Title:
Topper Device Of Gaming Machine
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
When any of slot machines comprising a link system (e.g., the slot machine) has won, the winning slot machine transmits a win signal to an installed topper device. A processor of the topper device that received the win signal transmits to other linked topper devices (e.g., the topper devices) an effect signal informing that the slot machine has won, and performs effect showing that the installed slot machine has won. In contrast, the processors of the topper devices that received the effect signal specifies the sending topper device, and executes the effect showing a position of the winning slot machine, by using a topper liquid crystal panel or the LED.



Inventors:
Nagano, Hiroyuki (Tokyo, JP)
Application Number:
12/146993
Publication Date:
01/29/2009
Filing Date:
06/26/2008
Assignee:
ARUZE CORP. (Tokyo, JP)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24; A63F5/04
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
WILLIAMS, ROSS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
POLSINELLI PC / WATCHSTONE LLP (Houston, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A topper device of a gaming machine comprising: an effect device that executes the effect; a first communication device that communicates with an installed gaming machine; a second communication device that communicates with other topper devices installed in other gaming machines; and a processor that executes: (a) when the installed gaming machine has won, a process to receive from the gaming machine a win signal informing that it has won, via the first communication device; (b) when receiving the win signal, a process to execute at the effect device a first effect informing that the gaming machine has won; (c) when receiving the win signal, a process to transmit to the other topper devices an effect signal informing that the gaming machine has won, via the second communication device; and (d) when receiving the effect signal from the other topper devices, a process to execute at the effect device a second effect showing that the gaming machine in which the topper device that transmitted the effect signal is installed has won.

2. A topper device of a gaming machine comprising: an effect device that executes effect; a first communication device that communicates with an installed gaming machine; a second communication device that communicates with other topper devices installed in other gaming machines; and a processor that executes: (a) when the installed gaming machine has won, a process to receive from the gaming machine a win signal informing that it has won, via the first communication device; (b) when receiving the win signal, a process to execute at the effect device the first effect informing that the gaming machine has won; (c) when receiving the win signal, a process to transmit to the other topper devices an effect signal informing that the gaming machine has won, via the second communication device; and (d) when receiving the effect signal from the other topper devices, a process to execute at the effect device the second effect showing a direction of installation of the gaming machine in which the topper device that transmitted the effect signal is installed.

3. The topper device of the gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein the effect signal includes the identification information that identifies the topper device that transmitted the effect signal, and the processor specifies the topper device that transmitted the effect signal, based on the identification information.

4. The topper device of the gaming machine according to claim 2, wherein the effect signal includes the identification information that identifies the topper device that transmitted the effect signal, and the processor specifies the topper device that transmitted the effect signal, based on the identification information.

5. The topper device of the gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein when receiving the effect signal from the other topper devices located within a predetermined distance, the processor executes the second effect showing that the gaming machine in which the topper device that transmitted the effect signal is installed has won.

6. The topper device of the gaming machine according to claim 5, further comprising an operation unit that accepts an operator's input operation, wherein the processor sets the predetermined distance based on the input operation accepted by the operation unit.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based upon and claims a priority from the prior Japanese Patent Application No. 2007-193130 filed on Jul. 25, 2007, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

1. Field

A topper device of a gaming machine according to one or more aspects of the present invention relates to a topper device of a gaming machine that informs a gaming machine that has won a prize, from among plural gaming machines.

2. Description of Related Art

Conventionally, in a slot machine that is a kind of a gaming machine, a game is started when coins, etc. are inserted into a gaming machine, and a symbol column is variably displayed in a predetermined area of the gaming machine, then stopped-and-displayed after a predetermined period of time has elapsed. As a result, the slot machine is configured to win a prize if the stopped combination of symbols matches a predetermined combination, and to be awarded with payout.

In addition, in a poker gaming machine that is also a kind of a gaming machine, a game is started when coins, etc. are inserted into the gaming machine, and five playing cards are dealt to players. Then, the poker gaming machine is such configured that a player wins a prize if a combination of the dealt cards matches a predetermined combination, and is awarded with payout.

Conventionally, in the gaming machine, a topper device that informs winning when a prize is hit is provided on the top of the machine (Refer to U.S. Pat. No. 6,923,718B2 specification). This topper device that comprises a liquid crystal display and lights, etc. receives a win signal from a gaming machine when the gaming machine in which a topper device is installed has won a prize, and executes effect of informing the winning gaming machine, by using a liquid crystal display and lights, etc.

