of the slot machine according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing a display/input controller of the slot machine according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a diagram showing a symbol line represented on each video reel according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a diagram showing a symbol arrangement table according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a flowchart showing a flow for processing a basic game executed by the slot machine according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a flowchart showing a flow for processing for counting the number of the played games executed by the slot machine according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a flowchart showing a flow for payout processing executed by the slot machine according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a diagram showing a random number table for a basic game used in a basic game according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a diagram showing a payout table for a basic game (award table level 1) according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 13 is a diagram showing a payout table for a basic game (award table level 2) according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 14 is a diagram showing a payout table for a basic game (award table level 3) according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a diagram showing a table for award table level used in a basic game executed by the slot machine according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 16 and 17 are examples of display images according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 18 is an example of a display image according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The embodiments of the present invention are hereinafter described in detail with reference to the attached drawings.

The slot machine 13 according to the present invention is provided with award table data with a plurality of levels associated with the number of games played, and RAM 110 storing the number of games played. The CPU 106 starts the game and increments by a predetermined number the number of games played stored in the RAM 110 every time the game is performed. When the CPU 106 provides an award, the CPU 106 refers to the award table data for which level corresponds to the number of games played, so as to provide the award corresponding to a predetermined dividend number.

Specifically, as shown in FIG. 1, the CPU 106 starts the game (Step S100), and increments by a predetermined number the number of games played stored in the RAM 110 every time the game is performed (Step S200). When the CPU 106 provides an award, the CPU 106 refers to the award table data for which level corresponds to the number of games played, so as to provide the award corresponding to predetermined dividend number (Step S300).

FIG.2 is a perspective diagram illustrating the slot machine 13 according to the embodiment of the present invention. The slot machine 13 includes a cabinet 20 and a main door 42. The cabinet 20 has a structure in which the face facing the player is open. The cabinet 20 includes various kinds of components. Such components include: a controller 100 (see FIG. 4) for electrically controlling the slot machine 13; a hopper 44 for controlling insertion, retaining, and paying out of coins (game medium) (see FIG. 4), etc. The game medium is not restricted to coins. Furthermore, examples of such game media include medals, tokens, electronic money or electronic value information (credit) having the same value.

The main door 42 is a member that serves as a cover of the cabinet 20, which protects the internal components stored in the cabinet 20 from being exposed to the outside. The main door 42 includes the liquid crystal display 30 at approximately the center thereof.

The liquid crystal display 30 is provided for displaying various kinds of images with respect to the game such as images for providing visual effects. Such an arrangement allows the player to advance the game while visually confirming various kinds of images displayed on the liquid crystal display 30. The liquid crystal display 30 includes a transparent liquid crystal panel 34. The transparent liquid crystal panel 34 has a function of switching a part of or the entire area of the liquid crystal panel 34 between a transparent mode and an opaque mode, and a function of displaying various kinds of images.

In a configuration in which the slot machine 13 includes video reels, five virtual reels are displayed on the liquid crystal display 30. Note that the term “video reel” as used here represents a mechanism for displaying a reel on the liquid crystal display 30 in the form of an image. Multiple kinds of symbols necessary for the basic game include “BONUS”, “WILD”, “TREASURE BOX”, “GOLDEN MASK”, “HOLY CUP”, “COMPASS & MAP”, “SNAKE”, “A”, “K”, “Q”, “J”, and “10”. With such an arrangement, the liquid crystal display 30 displays these symbols with an image as if the reel were rotating.

The slot machine 13 includes an approximately horizontal operation unit 21 below the liquid crystal display 30. Furthermore, a coin insertion opening 22 is provided on the right side of the operation unit 21, which allows the player to insert coins. On the other hand, the components provided to the left side of the operation unit 21 include: a bet switch 23 which allows the player to determine which lines are to be set to active pay lines among nine lines L1, L2, L3, L4, L5, L6, L7, L8, and L9, for providing an award described later (which will simply be referred to as “active pay lines” hereafter), and which allows the player to select the number of coins as game media which are to be bet on the active pay lines; a spin repeat bet switch 24 which allows the player to play the game again without changing the number of coins bet on the active pay lines from that in the immediately prior game. Such an arrangement allows the player to set the number of coins bet on the active pay lines by performing a pressing operation on either the bet switch 23 or the spin repeat bet switch 24.

