Title:
Slot Machine Offering Special Award And Control Method Thereof
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
According to a slot machine of the present invention, the first special award is offered in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in a game, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in the following game, that is, in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the successive games. On the other hand, the second special award is offered in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in successive games. The second special award is larger than the first special award.



Inventors:
Yoshizawa, Kazumasa (Tokyo, JP)
Application Number:
12/404734
Publication Date:
09/24/2009
Filing Date:
03/16/2009
Assignee:
Aruze Corp. (Tokyo, JP)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
SHOOK, DANIEL P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
POLSINELLI PC / WATCHSTONE LLP (Houston, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent of the United States is:

1. A slot machine comprising: a symbol display capable of variably displaying a plurality of symbols including normal symbols and a specific symbol as a trigger for offering a first special award or a second special award larger than said first special award; and a controller, said controller programmed to execute processing of (A) stop-displaying said plurality of symbols after variably displaying said plurality of symbols, to said symbol display, (B) offering said first special award, when said specific symbol is not stop-displayed in said processing (A) in a game, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in the following game, and (C) offering said second special award when said specific symbol has been stop-displayed in said processing (A) in successive games.

2. The slot machine according to claim 1, wherein said processing (B) includes processing of offering said first special award, when said specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the game after having been stop-displayed in said processing (A) in the successive games, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed in the following game.

3. The slot machine according to claim 1, wherein said processing (C) is processing of offering the second special award corresponding to a number of the successive games, when said specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the game after having been stop-displayed in said processing (A) in the successive games.

4. A slot machine comprising: a symbol display capable of variably displaying a plurality of symbols including normal symbols and a specific symbol as a trigger for offering a first special award or a second special award larger than said first special award; and a controller, said controller programmed to execute processing of (A) stop-displaying said plurality of symbols after variably displaying said plurality of symbols, to said symbol display, following a BET of a game medium; (B) stop-displaying said plurality of symbols after variably displaying said plurality of symbols to said symbol display, even without the BET of the game medium, as triggered by a predetermined condition being satisfied by the normal symbols or by a combination of the normal symbols, the normal symbols having been stop-displayed in said processing (A), (C) offering said first special award when said specific symbol is not stop-displayed in a game, is stop-displayed in said processing (B) in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in said processing (B) in the following game, and (D) offering said second special award when said specific symbol has been stop-displayed in said processing (B) in successive games.

5. The slot machine according to claim 4, wherein said processing (C) includes processing of offering said first special award when said specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the game after having been stop-displayed in said processing (B) in the successive games, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed in said processing (B) in the following game.

6. The slot machine according to claim 4, wherein said processing (D) is processing of offering the second special award corresponding to a number of the successive games, when said specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the game after having been stop-displayed in said processing (B) in the successive games.

7. A control method of a slot machine, said control method comprising steps of: (A) stop-displaying a plurality of symbols including normal symbols and a specific symbol as a trigger for offering a first special award or a second special award larger than said first special award, after variably displaying said plurality of symbols, to said symbol display, (B) offering said first special award when said specific symbol is not stop-displayed in said step (A) in a game, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in the following game, and (C) offering said second special award when said specific symbol has been stop-displayed in said step (A) in successive games.

8. A control method of a slot machine, said control method comprising steps of: (A) stop-displaying a plurality of symbols including normal symbols and a specific symbol as a trigger for offering a first special award or a second special award larger than said first special award, after variably displaying said plurality of symbols to said symbol display, following a BET of a game medium; (B) stop-displaying said plurality of symbols after variably displaying said plurality of symbols to said symbol display, even without the BET of the game medium, as triggered by a predetermined condition being satisfied by the normal symbols or by a combination of the normal symbols, the normal symbols having been stop-displayed in said step (A), (C) offering said first special award when said specific symbol is not stop-displayed in a game, is stop-displayed in said step (B) in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in said step (B) in the following game, and (D) offering said second special award when said specific symbol has been stop-displayed in said step (B) in successive games.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims benefit of priority based on U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/038,979 filed on Mar. 24, 2008. The contents of this application are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a slot machine offering a special award and a control method thereof.