In addition, the conventional topper device executes the effect of informing a winning gaming machine even when a linked gaming machine that is different from the installed gaming machine has won. FIG. 13 is an illustration showing a link system 209 comprising plural linked gaming machines (slot machines in FIG. 13) 201 to 204 and topper devices 205 to 208 respectively installed in the gaming machines 201 to 204. As shown in FIG. 13, in the link system 209, a server 211 and the gaming machines 201 to 204 are connected via a network 210 so that interactive communication is enabled. Then, when any of the gaming machines (e.g., gaming machine 202) has won, the winning gaming machine 202 transmits a win signal indicating that it has won, to the server 211. After that, the server 211 that has received the win signal transmits to the other linked gaming machines (e.g., the gaming machines 201, 203, and 204) a topper effect signal indicating that the gaming machine 202 has won. At the same time, the gaming machines 201, 203 and 204 that received the topper effect signal use the topper devices 205, 207, and 208 to execute the effect of showing a position of the winning gaming machine 202 (e.g., displaying the arrow showing a direction of installation of the winning gaming machine 202).

However, when the topper device of the conventional gaming machine was used in the link system 209 as shown in FIG. 13, in particular, there were the following problems:

More specifically, in order to know winning status of the other linked gaming machines, the conventional topper devices transmitted and received a signal through a gaming machine or server. Thus, although no problem occurred if a gaming machine and topper device were made by a same manufacturer, in some cases, signal transmission/receipt was not possible due to different standards of signals or communication devices if a combination of products made by different manufacturers was used. As a result, for example, when only a part of the gaming machine comprising the link system was replaced with a new product of other manufacturer, the topper device of that gaming machine could not execute the effect. Furthermore, there was another problem that only gaming machines made by a same manufacturer could comprise the link system.

Hence, it is an object of the present invention to provide a topper device of a gaming machine having high versatility, wherein it could specify a gaming machine that has won a prize from among plural gaming machines in a link, by transmitting and receiving a signal among topper devices without going through a gaming machine or server, and thus could execute the effect without being affected by standard of the installed gaming machine.

SUMMARY

Therefore, in order to achieve the object, according to a topper device of a gaming machine of the present invention encompassing one or more aspects thereof, there is provided a topper device of a gaming machine. The topper device of a gaming machine comprises an effect device that executes the effect and a first communication device that communicates with an installed gaming machine and a second communication device that communicates with other topper devices installed in other gaming machines and a processor. When the installed gaming machine has won, the processor receives from the gaming machine a win signal informing that it has won, via the first communication device. When receiving the win signal, the processor executes at the effect device a first effect informing that the gaming machine has won. When receiving the win signal, the processor transmits to the other topper devices an effect signal informing that the gaming machine has won, via the second communication device. When receiving the effect signal from the other topper devices, the processor executes at the effect device a second effect showing that the gaming machine in which the topper device that transmitted the effect signal is installed has won. As a result, it becomes possible to specify the winning slot machine among plural gaming machines in the link by transmitting/receiving the signals among the topper devices, without going through the slot machines or server. Therefore, even in a combination of slot machines made by different manufacturers, a link system consisting of plural topper devices can be formed, and then high versatility is achieved that enables effects to be executed without being affected by the standard of a gaming machine to be placed in a game parlor.

According to the present invention encompassing one or more aspects, there is provided a topper device of a gaming machine. The topper device of a gaming machine comprising an effect device that executes effect and a first communication device that communicates with an installed gaming machine and a second communication device that communicates with other topper devices installed in other gaming machines and a processor. When the installed gaming machine has won, the processor receives from the gaming machine a win signal informing that it has won, via the first communication device. When receiving the win signal, the processor executes at the effect device the first effect informing that the gaming machine has won. When receiving the win signal, the processor transmits to the other topper devices an effect signal informing that the gaming machine has won, via the second communication device. When receiving the effect signal from the other topper devices, the processor executes at the effect device the second effect showing a direction of installation of the gaming machine in which the topper device that transmitted the effect signal is installed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification illustrate embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the objects, advantages and principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing a configuration of a link system according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing an outer appearance of a slot machine according to the one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a view showing a frame format of symbol strings drawn on the reel band of each of the reels according to the one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a view showing a winning combination of a slot machine according to the one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing an internal configuration of a entire slot machine according to the one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a block diagram showing an internal configuration of a entire topper device according to the one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is an explanatory view showing an effect image displayed on a topper device, while a slot machine is playing a free game according to the one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is an explanatory view showing an effect image displayed on a topper device according to the one embodiment of the present invention, when a slot machine in which the topper device is installed has won;

FIG. 9 is an explanatory view showing an effect image displayed on a topper device according to the one embodiment of the present invention, when another slot machine arranged near a slot machine in which the topper device is installed has won;

FIG. 10 is a view for illustrating a range in a group of topper devices where each of the within-range topper devices executes an effect;

FIG. 11 is an explanatory view showing an effect image displayed on a topper device according to the one embodiment of the present invention, when plural slot machines has won almost concurrently;

FIG. 12 is a flowchart of a effect control program executed by a topper device according to one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 13 is a schematic diagram showing a configuration of a conventional link system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The various aspects summarized previously may be embodied in various forms. The following description shows by way of illustration of various combinations and configurations in which the aspects may be practiced. It is understood that the described aspects and/or embodiments are merely examples, and that other aspects and/or embodiments may be utilized and structural and functional modifications may be made, without departing from the scope of the present disclosure.