With the operation unit 21, a start switch 25 is provided on the left side of the bet switch 23, which allows the player to input a start operation instruction for the basic game in increments of games. Upon performing a pressing operation on either the start switch 25 or the spin repeat bet switch 24, which serves as a trigger to start the game, the five mechanical reels 3A to 3E start to rotate.

On the other hand, a cash out switch 26 is provided near the coin insertion opening 22. Upon the player pressing the cash out switch 26, the inserted coins are paid out from a coin payout opening 27 provided at a lower portion of the front face of the main door 42. The coins thus paid out are retained in a coin tray 28. Furthermore, the coin payout opening 27 is provided on the upper side of the coin tray 28, with sound transmission openings 29 provided to both the left and right of the coin payout opening 27. Here, the sound transmission openings 29 are provided for transmitting sound effects generated by a speaker 41 (see FIG. 4) stored within the cabinet 20.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged view illustrating the display region of the slot machine 13. The liquid crystal display 30 of the slot machine 13 includes a front panel 31 and the transparent liquid crystal panel 34 provided to the rear face of the front panel 31. The front panel 31 comprises a transparent display screen 31a and a design formation area 31b where designs have been formed. Such an arrangement allows the player to visually confirm the image information displayed on the transparent liquid crystal panel 34 provided to the rear face of the front panel 31 through the display screen 31a of the front face 31. On the other hand, let us consider an arrangement in which the slot machine 13 comprises video reels. With such an arrangement, the transparent liquid crystal panel 34 in an opaque state may display the reels in the form of an image. Furthermore, an ordinary liquid crystal panel may be employed instead of the transparent liquid crystal panel 34.

Furthermore, various kinds of display units, i.e., a payout display unit 48, a credit amount display unit 49, and a bet amount display unit 50, are provided on the left side of the rear face the liquid crystal display 30. Note that the design formation area 31b of the front panel 31 is formed having a transparent portion that covers the top faces of these display units 48 through 50, thereby allowing the player to visually confirm the contents displayed on the display units 48 through 50.

The slot machine 13 has the nine lines L1 through L9 for providing awards as shown in FIG. 3. Each of the lines L1 through L9 for providing awards is formed such that it extends so as to pass through one of the symbols for each of the mechanical reels 3A to 3E when the five video reels have stopped.

Upon pressing the bet switch 23 once, the line L3 for providing a third award, the line L5 for providing a fifth award, and the line L7 for providing a seventh award, are set to be active pay lines, and one coin is input as a credit medal, for example.

Furthermore, upon pressing the bet switch 23 twice, the line L1 for providing a first award, the line L4 for providing a fourth award, and the line L8 for providing an eighth award, are set to be active pay lines, in addition to the three lines, and two coins are input as credit medals, for example.

Furthermore, upon pressing the bet switch 23 three times, the line L2 for providing a second award, the line L6 for providing a sixth award, and the line L9 for providing a ninth award, are set to be active pay lines, in addition to the six lines, and three coins are input as credit medals, for example.

The payout display unit 48 is a component for displaying the amount of the coins paid out when a combination of the symbols has been established along any one of the active lines for providing an award. The credit amount display unit 49 is a component for displaying the amount of the coins retained in the slot machine 13 in the form of a credit. The bet amount display unit 50 is a component for displaying the bet amount which is the number of coins bet on the active pay lines. Each of the display units 48 through 50 comprises a segment display device. Alternatively, each of the display units 48 through 50 may be displayed on the transparent liquid crystal panel 34 in the form of an image.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating an electric constitution of the controller 100 of the slot machine 13 having video reels. As shown in FIG. 4, the controller 100 of the slot machine 13 is a micro computer, and includes an interface circuit group 102, an input/output bus 104, the CPU 106, ROM 108, RAM 110, a communication interface circuit 111, a random number generator 112, a speaker driving circuit 122, a hopper driving circuit 124, a display unit driving circuit 128, and a display/input controller 140.