2. Discussion of the Background

In conventional slot machines, when a player inserts game media such as medals, coins or bills into an insertion slot of the slot machine and presses a spin button, then a plurality of symbols are scroll-displayed to a display portion provided on the front surface of a casing and, thereafter, the respective symbols are automatically stopped, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,960,133, 6,012,983 and 6,093,102. In this case, when scroll-display of respective symbols starts by an input from the spin button, symbols are selected using random numbers, and the selected symbols are stop-displayed to the display portion. Then, when a combination of the stop-displayed symbols along a winning line is a predetermined winning combination (prize), an award is paid out.

Further, among conventional slot machines, there are some slot machines offering an award (special award) different from a normal award to a player.

For example, there exists a slot machine that reserves a part of a spent credit and pays out an award in such a large amount (so-called “jackpot”) as not to be paid out in the case of a normal winning when a predetermined condition (for example, an specific symbol being stop-displayed) is satisfied.

In this type of the slot machine offering the special award, generally, there is not adopted a configuration that the number of a game medium to be paid out as the special award is not increased even in a case where a condition (predetermined condition) as a trigger for offering the special award has been successively established in a plurality of games, as compared with the case where the predetermined condition is established only in a single game.

In the case that the predetermined condition has been established successively, the player is generally inclined to receive a larger profit compared to the profit to be offered in the case that the condition has not been established successively. The conventional slot machine is not configured to match the player's feeling and could make the player be frustrated.

In light of the aforementioned problem, the present invention has been devised, and an object of the present invention is to provide a slot machine capable of offering, in a case where a condition as a trigger for offering a special award has been established in successive games, a special award larger than the award to be offered in the case that the condition has not been established successively, and a control method thereof.

The contents of U.S. Pat. No. 6,960,133, U.S. Pat. No. 6,012,983, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,093,102 are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a slot machine having the following configuration.

That is, the slot machine comprises: a symbol display capable of variably displaying a plurality of symbols including normal symbols and a specific symbol as a trigger for offering a first special award or a second special award larger than the first special award; and a controller. The controller is programmed to execute processing of (A) stop-displaying the plurality of symbols after variably displaying the plurality of symbols, to the symbol display, (B) offering the first special award, when the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the processing (A) in a game, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in the following game, and (C) offering the second special award when the specific symbol has been stop-displayed in the processing (A) in successive games.

According to the slot machine, the first special award is offered in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in a game, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in the following game, that is, in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the successive games. On the other hand, the second special award is offered in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in the successive games. The second special award is larger than the first special award.

As thus described, in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in the successive games, there is offered to the player the special award, which is larger than the special award to be offered in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the successive games. Accordingly, it is possible to match the player's feeling that he or she is inclined to receive the larger profit in the case that the predetermined condition has been successively established, compared to the profit to be offered in the case that the predetermined condition has not been successively established. As a result, it is possible to provide the player with a satisfaction.

Further, the slot machine of the present invention preferably has the following configuration.

That is, the processing (B) includes processing of offering the first special award, when the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the game after having been stop-displayed in the processing (A) in the successive games, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed in the following game.

According to the slot machine, even in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in the successive games, once the successive games are stopped, the award to be offered when the specific symbol is stop-displayed next is the first special award, not the second special award. Therefore, in order to acquire the comparatively large special award, the player is required not to stop the successive games in which the specific symbol has been stop-displayed. Accordingly, it is possible to have the player play the game with a sense of tension. Then, in the case that the successive games in which the specific symbol has been stop-displayed are continued, the player may be delighted. On the other hand, in the case that the successive games are stopped, the player may be greatly disappointed. As above described, the player can be taken through emotional ups and downs. Consequently, the player can be absorbed in the game.

Further, the slot machine of the present invention preferably has the following configuration.

That is, the processing (C) is processing of offering the second special award corresponding to a number of the successive games, when the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the game after having been stop-displayed in the processing (A) in the successive games.

According to the slot machine, the amount of the game media to be offered as the second special award is determined based on the number of successive games in which the specific symbol has been stop-displayed. Accordingly, as the number of the successive games becomes bigger, the larger amount of game media can be offered. Generally, the player is inclined to receive the larger profit according to the increase in number of the successive games in which the condition as the trigger for offering the special award is established. The slot machine is configured to match the player's feeling and capable of providing the player with a great satisfaction. Further, the bigger the number of the successive games in which the specific symbol has been stop-displayed becomes, the larger the special award that the player can acquire becomes. Therefore, it is possible to significantly increase the player's expectation for the successive games in which the specific symbol has been stop-displayed. As a result, it is possible to have the player absorbed more in the game.