It is noted that various connections are set forth between items in the following description. It is noted that these connections in general and, unless specified otherwise, may be direct or indirect and that this specification is not intended to be limiting in this respect.

A topper device of a gaming machine according to one or more aspects of the invention will be described in detail with reference to the drawings based on an embodiment embodying one or more aspects of the invention. However, it is appreciated that one or more aspects of the present invention may be embodied in distributable (via CD and the like) or downloadable software games, console games, and the like. In this regard, the topper device of a gaming machine may be a topper device of a virtual gaming machine that is displayed on a multi-purpose computer and/or dedicated kiosk. Aspects of the invention are described by way of hardware elements. However, it is appreciated that these elements may also be software modules that are executable in a computer. The software modules may be stored on a computer readable medium, including but not limited to a USB drive, CD, DVD, computer-readable memory, tape, diskette, floppy disk, and the like. For instance, aspects of the invention may be embodied in a JAVA-based application or the like that runs in a processor or processors. Further, the terms “CPU”, “processor”, and “controller” are inclusive by nature, including at least one of hardware, software, or firmware. These terms may include a portion of a processing unit in a computer (for instance, in multiple core processing units), multiple cores, a functional processor (as running virtually on at least one of processor or server, which may be local or remote). Further, in network-based gaming systems, the processor may include only a local processor, only a remote server, or a combination of a local processor and a remote server.

It is contemplated that one or more aspects of the invention may be implemented as computer executable instructions on a computer readable medium such as a non-volatile memory, a magnetic or optical disc. Further, one or more aspects of the invention may be implemented with a carrier signal in the form of, for instance, an audio-frequency, radio-frequency, or optical carrier wave.

In the following, based on one substantiated embodiment, there will be described in detail a topper device according to the present invention, with reference to the drawings. Here will be described the topper device according to the following embodiment by exemplifying a topper device installed in a slot machine, in particular.

The topper device according to the present invention is characterized in that it is such configured that interactive communication is enabled by a communication device that the topper device is provided with, among topper devices and without going through a slot machine, and that when an installed slot machine has won a prize, the topper device transmits and receives an effect signal indicating that the slot machine has won, among the topper devices and via the communication device, and executes the effect of showing that the gaming machine has won.

In the following, there will be first described an outline configuration of a link system 9 including topper devices 5 to 8 according to this embodiment. FIG. 1 is an outline configuration diagram of the link system 9 according to the present embodiment.

As shown in FIG. 1, the link system 9 according to this embodiment consists of plural slot machines 1 to 4 placed in a game parlor, topper devices 5 to 8 installed in respective slot machines 1 to 4, and a network 10 connecting the respective topper device 5 to 8 to be able to communicate. In addition, there will be described a detailed configuration of the slot machines 1 to 4 and topper devices 5 to 8 later.

Now the network 10 consists of communication lines such as LAN (Local Area Network), etc. that enable interactive communications. Then, in the link system 9 according to this embodiment, the respective topper devices 5 to 8 are connected via the network 10 so that interactive communications is enabled. In addition, a variety of information on games is transmitted and received among the topper devices 5 to 8. For example, when any of the slot machines 1 to 4 has won, as described below, the topper device installed in the winning slot machine sends other topper devices an effect signal including identification information that identifies the sending topper device.

In addition, the network 10 may be wireless or wired and use infrared communication or radio wave communications.

When any of the slot machines (e.g., slot machine 2) comprising the link system 9 has won, the winning slot machine 2 transmits a win signal to the installed topper device 6. Then, the topper device 6 that received the win signal transmits to the other linked topper devices (e.g., topper devices 5, 7, and 8) an effect signal indicating that the slot machine 2 has won. At the same time, the topper devices 5, 7 and 8 that received the effect signal execute the effect (e.g., displaying the arrow showing a direction of installation of the winning slot machine 2) of showing a position of the winning slot machine 2 by using a liquid crystal display and lights, etc.

In the following, description is made as to an outline configuration of the slot machines 1 to 4 and topper devices 5 to 8 according to this embodiment based on FIG. 2. Each of the slot machines 1 to 4 and the topper devices 5 to 8 has an identical configuration. Thus, in the following description, the slot machine 1 and the topper device 5 are described as an example, and the description on the slot machines 2 to 4 and the topper devices 6 to 8 are omitted here.

FIG. 2 is a perspective appearance view of the slot machine 1 and topper device 5 according to this embodiment. The slot machines 1 to 4 according to the present invention are a so-called hybrid slot machine that arranges a known clear liquid crystal display panel on the front face of plural mechanical reels that are rotatably supported, and that plays a game by causing various types of symbols drawn on the outer circumferential surface of the mechanical reel to transmit through the clear liquid crystal display.

As shown in FIG. 2, the slot machine 1 directed to the present embodiment is an upright-type slot machine used in game arcades such as casinos and the like. This slot machine 1 has a cabinet 11, a main door 12 and a topper device 5. The main door 12 is arranged at a front face of the cabinet 11. The topper device 5 is arranged at an upper side of the cabinet 11.