The interface circuit group 102 is electrically connected with the input/output bus 104, which carries out input and output of data signals and address signals for the CPU 106.

The start switch 25 is electrically connected with the interface circuit group 102. In the interface circuit group 102, a start signal generated by the start switch 25 is transformed into a predetermined form of signal to be supplied to the input/output bus 104.

Furthermore, the bet switch 23, the spin repeat bet switch 24, and the cash out switch 26 are connected to the interface circuit group 102. In the interface circuit group 102, a switching signal generated by each of these switches 23, 24 and 25 is transformed into a predetermined form of signal to be supplied to the input/output bus 104.

A coin sensor 43 is also electrically connected with the interface circuit group 102. The coin sensor 43 detects coins inserted into the coin insertion slot 22, and is disposed at an appropriate position relative to the coin insertion slot 22. In the interface circuit group 102, a sensing signal generated by the coin sensor 43 is transformed into a predetermined form of signal to be supplied to the input/output bus 104.

The ROM 108 and the RAM 110 are connected to the input/output bus 104.

Upon reception of the basic game start operation instruction input through the start switch 25, which serves as a trigger, the CPU 106 reads a basic game program, and executes the basic game. The basic game program has been programmed so as to instruct the CPU 106 to perform the following operation. That is to say, according to the basic game program, the CPU 106 displays an image of the five video reels commencing to scroll the symbols on the five video reels on the liquid crystal display 30 via the display/input controller 140. Then, the CPU 106 displays an image of the five video reels stopping such that the combination of the symbols on these five video reels is rearranged, whereupon a new combination of the symbols is made along the active pay lines. In a case that a specified combination of the stationary symbols for providing an award has been made along any one of the active pay lines, the CPU 106 pays out a predetermined amount of coins corresponding to the specified combination for providing the award.

The ROM 108 stores: a control program for central control of the slot machine 13; a program for executing a routine shown in FIG. 8 to FIG. 10 (which is referred to as the “routine execution program” hereafter); initial data for executing the control program; and various data tables used for determination processing. Note that the routine execution program includes the basic game program etc. The RAM 110 temporarily stores flags, variables, etc., used for the control program.

Furthermore, a communication interface circuit 111 is connected to the input/output bus 104. The communication interface circuit 111 is a circuit for communicating with a server, etc., via various kinds of communication networks including a public telephone line network, LAN, etc.

Furthermore, the random number generator 112 for generating a random number is connected to the input/output bus 104. The random number generator 112 generates a random number in a predetermined range, e.g., in a range of 0 and 65535 (the sixteenth power of two minus one). Alternatively, an arrangement may be made in which the CPU 106 generates a random number by computation.

Furthermore, the display unit driving circuit 128 for driving each of the display units 48 through 50 is connected to the input/output bus 104. The CPU 106 controls the operation of each of the display units 48 through 50 via the display unit driving circuit 128 according to occurrence of a predetermined event.

The speaker drive circuit 122 for the speakers 41 is also electrically connected with the input/output bus 104. The CPU 106 reads the sound data stored in the ROM 108, and transmits the sound data thus read to the speaker driving circuit 122 via the input/output bus 104. In this way, the speakers 41 generate predetermined sound effects.

The hopper drive circuit 124 for driving the hopper 44 is also electrically connected with the input/output bus 104. Upon reception of a cash out signal input from the cash out switch 26, the CPU 106 transmits a driving signal to the hopper driving circuit 124 via the input/output bus 104. Accordingly, the hopper 44 pays out coins such that the number of them is equivalent to the current number of coins remaining as credit, which is stored in a predetermined memory area of RAM 110.

Furthermore, the display/input controller 140 is connected to the input/output controller 140. The CPU 106 creates an image display command corresponding to the state and results of the game, and outputs the image display command thus created to the display/input controller 140 via the input/output bus 104. Upon reception of the image display command input from the CPU 106, the display/input controller 140 creates a driving signal for driving the liquid crystal display 30 according to the image display command thus input, and outputs the driving signal thus created to the liquid crystal display 30. As a result, a predetermined image is displayed on the transparent liquid crystal panel 34 of the liquid crystal display 30. The display/input controller 140 transmits the signal input through the touch panel 32 provided on the liquid crystal display 30 to the CPU 106 via the input/output bus 104 in the form of an input signal.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating the electric constitution of display/input controller 140 of the slot machine 13. The display/input controller 140 of the slot machine 13 is a sub-microcomputer for performing image display processing and input control for the touch panel 32. The display/input controller 140 comprises an interface circuit 142, an input/output bus 144, the CPU 146, ROM 148, RAM 150, a VDP 152, video RAM 154, image data ROM 156, a driving circuit 158, and a touch panel control circuit 160.

