Title:
Slot machine and playing method thereof
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A liquid crystal display of a slot machine has 5-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas. Symbols are scrolled in each of the display areas and then stopped. On this occasion, a game shifts to a bonus game when an “APPLE” symbol stops in inner display areas among the display areas. In the bonus game, firstly, the main CPU arranges an award mark in a specific position among outer periphery display areas. After that, the award mark is moved in the outer periphery display areas and then stopped. The main CPU then awards a payout according to the symbol where the award mark has stopped. As a result, it is possible to enhance a player's expectations and also produce excellent entertaining effects.



Inventors:
Yoshizawa, Kazumasa (Tokyo, JP)
Application Number:
11/905034
Publication Date:
06/05/2008
Filing Date:
09/27/2007
Assignee:
Aruze Corp. (Tokyo, JP)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24; A63F5/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WEATHERFORD, SYVILA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
POLSINELLI PC / WATCHSTONE LLP (Houston, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A slot machine comprising: a display having an at least 3-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas on each of which symbol is arranged; and a controller operable to: (a) shift a game from a base game to a bonus game when a specific symbol is rearranged in an inner display area, which is the display area being contiguous with other display areas on all upper, lower, right and left sides; (b) arrange an award mark in a specific position among outer periphery display areas, which are the display areas other than the inner display area, when the bonus game starts; (c) move the award mark sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stop the award mark; (d) determine a payout amount according to a symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped; and (e) award a payout according to the determined payout amount.

2. The slot machine according to claim 1, wherein the controller is operable to: (i) arrange a plurality of the award marks in the (b); and (ii) determine an added-up total value, which is added-up all the payout amounts corresponding to the plurality of the award marks, as the payout amount in the (d).

3. The slot machine according to claim 2, wherein the controller is operable to: (i) arrange a plurality of the award marks in the (b); and (ii) determine a highest value, which is highest among the payout amounts corresponding to the plurality of the award marks, as the payout amount in the (d).

4. A slot machine comprising: a display having an at least 3-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas on each of which symbol is arranged; and a controller operable to: (a) shift a game from a base game to a bonus game when a specific symbol is rearranged in an inner display area, which is the display area being contiguous with other display areas on all upper, lower, right and left sides; (b) arrange an award mark in a specific position among outer periphery display areas, which are the display areas other than the inner display area, when the bonus game starts; (c) move the award mark sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stop the award mark; (d) determine a payout amount according to a symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped and the number of the specific symbols rearranged in the inner display areas; and (e) award a payout according to the determined payout amount.

5. The slot machine according to claim 4, wherein the controller is operable to: (i) arrange a plurality of the award marks in the (b); and (ii) determine an added-up total value, which is added-up all the payout amounts corresponding to the plurality of the award marks, as the payout amount in the (d).

6. The slot machine according to claim 4, wherein the controller is operable to: (i) arrange a plurality of the award marks in the (b); and (ii) determine a highest value, which is highest among the payout amounts corresponding to the plurality of the award marks, as the payout amount in the (d).

7. A slot machine comprising: a display having an at least 3-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas on each of which symbol is arranged; and a controller operable to: (a) shift a game from a base game to a bonus game when a specific symbol is rearranged in an inner display area, which is the display area being contiguous with other display areas on all upper, lower, right and left sides; (b) arrange an award mark in a specific position among outer periphery display areas, which are the display areas other than the inner display area, when the bonus game starts; (c) move the award mark sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stop the award mark; (d) determine a payout amount according to a symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped and whether or not the specific symbol is rearranged in a specific area consisting of at least one of the inner display areas; and (e) award a payout according to the determined payout amount.

8. The slot machine according to claim 7, wherein the controller is operable to: (i) arrange a plurality of the award marks in the (b); and (ii) determine an added-up total value, which is added-up all the payout amounts corresponding to the plurality of the award marks, as the payout amount in the (d).

9. The slot machine according to claim 8, wherein the controller is operable to: (i) arrange a plurality of the award marks in the (b); and (ii) determine a highest value, which is highest among the payout amounts corresponding to the plurality of the award marks, as the payout amount in the (d).

10. A playing method of a slot machine having a display which has an at least 3-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas on each of which symbol is arranged, the method comprising: (a) shifting a game from a base game to a bonus game when a specific symbol is rearranged in an inner display area, which is the display area being contiguous with other display areas on all upper, lower, right and left; (b) arranging an award mark in a specific position in outer periphery display areas, which display areas other than the inner display area, when the bonus game starts; (c) moving the award mark sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stopping the award mark; (d) determining a payout amount according to a symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped; and (e) awarding a payout according to the determined payout amount.

11. The playing method according to claim 10, wherein (i) arranging a plurality of the award marks in the (b); and (ii) determining an added-up total value, which is added-up all the payout amounts corresponding to the plurality of the award marks, as the payout amount in the (d).

12. The playing method according to claim 10, wherein (i) arranging a plurality of the award marks in the (b); and (ii) determining a highest value, which is highest among the payout amounts corresponding to the plurality of the award marks, as the payout amount in the (d).

13. A playing method of a slot machine having a display which has an at least 3-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas on each of which symbol is arranged, the method comprising: (a) shifting a game from a base game to a bonus game when a specific symbol is rearranged in an inner display area, which is the display area being contiguous with other display areas on all upper, lower, right and left; (b) arranging an award mark in a specific position in outer periphery display areas, which display areas other than the inner display area, when the bonus game starts; (c) moving the award mark sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stopping the award mark; (d) determining a payout amount according to a symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped and the number of the specific symbols rearranged in the inner display areas; and (e) awarding a payout according to the determined payout amount.

