Title:
Gaming machine and gaming system therefor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There is provided a gaming machine or a gaming system which may provide a player with anticipation to shift to a special game mode and an incentive to play a game repeatedly. By way of example, there is provided a gaming machine 1A in which a variable display game can be played. In the game, a shift from a base game mode to a special game mode is conducted under a first shift condition and under a second shift condition that is based on game-related information having been stored in a game article 90 which is used with the gaming machine 1A. Here, it is more likely to shift to the special game mode under the second shift condition than the first shift condition.



Inventors:
Okada, Kazuo (Tokyo, JP)
Application Number:
11/297663
Publication Date:
06/15/2006
Filing Date:
12/09/2005
Assignee:
ARUZE CORP.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
HYLINSKI, STEVEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ARENT FOX LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A gaming machine in which a game including a base game mode and a special game mode is played and payout is conducted based on one or more symbols displayed, the gaming machine comprising: an image display device for displaying the one or more symbols variably; and a reading device for reading game-related information including identification information for identifying a game article and play history information from the game article storing the game-related information, wherein the reading device attempts to read the identification information from the game article so as to determine whether or not the identification information is readable; wherein it is determined that the base game mode is to be shifted to the special game mode under a first shift condition upon determining that the identification information is not readable; wherein the determination of the shift is made under a second condition that provides higher probability to be shifted to the special game mode than the first shift condition upon determining that the identification information is readable and that another condition is satisfied.

2. The gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein the other condition is whether a symbol stopped and displayed in the base mode matches a predetermined symbol having been determined based on the identification information.

3. The gaming machine according to claim 1, comprising: a payout device for paying out; and a game media insertion device into which game media are inserted, wherein the other condition is whether a payout rate obtained from a number of the game media consumed and a number of the game media paid out during a series of games having been played is lower than a predetermined payout rate having been determined based on the identification information.

4. A gaming system comprising: the gaming machine recited in claim 1; and a gaming server to be connected to the gaming machine, wherein the gaming sever receives the identification information from the gaming machine, determines the other condition based on the identification information, and sends data of the other condition to the gaming machine.

5. A gaming system comprising: the gaming machine recited in claim 2; and a gaming server to be connected to the gaming machine, wherein the gaming sever receives the identification information from the gaming machine, determines the other condition based on the identification information, and sends data of the other condition to the gaming machine.

6. A gaming system comprising: the gaming machine recited in claim 3; and a gaming server to be connected to the gaming machine, wherein the gaming sever receives the identification information from the gaming machine, determines the other condition based on the identification information, and sends data of the other condition to the gaming machine.

7. A gaming system comprising: the gaming machine recited in claim 2; and a gaming server to be connected to the gaming machine, wherein the gaming server receives the identification information from the gaming machine, selects the predetermined symbol based on the identification information, and sends information to specify the predetermined symbol to the gaming machine.

8. A gaming system comprising: the gaming machine recited in claim 3; and a gaming server to be connected to the gaming machine, wherein the gaming server receives the identification information from the gaming machine, selects the predetermined payout rate based on the identification information, and sends information to specify the predetermined symbol to the gaming machine.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based upon and claims the benefits of priorities from Japanese Patent Application Nos. 2004-358750 and 2004-358780 filed on Dec. 10, 2004, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference. This application is also related to a co-pending U.S. patent application entitled “Gaming Machine And Gaming System” and filed on even date herewith and being assigned to the same assignee as the present application. The co-pending application including specification, drawings and claims are expressly incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a gaming machine and gaming system provided with a variable display device which displays a plurality of variably displayed symbols and an image display device which displays variable display images of the plurality of symbols. The present invention also relates to a gaming machine and gaming system in which a game may be started with use of medium information such as magnetic information and credits stored in a game medium (card and IC chip), or game media such as medals and coins.

RELATED ART

There has been conventionally available a gaming machine (being also referred to as “slot machine”) in which a plurality of symbols are variably displayed in a plurality of arrays or variable display images of the plurality of symbols are displayed in the plurality of arrays and a combination of symbols in each array obtained when such a variable display is stopped (a combination of stopped symbols) is referred to determine whether the winning combination is won in a game (a winning mode), thereby paying out game media such as medals and coins to be used in the game (hereinafter being collectively referred to as “coin”) depending on the winning mode. This type of gaming machine is available not only in a base game mode where a base game can be played, but also in a special game mode where a bonus game can be played wherein the bonus game is more advantageous to the player. For example, Japanese unexamined patent publication No. 2002-537874 discloses a gaming machine in which the bonus game and the base game are played. Further, Japanese unexamined patent publication No. 2003-180908 discloses a gaming machine in which a determination can be made for whether to shift to a bonus game or not with reference to a combination of the stopped symbols.

There has also been available a gaming machine, for example, a home-use gaming machine, in which prior to starting a game, no coins are needed for insertion (insertion of game media) or no coins are paid out depending on the winning mode. For example, Japanese unexamined patent publication Nos. 2004-216038 and 2002-325972 disclose gaming machines utilizing figures.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Under such a background, there is provided a gaming machine in which a game including a base game mode and a special game mode is played and payout is conducted based on one or more symbols displayed. The gaming machine comprising: an image display device for displaying the one or more symbols variably; a reading device for reading game-related information including identification information for identifying a game article and play history information from the game article storing the game-related information; a payout device for paying out; a game media insertion device into which game media are inserted; and an operation device to be operated for progressing the game. By way of example, the game media insertion device may include an opening, a slit, a flat bed. And the game media may include coins, medals, and an information medium storing predetermined information to start the game. The reading device attempts to read the identification information from the game article and it is determined that the base game mode is shifted to the special game mode under a first shift condition when the reading device does not read the identification information. And the determination of the shift is made under a second condition providing higher probability of the shift to the special game mode than the first shift condition when the reading device reads the identification information and when another condition is satisfied while the determination of the shift is made under the first condition when the other condition is not satisfied.

Further features of the present invention, its nature, and various advantages will be more apparent from the accompanying drawings and the following description of the preferred embodiment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a general configuration of a slot machine of a gaming machine according to Embodiment 1 of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front view of a main display of the slot machine shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing configuration of the reels.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view showing one reel shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing a schematic configuration of a liquid crystal display unit when viewed from a back of a cabinet.

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of parts of the liquid crystal display unit.

FIG. 7 is a block diagram mainly showing the interior configuration of the slot machine of Embodiment 1.

FIG. 8 is a block diagram showing one example of the interior component of the image control circuit.

FIG. 9 is a partially broken front view of the figure.

FIG. 10 is a flowchart showing operational procedures from start to end of the slot game.

FIG. 11 is a flowchart showing operational procedures of a figure information reading acceptance process.

FIG. 12 is a flowchart showing operational procedures of a figure-present game process.

FIG. 13 is a flowchart showing operational procedures of a base condition game process.

FIG. 14 is a flowchart showing operational procedures of a special condition game process.

FIG. 15 is a drawing showing an example of a reference symbol determination table.

FIG. 16 is a drawing showing an example of a stop table.

FIG. 17 is a timing chart showing an example of a change history of game modes.

FIG. 18 is a timing chart showing another example of a change history of game modes.

FIG. 19 is a perspective view showing a general configuration of a slot machine of a gaming machine according to Embodiment 2 of the present invention.

FIG. 20 is a block diagram mainly showing the interior configuration of the slot machine of Embodiment 2.

FIG. 21 is a block diagram showing a schematic configuration of the gaming system of the present invention.

FIG. 22 is a flowchart showing operational procedures from start to end of the slot game with the gaming system.

FIG. 23 is a flowchart showing operational procedures of a figure-present game process.

FIG. 24 is a flowchart showing operational procedures of a special condition game process.

FIG. 25 is a drawing showing an example of a payout rate condition table.

FIG. 26 is a drawing showing an example of a stop table.

FIG. 27 is a timing chart showing an example of a change history of game modes.

FIG. 28 is a timing chart showing another example of a change history of game modes.

FIG. 29 is a flowchart showing operational procedures from start to end of the slot game with the gaming system.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Hereinafter, gaming machines according to embodiments of the present invention will be explained in reference to the attached drawings, in which like element numerals are used to describe like elements illustrated. And duplicated explanation will be omitted.

According to Embodiment 1 of the present invention, a slot machine 1A is provided with variable display means for variably displaying s plurality of symbols and configured in such a way that a variable display game (also called a “slot game”) can be played in which winning combination is determined depending on one or more symbols to be stopped and displayed among a plurality of variably displayed symbols. The slot machine 1A is a coin-insertion type of gaming machine, and a variable display game conducted as a base game is started when a player inserts a coin or uses a credit. The slot machine 1A is available not only in a base game mode in which a base game can be played, but also in a special game mode in which a bonus game can be played under a condition that a predetermined symbol is stopped and displayed subsequent to the base game. A variable display game (free game) conducted as a bonus game is a game in which one or more reels are automatically rotated without insertion of any coins and stopped after a certain time has elapsed such that the gaming machine pays out a certain number of coins depending on a stopped symbol or a combination of stopped symbols. Further, this bonus game has contents more advantageous to the player than the base game. Hereinafter, the configuration of the slot machine 1A will be explained.

(General Configuration of Slot Machine)

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a general configuration of the slot machine 1A. The slot machine 1A is provided with a sub display 4 and a main display 5 on the front face of the cabinet 2A in the order from top. The main display 5 is disposed approximately at the center of the cabinet 2A and three mechanical reels 3L, 3C, and 3R are rotatably disposed inside the cabinet 2A and aligned to a single line from left to right such that the reels correspondently appear in the main display 5.

These reels 3L, 3C, and 3R are disposed so as to be visually recognized from outside via symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R of the main display 5 to be described later. Each of these reels 3L, 3C, and 3R which is described in detail later, is provided with an array of symbols (not illustrated) composed of a plurality of types of symbols on the each outer circumferential surface. Freely-rotating variable display means being configured to display variably respective symbols and each reel of the variable display means rotates at a fixed rate (for example, 80 rpm).

As shown in FIG. 2, the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R corresponding to these reels 3L, 3C, and 3R, respectively, are provided with one winning combination line L1 extending horizontally. Further, in addition to the winning combination line L1, other winning combination lines may be provided above and below the line L1 although not illustrated or additional two winning combination lines may be provided diagonally. When a plurality of diagonal winning combination lines are provided, it is more preferable to provide such winning combination lines that the number of the lines may vary depending on the number of coins inserted. In this instance, each winning combination line is to be activated according to the number of coins inserted and the operation of BET switches 9 and 10 to be described later. The activated winning combination line is also called an activated line or a pay line. For example, when the player inserts one coin into a coin insertion slot 6 to be described later, only the center winning combination line L1 is activated, when inserting two coins, the winning combination lines above and below are also activated in addition to the winning combination line L1, and when inserting three coins, all the winning combination lines are activated. Further, FIG. 2 shows a state that symbols are stopped only along the winning combination line L1 for providing a better illustration. In most cases, however, three symbols are displayed vertically in each of the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R.

The slot machine 1A is also provided with a substantially horizontal operation panel 11 below the main display 5. The operation panel 11 is provided with a figure installation unit 19, a coin insertion slot 6, a bill insertion slot 7, a spin switch 8, a single BET switch 9 and a maximum BET switch 10.

The figure installation unit 19 is provided with a base fitting portion 19a fixed to an operation panel 11 and a reading part 19b. The base fitting portion 19a is provided inside with a recess corresponding to a thick circular plate-like base portion 91 of a FIG. 90 (refer to FIG. 9) to be described later and designed in such a way that the base portion 91 can be fitted into the recess. The reading part 19b is disposed in the recess of the base fitting portion 19a and provided with an IC chip reader/writer 19c (refer to FIG. 7) and a figure detection sensor 19d (refer to FIG. 7). The IC chip reader/writer 19C and the figure detection sensor 19d are connected to a CPU 32 via an I/O port 39. The IC chip reader/writer 19C reads the information stored (figure ID and others) from an IC chip 93 built in the base portion 91 of the FIG. 90, inputs the information to the CPU 32, and writes predetermined information into the IC chip 93, in accordance with the instructions from the CPU 32. The IC chip reader/writer 19c is equivalent to (or included in) the reading means of the present invention. Further, the figure detection sensor 19d (refer to FIG. 7) detects whether the FIG. 90 is attached to the base fitting portion 19a or not (the figure is set or not) and inputs into the CPU 32 the detection information on the result. The figure detection sensor 19d (refer to FIG. 7) may include various kinds of sensors such as magnetic sensors and mechanical sensors in addition to optical sensors such as a transmission-type of sensor, a reflection-type of sensor and a pressure sensor. Further, the figure installation unit 19 is provided with an LED to be described later (not illustrated) and designed to radiate light to the figure from the LED while the FIG. 90 is being read.