The interface circuit 142 is connected to the input/output bus 144. The image display command output from the CPU 106 of the controller 100 is supplied to the input/output bus 144 via the interface circuit 142. The input/output bus 144 performs input/output of data signals or address signals to/from the CPU 146.

Furthermore, the ROM 148 and the RAM 150 are connected to the input/output bus 144. The ROM 148 stores a display control program for generating a driving signal, which is to be supplied to the liquid crystal display 30, according to an image display command received from the CPU 106 of the controller 100. On the other hand, the RAM 150 stores flags and variables used in the display control program.

Furthermore, the VDP 152 is connected to the input/output bus 144. The VDP 152 includes a so-called sprite circuit, a screen circuit, a palette circuit, etc, and can perform various kinds of processing for displaying images on the liquid crystal display 30. With such an arrangement, the components connected to the VDP 152 include: the video RAM 154 for storing image data according to the image display command received from the CPU 106 of the controller 100; and the image data ROM 156 for storing various kinds of image data including the image data for visual effects etc. Furthermore, the driving circuit 158 for outputting a driving signal for driving the liquid crystal display 30 is connected to the VDP 152.

The CPU 146 instructs the video RAM 154 to store the image data which is to be displayed on the liquid crystal display 30 according to the image display command received from the CPU 106 of the controller 100 by reading out the display control program stored in the ROM 148 and by executing the program thus read. Examples of the image display commands include various kinds of image display commands including the image display commands for visual effects etc.

The image data ROM 156 stores various kinds of image data including the image data for visual effects etc.

The touch panel control circuit 160 transmits the signals input via the touch panel 32 provided on the liquid crystal display 30 to the CPU 106 via the input/output bus 144 in the form of an input signal.

FIG. 6 shows symbol lines on which 21 symbols arranged on each video reel 3A to 3E are represented. The symbol line for the first video reel corresponds to the video reel 3A. The symbol line for the second video reel corresponds to the video reel 3B. The symbol line for the third video reel corresponds to the video reel 3C. The symbol line for the fourth video reel corresponds to the video reel 3D. The symbol line for the fifth video reel corresponds to the video reel 3E.

Referring to FIG. 6, a code number of “00” to “20” is assigned to for each symbol of video reels 3A to 3E. The code number is converted to be data in a data table so as to be stored in the ROM 108 (FIG. 4).

On each video reel 3A to 3E, a symbol line is represented with symbols as follows: Bonus symbol (symbol 61) (hereafter, “Bonus”), Wild symbol (symbol 62) (hereafter, “Wild”), Treasure Chest symbol (symbol 63) (hereafter, “Treasure Chest”), Golden Mask symbol (symbol 64) (hereafter, “Golden Mask”), Holy Cup symbol (symbol 65) (hereafter, “Holy Cup”), Compass and Map symbol (symbol 66) (hereafter, “Compasses and Map”), Snake symbol (symbol 67) (hereafter, “Snake”), Ace symbol (symbol 68) (hereafter, “Ace”), King symbol (symbol 69) (hereafter, “King”), Queen symbol (symbol 70) (hereafter, “Queen”), Jack symbol (symbol 71) (hereafter, “Jack”), and 10 symbol (symbol 72) (hereafter, “10”). The symbol line of each video reel 3A to 3E displays an image moving to the direction of the arrow in FIG. 8 (moving below from the top) by displaying an image that the each video reel 3A to 3E is being moved in forward direction.