Cabinet 11 is a housing portion that houses the electrical and mechanical components for executing a predetermined game mode in station 1. Cabinet 11 has three reels (specifically, left reel 15, center reel 16 and right reel 17) which are rotatably provided therein. Reels 15 through 17 each have a symbol column drawn on an outer periphery thereof (refer to FIG. 3). The symbol column is constituted of a predetermined twenty-two symbols. A main liquid crystal panel 18B to be described later is arranged in front of the reels 15 though 17.

The main door 12 has an upper display portion 19A, a variable display portion 19B and lower display portion 19C provided as a display portion 19 for displaying information with respect to the game. The upper display portion 19A is constituted of an upper liquid crystal panel 18A arranged above the variable display portion 19B. The upper liquid crystal panel 18A displays, for instance, effect images, introduction to game contents, explanation of game rules, payout tables, and the like. The lower display portion 19C is arranged at a lower side of the variable display portion 19B and has a plastic panel 18C onto which an image has been printed. This plastic panel 18C is lit up with a backlight.

The variable display portion 19B is constituted of the main liquid crystal panel 18B and is adapted to display an execution state of the game. The main liquid crystal panel 18B is a heretofore known transparent liquid crystal panel secured to the main door 12. The main liquid crystal panel 18B has three display windows 20, 21 and 22 formed therein. The slot machine 1 renders the back side of the display windows 20, 21 and 22 visible by placing these display windows in a transmission state. As a result, a player can visually recognize the symbols drawn on reels 15 through 17 via the respective display windows 20 through 22.

One pay line L is displayed on the main liquid crystal panel 18B in the variable display portion 19B. This pay line L is a line that runs in a horizontal direction across a mid portion of the symbol display area corresponding to reels 15 through 17 and defines a symbol combination. Accordingly, if the symbol combination that was repositioned on the pay line L is a predetermined winning combination, the station 1 awards a payout in accordance with the winning combination and the credit amount that was bet (bet amount).

The number of reels may be five, instead of three, and further, the number of displayed symbols is not limited to nine symbols.

A touch panel 23 is provided at a front face of the main liquid crystal panel 18B. Thus, the player can input different types of commands by operating of the touch panel 18.

At a right lower side of the variable display portion 19B, there are provided a payout amount display portion 24A and a credit amount display portion 24B. The payout amount display portion 24A displays, as a payout amount, a payout amount to be awarded in the case the symbol combination which is stopped and displayed on the pay line L in a base game is a predetermined combination, and an accumulated payout amount acquired in a free game. On the other hand, the credit amount display unit 24B displays the credit amount that an actual player has.

An operation table 25 is provided at a front face of the cabinet 11. The operation table 25 is arranged between the variable display portion 19B and the lower display portion 19C so as to protrude towards the front side. A plurality of types of operation buttons 26 are arranged on this operation table 25. Operation buttons 26 include a BET button, a collecting button, a start button and a CASHOUT button and the like. The operation table 25 has a coin slot 27 and a bill slot 28. The coin slot 27 accepts coins representing a gaming value inside the cabinet 11. The bill slot 28 accepts bills inside the cabinet 11.

In the slot machine 1 directed to the present embodiment, coins, bills or electronic valuable information (credit) corresponding to these are used as gaming values. However, the gaming values applicable to this invention are not limited to these items and may also include medals, tokens, electronic money or tickets, for instance.

Also, a coin tray 29 is provided at a lowermost portion of the cabinet 11. This coin tray 29 receives the coins paid out by a hopper 64. A light emitting portion 30 is arranged at the periphery of cabinet 11 in the slot machine 1. The light emitting portion 30 emits light in a predetermined lighting fashion during the free game and when the slot machine 1 wins a prize. A speaker 31 is provided at a side face of the cabinet 11 and is adapted to output sounds in accordance with the progress of the game.

On the one hand, the topper device 5 has a shape of rectangular board and is arranged to be almost parallel to the upper liquid crystal panel 18A.

The topper device 5 also comprises a topper liquid crystal panel 32 that displays various types of effect screens in the center. In addition, above and below the topper liquid crystal panel 32 are equally spaced plural LEDs 33 along the edge of the panel. Then, as described below, the topper device 5 executes various types of effects using the topper liquid crystal panel 32 and the LEDs 33.

Next, a description will be given based on FIG. 3 with respect to symbols which are drawn on the reel band of a left reel 15, a center reel 16 and a right reel 17, and which are repositioned while being scrolled on the main liquid crystal panel 18B, through each of the display windows 20 through 22 in a base game and free game. FIG. 3 is a view showing a frame format of symbol strings drawn on the reel band of the left reel 15, the center reel 16 and the right reel 17.