The coin insertion slot 6 is provided for the player to insert coins into such that the inserted coins are bet in the game and has a coin insertion sensor 6a (refer to FIG. 7) which outputs a signal indicating insertion of coins. Further, the bill insertion slot 7 is provided for the player to insert bills into and has a bill insertion sensor 7a (refer to FIG. 7) which outputs a signal indicating insertion of bills. The spin switch 8 is provided for the player to start the variable display of symbols by rotating the respective reels 3L, 3C, and 3R in the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R namely, for the player to operate to start the game. The single BET switch 9 is provided for setting the game where one coin is bet by a single operation. The maximum BET switch 10 is provided for setting the game where a maximum number of coins to be bet in one game by a single operation are set.

Further, the slot machine 1A is provided at the bottom portion of the cabinet 2A with a coin payout opening 13 and a coin receiving part 14 for receiving paid-out coins. Speakers 12L and 12R are provided both on the right and left sides of the payout opening 13.

As shown in FIG. 2, the main display 5 is provided with symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R, window frame display areas 22L, 22C, and 22R, and an effect display area 5a. Display contents of the main display 5 are to vary depending on a variable display mode and a stop display mode of the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R as well as on operation of the liquid crystal display unit 41 (refer to FIG. 5) to be described later. The main display 5 is also provided with a BET number display part, a payout display part and a credit display part, which are, however, not shown in FIG. 2.

The symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R are provided so as to correspond to the respective reels 3L, 3C, and 3R or areas for visually displaying symbols depicted on these reels 3L, 3C, and 3R. Further, symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R provide a transmissive display which enables the player to visually recognize the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R being scrolled in accordance with the player's operation and symbols depicted thereon, where the corresponding reels 3L, 3C, and 3R, are rotated and stopped. However, these display areas are not designed such that display effects in still images or moving images such as symbols, letters, diagrams, or characters are not displayed.

The window frame display areas 22L, 22C, and 22R are provided so as to surround the corresponding symbol display areas 21L, 21C, and 21R and function as window frames for displaying symbols depicted on the respective reels 3L, 3C, and 3R.

Further, in the effect display area 5a, effect images to increase an interest in the game and information used for advancing the game advantageously by the player are displayed.

The sub display 4 is designed to vary display contents, depending on the operation of the liquid crystal display unit 101 (refer to FIG. 7) to be described later.

(Configuration of Reels)

As shown in FIG. 3, the respective reels 3L, 3C, and 3R are rotatably disposed along a single line from left to right and have the basically same configuration. As shown in FIG. 4, the reel 3L is provided with circular frames 25 and 26 of the same shape wherein the frames 25 and 26 are disposed with a predetermined distance to form a cylindrical frame. The cylindrical frame is composed of these circular frames 25 and 26 as they are joined with a plurality of connecting members 27. Further, as shown in FIG. 4, the reel 3L is provided with radial transmission members 28 for sending to the circular frames 25 and 26 a driving force by a stepping motor M1 (refer to FIG. 7) disposed at the center of the cylindrical frame, and a reel sheet (not illustrated) is attached to the side of the reel 3L so as to cover the connecting members 27. A plurality of symbols are depicted on the reel sheet. Further, although not illustrated, these reels 3L, 3C, 3R may be provided with circuit boards for accommodating LEDs and LED lamps behind symbols on three symbol windows of each of three columns formed by the three reels (9 symbols in total) which appear in the symbol display areas 21L, 21C and 21R when these rotating reels are stopped. In such configuration, it may be possible that each LED lamp emits white light to the main display 5 from the back of the reel sheet such that effect displays related with the contents of the game may be presented with a modified way of radiation.

Next, an explanation will be made for the liquid crystal display unit 41 constituting the main display 5 by referring to FIGS. 5 and 6. FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing a general configuration of the liquid crystal display unit 41 when it is viewed from the back of the cabinet 2. FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view showing a part of the liquid crystal display unit 41.

The liquid crystal display unit 41 is provided on the respective front faces of the reels, 3L, 3C and 3R, beyond these reels with a predetermined distance from these reels. The liquid crystal display unit 41 is also provided with a protective glass 42, a display plate 43, a liquid crystal panel 44 and a light guide plate 45. Further, it is provided with a reflection film 46, fluorescent lamps 47a, 47b, 48a and 48b (white light source), lamp holders 49a through 49h, and a flexible substrate (not illustrated) which is connected to the terminal of the liquid crystal panel 44 and constituted of a table carrier package (TCP) having an IC for driving the liquid crystal panel 44.

The protective glass 42 and the display plate 43 are optically transmissive. The protective glass 42 is provided mainly for protecting the liquid crystal panel 44. The display plate 43 is provided with predetermined images which are not illustrated.

The liquid crystal panel 44 is composed of a transparent substrate such as a glass plate on which a thin-film transistor is formed, a transparent substrate opposite thereto and liquid crystals provided and sealed between the two substrates such that the liquid crystal panel 44 forms the symbol display areas, 21L, 21C and 21R. This liquid crystal panel 44 is turned into a white display state (light is transmitted to the display surface and the transmitted light can be visually recognized from outside) if no voltage is applied to the liquid crystals (i.e., the liquid crystals are not driven) such that the liquid crystal panel may be configured in a normally white state where the reels 3L, 3C and 3R, can be visually recognized from the outer surface. Since the liquid crystal panel 44 is provided in such a normally white state, symbols depicted on these reels, 3L, 3C and 3R, can be visually recognized through the symbol display areas, 21L, 21C and 21R, even when the sealed liquid crystal cannot be driven. Therefore, the game can be played with visual recognition of the variable display and the stop display of each of the reels 3L, 3C and 3R.

The light guide plate 45 is optically transmissive and disposed on the back side of the liquid crystal panel 44 so as to introduce light from the fluorescent lamps, 47a and 47b, to the liquid crystal panel 44.

The reflection film 46 is provided for reflecting light introduced into the light guide plate 45 toward the surface of the light guide plate 45, and made with a white polyester film or an aluminum film on which silver film is evaporated. The reflection film 46 is provided with a reflective area 46A and non-reflective areas 46BL, 46BC, 46BR. The non-reflective areas 46BL, 46BC, 46BR, are made with transparent materials and formed as a light transmissive part which transmits light without reflecting incident light. Further, the non-reflective areas 46BL, 46BC, 46BR are formed corresponding to the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, 21R and disposed in front of three columns of symbols appearing when each of the rotating reels 3L, 3C, 3R is stopped. The reflective area 46A reflects incident light and functions as illumination means at areas mainly corresponding to window frame display areas 22L, 22C, 22R and the effect display area 5a in the total areas of the liquid crystal panel 44.

Fluorescent lamps 47a, 47b are disposed along the upper end and the lower end of the light guide plate 45, with the both ends supported by the lamp holders 49a, 49b, 49g, 49h. The fluorescent lamps 47a, 47b generate light which is guided into the light guide plate 45 and functions as illumination means at areas mainly corresponding to the window frame display areas 22L, 22C, 22R and the effect display area 5a in the total areas of the liquid crystal panel 44.

The fluorescent lamps 48a, 48b are disposed above and below at the back of the reflection film 46 toward each of the reels 3L, 3C, 3R. To be more specific, lights emitted from these fluorescent lamps 48a, 48b are reflected on each of the reels 3L, 3C, 3R entering into the non-reflective areas 46BL, 46BC, 46BR to radiate the liquid crystal panel 44. Therefore, the fluorescent lamps 48a, 48b function as illumination means of symbols disposed on each of the reels 3L, 3C, 3R and also functions as illumination means at areas corresponding to the symbol display areas 21L, 21C, 21R on the reflection film 46.

On the other hand, the liquid crystal display unit 101 is different from the liquid crystal display unit 41 in that a touch panel 56 to be explained later is not disposed in the front and the reels 3L, 3C, 3R are not disposed at the back. However, the rest components are similarly constituted.

(Internal Configuration of Slot Machine)

FIG. 7 is a block diagram of the slot machine 1A mainly showing the internal configuration of the machine. The slot machine 1A is provided with a plurality of components including a microcomputer 31 and a control board 71. The control board 71 is provided with the microcomputer 31, a random number generator 35, a sampling circuit 36, a clock pulse generating circuit 37 and a frequency divider 38, and also provided with a hopper driving circuit 63, a payout completion signal circuit 65, a sound control circuit 72 and an image control circuit 81.

The microcomputer 31 is provided with a CPU (central process unit) 32, a RAM (random access memory) 33 and a ROM (read only memory) 34. The CPU 32 operates as various means which may characterize features of the present invention. According to the programs stored in the ROM 34, the CPU 32 also makes signals inputted and outputted from and to other components via an I/O port 39, thereby conducting the whole operational control of the slot machine 1A. The RAM 33 stores data and programs used when the CPU 32 operates, temporarily retains random numbers sampled by the sampling circuit 36 to be explained later, for example, after the game is started, and also stores code numbers or symbol numbers of the reels 3L, 3C, 3R. The RAM 33 also stores temporarily a figure ID being read in a figure information reading process to be explained later. The ROM 34 stores programs executed by the CPU 32 and permanent data, for example, a reference symbol determination table to be explained later (refer to FIG. 15).

The random number generator 35 operates according to the instructions from the CPU 32 to generate a predetermined range of random numbers. According to the instructions from the CPU 32, the sampling circuit 36 extracts any given random number from random numbers generated by the random number generator 35, and inputs the extracted random number into the CPU 32. The clock pulse generating circuit 37 generates a reference clock for operating the CPU 32, and the frequency divider 38 inputs, to the CPU 32, a signal which divides the reference clock with a certain frequency.

Further, a reel driving unit 50 is connected to the control board 71. The reel driving unit 50 is provided with a reel position detection circuit 51 for detecting the respective positions of the reels 3L, 3C, 3R and a motor driving circuit 52 for inputting a driving signal to respective motors M1, M2, M3, which rotate these respective reels 3L, 3C, and 3R. When the driving signal is inputted from the motor driving circuit 52, motors M1, M2, M3 are driven to rotate the respective reels 3L, 3C, 3R. In addition, the control board 71 is connected with a spin switch 8, a single BET switch 9, a maximum BET switch 10, a coin insertion sensor 6a and a bill insertion sensor 7a. A signal is to be inputted from each of them.

The hopper driving circuit 63 drives a hopper 64 under the control of the CPU 32. The hopper 64 operates to pay out coins and actually pays out coins from a payout opening 13. A payout completion signal circuit 65 inputs data of the number of coins from a coin detection part 66 to which the circuit is connected and inputs, to the CPU 32, a signal notifying the completed payout of the coins when the number of coins has reached a predetermined number. The coin detection part 66 calculates the number of coins paid out from the hopper 64 and inputs the data of the calculated number of coins into the payout completion signal circuit 65.

Further, the sound control circuit 72 controls sound signals for generating sounds from speakers 12L, 12R according to the instructions from the CPU 32, and outputs sounds from the speakers 12L, 12R. Therefore, sounds for enlivening the game are generated from the speakers 12L, 12R, for example, at an appropriate timing after the game is started.

In addition, a touch panel 56 is connected to the CPU 32. The touch panel 56 is contact-type input means and provided so as to cover the surface of the protective glass 42 in the front face of the main display 5. The touch panel 56 detects a position on which the finger of the player and other parts of the body are touched (contact position) and inputs, into the CPU 32, the response input information corresponding to the contact position. For example, the touch panel 56 inputs, into the CPU 32, the information in association with a selection to play the game without the figure wherein the information is displayed on the main display 5.

The image control circuit 81 controls the respective image displays of a liquid crystal display unit 41 and a liquid crystal display unit 101.

As shown in FIG. 8, the image control circuit 81 is provided with an image control CPU 81a, a work RAM 81b, a program ROM 81c, an image ROM 81d, a video RAM 81e and a VDP (video display processor) 81f. The image control CPU 81a determines an image to be displayed on the liquid crystal display unit 41 and the liquid crystal display unit 101 on the basis of the parameters established by the microcomputer 31 in accordance with the image control program (about display on the liquid crystal display unit 41 and the liquid crystal display unit 101) which is previously stored in the program ROM 81c. The work RAM 81b is constituted as temporary storage means when the image control CPU 81a executes the image control program.