14. The playing method according to claim 13, wherein (i) arranging a plurality of the award marks in the (b); and (ii) determining an added-up total value, which is added-up all the payout amounts corresponding to the plurality of the award marks, as the payout amount in the (d).

15. The playing method according to claim 13, wherein (i) arranging a plurality of the award marks in the (b); and (ii) determining a highest value, which is highest among the payout amounts corresponding to the plurality of the award marks, as the payout amount in the (d).

16. A playing method of a slot machine having a display which has an at least 3-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas on each of which symbol is arranged, the method comprising: (a) shifting a game from a base game to a bonus game when a specific symbol is rearranged in an inner display area, which is the display area being contiguous with other display areas on all upper, lower, right and left; (b) arranging an award mark in a specific position in outer periphery display areas, which display areas other than the inner display area, when the bonus game starts; (c) moving the award mark sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stopping the award mark; (d) determining a payout amount according to a symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped and whether or not the specific symbol is rearranged in a specific area consisting of at least one of the inner display areas; and (e) awarding a payout according to the determined payout amount.

17. The playing method according to claim 16, wherein (i) arranging a plurality of the award marks in the (b); and (ii) determining an added-up total value, which is added-up all the payout amounts corresponding to the plurality of the award marks, as the payout amount in the (d).

18. The playing method according to claim 16, wherein (i) arranging a plurality of the award marks in the (b); and (ii) determining a highest value, which is highest among the payout amounts corresponding to the plurality of the award marks, as the payout amount in the (d).

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is based upon the prior Japanese Patent Application No. 2006-272939, filed on Oct. 4, 2006, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a slot machine for playing games using game media such as coins and so on.

2. Description of the Related Art

Conventionally, in a facility in which slot machines are installed, games are played by inserting various game media, such as coins and cash, into the slot machine. In each slot machine, a payout is awarded according to an award obtained during the progress of a game (for example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,960,133).

There is a slot machine in which a base game shifts to a sub game among conventional slot machines. For this kind of the slot machine, it has been proposed to execute an effect that a character image is overlaid on symbols in display areas of video reels during the sub game (for example, Australian Patent Application No. PQ6296 [U.S. Pat. No. 6,634,941]).

However, the above-mentioned slot machine lacks in entertaining feature and a slot machine having higher entertaining feature has been desired.

An object of the present invention is to provide a slot machine capable of enhancing a player's expectations and producing highly entertaining effects, and a playing method thereof.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A first aspect of the present invention provides a slot machine which comprises: a display having an at least 3-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas on each of which symbol is arranged; and a controller. The controller is operable to: (a) shift a game from a base game to a bonus game when a specific symbol is rearranged in an inner display area, which is the display area being contiguous with other display areas on all upper, lower, right and left sides; (b) arrange an award mark in a specific position among outer periphery display areas, which are the display areas other than the inner display area, when the bonus game starts; (c) move the award mark sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stop the award mark; (d) determine a payout amount according to a symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped; and (e) award a payout according to the determined payout amount.

A second aspect of the present invention provides a slot machine which comprises: a display having an at least 3-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas on each of which symbol is arranged; and a controller. The controller is operable to: (a) shift a game from a base game to a bonus game when a specific symbol is rearranged in an inner display area, which is the display area being contiguous with other display areas on all upper, lower, right and left sides; (b) arrange an award mark in a specific position among outer periphery display areas, which are the display areas other than the inner display area, when the bonus game starts; (c) move the award mark sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stop the award mark; (d) determine a payout amount according to a symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped and the number of the specific symbols rearranged in the inner display areas; and (e) award a payout according to the determined payout amount.

A third aspect of the present invention provides a slot machine which comprises: a display having an at least 3-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas on each of which symbol is arranged; and a controller. The controller is operable to: (a) shift a game from a base game to a bonus game when a specific symbol is rearranged in an inner display area, which is the display area being contiguous with other display areas on all upper, lower, right and left sides; (b) arrange an award mark in a specific position among outer periphery display areas, which are the display areas other than the inner display area, when the bonus game starts; (c) move the award mark sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stop the award mark; (d) determine a payout amount according to a symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped and whether or not the specific symbol is rearranged in a specific area consisting of at least one of the inner display areas; and (e) award a payout according to the determined payout amount.

A fourth aspect of the present invention provides a playing method of a slot machine having a display which has an at least 3-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas on each of which symbol is arranged. The playing method comprises: (a) shifting a game from a base game to a bonus game when a specific symbol is rearranged in an inner display area, which is the display area being contiguous with other display areas on all upper, lower, right and left; (b) arranging an award mark in a specific position in outer periphery display areas, which display areas other than the inner display area, when the bonus game starts; (c) moving the award mark sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stopping the award mark; (d) determining a payout amount according to a symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped; and (e) awarding a payout according to the determined payout amount.

A fifth aspect of the present invention provides a playing method of a slot machine having a display which has an at least 3-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas on each of which symbol is arranged. The playing method comprises: (a) shifting a game from a base game to a bonus game when a specific symbol is rearranged in an inner display area, which is the display area being contiguous with other display areas on all upper, lower, right and left; (b) arranging an award mark in a specific position in outer periphery display areas, which display areas other than the inner display area, when the bonus game starts; (c) moving the award mark sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stopping the award mark; (d) determining a payout amount according to a symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped and the number of the specific symbols rearranged in the inner display areas; and (e) awarding a payout according to the determined payout amount.