The reel bands of reels 15 through 17 each contain 22 symbols drawn thereon. The respective symbol strings are made up of combinations of symbols including “RED 7”, “BLUE 7”, “BELL”, “APPLE”, “CHERRY”, ”STRAWBERRY”, “PLUM” and “ORANGE”. The predetermined kinds of symbols are respectively positioned in a predetermined sequence. In the symbol strings shown in FIG. 3, code numbers are allocated with respect to each symbol constituting these symbol strings, in a downward sequence.

Next, a description will be given based on FIG. 4 with respect to winning combinations and payout amounts in a base game and a free game carried out with a slot machine 1 according to the present embodiment by using each of the reels 15 through 17.

As shown in FIG. 4, when a game is executed in the slot machine 1 based on the first game mode, if three symbols “BELL”, “APPLE”, “CHERRY”, “STRAWBERRY”, “PLUM” and “ORANGE” are stopped and displayed along the pay line L, a payout amount set in advance is awarded to the player. Even if one or two symbols “CHERRY” and “ORANGE” are repositioned along the pay line L, a payout amount set in advance is awarded to the player in accordance with the number of the repositioned symbols. If three symbols “RED 7” or “BLUE 7” are stopped and displayed along the play line L, a fixed payout amount is awarded and at the same time, a free game is started after switching from the base game.

If the topper device 5 installed in the slot machine 1 has won when a winning combination of “RED 7” and “BLUE 7”, in particular, was hit among winning combinations of the above symbols, it transmits an effect signal indicating that the slot machine 1 has won, to other topper devices 6 to 8 connected by the network 10. It also executes the effect of informing that the slot machine 1 has won, by using the topper liquid crystal panel 32 or the LEDs 33.

The payout amounts shown in FIG. 4 represent payout amounts when bet amount is “1”. Thus, although the payout amounts shown in FIG. 4 are paid out when bet amount is “1”, the amounts by multiplying the payout amounts shown in FIG. 4 by bet amount will be paid out when bet amount is “2” or greater. In addition, bet amount in a free game to be applied is identical to bet amount of a base game immediately before the free game is started.

Next, the internal construction of slot machine 1 directed to the present embodiment will be described in detail by referring to the drawings. FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing the internal construction of slot machine 1.

As shown in FIG. 5, slot machine 1 has a plurality of constituting elements, with a main control board 71 as a core. The main control board 71 has a controller 41 for executing control programs on the base game and free game.

The main control board 71 has the controller 41, a random number generation circuit 45, a sampling circuit 46, a clock pulse generation circuit 47 and a divider 48.

The main control board 71 also has an illumination effect driving circuit 61, a hopper driving circuit 63, a payout completion signal circuit 65 and a display portion driving circuit 67.

Controller 41 has a main CPU 42, a RAM 43 and a ROM 44. The main CPU 42 inputs/outputs signals to/from the other constituting elements through an I/O port 49 to execute a program stored in ROM 44. The main CPU 42 thus serves as the core for controlling slot machine 1. RAM 43 temporarily stores data and programs to be used when the main CPU 42 is operational. For instance, RAM 43 temporarily stores random number values which were sampled by a sampling circuit 46 to be described later. The RAM 53 stores code numbers corresponding to the respective reels 15 through 17. The ROM 44 stores various types of programs that will be executed by the main CPU 42, as well as permanent data.

The random number generation circuit 45 operates in response to a command from the main CPU 42 to generate random numbers in a definite range. The sampling circuit 46 extracts an arbitrary random number from the random numbers generated by the random number generation circuit 45 in response to a command from the main CPU 42. The sampling circuit 46 inputs the extracted random numbers to the main CPU 42. The clock pulse generation circuit 47 generates a reference clock for activating the main CPU 42. Then, the divider 48 inputs a signal obtained by dividing the reference clock by a fixed period, to the main CPU 42.

A reel driving unit 50 is connected to the main control board 71. This reel driving unit 50 has a reel position detection circuit 51 and a motor driving circuit 52. The reel position detection circuit 51 detects the stop position for each one of the left reel 15, the center reel 16 and the right reel 17. The motor driving circuit 52 inputs a driving signal to motors M1, M2 and M3 which are connected to reels 15 through 17, respectively. Motors M1, M2 and M3 are activated in response to a driving signal inputted from the motor driving circuit 52. As a result, motors M1, M2 and M3 respectively spin reels 15 through 17, and stop them at a desired position.

A touch panel 23 is also connected to the main control board 71. This touch panel 23 identifies the coordinate position of the portion a player has touched. The touch panel 23 identifies where the player touched the panel and in which direction the touched location has moved based on the identified coordinate position information. The touch panel 23 inputs a signal corresponding to the identification results to the main CPU 42 through the I/O port 49.

Operation buttons 26 are also connected to the main control board 71. As was already described, the operation buttons 26 include a start button for instructing execution of the game, a collecting button, a BET button, etc. The buttons included in the operation buttons 26 each input an operation signal to the main CPU 42 through the I/O port 49 upon being held down.

The illumination effect driving circuit 61 outputs an effect signal with respect to the above-described light emitting portion 30.