Here in the present embodiment, each combination of “Bonus”, “Wild”, “Snake”, “Treasure Chest”, “Golden Mask”, “Holy Cup”, “Compass and Map”, “Ace”, “King”, “Queen”, “Jack” and “10” is set as an award combination. A combination (combination data) is control information which relates credits awarded to a player (the amount of payout of coins) to a combination of an award combination, and which is used for stop control of each video reel 3A through 3E, change (shift) of a game state, awarding of coins, and the like.

FIG. 7 shows a symbol arrangement table. The symbol arrangement table relates the code number indicating the position of each symbol which constitutes the symbol lines to each symbol of the respective video reels 3A to 3E, and then, registers thereof. In addition, the first video reel through the fifth video reel corresponds to the video reels 3A to 3E, respectively. In other words, the symbol arrangement table includes symbol information corresponding to the symbol position (the code number) of video reels 3A to 3E.

FIG. 8 is a flow chart illustrating a flow of the processing operation in the game machine 13 executed by the controller 100 of the game machine 13. The processing operation is called from a main program for the slot machine 13 at a predetermined timing, and then executed.

A description is provided below regarding a case in which the slot machine 13 has been activated beforehand. Furthermore, let us say that the variables used by the CPU 106 included in the controller 100 have been initialized to predetermined values, thereby operating the slot machine 13 in a normal state.

First, the CPU 106 included in the controller 100 determines whether or not any coins inserted by the player (Step S1) are remaining. More specifically, the CPU 106 reads an amount of credits C stored in RAM 110 and executes processes according to the amount of credits C thus read. When the amount of credits C equals “0” (NO in Step S1), the CPU 106 terminates the routine without executing any process, because it cannot start a game. When the amount of credits C is not less than “1” (YES in Step S1), the CPU 106 determines that coins remain as credit, moving the process to Step S2.

In Step S2, the CPU 106 determines whether or not a pressing action has been applied to the spin bet repeat switch 24. In a case that the spin repeat bet switch 24 has been pressed, and accordingly, in a case that the operation signal has been input from the spin repeat bet switch 24 (in a case of “YES” in the determination processing in Step S2), the flow proceeds to Step S14 according to the instruction from the CPU 106. On the other hand, when the CPU 106 does not receive a signal from the switch 24 after a predetermined amount of time is elapsed (NO in Step S2), the CPU 106 determines that the switch 24 has not been pressed and moves the process to Step S3.

In Step S3, the CPU 106 determines a game condition. Specifically, the CPU 106 determines the amount of coins bet on the active pay lines in this game. The CPU 106 receives the operation signals generated by the player operating the bet switch 23. Then, the CPU 106 determines the bet amount to be bet on the active pay lines based upon the number of times the signals that indicate operation of the bet switch 23 have been received, and stores the bet amount thus determined in a predetermined memory area of the RAM 110. The CPU 106 reads the amount of credits C stored in a predetermined memory area of the RAM 110, and subtracts the total bet amount, which is the sum of the bet amounts, from the amount of credits C thus read. Then, the CPU 106 stores the subtracted value in a predetermined memory area of the RAM 110. Subsequently, the CPU 106 moves the process to Step S4.

In the following Step S4, the CPU 106 determines whether or not the start switch 25 is ON, i.e., waits for the start switch 35 to be operated. When the CPU 106 receives a signal indicative of pressing action for the start switch 25 (YES in Step S4), the CPU 106 determines that the start switch 25 has been turned on, moving the process to Step S5.

On the other hand, in a case that the flow has proceeded to Step S14, the CPU 106 determines whether or not the amount of credits C is equal to or greater than the total bet amount bet on the previous game. In other words, the CPU 106 determines whether or not it can start a game in response to a pressing action applied to the spin repeat bet switch 24. Specifically, in a case that the spin repeat bet switch 24 has been pressed, and accordingly, in a case that the operation signal has been input from the switch 24, the CPU 106 read the amount of credits C and the bet amount bet on each of the active pay lines L1 to L9 in the previous game stored in the predetermined memory areas of the RAM 110. Then, the CPU 106 determines whether or not the amount of credits C is equal to or greater than the total bet amount bet in the previous game based upon the relation between the amount of credits C and the bet amount thus read. In a case that determination has been made that the amount of credits C is less than the total bet amount bet on the previous game (in a case of “NO” in the determination processing in Step S14), the CPU 106 cannot start the game, and accordingly, the CPU 106 ends this routine without performing any processing. On the other hand, in a case where determination has been made that the amount of credits C is at least the total bet amount bet in the previous game (in a case of YES in the determination processing in Step S14), the CPU 106 subtracts the total bet amount bet in the previous game from the amount of credits C, and stores the subtracted value in a predetermined area of the RAM 110. Subsequently, the CPU 106 moves the process to Step S5.