A sixth aspect of the present invention provides a playing method of a slot machine having a display which has an at least 3-columns and 3-rows matrix display areas on each of which symbol is arranged. The playing method comprises: (a) shifting a game from a base game to a bonus game when a specific symbol is rearranged in an inner display area, which is the display area being contiguous with other display areas on all upper, lower, right and left; (b) arranging an award mark in a specific position in outer periphery display areas, which display areas other than the inner display area, when the bonus game starts; (c) moving the award mark sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stopping the award mark; (d) determining a payout amount according to a symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped and whether or not the specific symbol is rearranged in a specific area consisting of at least one of the inner display areas; and (e) awarding a payout according to the determined payout amount.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a flow chart schematically showing the processing procedure of a playing method of a slot machine in an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing an outside appearance of the slot machine in a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is an explanatory diagram showing symbols displayed on reels of the slot machine in the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is an explanatory diagram showing a payout table regulating a payout amount of the slot machine in the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing an internal configuration of the slot machine in the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a flow chart showing the procedure of game execution processing of the slot machine in the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a flow chart showing the procedure of bonus game processing of the slot machine in the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a flow chart showing the procedure of stop symbol determination processing of the slot machine in an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is an explanatory diagram showing display areas of the slot machine in the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is an explanatory diagram showing a display in the slot machine in the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a flow chart showing the procedure of bonus game processing of the slot machine in a second embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is an explanatory diagram showing a display in the slot machine in a third embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 13 is a flow chart showing the procedure of bonus game processing of the slot machine in the third embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENT

Embodiments of the present invention will be described below with reference to the drawings.

FIG. 1 is a flow chart schematically showing a playing method of a slot machine of a first embodiment of the present invention. The schematic operation of the slot machine and the playing method of the present invention will be described below with reference to the flowchart shown in FIG. 1 and a perspective view shown in FIG. 2.

In the slot machine of the present embodiment, authentication processing is firstly executed after power-on activation (step S100). In the authentication processing, initial checking processing is executed prior to starting a base game, in order to check whether or not programs for operating system run properly, and whether or not there is any alteration of programs, etc.

Next, the base game is executed (step S200). A display window 15 is provided on the front of a cabinet 11. A liquid crystal display (LCD) 17 is installed inside the display window 15. Total fifteen (5-columns and 3-rows) display areas 28 (28a1 to 28e3) are provided on the LCD 17. In each of the base games, symbol are scrolled and stopped (rearranged) on each of the each of the display areas 28. Suffixes “a” to “e” of the display areas 28 indicate columns and suffixes “1” to “3” indicate rows (refer to FIG. 9).

Next, it is determined whether or not a bonus game has been triggered (step S300). The bonus game is executed when a specific symbol stops in inner display areas. The inner display area is, among a plurality of display areas 28, the display area 28 that are contiguous with other display areas 28 on the four sides. Here, the term “contiguous” does not necessarily mean a state of “closely-attached” with another display areas 28, and may include a state of “contiguous at some interval”. For example, the inner display areas include the display area 28b2 in the second row and second column, the display area 28c2 in the second row and third column, and the display area 28d2 in the second row and fourth column shown in FIG. 9. The bonus game is executed when the specific symbol (for example, “APPLE”), which is a bonus trigger, stops in any one of the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2 in the second row and second to fourth columns (refer to FIG. 10).

When the bonus game has not been triggered (NO in step S300), the processing proceeds to step S100. On the other hand, when the bonus game has been triggered (YES in step S300), the bonus game is executed. In the bonus game, firstly, an award mark(s) is arranged (step S400). The award mark is arranged in a specific position among outer periphery display areas. The outer periphery display areas consist of the display areas 28a1 to 28e1 in the first row, the display area 28a2 in the second row and first column, the display area 28e2 in the second row and fifth column, and the display areas 28a3 to 28e3 in the third row shown in FIG. 9. For example, a horse mark is used as the award mark H in FIG. 10. However, the award mark H is not limited to the horse mark. For example, a frame surrounding one display area 28 or a different colored background color is changed may be used as an award mark.

After that, the award mark H moves sequentially through and is displayed on the outer periphery display areas 28a1 to 28e1, 28a2, 28e2, 28a3 to 28e3 (step S500). Here, the award mark H may be sequentially rearranged (moved) clockwise (or counterclockwise) on the outer periphery display areas 28a1 to 28e1, 28a2, 28e2, 28a3 to 28e3, or may be sequentially rearranged (moved) at random. When the award mark H is a horse mark and if the horse mark is sequentially rearranged clockwise (or counterclockwise) (that is, when the mark is moved clockwise or counterclockwise), it would remind the player of a horse race and entertaining feature is further enhanced.

Then, the rearrangement (movement) of the award mark H is terminated (step S600). Next, a payout amount is determined according to the symbol of the display area 28 where the award mark H stops and a payout is awarded (step S700). For example, when the symbol of the display area 28 where the award mark H stops is “APPLE”, 10 credits (coins) are paid out, when “CRAB”, five credits (coins) are paid out, and when “JOKER”, 100 credits (coins) are paid out.

Next, the configuration of a slot machine 10 in an embodiment of the present invention will be described with reference to the perspective view shown in FIG. 2. The slot machine 10 is installed in a gaming facility.

In the slot machine 10, coins, bills, and electronic value information equivalent thereto are used as game media for playing a base game. However, a game medium of the present invention is not limited in particular. For example, medals, tokens, electronic money and tickets may be used as game media. The above-mentioned ticket is not limited in particular. For example, an after-mentioned bar code ticket 39 is used.