The program ROM 81c stores the image control program and various selection tables. The image ROM 81d stores dot data for forming an image. The video RAM 81e is constituted as temporary storage means for forming an image by the VDP 81f. The VDP 81f is provided with a control RAM 81g, forming an image corresponding to the display contents of each of the liquid crystal display units 41 and 101 determined by the image control CPU 81a, and outputting the formed image respectively to the liquid crystal display units 41 and 101.

(Configuration of Figure)

As shown in FIG. 9, the FIG. 90 is provided with the base portion 91 and a figure main body 92 and also provided with an IC chip 93 which stores the figure ID.

The base portion 91 is available in a size corresponding to the base fitting portion 19a of the figure installation unit 19 and formed in a closed-end cylindrical shape having a top portion 91a. It is constituted in such a way that the IC chip 93 is fitted and fixed at the open end.

The figure main body 92 is provided with a seat portion 92a fixed at a top portion 91a of the base portion 91 and a three-dimensional configuration shaped so as to be erected from the seat portion 92a, and having a doll part 92b depicting a character such as a witch or a warrior. In the present embodiment, the FIG. 90 is equivalent to the game article of the present invention.

The IC chip 93 is storage means and stores the figure ID. The figure ID is composed of alphabetic letters and four-digit numbers. Alphabetic letters denote types of figures (for example, “A” is a witch; “B,” a warrior; “C,” a villager and the like) corresponding to the stereoscopic configuration at the figure main body 92, and the four-digit numbers denote unique identification information which identifies each figure (discrimination of oneself from others). In the FIG. 90, the player is able to recognize a type of character by referring to the three-dimensional configuration of the figure main body 92, and the slot machine 1A is able to recognize individual figures by referring to the figure ID. In the case of the FIG. 90 shown in FIG. 9, the figure ID is “B1001,” in which “B” is a type of character and “1001” is the identification information. In the present embodiment, “B1001” of the figure ID is equivalent to the game-related information of the present invention.

(Operation Description of Slot Machine)

In the slot machine 1A of the present embodiment, the CPU 32 operates as game progress control means, thereby controlling the progress of the game in a base game mode and a special game mode. Further, in a figure-absent game process (game process without the figure) and a figure-present game process (game process with the figure) to be described later, a base game which is a variable display game (slot game) is conducted in the base game mode. When a predetermined shift condition is met in the base game, the game shifts to a special game mode where a bonus game more advantageous to the player than the base game is conducted. The figure-present game process is designed to shift the game mode more easily to the special game mode than the figure-absent game process. The figure-present game process or the figure-absent game process is conducted, depending on whether the figure ID is readable or not. Hereinafter, a description is given for operation procedures for the slot machine 1A with reference to flowcharts shown in FIGS. 10 through 14. Steps are abbreviated as “S” in FIGS. 10 through 14.

FIG. 10 is a flow chart which shows block by block operation procedures of the main process from the start to the end of the game in the slot machine 1A.

As shown in FIG. 10, when the main game process is started, the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 1 where selection is made on whether or not the player will conduct a figure-using game. Then, when the figure ID is read, a figure information reading acceptance process is conducted in the case where “9” is set to a reading flag to be explained later. When proceeding to a subsequent step 2, the process is determined depending on whether or not “9” is set to the reading flag. If it is set thereto, the figure-present game process (step 3) is conducted. If it is not set, the figure-absent game process (step 4) is conducted. Upon completion of individual game processes, the main process is completed. Hereinafter, an explanation will be made in detail for individual blocks.

When proceeding to the step 1 where the figure information reading acceptance process is started, the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 11 as shown in FIG. 11 where the CPU 32 instructs the image control circuit 81 to display an image to demand for setting of a figure on the main display 5, while the CPU 32 instructs the circuit to display an image which demands the player to select “no figure” unless the player has a figure (hereinafter referred to as “demanding image”). According to the demanding image, the player having the FIG. 90 is able to set the FIG. 90 on the figure installation unit 19, while the player having no figure is able to select “no figure” by touching the touch panel 56. When the FIG. 90 is set on the figure installation unit 19, the IC chip reader/writer 19C reads the figure ID of the thus set FIG. 90 and inputs it into the CPU 32. Then, the figure ID is temporarily stored in the RAM 33, and the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 12. In the present embodiment, since the FIG. 90 is read, the figure ID to be inputted into the CPU 32 is “B1001.” On the other hand, when “no figure” is selected, the response input information corresponding to such selection is inputted into the CPU 32 from the touch panel 56.

When the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 12, the CPU 32 determines whether or not the figure ID is inputted. When the figure ID is inputted within a predetermined period of time from the IC chip reader/writer 19C, the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a step 13. In other cases, namely, when the figure ID is not inputted within the predetermined period of time and when the response input information corresponding to the selection of “no figure” is inputted from the touch panel 56, the figure information reading acceptance process is completed, without executing the step 13.

When it further proceeds to the step 13, predetermined information (for example, “9”) is set to a reading flag. Then, the figure information reading acceptance process is completed.

As shown in FIG. 10, when the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 2, the CPU 32 operates as a reading determination means of the present invention and determines whether the figure ID is readable or not, depending on whether or not “9” is set to the reading flag which shows the reading determination information (set or not). If “9” is set, the CPU 32 determines that the figure ID is readable and if it is not set, it determines that it is not readable. In the former case, it proceeds to the step 3 where the figure-present game process is conducted, and in the latter case, it proceeds to the step 4 where the figure-absent game process is conducted.

(Figure-Present Game Process)

When the figure-present game process is started in the step 3, the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 30 in FIG. 12 to determine at first whether “1” is set to a symbol match flag or not (set or not). When it is not set, it proceeds to the step 31, where a reference symbol determination process is conducted. Where it is set, it proceeds to the step 35 where a special condition game process is conducted. The symbol match flag contains high probability determining information which indicates whether a determination of shifting to the special game mode is to be made or not under the second shift condition to be described later. Therefore, “1” is set in such a way that the shift determination is made under the second shift condition when a symbol which is the same as the reference symbol is stopped and displayed, and then a special condition game process (step 35) is conducted for every repetition of the game when “1” is set to the symbol match flag.

When the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 31, the CPU 32 operates as reference symbol determination means of the present invention, conducting a process (reference symbol determination process) for determining the reference symbol which is referred to so as to determine whether a special condition game process, in which the shift to the special game mode is determined under the second shift condition, is conducted or not.

In the reference symbol determination process, the CPU 32 obtains the identification information from the figure ID stored in the RAM 33 and also obtains a code number of the reference symbol corresponding to the identification information obtained from the reference symbol determination table 85 shown in FIG. 15. The symbol corresponding to the thus obtained code number is equivalent to the reference symbol of the present invention.

In this instance, as shown in FIG. 15, the reference symbol determination table 85 is comprised of a code number field 85b which classifies and stores the symbol code, and an identification information field 85a which classifies the identification information according to the predetermined range in association with each code number, wherein identification information is set to the search key to search the identification information field 85a, thereby making it possible to retrieve the corresponding code number (of the symbol).

In the present embodiment where a figure ID stored in the FIG. 90 is read, the identification information “1001” is set in the search key to search the identification information field 85a, thereby obtaining the code number “3” of the corresponding symbol. As shown in a stop table 88 (refer to FIG. 16) to be described later, the symbol corresponding to this code number “3” is a two-bar (BAR-BAR) W3 in which “BAR” is arrayed in two units vertically, and the two-bar W3 is the reference symbol related to the present embodiment.

(Base Condition Game Process)

When the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 32, a base condition game process is started. When the base condition game process is started, it proceeds to the step 51 of FIG. 13 where a start acceptance process is conducted. When proceeding to the start acceptance process, the slot machine 1A accepts from the player an operation that enables the game to start, in accordance with controls from the CPU 32. Since the slot machine 1A is a coin inserting type of gaming machine, the number of coins to be bet in one game is at first inserted from the coin insertion slot 6 so that the player can start the game. Further, if credits are available which correspond to the number of inserted coins, either single BET switch 9 or maximum BET switch 10 is operated to use credits which are bet in one game. When the spin switch 8 is operated (hereinafter, this operation is called “start operation”), a start signal is then input from the spin switch 8 to the CPU 32.

When it proceeds to a subsequent step 52, a base condition lottery process is conducted in the same game mode as the base game mode. In the base condition lottery process, at first, the CPU 32 operates as symbol determination means of the present invention, thereby conducting a symbol determination process for determining a symbol of each of the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R to be stopped and displayed on the winning combination line L1.

When the CPU 32 detects the start operation performed by the player with a start signal from the spin switch 8, it instructs a random number generator 35 to generate a certain range of random numbers, and also instructs the sampling circuit 36 to extract any given random number from random numbers generated by the random number generator 35. Then, the CPU 32 obtains the code number of the corresponding symbol from the extracted random number with reference to a base condition symbol determining table stored in the ROM 34.

In the present embodiment, since the symbol corresponding to the code number “3” is determined as the reference symbol in the previously described symbol determination process (refer to step 31 in FIG. 12), a symbol to be stopped and displayed in the step 33 which is described later is determined to matches the reference symbol when the code number “3” is obtained.

Further, in the present embodiment, it is set to be a shift condition to the bonus game that a WILD symbol corresponding to the code number “0” of the symbol to be described later is stopped and displayed on any one of the three reels 3L, 3C, 3R along the winning combination line L1. Therefore, a shift probability to the bonus game (shift probability from the base game mode to the special game mode) is dependant on the number of random numbers associated with the code number “0” of the symbol in the base condition symbol determining table. In the present embodiment, the shift probability is set to be “1/120.” Further, in the present embodiment, the code number “0” is obtained with reference to the base condition symbol determining table, and it is equivalent to the first shift condition of the present invention that the WILD symbol is determined as a symbol to be stopped and displayed along the winning combination line L1.

Then, the code number of the obtained symbol is set in a search key to retrieve a symbol according to each of the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R stopped and displayed on the activated line with reference to the stop table 88 shown in FIG. 16.

In this instance, as shown in FIG. 16, the stop table 88 is comprised of the code number field 88a which stores code numbers (of symbols) and the symbol field 88b which stores the symbol associated with each of the code numbers. The code number is set to a search key to search the code number field 88a, by which the corresponding symbol can be retrieved for each of the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R. The symbol W1 corresponding to the code number “0” is a WILD symbol and relates to the shift to the bonus game in the present embodiment.

In the slot machine 1A, these random numbers are extracted and the base condition symbol determining table and the stop table are searched three times in total for each of the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R. To be more specific, these actions are carried out for the number of times corresponding to the number of reels. When a symbol is determined for each of the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R a stop position of the reel for stopping and displaying the symbol along the winning combination line L1 is determined.

When a stop position of the reel is determined, with reference to a winning combination determination table stored in the ROM 34 (table in which combinations of winning symbols and those of symbols which are not winning (non-winning symbols) are registered in an identifiable way in association with combinations of the respective code numbers (hereinafter referred to as “code number pattern”)), the CPU 32 conducts a winning combination determination process for determining a winning combination by utilizing the code number pattern.

Then, the CPU 32 operates as winning mode determining means to conduct a winning mode determination process for determining a winning mode with reference to a mode table in which payouts according to the winning mode are registered (“winning mode” is also called “winning combination”). This mode table includes a mode that the game mode shifts from the base game mode to the special game mode when a winning combination, for example, “joker,” is stopped and displayed, and a mode that five coins are given as a payout when “3 BAR-3 BAR-3 BAR” is stopped and displayed wherein the symbol composed of “BAR” arrayed vertically in three (3 BAR: symbol indicated by W2 in FIG. 16) is arrayed in three.

As described above, the base condition lottery process is completed, and the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 53 shown in FIG. 13 where a base game process is conducted. In this instance, after the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R are rotated, they are stopped so as to correspond to the result of the base condition lottery process in the step 52. When the winning combination is won, coins are paid out according to the payout of the prize winning mode, and it proceeds to the step 54.

When the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 54, the CPU 32 operates as shift determination means in the present invention to make a shift determination for determining whether the game mode shifts from the base game mode to the special game mode or not under the first shift condition based on the result of the base condition lottery process in step 52. In this instance, when the previously described WILD symbol W1 is determined as a symbol to be stopped and displayed, it is determined that the shift condition is met. Then, the CPU 32 operates as shift means to shift the game mode from the base game mode to the special game mode. The program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 55 where the bonus game process is conducted. On the other hand, if the WILD symbol is not stopped and displayed, it is determined that the shift is not made, and the base condition game process is completed.