The hopper driving circuit 63 drives a hopper 64 based on the control of the main CPU 42. As a result, the hopper 64 performs a coin payout operation whereby coins are paid out to the coin tray 29. A coin detecting portion 66 is connected to the payout completion signal circuit 65. The coin detecting portion 66 measures the number of coins paid out by the hopper 64 and then inputs data on the measured amount of coins to the payout completion signal circuit 65. The payout completion signal circuit 65 judges whether a set number of coins has been paid out, based on the coin amount data inputted from the coin detecting portion 66. If the set number of coins has been paid out, the payout completion signal circuit 65 inputs a signal showing completion of coin payout to the main CPU 42. The display portion driving circuit 67 then controls display of the respective display portions including the payout amount display portion 24A, the credit amount display portion 24B and the like.

In addition, the topper device 5 is serially-connected to the slot machine 1 via a communication interface 68. In the following, description is made as to an internal configuration of the topper device 5, with reference to FIG. 6. FIG. 6 is a block diagram showing the internal configuration of the topper device 5.

As shown in FIG. 6, the topper device 5 basically consists of a controller 81 that executes an effect control program (FIG. 12), etc., for effect control in the topper device 5, a communication interface 82 that receives various types of signals to be transmitted from the installed slot machine 1, a communication device 83 that transmits/receives a signal to/from the other topper devices 6 to 8 connected by the network 10, an LED driving circuit 84 that operates as a driving control means of the LEDs 33, and an image control circuit 85 that operates as a display control means of the topper liquid crystal panel 32.

The controller 81 has a main CPU 91, a ROM 92 and a RAM 93. The main CPU 91 operates according to a program stored in the ROM 92, and controls behavior of the overall topper device 5. The RAM 93 stores data and programs to be used when the main CPU 91 operates, and temporarily holds identification information, etc. that specifies a sending topper device included in an effect signal received from other topper devices, for example. The ROM 92 stores a program executed by the main CPU 91 and permanent data.

Then, when the main CPU 91 executes effect, it transmits a LED driving command that determines content of the effect, such as a lighting pattern of the LED 33, to the LED driving circuit 84, etc. The main CPU 91 also transmits to the image control circuit 85 a display pattern command that determines content of effect such as an image display pattern, of the topper liquid crystal panel 32, etc.

In addition, the communication interface 82 is a communication device that receives various types of signals transmitted from the slot machine 1. The signals to be received from the slot machine 1 include a win signal to be transmitted when the slot machine 1 has won a prize. This win signal includes, for example, the identification information (identification ID, etc.) that identifies the slot machine 1, content of winning (“RED7”, “CHERRY”, etc.), and information on winning time, etc.

In addition, the communication device 83 transmits various types of signals to the other topper devices 6 to 8, and also receives signals to be transmitted from the other topper devices 6 to 8. The signals to be transmitted to the other topper devices 6 to 8 include an effect signal to be transmitted when the slot machine has won a prize with a specific winning combination. This effect signal includes, for example, the identification information (identification ID), etc. that identifies a sending topper device, content of winning (“RED7”, “BLUE7”, etc.), and winning time, etc. In addition, the signals to be received from the other topper devices 6 to 8 include an effect signal to be transmitted from the other topper devices 6 to 8 when the slot machines 2 to 4 have won prizes.

In addition, the LED driving circuit 84 consists of a CPU, a RAM, a ROM, etc. and controls lighting of the LEDs 33 based on an LED driving command to be transmitted from the main CPU 91.

In contrast, the image control circuit 85 has an image control CPU, an image control work RAM, an image control program ROM, an image ROM, a video RAM and an image control IC, etc. Based on a display pattern command to be transmitted from the main CPU 91, the image control circuit executes the image control program stored in the image control program ROM, determines an image to be displayed on the topper liquid crystal panel 32, forms an image corresponding to the determined content, and outputs it to the topper liquid crystal panel 32.

In addition, a brightness adjusting switch 94 and an effect-pattern switch 95 are connected to the main CPU 91. The brightness adjusting switch 94 is a switch to be manipulated when lighting interval of the LEDs 33 or brightness of the topper liquid crystal panel 32 is adjusted. Then, the respective switches 94, 95 are such configured that an operator can manipulate them.

In addition, the effect pattern switch 95 is a switch to be manipulated when a lighting pattern of the LEDs 33 or an effect image pattern of the topper liquid crystal panel 32 is selected from plural patterns. Besides, in the topper device 5 according to this embodiment, a range of the other topper devices 6 to 8 that execute effect of showing winning of the slot machine 1 when the slot machine has won with a specific winning combination (namely, a distance from a winning slot machine to topper device that executes the effect) can be set by manipulating the effect pattern switch 95. For example, it has become possible to set, as a range that can be set, to execute the effect by only topper devices installed in slot machines adjacent to the wining slot machine 1, or to execute the effect by the topper devices installed in slot machines in a same island as the winning slot machine 1.