As shown in FIG. 2, the slot machine 10 comprises a cabinet 11 and a top box 12 installed on the cabinet 11. A main door 13 is provided on the front of the cabinet 11.

An upper display panel 33 is provided on the upper portion of the cabinet 11 and a lower display panel 16 is provided on the center portion of the cabinet. A rectangle display window 15 is provided at the almost center of the lower display panel 16. An LCD (display) 17 is provided behind the display window 15. The LCD 17 is divided into fifteen (5 columns and 3 rows) display areas 28 (28a1 to 28e3, refer to FIG. 9). Consequently, symbols are scrolled on each of the display area 28 (28a1 to 28e3) of the LCD 17 and a player can visually recognize the scrolling symbols through the display window 15.

In the present embodiment, the LCD 17 has the 5-columns and 3-rows display areas 28. However, the LCD 17 is not limited to have the 5-columns and 3-rows display areas 28. The LCD 17 may have more than 3-columns and 3-rows. In other words, it is sufficient that there is an at least one display area 28 which is contiguous with other display areas 28 in the four direction (upper-lower and right-left: longitudinally and transversely).

The lower display panel 16 has a transmissive LCD to display various information, effect images, etc., relating to a game during the game. The lower display panel 16 has a credit counter 31 and a payout counter 32. The number of credited coins is displayed on the credit counter 31. A relationship between a number of symbols and a payout amount is displayed on the payout counter 32 as an image.

A control panel 20, the coin insertion slot 21 for accepting coins into the cabinet 11, and a bill validator 22 are provided below the lower display panel 16. The control panel 20 has plural buttons 23 to 27, through which the player can input directions relating to the game progress.

The control panel 20 includes a spin button 23, a change button 24, a cashout button 25, a 1-bet button 26, and a max-bet button 27. The spin button 23 is a button to start the scroll of the symbols in the display areas 28. The change button 24 is a button to request a staff in the gaming facility for exchange. The cashout button 25 is a button to cash out credited coins onto a coin tray 18.

The 1-bet button 26 is a button to bet one credit (coin) on the game. The max-bet button 27 is a button to bet the maximum number of credits (coins) that can be bet on a single game (for example, 3 credits).

The bill validator 22 validates whether or not the inserted bill is legitimate, and accepts the legitimate bill into the cabinet 11. In addition, the bill validator 22 may also read the after-mentioned bar code ticket 39. A decorative panel 34, on which the character of the slot machine 10 etc. is drawn, is provided on the lower front of the main door 13 (that is, below the control panel 20).

An upper display panel 33 is provided on the front of the top box 12. The upper display panel 33 is connected to a graphic board 68. For example, effect images, introduction of the content of the game, and the game rules are displayed on the upper display panel 33.

The top box 12 is provided with speakers 29 for audio output. A ticket printer 35, a card reader 36, a data display 37, and a keypad 38 are provided below the upper display panel 33. The ticket printer 35 prints out the bar code ticket 39. Data of the credit, the date, the identification number of the slot machine 10, etc. has been encoded into bar code and printed on the bar code ticket 39. The player can play games with another slot machine using the bar code ticket 39 and exchange the bar code ticket 39 with bills etc. at a cashier in the gaming facility.

The card reader 36 reads data from a smart card and writes data into the same. The smart card is carried by a player. For example, identification data of the player and the game history data are stored in the smart card.

The data display 37 is constituted by a fluorescent display and soon. For example, the data read by the card reader 36 and the data input by the player through the keypad 38 are displayed on the data display 37. Directions and data relating to ticket issuance are input through the keypad 38.

FIG. 3 is an explanatory diagram showing the symbols to be scrolled and then stopped in each of the display areas 28 (28a1 to 28e3) of the LCD 17. As shown in FIG. 3, the scrolled symbols are “PLUM”, “ORANGE”, “STARAWBERRY”, “APPLE”, “LOBSTER”, “CRAB” and “JOKER”.

FIG. 3 is an explanatory diagram showing a payout table. The setting between the stopped symbols on the display areas 28 (28a1 to 28e3) and the payout amount to be provided to the player is regulated in the payout table. As shown in FIG. 4, a bonus game trigger is triggered when at least one “STRAWBERRY” symbol is displayed on the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2 during the execution of the base games and then a bonus game will be started.

Alternatively, five credits (coins) will be awarded when the four “ORANGE” symbols are displayed on the display areas 28 and ten credits will be awarded when the four “ORANGE” symbols are displayed. Furthermore, five credits will be awarded when the three “PLUM” symbols are displayed on the display areas 28, ten credits will be awarded when the four “PLUM” symbols are displayed and fifteen credits will be awarded when the five “PLUM” symbols are displayed.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing the control circuit of the slot machine 10 in FIG. 2. A gaming board 50 includes a CPU (Central Processing Unit) 51, a ROM (Read Only Memory) 55, a boot ROM 52, a card slot 53S corresponding to a memory card 53, and an IC socket 54S corresponding to a GAL (Generic Array Logic) 54. These components are connected to one another by internal buses.

The memory card 53 has nonvolatile memory chips and stores game programs. The game programs include a stop symbol determination program. The stop symbol determination program is a program for determining symbols (code numbers corresponding to symbols) to be stopped in each of the display areas 28.

The card slot 53S is configured to be capable of inserting therein and removing there from the memory card 53. In addition, the card slot is connected to the motherboard 40 via an IDE bus. Consequently, by removing the memory card 53 from the card slot 53S, writing another game programs to the memory card 53, and reinserting the memory card 53 into the card slot 53S, it is possible to change the kinds and contents of the game played with the slot machine 10. The game program contains program relating to the progression of the game and also contains image and sound data to be output during the game.