Upon moving to Step S5, the CPU 106 performs processing for counting the number of the played games, and then, moves the processing to Step S6.

In Step S6, the CPU 106 performs processing for determining a combination of symbols. A specific description is provided below regarding the combination determination processing.

In the combination determination processing, first, the CPU 106 determines the combinations of the stationary symbols along the active pay lines. Specifically, the CPU 106 issues a command for the random number generator 112 to generate a random number, thereby extracting a random number in a predetermined range (in a range of “0” to “65535” in the present embodiment) generated by the random number generator 112. The CPU 106 stores the random number thus extracted in a predetermined memory area of the RAM 110. In this embodiment, the random number generator 112 displaced outside the CPU 106 generates random numbers. However, the present invention is not restricted to this setup. It may be alternatively possible that the CPU 106 generates random numbers without the random number generator 112. The CPU 106 reads a random number table for a basic game (see FIG. 11), and a payout table for a basic game (see FIGS. 12 to 14), each of which is stored in the ROM 108. Then, the CPU 106 stores the random number table for a basic game and the payout table for a basic game thus read in a predetermined memory area of the RAM 110. It should be noted that the CPU 106 controls display of the stationary symbols for each reel based upon the random number table for a basic game. Furthermore, the CPU 106 reads the random number table for a basic game and the payout table for a basic game stored in the predetermined area of the RAM 110. Then, the CPU 106 determines the combination of the stationary symbols with respect to the active pay lines with reference to the random number table for a basic game, using the random number stored in the predetermined memory region of the RAM 110 as a parameter. Upon determination of specified combinations for providing an award, the CPU 106 stores the specified combination data for providing an award thus determined in a predetermined memory area of the RAM 110. Then, the CPU 106 reads the random number and the specified combination data for providing an award stored in the predetermined memory area of the RAM 110, and determines the combination of the stationary symbols to be displayed based upon the random number and the specified combination data for providing an award thus read. In this stage, a symbol arrangement table (see FIG. 7) stored in the ROM 108 is read by the CPU 106. The symbol arrangement table thus read is stored in a predetermined memory area of the RAM 110, and used as reference data. The CPU 106 stores the data for the stationary symbols thus determined in a predetermined memory area of the RAM 110. Alternatively, an arrangement may be made in which the stationary symbols are determined for each reel using the random number table for a basic game.

Upon determination of the combination of the stationary symbols with respect to the active pay lines, the CPU 106 determines whether or not the combination of the stationary symbols with respect to the active pay lines matches any one of the specified combinations for providing an award. In a case that the stationary combination of the symbols with respect to the active pay lines matches any one of the specified combinations for providing an award, the CPU 106 activates a flag, which indicates that the player has won the award that corresponds to the kind of specified combination for providing an award, in order to provide the award that accords with the specified combination of symbols with respect to the active pay lines for providing the award. The activated flag, which indicates the player has won an award, is stored in a predetermined area of the RAM 110 according to the instruction from the CPU 106. On the other hand, in a case that the combination of the stationary symbols with respect to the active pay lines matches any one of the other combinations, i.e., the losing combinations, the CPU 106 does not activate the flag which indicates that the player has won an award. Subsequently, CPU 106 moves the process to step S7.

Here, a random number table for a basic game shown in FIG. 11 is explained. In the random number table for a basic game, a range of random numbers and the probability of winning are registered in association with each of the specified winning combinations. In processing for determining a symbol combination, for example, in a case where a random number lying in a range of “0” to “299” is extracted from a range of numbers between “0” to “65535”, the internal component of the slot machine 13 determines to generate a bonus combination as the final results of the basic game. In other words, the probability is “300/65536” that the combination of the stationary symbols matches any one of the bonus combinations. On the other hand, in a case where a random number lying in a range of “10000” to “65535” is extracted from a range of numbers “0” to “65535”, the internal component of the slot machine 13 determines to generate other combinations, i.e. losing combinations, as the final results of the basic game. In other words, the probability is “55536/65536” that the combination of the stationary symbols matches any one of the losing combinations.