Further, the slot machine of the present invention preferably has the following configuration.

That is, the slot machine comprises: a symbol display capable of variably displaying a plurality of symbols including normal symbols and a specific symbol as a trigger for offering a first special award or a second special award larger than the first special award; and a controller. The controller is programmed to execute processing of (A) stop-displaying the plurality of symbols after variably displaying the plurality of symbols, to the symbol display, following a BET of a game medium; (B) stop-displaying the plurality of symbols after variably displaying the plurality of symbols to the symbol display, even without the BET of the game medium, as triggered by a predetermined condition being satisfied by the normal symbols or by a combination of the normal symbols, the normal symbols having been stop-displayed in the processing (A), (C) offering the first special award when the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in a game, is stop-displayed in the processing (B) in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in the processing (B) in the following game, and (D) offering the second special award when the specific symbol has been stop-displayed in the processing (B) in successive games.

According to the slot machine, the first special award is offered in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in a game, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in the following game, that is, in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the successive games. On the other hand, the second special award is offered in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in the successive games. The second special award is larger than the first special award.

As thus described, in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in the successive games, there is offered to the player the special award, which is larger than the special award to be offered in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the successive games. Accordingly, it is possible to match the player's feeling that he or she is inclined to receive the larger profit in the case that the predetermined condition has been successively established, compared to the profit to be offered in the case that the predetermined condition has not been successively established. As a result, it is possible to provide the player with a satisfaction.

Further, according to the slot machine, as triggered by the predetermined condition being satisfied, the variable display and the stop-display of the plurality of symbols to the symbol display are conducted even without a BET of the game media. Namely, a free game is played. The second special award is offered in the case that the specific symbol has been stop-displayed in the successive games in the free games.

Generally, in the case of spending all the game media, the player is compelled to terminate the game. In the case that, even though the specific symbol is stop-displayed in a certain game, the player has spent all the game media in hand at the same time, it is possible that the player misses a chance to acquire the second special award since the player cannot play the next game. In such a case, the player may be disappointed very much.

In this regard, according to the slot machine, in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in the successive games, the second special award is offered in the free game. Accordingly, the player does not miss the chance to acquire the second special award because the player has spent all the game media in hand. Consequently, it is possible to prevent the player from being disappointed.

Further, the slot machine of the present invention preferably has the following configuration.

That is, the processing (C) includes processing of offering the first special award when the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the game after having been stop-displayed in the processing (B) in the successive games, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed in the processing (B) in the following game.

According to the slot machine, even in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in the successive games, once the successive games are stopped, the award to be offered when the specific symbol is stop-displayed next is the first special award, not the second special award. Therefore, in order to acquire the comparatively large special award, the player is required not to stop the successive games in which the specific symbol has been stop-displayed. Accordingly, it is possible to have the player play the game with a sense of tension. Then, in the case that the successive games in which the specific symbol has been stop-displayed are continued, the player may be delighted. On the other hand, in the case that the successive games are stopped, the player may be greatly disappointed. As above described, the player can be taken through emotional ups and downs. Consequently, the player can be absorbed in the game.

Further, the slot machine of the present invention preferably has the following configuration.

That is, the processing (D) is processing of offering the second special award corresponding to a number of the successive games, when the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the game after having been stop-displayed in the processing (B) in the successive games.

According to the slot machine, the amount of the game media to be offered as the second special award is determined based on the number of successive games in which the specific symbol has been stop-displayed. Accordingly, as the number of the successive games becomes bigger, the larger amount of game media can be offered. Generally, the player is inclined to receive the larger profit according to the increase in number of the successive games in which the condition as the trigger for offering the special award is established. The slot machine is configured to match the player's feeling and capable of providing the player with a great satisfaction. Further, the bigger the number of the successive games in which the specific symbol has been stop-displayed becomes, the larger the special award that the player can acquire becomes. Therefore, it is possible to significantly increase the player's expectation for the successive games in which the specific symbol has been stop-displayed. As a result, it is possible to have the player absorbed more in the game.