The CPU 51, the ROM 55, and the boot ROM 52 connected to one another by the internal buses are connected to the motherboard 40 via the PCI bus. The PCI bus transmits signals between the motherboard 40 and the gaming board 50, and supplies electric power from the motherboard 40 to the gaming board 50. The motherboard 40 and the gaming board 50 constitute a controller 48.

The motherboard 40 is constituted by a versatile motherboard on the market (print circuit board already mounted basic components of a personal computer). The motherboard 40 includes a main CPU 41, a ROM 42, a RAM (Random Access Memory) 43 and a communication interface 44.

The ROM 42 is constituted by a memory device such as a flash memory chip. The ROM 42 stores programs, such as a BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) executed by the main CPU 41, and data used permanently. When the BIOS is executed by the main CPU 41, the initialization processing of peripheral devices is executed and read processing of the game program stored in the memory card 53 via the gaming board 50 is started. The ROM 42 can be replaced a rewritable memory, but can be only readable.

The RAM 43 stores data and programs used during the execution of processing by the main CPU 41. In addition, the RAM 43 can store the game program.

Furthermore, the RAM 43 stores data such as the number of the credits and the number of the coins inserted at a single game, the payout amount and so on.

A main PCB (print circuit board) 60 and a door PCB 80 (they are described later) are connected to the motherboard 40 via a USB (Universal Serial Bus). In addition, a power supply unit 45 is connected to the motherboard 40.

A device to generate an input signal to the main CPU 41 and a device to be controlled by a control signal from the main CPU 41 are connected to the main CPU 60 and the door PCB 80. The main CPU 41 executes the game program stored in the RAM 43 based on the input signal. Then, the main CPU 41 stores the result of the operation processing in the RAM 43 and executes prescribed processing to send the control signal to each device as control processing of each device.

Lamps 30, the sub CPU 61, a hopper 66, a coin detector 67, a graphic board 68, the speakers 29, the bill validator 22, the ticket printer 35, the card reader 36, a key switch 38S, and the data display 37 are connected to the main PCB 60. The lamps 30 illuminates with prescribe illuminating patterns according to a control signal output form the main CPU 41.

The sub CPU 61 is connected with a VDP (Video Display Processor) 46. The VDP 46 reads image data of the symbols stored in an image data ROM 47. Then, the VDP 46 generates display images to be displayed on the display areas 28 (28a1 to 28e3) of the LCD 17 from the read image data, and outputs the image data to the LCD 17.

A hopper 66 is installed within the cabinet 11, and cashes out a prescribed number of coins from a coin payout opening 19 onto the coin tray 18 based on a control signal from the main CPU 41. A coin detector 67 is installed inside the coin payout opening 19, and outputs a signal to the main CPU 41 when detecting that a prescribed number of coins have been cashed out from the coin payout opening 19.

The graphic board 68 controls image display processing on the upper display panel 33 and the lower display panel 16 based on the control signal from the main CPU 41. On the credit counter 31 of the lower display panel 16, credits stored in the RAM 43 are displayed. On the payout counter 32 on the lower display panel 16, the number of coins for payout is displayed.

The graphic board 68 includes a VDP (Video Display Processor) for generating image data based on the control signal from the main CPU 41, a video RAM for temporarily storing generated image data and so on. The image data, which id used in generating the image data by the VDP, is implemented in the game program, which has been read from the memory card 53 and stored in the RAM 43.

The bill validator 22 reads the image of the bill and accepts legitimate bills into the inside of the cabinet 11. In addition, when accepting the legitimate bill, the bill validator 22 outputs a signal about the amount of the bill to the main CPU 41. The main CPU 41 stores credits corresponding to the amount of the bill in the RAM 43 based on the signal.

The ticket printer 35 prints out the bar code ticket 39 that has bar-coded information (the data of the credits stored in the RAM 43, the date, the identification number of the slot machine 10, and so on).

The card reader 36 reads the data of the smart card and transmits it to the main CPU 41, and writes data to the smart card based on the control signal from the main CPU 41. The key switch 38S is provided in the keypad 38 and outputs a prescribed signal to the main CPU 41 during the player's operation of the keypad 38. The data display 37 displays the data read by the card reader 36 and the data input by the player via the keypad 38 based on the control signal from the main CPU 41.

The control panel 20, a reverter 21S, a coin counter 21C, and a cold cathode tube 81 are connected to the door PCB 80. The control panel 20 is provided with a spin switch 23S corresponding to the spin button 23, a change switch 24S corresponding to the change button 24, a cashout switch 25S corresponding to the cashout button 25, a 1-bet switch 26S corresponding to the 1-bet button 26, and a max-bet switch 27S corresponding to the max-bet button 27. Each of the switches 23S to 27S outputs a signal to the main CPU 41 when a player operates its corresponding one of the buttons 23 to 27.

The coin counter 21C is provided inside the coin insertion slot 21 and validates whether or not the coin inserted through the coin insertion slot 21 is legitimate. Coins other than legitimate ones are ejected from the coin payout opening 19. In addition, the coin counter 21C outputs a signal to the main CPU 41 when detecting the legitimate coin.