FIG. 12 shows a payout table for a basic game (Award table level 1). In the payout table for a basic game (Award table level 1), the coin amount to be paid out is registered in association with each specified combination for providing an award for each credit amount bet on one game. Therefore, let us consider a stage in which a determination is made whether the combination thus generated matches any one of the specified combinations for providing an award. In this stage, let us consider a case in which the combination thus generated matches the combination “Wild”. In this case, in a case where the credit amount bet is “1”, 50 coins are paid out. In a case where the credit amount bet is “2”, 100 coins are paid out. In a case where the credit amount bet is “3”, 150 coins are paid out. The same applies to FIGS. 13 and 14.

In addition, the number of credits to be paid out in the payout table for a basic game (award table level 2) shown in FIG. 13 is more than that in the payout table for a basic game (award table level 1) shown in FIG. 12.

Similarly, the number of credits to be paid out in the payout table for a basic game (award table level 3) shown in FIG. 14 is more than that in the payout table for a basic game (award table level 2) shown in FIG. 13.

Referring to FIG. 8 again, in Step S7, the CPU 106 displays an image of the video reels 3A through 3E starting to rotate. Specifically, the CPU 106 displays an image which shows rotating the video reels 3A to 3E, in sequence or simultaneously, based upon the symbol arrangement table stored in the RAM 110.

Upon displaying the image which shows the video reels 3A to 3E starting to rotate, the CPU 106 waits for a predetermined period of time to elapse (Step S8). After the predetermined period of time has elapsed (in a case of YES in the determination processing in Step S8), the CPU 106 instructs the video reels 3A to 3E to automatically stop rotating (Step S9). Specifically, the CPU 106 displays an image which shows the video reels 3A to 3E stopping rotation in sequentially or simultaneously such that the stationary symbols, which correspond to the specified combinations for providing an award determined in the Step S6, are displayed within a display region that has a visually interactive relationship with the player. Subsequently, CPU 106 moves the process to step S10.

In the following Step S10, the CPU 106 determines whether a predetermined symbol combination has been formed based upon the results of the combination determination processing performed in Step S6. Specifically, the CPU 106 makes this determination based upon the state of the flag that indicates whether or not the player has won an award with respect to the active pay lines stored in the predetermined memory area of the RAM 110. In a case where the flag, which indicates that the player has won an award, has not been activated, i.e. in a case where the symbol combination matches a combination of “Others”, which is a combination other than the specified combinations for providing an award (in a case of NO in the determination processing in Step S10), the CPU 106 determines that the specified combination for providing an award has not been formed, and ends this routine. On the other hand, in a case where the flag, which indicates that the player has won an award, has been activated, i.e. in a case where the symbol combination matches any one of the combinations other than the combination of “Others” (in a case of YES in the determination processing in Step S10), the flow proceeds to Step 11 according to the instruction from the CPU 106.

In the following Step S11, the CPU 106 determines whether the symbol combination thus formed based upon the combination determination processing performed in Step S6 is a bonus combination. Specifically, the CPU 106 makes this determination based upon the state of the flag that indicates whether or not the player has won an award with respect to the active pay lines stored in the predetermined memory area of the RAM 110. In a case where the flag, which indicates that the player has won an award, has been activated, and the specified combination for providing an award is a “bonus” combination, the flow proceeds to Step 12 according to the instruction from the CPU 106. If not, the flow proceeds to Step 13.

In the following Step S12, the CPU 106 performs bonus game processing. Upon finishing the processing in Step S12, the CPU 106 terminates the routine.

In step S13, the CPU 106 performs a payout processing. Upon finishing the processing in Step S13, the CPU 106 terminates the routine.

A description is provided regarding processing for counting the number of games played with reference to FIG. 9.