Further, according to the slot machine, the player can get a chance to acquire a larger special award without a BET of the game media. Therefore, it is possible to increase the player's motivation for acquiring the special award.

Further, the present invention provides a control method of a slot machine, the control method having a following configuration.

That is, the control method of a slot machine comprises steps of: (A) stop-displaying a plurality of symbols including normal symbols and a specific symbol as a trigger for offering a first special award or a second special award larger than the first special award, after variably displaying the plurality of symbols, to the symbol display, (B) offering the first special award when the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the step (A) in a game, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in the following game, and (C) offering the second special award when the specific symbol has been stop-displayed in the step (A) in successive games.

According to the control method of the slot machine, the first special award is offered in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in a game, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in the following game, that is, in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the successive games. On the other hand, the second special award is offered in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in the successive games. The second special award is larger than the first special award.

As thus described, in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in the successive games, there is offered to the player the special award, which is larger than the special award to be offered in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the successive games. Accordingly, it is possible to match the player's feeling that he or she is inclined to receive the larger profit in the case that the predetermined condition has been successively established, compared to the profit to be offered in the case that the predetermined condition has not been successively established. As a result, it is possible to provide the player with a satisfaction.

Further, the present invention provides a control method of a slot machine, the control method having a following configuration.

That is, the control method of a slot machine comprises steps of: (A) stop-displaying a plurality of symbols including normal symbols and a specific symbol as a trigger for offering a first special award or a second special award larger than the first special award, after variably displaying the plurality of symbols to the symbol display, following a BET of a game medium; (B) stop-displaying the plurality of symbols after variably displaying the plurality of symbols to the symbol display, even without the BET of the game medium, as triggered by a predetermined condition being satisfied by the normal symbols or by a combination of the normal symbols, the normal symbols having been stop-displayed in the step (A), (C) offering the first special award when the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in a game, is stop-displayed in the step (B) in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in the step (B) in the following game, and (D) offering the second special award when the specific symbol has been stop-displayed in the step (B) in successive games.

According to the control method of the slot machine, the first special award is offered in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in a game, is stop-displayed in the next game, and is not stop-displayed again in the following game, that is, in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the successive games. On the other hand, the second special award is offered in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in the successive games. The second special award is larger than the first special award.

As thus described, in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in the successive games, there is offered to the player the special award, which is larger than the special award to be offered in the case that the specific symbol is not stop-displayed in the successive games. Accordingly, it is possible to match the player's feeling that he or she is inclined to receive the larger profit in the case that the predetermined condition has been successively established, compared to the profit to be offered in the case that the predetermined condition has not been successively established. As a result, it is possible to provide the player with a satisfaction.

Further, according to the control method of the slot machine, as triggered by the predetermined condition being satisfied, the variable display and the stop-display of the plurality of symbols to the symbol display are conducted even without a BET of the game media. Namely, a free game is played. The second special award is offered in the case that the specific symbol has been stop-displayed in the successive games in the free games.

Generally, in the case of spending all the game media, the player is compelled to terminate the game. In the case that, even though the specific symbol is stop-displayed in a certain game, the player has spent all the game media in hand at the same time, it is possible that the player misses a chance to acquire the second special award since the player cannot play the next game. In such a case, the player may be disappointed very much.

In this regard, according to the slot machine, in the case that the specific symbol is stop-displayed in the successive games, the second special award is offered in the free game. Accordingly, the player does not miss the chance to acquire the second special award because the player has spent all the game media in hand. Consequently, it is possible to prevent the player from being disappointed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a view illustrating an exemplary image to be displayed to a lower image display panel.

FIG. 1B is another view illustrating an exemplary image to be displayed to a lower image display panel.

FIG. 1C is another view illustrating an exemplary image to be displayed to a lower image display panel.

FIG. 1D is another view illustrating an exemplary image to be displayed to a lower image display panel.

FIG. 1E is another view illustrating an exemplary image to be displayed to a lower image display panel.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view illustrating the external appearance of a slot machine.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating an internal configuration of the slot machine illustrated in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a flowchart illustrating main processing executed in the slot machine 10.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of slot machine game execution processing.