The reverter 21S operates based on the control signal from the main CPU 41 and distributes the legitimate coins validated by the coin counter 21C to the cash box (not shown) within the slot machine 10 or to the hopper 66. In other words, when the hopper 66 is filled with coins, the legitimate coins are distributed to the cash box by the reverter 21S. On the other hand, when the hopper 66 is not filled with coins, the legitimate coins are distributed to the hopper 66. The cold cathode tubes 81 are installed behind the lower display panel 16 and the upper display panel 33 respectively, and function as backlights. The cold cathode tube 81 lights up based on the control signal from the main CPU 41.

Next, processing executed in the slot machine 10 will be described. The main CPU 41 reads the game program and executes the program to advance the base game.

FIG. 6 is a flow chart showing the procedure of game execution processing. In the game execution processing, the main CPU 41 firstly determines whether or not a bet has been placed (step S11). In this processing, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not it has received a signal output from the 1-bet switch 26S when the 1-bet button 26 is pressed or a signal output from the max-bet switch 27S when the max-bet button 27 is pressed. When it is determined that the bet has not been placed (NO in step S11), the process of step S11 is repeated.

On the other hand, when it is determined that the bet has been placed (YES in step S11), the main CPU 41 executes processing to reduce the credits stored in the RAM 43 in accordance with the bet amount (step S12). If the bet amount is greater than the credits stored in the RAM 43, the credits stored in the RAM 43 is not reduced and the processing returns to step S11. In addition, when the bet amount exceeds the upper limit that can be bet on a single game (for example, 3 credits or coins), the credits stored in the RAM 43 are not reduced and the processing proceeds to step S13.

Next, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the spin button 23 has been pressed (step S13). Here, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not it has received a signal output from the spin switch 23S when the spin button 23 is pressed.

When it is determined that the spin button 23 has not been pressed (NO in step S13), the processing returns to step S11. When the spin button 23 has not been pressed (for example, a game ending direction is input by the player instead of pressing the spin button 23), the main CPU 41 cancels the operation of reduction in step S12.

On the other hand, when it is determined that the spin button 23 has been pressed (YES in step S13), the main CPU 41 executes symbol determination processing (step S14). In the symbol determination processing, the main CPU 41 executes the symbol determination program stored in the RAM 43 in order to determine the code numbers of symbols to be stopped. The symbol determination processing will be described later using FIG. 7. In the present embodiment, one or more awards are determined from among a plurality of kinds of award at the time when stop symbols are determined. However, one or more awards may be firstly determined from among the plurality of kinds of award, and then stop symbols (symbol combination) may be determined based on the determined award.

Next, the main CPU 41 executes scroll processing of symbols on each of the display areas 28 of the LCD 17 (step S15). This processing is display control processing of starting scrolling of symbols and then stopping the symbols determined in step S14.

Next, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the bonus game has been triggered (step S16). In other words, it is determined whether or not at least one “APPLE” symbol (symbol of a bonus trigger) has stopped in the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2. When it is determined that the bonus game has been triggered (YES in step S16), the main CPU 41 reads the program to execute the bonus game from the RAM 43 and executes the bonus game processing (step S17), and ends the sub routine. The bonus game processing will be described later using FIG. 8.

When it is determined that the bonus game trigger has not been triggered (NO in step S16), the main CPU 41 determines whether or not an award by a winning combination has been won (step S18). Whether or not an award has been won is determined based on (i) the number of scatter symbols on all of the display areas (28a1 to 28e3), or (ii) a symbol combination on the payline. For example, as shown in FIG. 4, when the four “ORANGE” symbols are displayed as scatter symbols, a payout of 5 coins (credits) is awarded.

Then, the main CPU 41 executes payout processing (step S19) and ends the sub routine. On the other hand, when the award has not been won (NO in step S18), the main CPU 41 ends the sub routine.

FIG. 7 is a flowchart showing the sub routine of the symbol determination processing executed in step S14 in FIG. 6. This processing is executed by the symbol determination program stored in the RAM 43 by the main CPU 41.

Firstly, the main CPU 41 executes the random number generation program implemented in the symbol determination program and selects random numbers corresponding to each of stop symbols within the range of 0 to 255 (step S31). In the present embodiment, a random number is generated by the program (where so-called “software random number”). However, it may also be possible to generate random numbers by a random number generator (RNG) (so-called “hardware random number”).

Next, the main CPU 41 determines stop symbols of each of the display areas 28 (28a1 to 28e3) based on the selected random numbers (step S32).

FIG. 8 is a flow chart showing the sub routine of the bonus game processing executed in step S17 in FIG. 6. In the bonus game processing, firstly, the main CPU 41 arranges the award horse mark H in a specific position (for example, the display area 28e1) among the outer periphery display areas 28a1 to 28e1, 28a2, 28e2, 28a3 to 28e3 (step S61). Next, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the spin button 23 has been pressed (step S62). When it is determined that the spin button 23 has not been pressed, (NO in step S62), the main CPU 41 repeats this processing until it is determined that the spin button 23 has been pressed.

On the other hand, when the spin button 23 has been pressed (YES in step S62), the main CPU 41 rearranges (moves) the award mark H sequentially (step S63). Then, it is determined whether or not the rearrangement has been finished (step S64). When it is determined that the rearrangement has not been finished (NO in step S64), the processing proceeds to step S63.

On the other hand, when it is determined that the rearrangement has been finished (YES in step S64), in other words, when the award mark H has stopped, the main CPU 41 determines a payout amount according to the symbol of the outer periphery display area 28 where the award mark H has stopped. Here, for example, the rearrangement of the award mark H is executed with random number processing. In addition, for example, a payout amount according to the marked symbol is 10 credits (coins) for “APPLE”, 5 credits (coins) for “CRAB”, 100 credits (coins) for “JOKER”, etc.