In Step S21, the CPU 106 performs processing for reading the number of games played, and the flow proceeds to Step S22. More specifically, the CPU 106 reads a value of a counter which counts the number of games played from a predetermined memory area in the RAM 110.

In Step S22, the CPU 106 increments by 1 the number of games played. Specifically, the CPU 106 increments by 1 the number of sub games played, and stores it in a predetermined memory area in the RAM 110. Upon finishing the processing in Step S22, the CPU 106 terminates the routine.

A description is provided regarding the payout processing with reference to FIG. 10.

In Step S31, the CPU 106 determines whether a predetermined combination of symbols is displayed or not. In a case where the CPU 106 determines that the predetermined combination of symbols is displayed, the CPU 106 moves the processing to Step S32. In the case where the CPU 106 determines that the predetermined combination of symbols is not displayed, the CPU 106 returns the processing to Step S33. Specifically, the CPU 106 determines that a predetermined combination of symbols is displayed when, for example, at least Holy Grail symbols are displayed.

In Step S32, the CPU 106 resets the number of sub games played to zero, and moves the processing to Step S33. Specifically, the CPU 106 renders the value of the counter, which counts the number of the played games stored in a predetermined memory area in the RAM 110, to be zero.

In Step S33, the CPU 106 performs payout processing according to the number of games played and a symbol combination. Specifically, the CPU 106 refers to a table for an award table level described later in FIG. 15, so as to determine the award table for which the level corresponds to the number of games played. Then, the CPU 106 refers to the determined award table to pay out credits.

Here, the table for an award table level shown in FIG. 15 is explained. The table for an award table level is referred to when the CPU 106 performs processing payout corresponding to the number of games played and a symbol combination. For example, in a case where the number of games played is 105, the corresponding level of an award table is “level 2”. Therefore, the CPU 106 refers to the payout table for the basic game shown in FIG. 13 (award level 2) and performs processing payout corresponding to a symbol combination.

FIG. 16 illustrates an example of the rendered image. In FIG. 16, an award table level is displayed on a display area 81 and the number of games played is displayed on the display area 82 during execution of a game. The CPU 106 displays the image on the liquid crystal display 30 via the display/input controller 140.

FIG. 17 illustrates an example of the rendered image. According to FIG. 17, in Step S32 in FIG. 10, since the number of games played is reset to zero, an image in which the award table level displayed on the displayed area 81 turns to be level 1 is displayed, and an image in which the number of the played games displayed on the displayed area 82 is reset to be zero is displayed. The CPU 106 displays the image on the liquid crystal display 30 via the display/input controller 140.

FIG. 18 is a diagram showing an example of the rendered image. In FIG. 18, an image in which the payout number corresponding to the number of games played is displayed on a display screen 31a is displayed for each symbol combination. The image is displayed during execution of a game at a predetermined timing. In the displayed example, the payout number in a case where 3 credits are bet is displayed based on the payout tables for a basic game (FIGS. 12 to 14) stored in the ROM 108. In addition, the payout number is highlighted based on the current number of games played. The CPU 106 displays the image on the display screen 31a of the liquid crystal display 30 via the display/input controller 140.

In addition, in the present embodiment, although the payout number is varied according to the level of the award table in regards to all of the plurality of symbols, the present invention is not limited thereto, and the payout number may be varied for a specified symbol.

In addition, in the present embodiment, although the payout number is varied according to the level of the award table in regards to all the plurality of symbols for which the level of the award table is the lowest at a predetermined condition, the present invention is not limited thereto, and the payout number may be varied for a specified symbol.

In addition, although in the present embodiment, an example applied to a video reel slot machine is explained regarding the present invention, the present embodiment is not limited thereto, and for example, the present invention may be applied to a mechanical slot machine.

Furthermore, although in the present embodiment, an example using a slot machine (a so-called casino machine) in which a reel is automatically stopped after being rotated without using a stop button is explained regarding the present invention, the present embodiment is not limited thereto, and for example, the present invention may be applied to a slot machine (a so-called Pachinko-slot machine) in which reels are stopped in the order by which a player stops the reels by hand using the stop button.

While the embodiments according to the present invention have been described as mentioned above, it is understood that many changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.