When the bonus game process is started in a subsequent step 55, a symbol determination process similar to the above-described base condition lottery process, a prize winning determination process and a winning mode determination process are conducted by a predetermined number of times as a free game is conducted by the same number of times (for example, three times). Then, on the basis of the lottery result, these reels 3L, 3C, and 3R are rotated and stopped only by the same predetermine number of times. When a winning combination is won, coins are paid out according to the payout of the winning mode. The bonus game process is completed and the base condition game process is then completed.

On the other hand, as shown in FIG. 12, when the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 33 from the base condition game process (step 32), a determination is made for determining whether the symbol to be stopped and displayed matches the reference symbol or not. In this instance, the CPU 32 determines whether or not any of the code numbers of symbols determined for each of the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R in the previously described base condition lottery process (refer to step 52 in FIG. 13) matches the code number of the reference symbol determined by the reference symbol determination process in the step 31. If it is determined that any of the code numbers matches, the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 34, and “1” is set to the symbol match flag to complete the figure-present game process. Then, the main process shown in FIG. 10 is completed.

Thereafter, if the player plays the game repeatedly, with the FIG. 90 set as it is, it is determined in the step 30 of the figure-present game process that “1” is set to the symbol match flag, and proceeds to the step 35 where the special condition game process is conducted.

(Special Condition Game Process)

The special condition game process is conducted in the step 35. When the special condition game process is started, as shown in FIG. 14, the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 61 where a start acceptance process is started. Since the start acceptance process is the same as the start acceptance process (step 51 of FIG. 13) in the base condition game process, an explanation thereof will be omitted.

When the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 62, a special condition lottery process is started. In the special condition lottery process, in a similar manner as explained with the previously described base lottery process, a symbol determination process for determining a symbol which is to be stopped on a winning combination line L1, a winning combination determination process for determining whether the winning combination is won or not, and a winning mode determination process for determining the winning mode are conducted. However, in the symbol determination process of the special condition lottery process, a special condition symbol determining table (not illustrated) is referred to in order to obtain a code number of the symbol which is to be stopped and displayed on the winning combination line L1. In a similar manner as explained in the base condition game process, in the special condition game process, a shift probability to the bonus game (shift probability from the base game mode to the special game mode) is determined according to the number of random numbers associated with “0” of the symbol code number. In the present embodiment, the shift probability is set to be “1/110.”

As described so far, the shift probability from the base game mode to the special game mode (e.g., 1/110) in the special condition game process is designed so as to be higher than that in the base condition game process (e.g., 1/120). Therefore, it is more likely to shift from the base game mode to the special game mode in the special condition game process than in the base condition game process. In the special condition game process of the present embodiment, a special condition symbol determining table is referred to for obtaining the code number “0” such that the WILD symbol is determined as a symbol to be stopped and displayed on the winning combination line L1, which may be an example of the second shift condition of the present invention.

When it proceeds to a subsequent step 63, a base game process similar to the previously described base game process (step 53 of FIG. 13) is conducted. Then, the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 64.

When it proceeds to the step 64, the CPU 32 operates as shift determination means of the present invention to conduct a shift determination for determining whether or not the game mode shifts from the base game mode to the special game mode under the second shift condition based on the result of the special condition lottery process in the step 62. In this instance, when the WILD symbol W1 is determined as a symbol to be stopped and displayed, the shift condition is met and it is determined that the game mode can shift. The CPU 32 operates as the shift means, thereby enabling the game mode to shift from the base game mode to the special game mode, and then it proceeds to the step 65.

In the step 65, a bonus game process similar to the previously described bonus game process (step 55 of FIG. 13) is conducted. When the bonus game process is completed, the symbol match flag is cleared in a subsequent step 68.

On the other hand, when the WILD symbol W1 is not stopped and displayed in the step 64, it is determined the game mode cannot shift, and a figure set confirmation process is conducted in a subsequent step 66. In the figure set confirmation process, the CPU 32 clears the reading flag when the FIG. 90 is not set in accordance with a detection signal input from a figure detection sensor 19d, thereby proceeding to the step 67.

In the subsequent step 67, the CPU 32 again makes a determination for determining whether “9” is set to the reading flag or not. If it is set thereto, the special condition game process is completed, with “1” being set to the symbol match flag. If it is not set, the symbol match flag is cleared in the subsequent step 68 to complete the special condition game process.

(Figure-Absent Game Process)

Further, when it is determined that “9” is not set to the reading flag in the step 2 as shown in FIG. 10, the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 4 where a figure-absent game process is conducted. In the figure-absent game process, processes similar to those conducted in the previously described base condition game process (refer to the step 32 of FIG. 12) are conducted and the main process is completed. When “1” is being set to the symbol match flag on completion of the figure-absent game process, the symbol match flag is cleared.

Next, an explanation is made for the change in the game mode of the slot machine 1A with reference to the timing charts in FIGS. 17 and 18. In FIGS. 17 and 18, the base game (base game mode) repeated by n (i) (‘i’ is an integer number) is indicated in an identifiable way, and a number in parentheses (i) indicates the number of games conducted consecutively. Further, the base game mode where no figure is set is denoted by M1, the base game mode at a base probability (the first shift condition) where a figure is set is denoted by M2, and the base game mode at a high probability (the second shift condition) is denoted by M3. The solid line shows which mode the game is in.

In the timing chart shown in FIG. 17, the figure-present game process is conducted repeatedly, with the FIG. 90 being set (step 3 in FIG. 10). The game mode is in the base game mode of M2 (step 32 in FIG. 12) with the base probability from the game n (1) to the game n(2). Then, in the game n(2), the symbol which is the same as the reference symbol is stopped and displayed, and “1” is set to the symbol match flag. Then, the game mode is shifting to the base game mode of M3 with a high probability in the game n(3) and thereafter (step 34 in FIG. 12). The base game mode of M3 with the high probability is repeated until the bonus game is conducted. Since the bonus game has been conducted in the game n(5), the symbol match flag is cleared and the game mode is shifting to the base game mode of M2 with the base probability in the game n(6) and thereafter.

In the timing chart shown in FIG. 18, the figure-present game process is conducted repeatedly with the FIG. 90 being set (step 3 of FIG. 10), and the game mode is in the base game mode of M2 (step 32 of FIG. 12) with the base probability until the games from n (1) through n (2) are completed. In the game n(2), the symbol which is the same as the reference symbol is stopped and displayed. Then, “1” is set to the symbol match flag and the game mode is shifted and kept in the base game mode of M3 with the high probability in the game n (3) and thereafter (step 34 of FIG. 12). Thereafter, a figure is removed in the middle of the game of n (5) and the symbol match flag is cleared. The game mode is shifted to the base game mode of M1 where no figure is set in the game n (6) and thereafter.

As described so far, in the slot machine 1A, “1” is set to the symbol match flag when the symbol stopped and displayed in the base game which is conducted with the figure being set matches the reference symbol. The special condition game process (the second shift condition) is repeatedly conducted from the next game when the game is repeatedly conducted with the figure being set. Then, the special condition game process is designed to be higher in the shift probability so that the game can shift more easily to the bonus game (special game mode) than in the base condition game process. Therefore, in the slot machine 1A, easiness in shifting to the bonus game (easy shift) varies depending on whether the figure is set or not, and the reference symbol to enable the shift easier varies depending on the figure ID (game-related information) stored in the figure. Then, the player may feel it difficult to predict whether the game mode will shift to the bonus game or not. Therefore, the player is able to continue the game with a fresh sensation, and it is not likely that the player is tired of playing the game so that the game may provide an incentive to play the game repeatedly. Further, the shift easiness varies depending on the figure to be used, and the player may be provided with an incentive that he or she continues to play the game, anticipating that he or she may get the bonus game shift more easily with this figure. Then, the player keeps the figure as if it were a good luck amulet and also has a willingness to collect figures more passionately.

In the slot machine 1A, a corresponding reference symbol has been determined according to the figure ID (identification information). In addition to the figure ID, the code number of the reference symbol may be stored in the figure and the code number of the reference symbol is read, together with the figure ID, thereby determining the reference symbol directly. Code numbers of the plurality of reference symbols are stored and any given code number is determined by lottery of the thus read plurality of code numbers.

In this instance, the code number of the reference symbol may be included in the game-related information.

Further, the number of reference symbols is not limited to one. For example, three symbols corresponding to the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R may be determined as reference symbols, and when these three symbols are all stopped and displayed, a shift determination is made so as to shift to the bonus game (special game mode) on the basis of the second shift condition.

Then, an explanation will be made for the slot machine 1B of Embodiment 2 by referring to FIG. 19. FIG. 19 is a perspective view showing a general configuration of the slot machine 1B of the present embodiment, and FIG. 20 is a block diagram of the slot machine 1B which mainly shows the internal constitution.

The slot machine 1B is provided with a plurality of arrays (three arrays) of the variable display parts which display variable display images of a plurality of symbols in place of the reels 3L, 3C, 3R of the slot machine 1A, and configured so as to conduct a variable display image game (video slot game) by using variable display images displayed at individually variable display parts.

As with the slot machine 1A, the slot machine 1B conducts a base game (slot game) which is a variable display game in a base game mode and shifts to a special game mode when a predetermined shift condition is met in the base game, wherein the bonus game is more advantageous to the player in game contents than the base game. In the figure-present game process, it is designed to shift more easily to the special game mode than in the figure-absent game process, and it is determined either the figure-present game process or the figure-absent game process is conducted depending on whether the figure ID is readable or not. Hereinafter, a description is made for the configuration of the slot machine 1B. The slot machine 1B is substantially similar in configuration to the slot machine 1A and the same symbols used in the slot machine 1A are utilized to the same elements to omit a duplicated description.

The main display 5 of the slot machine 1B has a total of nine variable display parts (3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3e, 3f, 3g, 3h and 3i) which are disposed in three arrays both vertically and horizontally. The main display 5 is designed in such a way that a scroll display image (reel image to be displayed as if a mechanical reel were rotated) can be displayed in the base game mode (base game) and the special game mode (free game) as if a plurality of symbols were moved from the top to bottom in each of the variable display parts from 3a through 3i. Further, in FIG. 19, activated lines (L1 to L3) are provided in three vertical arrays. However, eight activated lines in total including the variable display parts 3a to 3i in three arrays each vertically and horizontally and arrays which are diagonally disposed may be provided.

As shown in FIG. 20, the slot machine 1B is provided with a plurality of components including a microcomputer 31. The CPU (central process unit) 32 operates as shift determination means, reading determination means and reference symbol determination means of the present invention. The IC chip reader/writer 19c may be one of the examples of the reading means.

Then, a description is made for an operation content of the slot machine 1B. A main process of the slot machine 1B is substantially the same as that of the slot machine 1A, but different in the symbol determination processes conducted in the base condition lottery process and the special condition lottery process. To be more specific, in the slot machine 1B, a symbol is determined and a variable display of the determined symbol is stopped and fixedly displayed at each of the variable display parts from 3a through 3i. Thus, it is this symbol that is to be stopped and displayed. Further, it is determined that the shift condition to the bonus game (shift condition from the base game mode to the special game mode) is to stop and display the WILD symbol (refer to W1 in FIG. 16) and the probability of stopping and displaying the WILD symbol (shift probability) is designed to be higher in the special condition game process than in the base condition game process in the figure-absent game process or the figure-present game process. Therefore, in the special condition game process, the game mode shifts more easily from the base game mode to the special game mode. Further, in the slot machine 1B where the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R are not used, the number of symbols is not so limited as with the slot machine 1A and it is possible to change the shift probability with ease by changing types of symbols corresponding to random numbers.

The slot machine 1B also has the same actions and effects as the slot machine 1A, whereby the player may feel it is difficult to predict the shift to the bonus game even if the player is focusing on the stopped symbol, and the player may continue to play the game with a fresh feeling and may not be tired of playing the game so that an incentive to play the game repeatedly may be provided to the player.

Then, a description is made for an embodiment related to the gaming system of the present invention. FIG. 21 is a block diagram showing a general configuration of the gaming system according to the present embodiment. The gaming system 100 is provided with a shop server 20 installed in a gaming shop and a plurality of slot machines 1C (four units in the present embodiment) connected communicatively with the shop server 20. In the gaming shop, the shop server 20 is connected to each of the slot machines 1C via dedicated lines to form an in-shop LAN.