Then, the payout processing is executed based on the determined payout amount (step S66). After that, the main CPU 41 deletes the award mark H (step S67). In this manner, the bonus game is executed.

In FIG. 10, only one award mark is shown, however, there may be two or more award marks H. In this case, the main CPU 41 adds up the payout amounts according to the symbols of the display areas 28 where each of the award marks H has stopped. And then, a payout is awarded according to the added-up payout amount. Alternatively, the main CPU 41 may award a payout according to the highest value of the payout amounts according to the symbols of the display areas 28 where each of the award marks H has been stopped.

As described above, in the slot machine of the present embodiment, when the “APPLE” symbol is rearranged in the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2, the game shifts from the base game to the bonus game. During the bonus game, the award mark H is arranged in a specific position among the outer periphery display areas 28a1 to 28e1, 28a2, 28e2, 28a3 to 28e3 (for example, the display area 28e1). Further, the award mark H is moved (rearranged) sequentially in the outer periphery display areas 28a1 to 28e1, 28a2, 28e2, 28a3 to 28e3 and then stopped (the rearrangement is finished). After that, a payout is awarded according to the symbol of the outer periphery display area 28 where the award mark H has stopped.

Consequently, it is possible to provide expectations to the player that the “APPLE” symbol is rearranged in the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2. Therefore, entertaining effects can be enhanced.

Alternatively, the main CPU 41 arranges two or more award marks H (for example, arranges the award marks H in the display areas 28e1, 28a3). Then, the main CPU 41 adds up the payout amounts according to the symbols of the display areas 28 where each of the award marks H has stopped and a payout is awarded according to the added-up payout amount.

Therefore, it is possible to provide expectations to the player in respect to the positions of the award marks H when the rearrangement has been finished. Further, since the payout amounts are added up, a high payout can be expected and entertaining effects can be further enhanced.

Alternatively, the main CPU 41 arranges two or more award marks H. Then, a payout is awarded according to the highest payout amount among payout amounts according to the symbols of the display areas 28 where the award marks H have stopped.

Therefore, it is possible to provide expectations to the player in respect to the position of each of the award marks H when the rearrangement has been finished. Further, since the highest payout amount is awarded, entertaining effects can be further enhanced without reducing the player's expectations even when a payout amount corresponding to one of the award marks H is not so high.

Next, a slot machine and a playing method thereof in a second embodiment of the present invention will be described. The slot machine and the playing method in the second embodiment are approximately the same as those in the first embodiment. However, some of the processing contents in the present embodiment differ from those in the first embodiment. Here, different points from the first embodiment will be described.

FIG. 11 is a flow chart showing the bonus game processing executed by the slot machine in the present embodiment. Each processing in steps S71 to S74, S76, and S77 shown in FIG. 11 are the same as that in steps S61 to S64, S66, and S67 shown in FIG. 8. Therefore, their explanation is omitted.

As shown in FIG. 11, the main CPU 41 determines a payout amount according to the symbol of the outer periphery display area 28 where the award mark H has stopped and the number of “APPLE” symbols on the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2 (step S75) after the rearrangement of the award mark H has been finished (after step S74).

Specifically, the main CPU 41 determines that the payout amount is 10 credits (coins) when the payout amount corresponding to the marked symbol is 10 credits (coins) and the number of “APPLE” symbols on the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2 is one. The main CPU 41 determines that the payout amount is 20 credits (coins) when the payout amount corresponding to the marked symbol is 10 credits (coins) and the number of “APPLE” symbols on the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2 is two. The main CPU 41 determines that the payout amount is 30 credits (coins) when the payout amount corresponding to the marked symbol is 10 credits (coins) and the number of “APPLE” symbols on the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2 is three. After that, the main CPU 41 executes the payout processing (step S76) and deletes the award mark H (step S77). And then, the sub routine is terminated.

As described above, in the slot machine of the present embodiment, when the “APPLE” symbol is rearranged on the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2, the game shifts from the base game to the bonus game. During the bonus game, the award mark H is arranged in a specific position among the outer periphery display areas 28a1 to 28e1, 28a2, 28e2, and 28a3 to 28e3 (for example, the display area 28e1). Further, the award mark H is moved (rearranged) sequentially in the outer periphery display areas 28a1 to 28e1, 28a2, 28e2, and 28a3 to 28e3 and then stopped (the rearrangement is finished). After that, a payout is awarded according to the symbol of the outer periphery display area 28 where the award mark H has stopped. Further, the payout amount is varied according to the number of “APPLE” symbols rearranged in the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2.

Consequently, it is possible to provide expectations to the player that more “APPLE” symbols are rearranged in the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2. Therefore, entertaining effects can be enhanced.

In addition, similar to the first embodiment, it is possible to provide expectations to the player in respect to the positions of each of the award marks H when the rearrangement has been finished and the payout amounts are added up. Therefore, a high payout can be expected and entertaining effects can be further enhanced. Alternatively, it is possible to provide expectations to the player in respect to the positions of each of the award marks H when the rearrangement has been finished and the highest value of the payout amount is awarded. Therefore, entertaining effects can be further enhanced without reducing the player's expectations even when a payout amount corresponding to one of the award marks H is not so high.

Next, a slot machine and a playing method thereof in a third embodiment of the present invention will be described. The slot machine and the playing method in the third embodiment are approximately the same as those in the first embodiment. However, some of the processing contents differ from those in the first embodiment. Here, different points from the first embodiment will be described.