In the following, description is made as to the specific content of the effect to be executed by the topper device 5 while the slot machine 1 having the above configuration is playing a game.

First, while the slot machine 1 is playing a base game, all the LEDs 33 are repeatedly turned on and off (e.g., at the intervals of 5 seconds). In contrast, the light of the topper liquid crystal panel 32 is turned off.

In addition, as shown in FIG. 7, while the slot machine 1 is playing a free game, all the LEDs 33 are repeatedly turned on and off at the predetermined time intervals (e.g., intervals of 1 second) that are shorter than those during a base game. At the same time, a word 96 of “Free Game” is displayed on the topper liquid crystal panel 32.

In addition, if the slot machine 1 has won when among the winning combinations along a pay line L as shown in FIG. 4, a winning combination of either “BLUE7” or “RED7” is hit, all LEDs 33 are continuously lighted on for a predetermined duration (e.g., 10 seconds), as shown in FIG. 8. At the same time, a word 97 of “Hit” showing that the prize was won is displayed on the topper liquid crystal panel 32.

In contrast, if any of the slot machines 2 to 4 other than the slot machine 1 hits the winning combination “BLUE7” or “RED7” and an effect signal transmitted from the other topper devices 6 to 8 is received, the LEDs 33 are turned on so that a lighting area gradually moves to the direction of the winning slot machine, as shown in FIG. 9. At the same time, an arrow 98 pointing to the direction of the winning slot machine is displayed on the topper liquid crystal panel 32. However, the effect as shown in FIG. 9 is executed only when this topper device 5 is within a predetermined distance from the winning slot machine. Then, the configuration is such that the spacing thereof may be arbitrarily changed by the effect pattern switch 95, as described above.

For example, FIG. 10 is a view illustrating the case in which it was set that “the effect is executed at two nearest machine each at both adjacent sides of machine that won a prize”. As shown in FIG. 10, among slot machines 101 to 106 placed in the game parlor, when the slot machine 3 won a prize, the arrows showing the right direction are displayed in the two slot machines 101, 102 located to the left of the slot machine 103. In addition, the arrows showing the left direction are displayed in the topper devices of the two slot machines 104, 105 located to the right of the slot machine 103. In addition, the slot machines do not execute any effect for the slot machine 103 wining the prize, in particular.

Furthermore, when two slot machines have won prizes almost simultaneously, the effect for the slot machine whose winning time is earlier is executed first, and then after that effect finishes, effect for the next winning slot machine is executed. For example, the following case is described; the slot machine 103 and slot machine 105, among the slot machines 101 to 106 arranged side-by-side in a shop, as shown in FIG. 11, have won prizes almost simultaneously and the slot machine 103 has won earlier. In this case, only the effect for the slot machine 103 whose winning time is earlier is to be executed, and the arrows showing the right direction are displayed in the topper devices of two slot machines 101, 102 located to the left of the slot machine 103. In addition, the arrows showing the left direction are also displayed in the topper device of the two slot machines arranged to the right of the slot machine 103.

Then, after the effect for the slot machine 103 finishes, the effect for the slot machine 105 whose winning timing is later is executed. Specifically, the arrows showing the right direction are displayed in the topper devices of the two slot machines 103, 104 located to the left of the slot machine 105. Then, the arrow showing the left direction is also displayed in the topper device of the slot machine 106 located to the right of the slot machine 105.

In the following, description is made as to the effect control program to be executed in the topper devices 5 to 8 according to this embodiment, with reference to the drawings. FIG. 12 is a flowchart of the effect control program. Respective program shown in the flow chart of FIG. 12 are stored in the ROM 92 or the RAM 93 the topper devices 5 to 8 are provided with, and repeatedly executed by the main CPU 91 at the predetermined time intervals (e.g., 200 ms).

First, as shown in FIG. 12, the main CPU 91 judges in step (hereinafter abbreviated as S) 1 whether or not a win signal transmitted from the respective installed slot machines 1 to 4 was received. This win signal includes the identification information that identifies the installed slot machines (identification ID, etc.), content of winning (“RED 7”, “CHERRY”, etc.), and information on the winning time, etc.

As a result, if it is judged that the win signal was received from the respective slot machines 1 to 4 (S1: YES), the main CPU 91 further analyzes the received win signal and judges whether or not that win signal is a win signal indicating the specific winning combination (“RED7”, “BLUE7” in this embodiment) (S2).

Then, if it is judged that the win signal with the specific winning combination was received from the respective slot machines 1 to 4 (S2: YES), the process shifts to S3. In contrast, if it is judged that a win signal with any winning combination other than the specific winning combination was received (S2: NO), the effect control program terminates with no effect being executed at this topper device.

In S3, the main CPU 91 transmits an effect signal to other topper devices connected by the network 10. This effect signal includes, for example, the identification information (identification ID, etc.) that identifies a sending topper device, content of winning (“RED 7”, “BLUE 7”, etc.), winning time, etc.