The shop server 20 may be an example of the gaming server of the present invention, and the slot machine 1C may be an example of the gaming machine. The slot machine 1C is provided with variable display means which variably displays a plurality of symbols in a similar manner as explained with the slot machine 1A of previously described Embodiment 1. The slot machine 1C is so configured as to conduct a variable display game in which a winning combination is determined according to the symbol to be stopped and displayed among the plurality of variably displayed symbols. The slot machine 1C has the special game mode in which the bonus game can be conducted subsequent to the base game, in addition to the base game mode in which the base game can be conducted.

Further, as with the previously described slot machine 1B of Embodiment 2, the slot machine 1C may be provided with variable display parts in the plurality of arrays (3 arrays) which display variable display images of the plurality of symbols and configured in such a way that a variable display image game (slot game) can be conducted by using variable display images displayed on the respective variable display parts.

The shop server 20 is provided with a CPU 201, a ROM 202, a RAM 203, a communication processor 204 and a communication controller 205. The ROM 202 stores a reference symbol determination table. The reference symbol determination table may be the same table as the previously described one and provided with the identification information field and the code number field (of the symbol).

The CPU 201 operates to read and write data from and into the RAM 203 according to the program stored in the ROM 202. The communication controller 205 actuates the communication processor 204 according to the instructions of the CPU 201, to send and receive data from and to the slot machines 1C. Further, the CPU 201 operates as reference symbol determination means and determines a reference symbol on the basis of the figure ID having been sent from each of the slot machines 1C and makes the communication processor 204 send data of the code number of the determined reference symbol to the each slot machine 1C. As described so far, the communication processor 204 receives the game-related information (for example, figure ID) from the slot machines 1C and sends predetermined data (for example, data of the code number of the reference symbol) to the slot machines 1C. Therefore, the communication processor 204 may be an example of the communication processing means of the gaming server of the present invention.

The slot machine 1C is similar in the configuration to the slot machine 1A, but different from the previously described slot machine 1A in that it has a communication controller 75 and a communication processor 76. Therefore, the same symbols are used the same elements to omit a duplicated description. The communication controller 75 and the communication processor 76 are connected via an I/O port 39 to the CPU 32. The communication controller 75 operates the communication processor 76 to send and receive data from and to the shop server 20 according to the instructions of the CPU 201. The communication processor 75 may be an example of the communication processing means of the gaming machine of the present invention. Further, as with the previously described slot machine 1A, the slot machine 1C is provided with a CPU 32, a figure installation unit 19, an IC chip reader/writer 19c, a figure detection sensor (not shown) and others. The CPU 32 may operate as variable display means, symbol determination means, shift determination means and reading determination means. The IC chip reader/writer 19c may be an example of the reading means.

Operation contents of the above-described gaming system 100 are described with reference to the flowchart shown in FIG. 22 by explaining mainly an operation of one of the slot machines 1C. FIG. 22 is a flowchart showing operation procedures in a main process from the start to the end of the game in the slot machine 1C. Here, one of the several slot machines 1C installed in the gaming shop is described by way of example. Further, in the following description, if any of the operation procedures are the same as those in each process of the previously described slot machine 1A, the same process names are used to omit detailed descriptions. In FIG. 22, steps are abbreviated as S.

In the gaming system 100, the CPU 32 of the slot machine 1C operates as game progress control means, thereby controlling the progress of the game. Then, as shown in FIG. 22, when the main process is started, prior to starting the game, the CPU 32 conducts a figure information reading acceptance process in the step 301, and proceeds to the step 302. In the step 302, the CPU 32 operates as reading determination means and conducts a figure-absent game process (step 303) by determining that the figure is not readable if “9” is not set to the reading flag (it is not set). Then, the main process is completed.

On the other hand, when “9” is set to the reading flag (it is set), the figure ID is determined to be readable, and the program in the slot machine 1C proceeds to the step 304 where a determination is made for determining whether “1” is set to the symbol match flag. If it is set thereto, it proceeds to the step 305 where the special condition game process is conducted. Then, the main process is completed. However, if it is not set, it proceeds to the step 306 where a figure ID sending process is conducted. When the figure ID sending process is started, the CPU 32 instructs the communication controller 75 to send the figure ID stored in the RAM 33 from the communication processor 76 to the shop server 20. In the shop server 20, on receipt of the figure ID, the CPU 201 operates as reference symbol determination means to provide the identification information of the received figure ID as a search key, obtains the code number of the reference symbol with reference to the reference symbol determination table (refer to FIG. 15) stored in the ROM 202, and sends the data of the code number of the reference symbol to the gaming machine 1C (the gaming machine 1C which has sent the figure ID) by the communication processor 204.

The slot machine 1C waits until data of the code number of the reference symbol is received in the step 307. On receipt of the data, the CPU 32 stores the data of the code number of the reference symbol in the RAM 33.

When the program in the slot machine 1C proceeds to a subsequent step 308, a base condition game process similar to the previously described base condition game process (refer to step 32 in FIG. 12) is conducted. When it proceeds to the step 309, a determination is made for determining whether the symbol determined as a symbol to be stopped and displayed in the base condition game process is the reference symbol or not. If so, it proceeds to the step 310 where the CPU 32 sets “1” to the symbol match flag and completes the main process.

Now, another embodiment will be explained. Redundant descriptions of the general configuration of the slot machine, the configuration of the reels, the interior configuration of the slot machine, the configuration of the figure, and so on will be omitted.

(Operation Description of Slot Machine)

In the slot machine 1A of the present embodiment, the game is started by using coins or credits and the CPU 32 operates as game progress control means, thereby controlling the progress of the game in the base game mode and the special game mode. Further, in a figure-absent game process (game process without the figure) and a figure-present game process (game process with the figure) to be described later, a base game which is a variable display game (slot game) is conducted in the base game mode. And a bonus game that is more advantageous to the player is conducted in the special game mode. The game shifts to the special game mode when a predetermined shift condition is met in the base game although the game process with the figure can provide higher likeliness to shift to the special game mode than the game process without the figure. And whether the figure ID is readable or not is involved in whether the game process with the figure or without the figure is conducted. Hereinafter, a description is made for operation procedures for the slot machine 1A with reference to flowcharts shown in FIGS. 10, 11, 23, 13, and 24. Hereinafter, “step” is abbreviated as “S” in FIGS. 10, 11, 23, 13, and 24.

FIG. 10 shows a flow chart which illustrates block by block operation procedures of the main process from the start to the end of the game in the slot machine 1A.

As shown in FIG. 10, when the main game process is started, the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 1 where selection is made on whether or not the player will conduct a figure-using game. Then, when the figure ID is read, a figure information reading acceptance process is conducted in the case where “9” is set to a reading flag to be explained later. When proceeding to a subsequent step 2, the process is determined depending on whether or not “9” is set to the reading flag. If it is set thereto, the figure-present game process (step 3) is conducted. If it is not set, the figure-absent game process (step 4) is conducted. In the figure-present game process, the base condition game process or the special condition game process is conducted and it is more likely to shift to the special game mode in the special game mode than in the base game mode. The figure-present game and the figure-absent game are completed and the main process is completed. Hereinafter, an explanation will be made in detail for the individual blocks.

(Figure Information Reading Acceptance Process)

When proceeding to the step 1 where the figure information reading acceptance process is started, the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 11 as shown in FIG. 11 where the CPU 32 instructs the image control circuit 81 to display an image to demand for setting of a figure on the main display 5, while the CPU 32 instructs the circuit to display an image which demands the player to select “no figure” unless the player has a figure (hereinafter referred to as “demanding image”). According to the demanding image, the player having the FIG. 90 is able to set the FIG. 90 on the figure installation unit 19, while the player having no figure is able to select “no figure” by touching the touch panel 56. When the FIG. 90 is set on the figure installation unit 19, the IC chip reader/writer 19C reads the figure ID of the thus set FIG. 90 and inputs it into the CPU 32. Then, the figure ID is temporarily stored in the RAM 33, and the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 12. In the present embodiment, since the FIG. 90 is read, the figure ID to be inputted into the CPU 32 is “B1001.” On the other hand, when “no figure” is selected, the response input information corresponding to such selection is inputted into the CPU 32 from the touch panel 56.

When the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 12, the CPU 32 determines whether or not the figure ID is inputted. When the figure ID is inputted within a predetermined period of time from the IC chip reader/writer 19C, the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a step 13. In other cases, namely, when the figure ID is not inputted within the predetermined period of time and when the response input information corresponding to the selection of “no figure” is inputted from the touch panel 56, the figure information reading acceptance process is completed, without executing the step 13.

When it further proceeds to the step 13, predetermined information (for example, “9”) is set to a reading flag. The reading flag is reading determination information for determining if the figure ID is readable or not such that setting “9” to the reading flag indicates that the figure ID is readable. When the reading flag is set, the figure reading acceptance process is completed.

As shown in FIG. 10, when the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 2, the CPU 32 operates as reading determination means of the present invention and determines whether the figure ID is readable or not, depending on whether or not “9” is set to the reading flag. If “9” is set, the CPU 32 determines that the figure ID is readable and if it is not set, it determines that it is not readable. In the former case, it proceeds to the step 3 where the figure-present game process is conducted, and in the latter case, it proceeds to the step 4 where the figure-absent game process is conducted.

(Figure-Present Game Process)

When the figure-present game process is started in the step 3, the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 131 in FIG. 23. The CPU 32 operate as condition determination means of the present invention and a payout rate condition determination process is conducted to determine a payout rate condition for determining whether the special condition game process (a process for determining whether the shift to the special game mode is conducted under the fourth shift condition or not, which is referred to as the shift determination) is conducted or not by utilizing the figure ID.

In the payout rate condition determination process, the CPU 32 obtains the identification information from the figure ID stored in the RAM 33 and determines the payout rate condition corresponding to the identification information obtained from the payout rate condition table 185 as shown in FIG. 25.

Here, the payout rate condition table 185 is a table having the payout rate condition field 185b where the condition (payout rate condition) related to the payout rate is stored distinctly and the identification field 185a where the identification information is categorized in each predetermined range and stored in association with each payout rate condition as shown in FIG. 25. It is possible to retrieve the corresponding payout rate condition by searching the identification information field 185a with a search key to which the identification information is set.

In the present embodiment where a figure ID stored in the FIG. 90 is read, the identification information “1001” is set to the search key to search the identification information field 185a, thereby obtaining the corresponding payout rate condition “equal to or less than 30%.” That is, the payout rate condition is determined to be “equal to or less than 30%” in the present embodiment.

(Base Condition Game Process)

When the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 32, a base condition game process is started. When the base condition game process is started, it proceeds to the step 51 of FIG. 13 where a start acceptance process is conducted. When proceeding to the start acceptance process, the slot machine 1A accepts from the player an operation that enables the game to start, in accordance with controls by the CPU 32. Since the slot machine 1A is a coin insertion type of gaming machine, the number of coins to be bet in one game is at first inserted from the coin insertion slot 6 so that the player can start the game. In the present embodiment, coins are examples of game media of the present invention and the number of coins corresponds to the number of consumed coins. Further, if credits are available which correspond to the number of inserted coins, either single BET switch 9 or maximum BET switch 10 is operated to determine the credit number (the number of credits) to be bet in one game. The information of the determined credit number (the number of consumed credits) is inputted into the CPU 32 and it is set as the credit number corresponding to the number of inserted coins. In the present embodiment, the credits are included in the media information and the credit number is included in the consumed number of media information. The numbers of inserted coins and consumed credits are stored in the RAM 33 and utilized in obtaining the payout rate to be explained later. Subsequently the spin switch 8 is operated (hereinafter, this operation is called “start operation”) and a start signal is then inputted from the spin switch 8 to the CPU 32.

When it proceeds to a subsequent step 52, a base condition lottery process is conducted in the same game mode as the base game mode. In the base condition lottery process, at first, the CPU 32 operates as symbol determination means of the present invention, thereby conducting a symbol determination process for determining a symbol of each of the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R to be stopped and displayed on the winning combination line L1.

When the CPU 32 detects the start operation performed by the player with a start signal from the spin switch 8, it instructs the random number generator 35 to generate a certain range of random numbers, and also instructs the sampling circuit 36 to extract any given random number from random numbers generated by the random number generator 35. Then, the CPU 32 obtains the code number of the corresponding symbol from the extracted random number with reference to a base condition symbol determining table stored in the ROM 34.