FIG. 12 is an explanatory diagram for showing a display example of the slot machine of the present embodiment. As shown in FIG. 12, in the slot machine of the present embodiment, the main CPU 41 flashes any one of the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2 at random after the spin button 23 has been pressed (after affirmation of step S82). This flashed display area 28d2 is a specific area.

FIG. 13 is flow chart showing the bonus game processing executed by the slot machine in the present embodiment. Each processing of steps S81 to S84, S86, and S87 shown in FIG. 13 are the same as that in steps S61 to S64, S66, and S67 shown in FIG. 8. Therefore, their explanation is omitted.

As shown in FIG. 13, the main CPU 41 determines a payout amount according to the symbol of the outer periphery display area 28 where the award mark H has stopped and whether or not the “APPLE” symbol has stopped (is rearranged) in the specific area 28d2 (step S85) after the rearrangement of the award mark H has been finished (after step S84).

Specifically, the main CPU 41 determines that the payout amount is 10 credits (coins) when the payout amount corresponding to the marked symbol is 10 credits (coins) and the “APPLE” symbol has not stopped in the specific area. The main CPU 41 determines that the payout amount is 30 credits (coins) when the payout amount corresponding to the marked symbol is 10 credits (coins) and the “APPLE” symbol has stopped in the specific area. After that, the main CPU 41 executes the payout processing (step S86) and deletes the award mark H (step S87). And then, the sub routine is terminated.

In the present embodiment, the number of specific areas is not limited to one. Two or more specific areas may be set in the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2. Further, in the present embodiment, a player's attention is drawn by flashing the specific area. However, the player's attention may be drawn by various methods such as changing the background color etc.

As described above, in the slot machine of the present embodiment, when the “APPLE” symbol is rearranged on the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2, the game shifts from the base game to the bonus game. During the bonus game, the award mark H is arranged in a specific position among the outer periphery display areas 28a1 to 28e1, 28a2, 28e2, and 28a3 to 28e3 (for example, the display area 28e1). Further, the award mark H is moved (rearranged) sequentially in the outer periphery display areas 28a1 to 28e1, 28a2, 28e2, and 28a3 to 28e3 and then stopped (the rearrangement is finished). After that, a payout is awarded according to the symbol of the outer periphery display area 28 where the award mark H has stopped. Further, the payout amount is varied according to whether or not the “APPLE” symbol has stopped in the specific area, which consists of at least one display area 28 among the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2.

Consequently, it is possible to provide expectations to the player that the “APPLE” symbol stops in the specific area (in other words, the inner display area that the “APPLE” symbol has been already displayed is flashed as the specific area) and entertaining effects can be enhanced.

In addition, similar to the first embodiment, it is possible to provide expectations to the player in respect to the position of each of the award marks H when the rearrangement has been finished and the payout amounts are added up. Therefore, a high payout can be expected and entertaining effects can be further enhanced.

Alternatively, it is possible to provide expectations to the player in respect to the position of each of the award marks H when the rearrangement has been finished and the highest value of the payout amounts is awarded. Therefore, entertaining effects can be further enhanced without reducing the player's expectations even when a payout amount corresponding to one of the award marks H is not so high.

As described above, the slot machine and the playing method thereof in the present invention are described based on the embodiments schematically shown. However, the present invention is not limited to those. The each configuration can be replaced with another configuration having the same functions.

For example, in the above-mentioned embodiments, the game shifts to the bonus game when the specific symbol “APPLE” is rearranged in the inner display areas 28b2 to 28d2. However, it is not limited to this and the specific symbol may be another symbol except “APPLE”.

In the above-mentioned embodiments, the game returns to the base game after the bonus game is executed once. However, the number of times of the bonus game is not limited to one but it may be executed two or more times continuously. In this case, a payout may be awarded each time the bonus game has been finished. Alternatively, a total payout may be awarded at one time after two or more bonus games have all finished.

In the above-mentioned embodiments, the display is the LCD 17. However, it is not limited to this and another display, such as a CRT, a plasma display, etc., may be used instead of the LCD 17.

According to the first aspect of the present invention, the game shifts to the bonus game when the specific symbol has been rearranged in the inner display areas. During the bonus game, the award mark is arranged in the specific position among the outer periphery display areas. Further, the award mark is moved sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stopped. The payout amount is determined according to the symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped and a payout is awarded based on the determined payout amount. Consequently, it is possible to provide expectations to the player that the specific symbol is rearranged in the inner display areas and entertaining effects can be enhanced.

According to the second aspect of the present invention, the game shifts to the bonus game when the specific symbol has been rearranged in the inner display areas. During the bonus game, the award mark is arranged in the specific position among the outer periphery display areas. Further, the award mark is moved sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stopped. The payout amount is determined according to the symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped and a payout is awarded based on the determined payout amount. Furthermore, the above payout amount is varied according to the number of specific symbols on the inner display areas. Consequently, it is possible to provide expectations to the player that more specific symbols are stopped in the inner display areas and entertaining effects can be enhanced.

According to the third aspect of the present invention, the game shifts to the bonus game when the specific symbol has been rearranged in the inner display areas. During the bonus game, the award mark is arranged in the specific position among the outer periphery display areas. Further, the award mark is moved sequentially in the outer periphery display areas and then stopped. The payout amount is determined according to the symbol of the display area where the award mark has stopped and a payout is awarded based on the determined payout amount. Furthermore, the above payout amount is varied according to whether or not the specific symbol is rearranged in the specific area, which consists of at least one inner display area. Consequently, it is possible to provide expectations to the player that the specific symbol is rearranged in the specific area (in other words, the inner display areas that the specific symbol has been displayed are selected as the specific area) and entertaining effects can be enhanced.