Next, in S4, the main CPU 91 judges whether or not the effect for winning of the installed target slot or other slot machine is already being executed. If it is then judged that the effect is being executed (S4: YES), it will wait till the effect finishes. In contrast, if it is judged that the effect is not executed (S4: NO), the process shifts to S5.

In S5, the main CPU 91 transmits a specific LED driving command and a display pattern command to the LED driving circuit 84 and the image control circuit 85, and executes the effect for winning of the installed target slot machine. Specifically, as shown in FIG. 8, it causes all the LEDs 33 to be lighted on continuously for a predetermined duration (e.g., 10 seconds) and also the word 97 of “Hit” showing the winning to be displayed on the topper liquid crystal panel 32.

On the one hand, if it is judged that the win signal was not received from the respective slot machines 1 to 4 in the S1 (S1: YES), the main CPU 91 further judges whether or not an effect signal was received from the other topper devices connected by the network 10 (S6).

Then, if it is judged that it received the effect signal from the other topper devices (S6: YES), the process shifts to S7. On the one hand, if it is judged that it did not receive the effect signal from the other topper device (S6: NO), it terminates the effect control program without performing the effect on this topper device.

Next, in S7, the main CPU 91 analyzes the received effect signal and specifies the topper device (i.e., the winning slot machine) that transmitted the effect signal.

Then, in S8, the main CPU 91 judges whether or not a distance from the topper device that transmitted the effect signal to this topper device is within the set distance. In this embodiment, it is executed is made only when this topper device is within the set distance from the winning slot machine. Then, the configuration is such that the spacing may be arbitrarily changed by the effect pattern switch 95, as described above. For example, it also becomes possible to execute the effect by only topper devices installed in slot machines adjacent to a wining slot machine, or the execute effect by topper devices installed in slot machines in a same island as a winning slot machine.

Then, if it is judged that the distance from the topper device that transmitted the effect signal to this topper device is within the set distance (S8: YES), the process shifts to S9. In contrast, if it is judged that the distance from the topper device that transmitted the effect signal to this topper device is not within the set distance (S8: NO), the effect control program terminates with no effect being executed in this topper device.

In S9, the main CPU 91 judges whether or not the effect for winning of the installed target slot machine or other slot machine is already being executed. If it is judged that the effect is being executed (S9: YES), it will wait till the effect finishes. On the one hand, if it is judged that the effect is not executed (S9: NO), it shifts to S10.

Next, in S10, the main CPU 91 transmits a specific LED driving command or a display pattern command to the LED driving circuit 84 and the image control circuit 85, it executes the effect for winning of other winning slot machines. Specifically, as shown in FIG. 9, it causes the LEDs 33 to turn on so that a lighting area gradually moves to the direction of the winning slot machine and then the topper liquid crystal panel 32 to display the arrow 98 showing the direction of the winning slot machine.

In the topper devices 5 to 8 according to the present embodiment, as described above, if any of the slot machines comprising the link system 9 (e.g., the slot machine 2) has won, the winning slot machine 2 transmits a win signal to the installed topper device 6, which then transmits an effect signal indicating that the slot machine 2 has won (S3) and executes the effect of showing that the installed slot machine 1 has won (S5). At the same time, the topper devices 5, 7, and 8 that received the effect signal specify the sending topper device 6 (S7), and execute the effect showing a position of the winning slot machine 2 by using the topper liquid crystal panel 32 or the LEDs 33. Thus, it becomes possible to specify the winning slot machine among plural gaming machines in the link by transmitting/receiving the signals among the topper devices, without going through the slot machines or server. Therefore, even in a combination of slot machines made by different manufacturers, a link system consisting of plural topper devices can be formed, and then high versatility is achieved that enables effects to be executed without being affected by the standard of a gaming machine to be placed in a game parlor.

In addition, as the effect showing a winning slot machine to users is executed by using only topper devices that are within a set range from the winning slot machine, no unnecessary effect is executed at the topper devices of slot machines in a remote location where the effect is not expected, and processing load can be alleviated. In addition, it becomes possible to set a range of slot machines for which effect is executed considering the size of a shop and the intentions of the game parlor.

In addition, it will be obvious that the present invention shall not be limited to the embodiment and that various improvements and modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the invention.

For instance, in this embodiment, although an effect signal is transmitted to other topper devices only when prize is won with a specific winning combination (e.g., “RED7”, “BLUE7”) among a plural of winning combinations (FIG. 4), an effect signal may be transmitted irrespective of types of winning combinations. In addition, the slot machines equipped with progressive function may comprise the link system 9 and thus an effect signal may be transmitted when a progressive payout is won.

In addition, the brightness adjusting switch 94 or the effect pattern switch 95 may be such configured that it can be operated by a player as well as an operator. Further, brightness of the topper liquid crystal panel 32 or content of effect may be changed based on content of winning.

Although the subject matter has been described in language specific to structural features and/or methodological acts, it is to be understood that the subject matter defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described above. Rather, the specific features and acts described above are disclosed as example forms of implementing the claims.