Further, in the present embodiment, it is set to shift to the bonus game that a WILD symbol corresponding to the code number “0” of the symbol to be described later is stopped and displayed on any one of the three reels 3L, 3C, 3R along the winning combination line L1. Therefore, a shift probability to the bonus game (shift probability from the base game mode to the special game mode) is dependant on the number of random numbers associated with the code number “0” of the symbol in the base condition symbol determining table. In the present embodiment, the shift probability is set to be “1/120.” Further, in the present embodiment, the code number “0” is obtained with reference to the base condition symbol determining table, and it is equivalent to the third shift condition (equivalent to the first shift condition of Embodiment 1) of the present invention that the WILD symbol is determined as a symbol to be stopped and displayed along the winning combination line L1.

Then, the code number of the obtained symbol is set in a search key to retrieve a symbol according to each of the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R stopped and displayed on the activated line with reference to the stop table 88 shown in FIG. 26.

In this instance, as shown in FIG. 26, the stop table 88 is comprised of the code number field 88a which stores code numbers (of symbols) and the symbol field 88b which stores the symbol associated with each of the code numbers. The code number is set to a search key to search the code number field 88a, by which the corresponding symbol can be retrieved for each of the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R. The symbol W1 corresponding to the code number “0” is a WILD symbol and relates to the shift to the bonus game in the present embodiment.

In the slot machine 1A, these random numbers are extracted and the base condition symbol determining table and the stop table are searched three times in total for each of the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R. To be more specific, these actions are carried out for the number of times corresponding to the number of reels. When a symbol is determined for each of the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R a stop position of the reel for stopping and displaying the symbol along the winning combination line L1 is determined.

When a stop position of the reel is determined, with reference to a winning combination determination table stored in the ROM 34 (table in which combinations of winning symbols and those of symbols which are not winning (non-winning symbols) are registered in an identifiable way in association with combinations of the respective code numbers (hereinafter referred to as “code number pattern”)), the CPU 32 conducts a winning combination determination process for determining a winning combination by utilizing the code number pattern.

Then, the CPU 32 operates as winning mode determining means to conduct a winning mode determination process for determining a winning mode with reference to a mode table in which payouts according to the winning mode are registered (“winning mode” is also called “winning combination”). This mode table includes a mode that the game mode shifts from the base game mode to the special game mode when a winning combination, for example, “joker,” is stopped and displayed, and a mode that five coins are given as a payout when “3 BAR-3 BAR-3 BAR” is stopped and displayed wherein the symbol composed of “BAR” arrayed vertically in three (3 BAR: symbol indicated by W2 in FIG. 16) is arrayed in three.

As described above, the base condition lottery process is completed, and the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 53 where a base game process is conducted. In this instance, after the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R are rotated, they are stopped so as to correspond to the result of the base condition lottery process in the step 52. When the winning combination is won, coins are paid out according to the payout of the prize winning mode, and it proceeds to the step 54. The number of paid out coins is stored in the RAM 33 and utilized to obtain the payout rate to be explained later. Here the number of coins paid out is an example of the payout number of the game media in the present invention.

When the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 54, the CPU 32 operates as shift determination means in the present invention to make a shift determination for determining whether the game mode shifts from the base game mode to the special game mode or not under the first shift condition based on the result of the base condition lottery process in step 52. In this instance, when the previously described WILD symbol W1 is determined as a symbol to be stopped and displayed, it is determined that the shift condition is met. Then, the CPU 32 operates as shift means to shift the game mode from the base game mode to the special game mode. The program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 55 where the bonus game process is conducted. On the other hand, if the WILD symbol is not stopped and displayed, it is determined that the shift is not made, and the base condition game process is completed.

When the bonus game process is started in a subsequent step 55, a symbol determination process similar to the above-described base condition lottery process, a prize winning determination process and a winning mode determination process are conducted by a predetermined number of times as a free game is conducted by the same number of times (for example, three times). Then, on the basis of the lottery result, these reels 3L, 3C, and 3R are rotated and stopped only by the same predetermine number of times. When a winning combination is won, coins are paid out according to the payout of the winning mode. The number of paid out coins is stored in the RAM 33 and utilized to obtain the payout rate to be explained later. Here, the number of paid out coins is an example of the payout number of the game media of the present invention. The bonus game process is completed by the coin payout and the base condition game process is then completed.

On the other hand, as shown in FIG. 23, when the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 133 from the base condition game process (step 132), a measurement process of the play number T is conducted. Here, the CPU 32 counts the number of the base games having been started by insertion of coins and consumption of credits (the number of the base game processes being conducted in the base condition game process and the special game process to be explained later) and store the counted number in the RAM 33. The play number being counted here is the number of the base games repeated over and over again with the FIG. 90 set in the figure installation unit 19.

When it proceeds to a subsequent step 134, the payout rate calculation process is conducted. Here, the CPU 32 operates as calculation means of the present invention and calculates the percentage of the payout rate (also referred to as payout percentage) from the payout number (numerator) to be explained and the insertion number of coins and the number of consumed credits (denominator). Also, the above percentage is calculated as the payout rate of the games repeated for a plurality of times after summing the data of each numerical value (e.g., the total number of inserted coins, the total number of consumed credits, and the total number of the payout) by using data stored in the RAM 33 for the number of inserted coins, consumed credits and the payout if a plurality of kinds of data are stored.

When it proceeds to a subsequent step 135, the figure set confirmation process is conducted. In the figure set confirmation process, the CPU 32 clears the reading flag if the FIG. 90 is not set based on the detection signal inputted from the figure detection sensor 19d, and proceeds to a step 136.

When it proceeds to a subsequent step 136, the CPU 32 determines whether the play number T having been obtained in the step 133 is equal to or greater than a specific number K as a condition to determine whether the payout rate condition is satisfied or not. And if it is greater than the specific number K, it proceeds to a step 137, but if it is less, it proceeds to a step 138. In the present embodiment, the specific number K is set “20” and if the play number T is equal to or greater than 20, it proceeds to the step 137 to determine whether the payout rate condition is satisfied or not. If the payout condition is satisfied, the special condition game process is conducted. Thus, when the play number T is equal to or greater than the specific number K (e.g., 20), the special condition game process is to be entered such that the player having played the games for many times has more advantages than another player having played the games for a few times, thereby providing the player with an incentive to play the game repeatedly.

In a subsequent step 137, the CPU 32 operates as payout determination means of the present invention and determines whether the payout rate condition having been determined in the step 131 is satisfied or not based on the payout rate obtained in the step 134. Here, if the payout rate condition is satisfied, it proceeds to a step 139 and it is determined whether “9” is set to the reading flag or not. If it is set, it is determined that the figure ID is in a condition to be determined to be readable. Then, the base condition game process (step 132) is repeated. However, if “9” is not set, the game with the figure ends.

As described above, in the slot machine 1A, the process flow is branched depending on satisfaction of the payout rate condition. If the payout rate condition is satisfied, the special condition game process (step 140) is conducted, and if the payout rate condition is not satisfied, the base condition game process (step 132) is conducted.

(Special Condition Game Process)

When it proceeds to the step 140 to start the special condition game process, it proceeds to a step 61 to conduct a start acceptance process as shown in FIG. 24. The start acceptance process is conducted in a similar or the same way as the start acceptance process in the base condition game process (step 51 in FIG. 13) and an explanation thereof will be omitted.

When the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 62, a special condition lottery process is started. In the special condition lottery process, in a similar manner as explained with the previously described base lottery process, a symbol determination process for determining a symbol which is to be stopped on a winning combination line L1, a winning combination determination process for determining whether the winning combination is won or not, and a winning mode determination process for determining the winning mode are conducted. However, in the symbol determination process of the special condition lottery process, a special condition symbol determining table (not illustrated) is referred to in order to obtain a code number of the symbol which is to be stopped and displayed on the winning combination line L1. In a similar manner as explained in the base condition game process, in the special condition game process, a shift probability to the bonus game (shift probability from the base game mode to the special game mode) is determined according to the number of random numbers associated with “0” of the symbol code number. In the present embodiment, the shift probability is set to be “1/110.”

As described so far, the shift probability from the base game mode to the special game mode (e.g., 1/110) in the special condition game process is designed so as to be higher than that in the base condition game process (e.g., 1/120). Therefore, it is more likely to shift from the base game mode to the special game mode in the special condition game process than in the base condition game process. In the special condition game process of the present embodiment, a special condition symbol determining table is referred to for obtaining the code number “0” such that the WILD symbol is determined as a symbol to be stopped and displayed on the winning combination line L1, which may be an example of the second shift condition of the present invention.

When it proceeds to a subsequent step 63, a base game process similar to the previously described base game process (step 53 of FIG. 13) is conducted. Then, the slot machine 1A proceeds to a subsequent step 64.

When it proceeds to the step 64, the CPU 32 operates as shift determination means of the present invention to conduct a shift determination for determining whether or not the game mode shifts from the base game mode to the special game mode under the fourth shift condition (equivalent to the second shift condition in Embodiment 1) based on the result of the special condition lottery process in the step 62. In this instance, when the WILD symbol W1 is determined as a symbol to be stopped and displayed, the shift condition is met and it is determined that the game mode can shift. The CPU 32 operates as the shift means, thereby enabling the game mode to shift from the base game mode to the special game mode, and then it proceeds to the step 65.

In the step 65, a bonus game process similar to the previously described bonus game process (step 55 of FIG. 13) is conducted. When the bonus game process is completed, the special condition game process is completed.

On the other hand, when the WILD symbol W1 is not stopped and displayed in the step 64, it is determined the game mode cannot shift, and the special condition game process ends. As shown in FIG. 23, it proceeds to a step 133 and a measurement process to measure the play number T is conducted. After that, subsequent each process is repeated and if it is determined that the payout rate condition is satisfied, it proceeds to the step 139 and step 140 to conduct the special condition game process.

(Figure-Absent Game Process)

Further, when it is determined that “9” is not set to the reading flag in the step 2 as shown in FIG. 10, the program in the slot machine 1A proceeds to the step 4 where a figure-absent game process is conducted. In the figure-absent game process, processes similar to those conducted in the previously described base condition game process (refer to the step 140 in FIG. 23) are conducted and the main process is completed.

In the foregoing operation processes, if the FIG. 90 is removed and the reading flag is cleared, it is set that the game process with the figure is completed, but it may be set that the game process with the figure is completed if the bonus game is conducted in the special condition game process (step 140 in FIG. 23).

Next, an explanation is made for the change in the game mode of the slot machine 1A with reference to the timing charts in FIGS. 27 and 28. In FIGS. 27 and 28, the base game (base game mode) repeated by n (i) (‘i’ is an integer number) is indicated in an identifiable way, and a number in parentheses (i) indicates the number of games conducted consecutively. Further, the base game mode where no figure is set is denoted by M1, the base game mode at a base probability (the third shift condition (equivalent to the first condition in Embodiment 1)) where a figure is set is denoted by M2, and the base game mode at a high probability (the fourth shift condition (equivalent to the second condition in Embodiment 1)) is denoted by M3. The solid line shows which mode the game is in.

In the timing chart shown in FIG. 27, the figure-present game process is conducted repeatedly, with the FIG. 90 being set (step 3 in FIG. 10). The game mode is in the base game mode of M2 (step 132 in FIG. 23) with the base probability from the game n (1) to the game n(4). Then, upon the completion of the game n(3), the play number T reaches the specific number K and since the payout rate condition is determined to be satisfied by the payout rate having been obtained after the completion of game n(4), the game mode is shifting to the base game mode of M3 with a high probability in the game n(5) and thereafter (step 140 in FIG. 23). After that, the game mode is shifting to the bonus game in game n(6) such that the payout rate condition is not satisfied and the game mode is shifting to the base game mode of M2 with the base probability in the game n(7) and thereafter.

In the timing chart shown in FIG. 28, the figure-present game process is conducted repeatedly with the FIG. 90 being set (step 3 of FIG. 10), and the game mode is in the base game mode of M2 (step 132 of FIG. 23) with the base probability from game n (1) through to game n (2). By completion of game n(3), the play number T reaches the specific number K and it is determined that the payout rate condition is satisfied from the payout rate having been obtained after the completion of game n(5) and the game mode is in the base game mode of M3 with the high probability from the game n (5) (step 140 of FIG. 23). Thereafter, the figure is removed in the middle of the game of n (5) and the figure-present game process ends and the game mode is in the figure-absent game process with the base game mode M1.