FIG. 6 is a view illustrating a relation between a rearranged symbol and an award.

FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of free game execution processing.

FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of rank improvement processing.

FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of special award processing.

FIG. 10 is a flowchart illustrating a procedure of activation processing.

FIG. 11 is a view illustrating peripheral device initialization processing.

FIG. 12 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of activation processing executed by a central controller.

FIG. 13 is a view illustrating a special award table.

FIG. 14 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of rank improvement processing according to a second embodiment.

FIG. 15 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of special award processing according to a second embodiment.

FIG. 16 is a perspective view illustrating an external appearance of a slot machine according to another embodiment.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

First Embodiment

A general description of a first embodiment will be given by using FIG. 1A to FIG. 1E.

FIGS. 1A to 1E are views each illustrating an exemplary image to be displayed to a lower image display panel.

In a slot machine 10 (see FIG. 2) according to the first embodiment, a free-game-trigger symbol 100 (see FIG. 1A) may be rearranged in a symbol matrix SM. The symbol matrix SM is displayed to a lower image display panel 16 provided in the slot machine 10. The lower image display panel 16 (see FIG. 2) corresponds to the symbol display of the present invention.

In the first embodiment, when three or more free-game-trigger symbols 100 are rearranged in the symbol matrix SM, a free game is played. In a free game period, a slot machine game is played even a game medium is not BET.

FIG. 1A shows an example of a state that three free-game-trigger symbols 100 are rearranged. As triggered by this, a text image 120 for notifying the player of “Free-game trigger established!” is displayed. A rearrangement of three or more free-game-trigger symbols 100 is referred to as “a free-game trigger is established” in the present description.

In the first embodiment, a special symbol (specific symbol in the present invention) may be rearranged during the free game period. The special symbol is a symbol as a trigger for offering a special award.

In an example shown in FIG. 1B, the special symbol 101 is rearranged and as triggered by this, a text image 121 showing “Special symbol appeared!” is displayed. The symbol matrix SM includes a display area 102A and a display area 102B and the special symbol 101 is rearranged in the display area 102A.

Further, to the right of the symbol matrix SM, a rank display area 110 is provided. In the rank display area 110, there are provided a “GRAND” display portion 110A, a “MAJOR” display portion 110B, a “MINOR” display portion 110C, and a “MINI” display portion 110D. “GRAND”, “MAJOR”, “MINOR”, and “MINI” are each corresponding to an amount of coins to be paid out as a special award. “GRAND”, “MAJOR”, “MINOR”, and “MINI” are listed in a decreasing order of a number of coin-outs. “GRAND”, “MAJOR”, “MINOR”, and “MINI” are also referred to as “rank” in the following.

In an example shown in FIG. 1B, the “MINI” display portion 110D is displayed in a distinguishable state from the other display portions. The display in the distinguishable state from the other display portions is also referred to as “a display mode is changed” in the following.

The slot machine 10 according to the first embodiment is configured such that the rank is upgraded when the special symbol is rearranged in the successive games. This point will be described in the following.

FIG. 1C shows an image to be displayed in the case that the special symbol is rearranged in the two successive games. As triggered by the second successive rearrangement of the special symbol in the game, a text image 122 showing “Special symbol appeared in 2 successive games!!” is displayed. Further, the change in the display mode of the “MINI” display portion 110D is terminated and the display mode of the “MINOR” display portion 110C is changed.

FIG. 1D shows an image to be displayed in the case that the special symbol has been rearranged in the three successive games. As triggered by the third successive rearrangement of the special symbol in the game, a text image 123 showing “Great! The 3rd successive appearance!!” is displayed. Further, the change in the display mode of the “MINOR” display portion 110C is terminated and the display mode of the “MAJOR” display portion 110B is changed.

FIG. 1E shows an image to be displayed in the case that, though the special symbol has been rearranged in the two successive games, the special symbol has not been rearranged in the subsequent game. A text image 124 showing “Bad luck . . . Fail in the 3rd successive appearance . . . Award of “MINOR” is paid out” is displayed. The change in the display mode of the “MINOR” display portion 110C is terminated.