As described above, in the slot machine 1A, if the payout rate in the game with the figure set satisfies the payout rate condition, the special condition game process (shift determination under the fourth shift condition) is conducted. And in the special condition game process, the shift probability is set higher so as to shift the bonus game (special game mode) easier. Therefore, in the slot machine 1A, the likeliness to shift to the bonus game (shift easiness) varies whether the figure is set or not and the payout rate condition to raise the shift easiness varies depending on the figure ID (game-related information) stored in the figure. And the payout rate varies by elements such as the insertion number of coins, the number of consumed credits, and the number of payout that are directly connected to the winning or losing, which the player is aware of, and it is difficult to predict the winning or losing finally in the game because it is not easy to foresee if the game mode shifts to the bonus game or not since the payout rate condition varies to change the shift easiness. Therefore, the player can enjoy playing continuously the game hoping to win the game finally and be provided with an incentive to play the game repeatedly.

Also, in the slot machine 1A, the payout rate is a determination factor to raise the shift easiness and the mode with the shift easiness continues as long as the payout rate condition is satisfied. Therefore, the payout rate of the player who has used many coins to play the game has less variation width if compared to another player who uses a few coins and the former player may have more opportunities to hold the mode in which it is likely to shift to the special game mode than the latter player so that the player is provided with an incentive to play the game repeatedly.

Further, the shift easiness varies depending on the figure to be used, and the player may be provided with an incentive that he or she continues to play the game, anticipating that he or she may get the bonus game shift more easily with this figure by replacing the figures. Then, the player keeps the figure as if it were a good luck amulet and also has a willingness to collect figures more passionately.

Also, in the slot machine A1, when the play number is more than the specific number, the payout rate condition is determined to be satisfied or not. Therefore, it is possible to raise the shift easiness for the player who is supposed to be losing by using so many coins in the number of games he or she has played wherein the number is greater than the specific number as opposed to another player who has played a certain number of games, the number being less than the specific number, and has used a small number of coins (the player with less loss). Therefore, it is possible to relieve the former player such that he or she can be provided with an incentive to play the game repeatedly.

In the slot machine 1A, the payout rate condition is determined according to the figure ID (identification information). In addition to the figure ID, the payout rate condition itself may be stored in the figure and the payout rate condition is read, together with the figure ID, thereby determining the payout rate condition directly. A plurality of payout rate conditions are stored and any one of the read payout rate conditions may be determined by lottery.

In this instance, the payout rate condition may be included in the game-related information.

s game (special game mode) on the basis of the second shift condition.

Then, an explanation will be made for the slot machine 1B of Embodiment 4 by referring to FIG. 19 since the configuration is the same as that of Embodiment 2. FIG. 19 is a perspective view showing a general configuration of the slot machine 1B of the present embodiment, and FIG. 20 is a block diagram of the slot machine 1B which mainly shows the internal constitution.

The slot machine 1B is provided with a plurality of arrays (three arrays) of the variable display parts which display variable display images of a plurality of symbols in place of the reels 3L, 3C, 3R of the slot machine 1A, and configured so as to conduct a variable display image game (video slot game) by using variable display images displayed at individually variable display parts.

As with the slot machine 1A, in the slot machine 1B a game is started by using coins and credits and the CPU 32 operates as game progress control means for controlling the game progress in the base game mode and the special game mode. And if the figure ID is readable, the figure-present game process is conducted whereas the figure-absent game process is conducted if it is not readable. And the figure-present game process is repeated as long as the figure ID is readable. Further, in the figure-present game process, if the payout rate condition is satisfied, the special condition game process is conducted. In the following, the configuration of the slot machine 1B is explained, the configuration of the slot machine 1B is basically the same as the slot machine 1A and the same numeral references are used to the same elements and duplicated explanation will be omitted.

The main display 5 of the slot machine 1B has a total of nine variable display parts (3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3e, 3f, 3g, 3h and 3i) which are disposed in three arrays both vertically and horizontally. The main display 5 is designed in such a way that a scroll display image (reel image to be displayed as if a mechanical reel were rotated) can be displayed in the base game mode (base game) and the special game mode (free game) as if a plurality of symbols were moved from the top to bottom in each of the variable display parts from 3a through 3i. Further, in FIG. 19, activated lines (L1 to L3) are provided in three vertical arrays. However, eight activated lines in total including the variable display parts 3a to 3i in three arrays each vertically and horizontally and arrays which are diagonally disposed may be provided.

As shown in FIG. 20, the slot machine 1B is provided with a plurality of components including a microcomputer 31. The CPU (central process unit) 32 operates as game progress control means, reading determination means, shift determination means, condition determination means and payout rate determination means of the present invention. The IC chip reader/writer 19c may be one of the examples of the reading means.

Then, a description is made for an operation content of the slot machine 1B. A main process of the slot machine 1B is substantially the same as that of the slot machine 1A, but different in the symbol determination processes conducted in the base condition lottery process and the special condition lottery process. To be more specific, in the slot machine 1B, a symbol is determined and a variable display of the determined symbol is stopped and fixedly displayed at each of the variable display parts from 3a through 3i. Thus, it is this symbol that is to be stopped and displayed. Further, it is determined that the shift condition to the bonus game (shift condition from the base game mode to the special game mode) is to stop and display the WILD symbol (refer to W1 in FIG. 26) and the probability of stopping and displaying the WILD symbol (shift probability) is designed to be higher in the special condition game process than in the base condition game process in the figure-absent game process or the figure-present game process. Therefore, in the special condition game process, the game mode shifts more easily from the base game mode to the special game mode. Further, in the slot machine 1B where the reels 3L, 3C, and 3R are not used, the number of symbols is not so limited as with the slot machine 1A and it is possible to change the shift probability with ease by changing types of symbols corresponding to random numbers.

The slot machine 1B also has the same actions and effects as the slot machine 1A, whereby the player may feel it is difficult to predict the shift to the bonus game, and the player may continue to play the game hoping to win finally so that an incentive to play the game repeatedly may be provided to the player.

Then, a description is made for an embodiment related to the gaming system of the present invention. FIG. 21 is a block diagram showing a general configuration of the gaming system according to the present embodiment since Embodiment 3 is configured in the same way as Embodiment 1. The gaming system 100 is provided with a shop server 20 installed in a gaming shop and a plurality of slot machines 1C (four units in the present embodiment) connected communicatively with the shop server 20. In the gaming shop, the shop server 20 is connected to each of the slot machines 1C via dedicated lines to form an in-shop LAN.

The shop server 20 may be an example of the gaming server of the present invention, and the slot machine 1C may be an example of the gaming machine. The slot machine 1C is provided with variable display means which variably displays a plurality of symbols in a similar manner as explained with the slot machine 1A of previously described Embodiment 3. The slot machine 1C is so configured as to conduct a variable display game in which a winning combination is determined according to the symbol to be stopped and displayed among the plurality of variably displayed symbols.

Further, as with the previously described slot machine 1B of Embodiment 4, the slot machine 1C may be provided with variable display parts in the plurality of arrays (3 arrays) which display variable display images of the plurality of symbols and configured in such a way that a variable display image game (slot game) can be conducted by using variable display images displayed on the respective variable display parts.

The shop server 20 is provided with a CPU 201, a ROM 202, a RAM 203, a communication processor 204 and a communication controller 205. The ROM 202 stores a reference symbol determination table. The payout rate condition table (refer to FIG. 25) may be the same table as the previously described one and provided with the identification information field and the code number field (of the symbol).

The CPU 201 operates to read and write data from and into the RAM 203 according to the program stored in the ROM 202. The communication controller 205 actuates the communication processor 204 according to the instructions of the CPU 201, to send and receive data from and to the slot machines 1C. Further, the CPU 201 operates as condition determination means and determines the payout rate condition on the basis of the figure ID having been sent from each of the slot machines 1C and makes the communication processor 204 send data of the payout rate condition to the each slot machine 1C. As described so far, the communication processor 204 receives the game-related information (for example, figure ID) from the slot machines 1C and sends predetermined data (for example, data of the payout rate condition) to the slot machines 1C. Therefore, the communication processor 204 may be an example of the communication processing means of the gaming server of the present invention.

The slot machine 1C is similar in the configuration to the slot machine 1A, but different from the previously described slot machine 1A in that it has a communication controller 75 and a communication processor 76. Therefore, the same symbols are used the same elements to omit a duplicated description. The communication controller 75 and the communication processor 76 are connected via an I/O port 39 to the CPU 32. The communication controller 75 operates the communication processor 76 to send and receive data from and to the shop server 20 according to the instructions of the CPU 201. The communication processor 75 may be an example of the communication processing means of the gaming machine of the present invention. Further, as with the previously described slot machine 1A, the slot machine 1C is provided with a CPU 32, a figure installation unit 19, an IC chip reader/writer 19c, a figure detection sensor (not shown) and others. The CPU 32 may operate as game progress control means, reading determination means, shift determination means, calculation means, condition determination means and payout rate determination means. The IC chip reader/writer 19c may be an example of the reading means.

Operation contents of the above-described gaming system 100 are described with reference to the flowchart shown in FIG. 29 by explaining mainly an operation of one of the slot machines 1C. FIG. 29 is a flowchart showing operation procedures in a main process from the start to the end of the game in the slot machine 1C. Here, one of the several slot machines 1C installed in the gaming shop is described by way of example. Further, in the following description, if any of the operation procedures are the same as those in each process of the previously described slot machine 1A, the same process names are used to omit detailed descriptions. In FIG. 29, “step” is abbreviated as “S.”

In the gaming system 100, the CPU 32 of the slot machine 1C operates as game progress control means, thereby controlling the progress of the game. Then, as shown in FIG. 29, when the main process is started, prior to starting the game, the CPU 32 conducts a figure information reading acceptance process in the step 401, and proceeds to the step 402. In the step 402, the CPU 32 operates as reading determination means and conducts a figure-absent game process (step 403) by determining that the figure is not readable if “9” is not set to the reading flag. Then, the main process is completed.

On the other hand, when “9” is set to the reading flag, the figure ID is determined to be readable, and the program in the slot machine 1C proceeds to the step 404 where an ID sending process is conducted. When the figure ID sending process is started, the CPU 32 instructs the communication controller 75 to send the figure ID stored in the RAM 33 from the communication processor 76 to the shop server 20. In the shop server 20, on receipt of the figure ID, the CPU 201 operates as condition determination means to provide the identification information of the received figure ID as a search key, obtains the payout rate condition with reference to the payout rate condition table (refer to FIG. 25) stored in the ROM 202, and sends the data of the payout rate conditon to the gaming machine 1C (the gaming machine 1C which has sent the figure ID) by the communication processor 204.

The slot machine 1C waits until data of the payout rate condition is received in the step 405. On receipt of the data, the CPU 32 stores the data of the payout rate condition in the RAM 33.

In a subsequent step 406 and the following each step, the base condition game process is repeated if the payout rate condition is not satisfied. As long as the payout rate condition is satisfied, the special condition game process is repeated. Also, if the FIG. 90 is removed from the figure installation unit 19c, the main process ends. In the step 406 and the subsequent processes, each process is the same as the one conducted in the slot machine 1A and the explanation is omitted.

The slot machine 1B of the present embodiment also has the same actions and effects as the previously described slot machines 1A and 1B, whereby a player finds it difficult to predict when a game mode shifts to a bonus game, even if the player focuses on a stopped symbol. Therefore, the player is able to continue the game with a fresh sensation and is not tired of playing the game. The player enjoys playing the game continuously hoping the final winning and an incentive to play the game repeatedly is provided.

A description was given above for the gaming machine and the gaming system of the present invention according to the respective embodiments. However, the present invention shall not be limited to the above-described embodiments. For example, the number of reels is not limited to three, and, for example, five reels or nine reels may be available.

In addition to the liquid crystal display devices 41, 101, another device which can display an image (e.g., a display device using an organic EL) can applies to the present invention. Also, in the above embodiment, the slot machine as an example of the gaming machine is explained. The present invention may be applied to a card gaming machine where a card game can be played by displaying card images illustrating cards and a mahjong gaming machine where the mahjong may be played.

Further, in the above-described embodiments, the figure ID for specifying a figure as the game-related information is referred to and described. However, this invention is not limited to the figure ID alone and acceptable are, for example, time at which the game article is used to play the game (period from when the game-related information is read by a reading means to when it becomes not readable), play history information such as the number of times when the game article is used to play the game, and direct information to determine the specified condition (e.g., determined differential number). Then, in particular, the play history information is to be renewed by a gaming machine during the game or after completion of the game.

Also, in the above-described embodiment, once the payout rate condition is determined, it cannot be changed until the figure is removed. However, it is possible to conduct the determination at any time. For example, the shift determination is conducted by using the fourth shift condition, and it may be set that the payout rate condition is determined again after the special game mode (bonus game) is conducted. Also, the payout rate condition is not limited to the predetermined value or less, for example, the value can be more than the predetermined value such that a predetermined range having the upper limit and the lower limit.

Also, the game media information of the present invention is not limited to the credits corresponding to the coin insertion number. For example, monetary information or credit stored in the media information storage means such as a prepaid card and an electronic magnetic card may be applied. In this instance, the media information storage means is inserted in the gaming machine, and the game is started by using predetermined media information stored in the media information storage means.

Further, the game article is not limited to the figure, but may include a card and a cassette. A mode of storing the game-related information in the game article is not limited to a non-contact type data-readable IC chip, but may include a contact-type data storage means. It is also acceptable to paste a seal or a sticker on which a bar code or two-dimensional code is printed onto the article, without providing a so called data-storage means such as memory, and an information display part having the information storing function by a direct printing or marking of a game article may be provided so that the game article can store the game-related information. The two-dimensional code is also called a two-dimensional bar code, for example, QR code (registered trade mark of Denso Wave Incorporated). This two-dimensional code contains a large volume of information in which data several dozens to several hundreds of times greater than what the bar code is encoded. Where this type of information display part is provided, a bar code reader is installed as a reading means in place of the previously described IC chip reader/writer.

By way of example, there is also provided a gaming machine and a gaming system in which a player can play a game to have an anticipation of shifting to a special game mode, but the player may feel it difficult to predict the shift to a bonus game even he or she focuses on a symbol to be stopped and displayed so that he or she may be provided with an incentive to play the game repeatedly.

There is also provided a gaming machine comprising: a variable display means for displaying plural variably displayed symbols and a symbol determination means for determining a symbol to be stopped and displayed among a plurality of variably displayed symbols, the gaming machine is further provided with reading means for reading the game-related information from a game article which stores the game-related information including identification information for discriminating oneself from others, play history information and information on other games, reading determination means for determining whether the game-related information read by the reading means should be read or not, shift determination means in which a shift determination for determining whether a game mode shifts from a base game mode to a special game mode or not is made with reference to the first shift condition when determined not to be readable by the reading determination means and made with reference to the second shift condition which shifts more easily to a special game mode than the first shift condition when determined to be readable, and reference symbol determination means for determining a reference symbol to determine whether the shift determination means is allowed to make a possible shift determination according to the second shift condition by using the game-related information read by the reading means, wherein the shift determination means makes a shift determination with reference to the second shift condition when the reading determination means determines that the game-related information is readable and the symbol to be stopped and displayed is a reference symbol determined by the reference symbol determination means.

In this gaming machine, a shift determination is made with reference to the first shift condition when the game-related information stored in a game article is not readable, and made with reference to the second shift condition which shifts more easily to a special game mode than the first shift condition when it is readable and the symbol to be stopped and displayed is a reference symbol determined by using the game-related information. Therefore, easiness in shifting to a special game mode may vary depending on the symbol to be stopped and displayed. Further, the reference symbol may vary depending on a game article.

Further, the above-described gaming machine is provided with image display means having a plurality of variable display parts which display variable display images of a plurality of symbols and symbol determination means for determining a symbol to be stopped and displayed at the respective variable display parts of the image display means, the gaming machine further provided with reading means for reading the game-related information from a game article which stores the game-related information including identification information for discriminating oneself from others, play history information and information on other games, reading determination means for determining whether the game-related information read by the reading means should be read or not, shift determination means in which a shift determination for determining whether a game mode shifts from a base game mode to a special game mode or not is made with reference to the first shift condition when determined not to be readable by the reading determination means and made with reference to the second shift condition which shifts more easily to a special game mode than the first shift condition when determined to be readable, and reference symbol determination means for determining a reference symbol to be determined for determining whether the shift determination means is allowed to make a possible shift determination according to the second shift condition by using the game-related information read by the reading means, wherein the shift determination means makes a shift determination with reference to the second shift condition when the reading determination means determines that the game-related information is readable and the symbol to be stopped and displayed is a reference symbol determined by the reference symbol determination means.

In this gaming machine, a shift determination is made with reference to the first shift condition when the game-related information stored in a game article is not readable, and made with reference to the second shift condition which shifts the game mode more easily to the special game mode than the first shift condition when it is readable and the symbol to be stopped and displayed is a reference symbol determined by using the game-related information. Therefore, easiness in shifting to the special game mode may vary depending on the symbol to be stopped and displayed. Further, the reference symbol may vary depending on the game article.

Further, there is also provided a gaming machine comprising: variable display means for displaying a plurality of variably displayed symbols and symbol determination means for determining a symbol to be stopped and displayed among a plurality of variably displayed symbols. There is also provided a gaming system comprising: a gaming server connected to the gaming machine.

The gaming machine is further provided with reading means for reading the game-related information from a game article which stores the game-related information including identification information for discriminating oneself from others, play history information and other information of the game, reading determination means for determining whether the game-related information read by the reading means should be read or not, and communication processing means for sending to a gaming server data of the game-related information read by the reading means and receiving the data from the gaming server.

Shift determination means makes a shift determination for determining whether a game mode shifts from a base game mode to a special game mode or not with reference to the first shift condition when the reading determination means determines that the game-related information is not readable and made with reference to the second shift condition which shifts more easily to a special game mode than the first shift condition when readable.

The gaming server is provided with a communication processor for receiving the game-related information from the gaming machine and sending predetermined data to the gaming machine and reference symbol determination means for determining a reference symbol to determine whether the shift determination means is allowed to make a possible shift determination according to the second shift condition by using the game-related information sent from the gaming machine.

The communication processor of the gaming server sends to the gaming machine the data of the reference symbol determined by the reference symbol determination means. And the shift determination means of the gaming machine makes a shift determination with reference to the second shift condition when the symbol to be stopped and displayed is a reference symbol based on the data sent from the gaming server.

In the above-described gaming system, a shift determination is made with reference to the first shift condition when the game-related information stored in the game article is not readable, and made with reference to the second shift condition which shifts more easily to the special game mode than the first shift condition when it is readable and the symbol to be stopped and displayed is a reference symbol based on the data received from the gaming server. Therefore, easiness in shifting to the special game mode may vary depending on the symbol to be stopped and displayed. Further, the reference symbol may vary depending on the game article.

Here, there is also provided a gaming machine and a gaming system that may provide an incentive to play the game repeatedly as a player is anticipating the shift to the bonus game while the shift easiness may vary depending on the winning or losing by the coin payout.

There is also provided a gaming machine comprising game progress control means for controlling a progress of a game that is started by using game media or media information corresponding to the game media. The gaming machine comprising: reading means for reading game-related information including identification information for identifying a game article, play history information and other game information from the game article storing the game-related information; reading determination means for determining whether or not the reading means can read the game-related information; shift determination means for determining whether or not a game mode is to be shifted from a base game mode to a special game mode under a first shift condition upon a determination that the reading means cannot read the game-related information by the reading determination means; and for determining whether or not the game mode is to be shifted from the base game mode to the special game mode under a second shift condition providing higher probability of the shift to the special game mode than the first shift condition upon a determination that the reading means can read the game-related information by the reading determination means; calculation means for calculating a payout rate from a payout number of the game media paid out by the gaming machine and a consumed number of the game media or a number of the consumed game media; condition determination means for determining a payout rate condition to determine whether or not the shift determination means conducts the shift determination under the second condition; and payout rate determination means for determining whether the payout rate condition by the condition determination means is satisfied or not under the payout rate having been determined by the calculation means. The shift determination means conducts the shift determination under the second condition when it is determined that the reading means can read the game-related information and when it is determined that the payout rate condition is satisfied.

In this gaming machine, the shift is determined under the first condition when the game-related information being stored in the game article is not readable. When it is readable and the payout rate satisfies the payout rate condition being determined by using the game-related information, the shift is determined under the second shift condition that provides more easiness than the first shift condition. Therefore, the shift easiness may vary depending on the payout rate. And it may vary depending on the payout rate condition.

Further, the above calculation means calculates the payout rate of the game repeated for a plurality of times in a state that the reading determination means determines that the game-related information is readable. The shift determination means may conduct the shift determination under the second shift condition when the payout rate determination means determines that the payout rate condition is satisfied and when the reading determination means determines that the game-related information is readable and when the play number that the game is played repeatedly is greater than the specific number, which is a contingent condition that the payout rate determination means makes a determination.

Here, that the game-related information is readable may mean that the reading means can read the game-related information from the game article and/or that the game-related information is in such a condition that it can be read. For example, the game-related information may be readable when the game article storing it is placed on a predetermined position whereas the game-related information may be unreadable when the game article is placed on another position than the predetermined position. The other position may include a position distant from the gaming machine.

In this gaming machine, when the play number that the game is played repeatedly is greater than the specific number and when the reading determination means determines that the game-related information is readable, the payout rate of the repeated game is calculated and the shift is determined under the second condition providing more shift easiness to the special game mode than the first shift condition when the payout rate satisfies the payout rate condition determined by the game-related information. Therefore, the shift easiness may vary depending on the play number and the payout rate.

There is also provided a gaming system comprising: a gaming machine comprising game progress control means for controlling a progress of a game that is started by using game media or media information corresponding to the game media, and a gaming server to be connected to the gaming machine.

The gaming machine comprises: reading means for reading game-related information including identification information for identifying a game article, play history information and other game information from the game article storing the game-related information; reading determination means for determining whether or not the reading means can read the game-related information; shift determination means for determining whether or not a game mode is to be shifted from a base game mode to a special game mode under a first shift condition upon a determination that the reading means cannot read the game-related information by the reading determination means; and for determining whether or not the game mode is to be shifted from the base game mode to the special game mode under a second shift condition providing higher probability of the shift to the special game mode than the first shift condition upon a determination that the reading means can read the game-related information by the reading determination means; calculation means for calculating a payout rate from a payout number of the game media paid out by the gaming machine and a consumed number of the game media or a number of the consumed game media; communication processing means for sending (or transmitting) data of the game-related information having been read by the reading means to the gaming server, and receiving data from the gaming server; and payout rate determination means for determining whether the payout rate condition by the condition determination means is satisfied or not under the payout rate having been sent from the server.

The server comprises a communication processor for receiving the game-related information from the game server and sending predetermined data to the gaming machine; and condition determination means for determining a payout rate condition based on the game-related information to determine whether or not the shift determination means conducts the shift determination under the second condition.

The communication processor of the gaming server sends data of the payout rate condition determined by the condition determination means. And the shift determination means conducts the shift determination under the second condition when the payout rate determination means determines that the payout rate condition is satisfied.

In this gaming system, the shift determination is made under the first shift condition when the game-related information stored in the game article is readable. Further, the shift determination is made under the second shift condition when the game-related information is readable, when the payout rate satisfies the payout rate condition based on the data received from the gaming serve, wherein the second shift condition provides more shift easiness to the special game mode than the first shift condition. Thus, the shift easiness may vary depending on the payout rate. And the payout rate condition may vary depending on the game article.

In the present invention, a gaming machine and a gaming system are provided in which the player can play the game in anticipation of shift to the special game mode or may find it difficult to predict when the game shifts to the bonus game while focusing on a symbol to be stopped and displayed to give an incentive to play the game repeatedly.

In the above gaming machine, the shift easiness to the bonus game may vary depending on the winning or losing based on the coin payout such that the game may provide the player with an incentive to play the game repeatedly while having anticipation to shift to the bonus game.

There is also provided a gaming machine in which a game including a base game mode and a special game mode is played and payout is conducted based on one or more symbols displayed. The gaming machine comprises an image display device for displaying the one or more symbols variably; and a reading device for reading game-related information including identification information for identifying a game article and play history information from the game article storing the game-related information. The reading device attempts to read the identification information from the game article so as to determine whether or not the identification information is readable. It is determined that the base game mode is to be shifted to the special game mode under a first shift condition upon determining that the identification information is not readable. The determination of the shift is made under a second condition that provides higher probability to be shifted to the special game mode than the first shift condition upon determining that the identification information is readable and that another condition is satisfied.