The slot machine 10 according to the first embodiment is configured such that the special award is offered based on a number of the successive games, when the successive games in which the special symbol has been rearranged are stopped. As thus described, according to the increase in the number of the successive games in which the special symbol has been rearranged, the rank relating to the special award is changed in the order of “MINI”, “MINOR”, “MAJOR”, and “GRAND”, which will be referred to as “Rank is upgraded” or “Rank is improved” in the present description.

Further, according to the first embodiment, when the special symbol is rearranged for the first time after the successive games in which the special symbol has been rearranged are stopped, the display mode of the “MINI” display portion 110D is changed again. In this case, the rank is improved from “MINI” again.

There has been described the outline of the first embodiment.

Hereinafter, the first embodiment will be described in more detail.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view illustrating the external appearance of the slot machine.

In the slot machine 10, a coin, a bill, or electronic valuable information corresponding thereto is used as a game medium. However, in the present invention, a game medium is not particularly limited. Examples of the game medium may include a medal, a token, electronic money, or a ticket. It should be noted that the ticket is not particularly limited, and examples thereof include a ticket with a bar code, which will be described later.

Here, the slot machine 10 is a stand-alone type slot machine that is not connected to a network, but the present invention can also be applied to a slot machine connected to a network.

The slot machine 10 includes: a cabinet 11; a top box 12 placed on the upper side of the cabinet 11; and a main door 13 provided at the front face of the cabinet 11. The lower image display panel 16 is provided in front of the main door 13. The lower image display panel 16 includes a liquid crystal display panel and the symbol matrix SM (see FIG. 1A) is displayed thereto. In the lower image display panel 16, there are provided a number-of-credits display section 31 and a number of payouts display section 32 (not shown).

The number-of-credits display section 31 displays an image indicating the number of credited coins. The number-of-payouts display section 32 displays an image indicating the number of coins to be paid out as the payout.

Further, a touch panel 69, which is not shown in the figure, is provided on the front face of the lower image display panel 16, and the player can input various kinds of commands by operating the touch panel 69.

Below the lower image display panel 16, there are provided a control panel 20 comprised of a plurality of buttons 23 to 27 with each of which a command according to the game progress is inputted by the player, a coin receiving slot 21 through which a coin is accepted into the cabinet 11, and a bill validator 22.

The control panel 20 is provided with a start button 23, a change button 24, a CASHOUT button 25, a 1-BET button 26, and a maximum BET button 27. The start button 23 is used for inputting a command to start a game. The change button 24 is used for making a request of staff at a recreation facility for exchange. The CASHOUT button 25 is used for inputting a command to pay out credited coins to a coin tray 18.

The 1-BET button 26 is used for inputting a command to BET one coin on a game out of credited coins. The maximum BET button 27 is used for inputting a command to BET the maximum number (50 coins in the first embodiment) of coins that can be bet on a single game out of credited coins.

The bill validator 22 not only discriminates a regular bill from a false bill, but also accepts the regular bill into the cabinet 11. It should be noted that the bill validator 22 may be configured so as to be capable of reading a later-described ticket 39 with a barcode. At the lower front face of the main door 13, namely below the control panel 20, there is provided a belly glass 34 on which a character or the like of the slot machine 10 is drawn.

At the front face of the top box 12, an upper image display panel 33 is provided. The upper image display panel 33 is provided with a liquid crystal panel to display, for example, an image representing an introduction of the contents of a game or a description of a rule of the game.

Further, the top box 12 is provided with a speaker 29. Below the upper image display panel 33, there are provided a ticket printer 35, a card reader 36, a data display 37, and a keypad 38. The ticket printer 35 prints on a ticket a barcode as coded data of the number of credits, date and time, an identification number of the slot machine 10, and the like, and outputs the ticket as a ticket 39 with a barcode. The player can make another slot machine read the ticket 39 with a barcode to play a game thereon, or can exchange the ticket 39 with a barcode with bills or the like at a predetermined place in the recreation facility (for example, a cashier in a casino).

The card reader 36 reads data from a smart card and writes data into the smart card. The smart card is a card owned by the player, and for example, data for identifying a player and data on a history of games played by the player are stored therein. Data corresponding to a coin, a bill, or a credit may be stored in the smart card. Further, in place of the smart card, a magnetic stripe card may be adopted. The data display 37 is comprised of a fluorescent display or the like, and displays, for example, data read by the card reader 36 or data inputted by the player through the keypad 38. The keypad 38 is used for inputting a command and data concerning the issue of a ticket and the like.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing an internal configuration of the slot machine shown in FIG. 2.

A gaming board 50 includes a CPU (Central Processing Unit) 51, a ROM 55, and a boot ROM 52 which are interconnected to one another via an internal bus, a card slot 53S corresponding to a memory card 53, and an IC socket 54S corresponding to a GAL (Generic Array Logic) 54.

The memory card 53 is formed from a nonvolatile memory such as CompactFlash (registered trademark) and stores game programs and game system programs. The game programs include a symbol selection program. The aforementioned symbol selection program is a program for determining the symbols to be rearranged in the symbol matrix SM. The aforementioned symbol selection program includes symbol weighing data in association with a plurality of types of payout ratios (for example, 80%, 84%, 88%). The symbol weighing data is data indicating the correspondence between the respective symbols, and one or more random numbers which fall in a predetermined numerical range (0 to 255). The payout ratios are determined based on payout-ratio setting data outputted from the GAL 54 and, based on the symbol weighing data associated with the payout ratios, the symbols to be rearranged in the symbol matrix are determined.

Further, the symbol selection program includes a symbol selection program for the free game. Symbols determined by the symbol selection program for the free game include the special symbol.

Here, as the symbol to be rearranged in the symbol matrix SM, there are eight types of the symbols including “RIBBON”, “HEART”, “STAR”, “MOON”, “SUN”, “JEWEL”, “CROWN” and “SMILE”. Further, all the symbols are constituted by so-called scatter symbols.

Further, the game program includes data (Hereinafter, also referred to as odds data. See FIG. 6) showing a relation between the rearranged symbol and the amount of the award.

Further, the card slot 53S is configured so as to allow the memory card 53 to be inserted thereinto or ejected therefrom, and is connected to a mother board 40 via an IDE bus. Thus, the memory card 53 can be ejected from the card slot 53S, and then another game program is written onto the memory card 53, and the memory card 53 can be inserted into the card slot 53S, to change the type and contents of a game to be played on the slot machine 10. The game program includes a program associated with the progress of a game. The game program also includes image data and sound data to be outputted during the game. The image data includes image data indicating a symbol matrix.

The GAL 54 is a type of PLD having a fixed OR array structure. The GAL 54 includes plural input ports and plural output ports and, when predetermined data is inputted to an input port, the GAL 54 outputs data corresponding to the aforementioned data from an output port. The data outputted from this output port is the aforementioned payout-ratio setting data.

Further, the IC socket 54S is configured to allow the GAL 54 to be attached thereto and detached therefrom and is connected to the mother board 40 through a PCI bus. Accordingly, the GAL 54 can be replaced with another GAL 54 to change the payout-ratio setting data.

A CPU 51, a ROM 55 and a boot ROM 52 interconnected to one another via an internal bus are connected to the mother board 40 by PCI bus. The PCI bus supplies power to the gaming board 50 from the mother board 40, as well as transmitting a signal between the mother board 40 and the gaming board 50. The ROM 55 stores country identification information and an authentication program. The boot Rom 52 stores an auxiliary authentication program and a program (boot code) to be used by the CPU 51 for activating the auxiliary authentication program, and the like.

The authentication program is a program (falsification check program) for authenticating a game program and a game system program. The authentication program is written along a procedure (authentication procedure) for checking and proving that a game program and a game system program to be subject to authentication loading processing have not been falsified, namely authenticating the game program and the game system program. The auxiliary authentication program is a program for authenticating the above-mentioned authentication program. The auxiliary authentication program is written along a procedure (authentication procedure) for proving that an authentication program to be subject to the authentication processing has not been falsified, namely, authenticating the authentication program.

The mother board 40 is constructed with a general-purpose mother board commercially available (a printed circuit board on which basic parts of a personal computer are mounted) and includes a main CPU 41, ROM (Read Only Memory) 42 and RAM (Random Access Memory) 43. The mother board 40 is the controller of the present invention.

ROM 42 is constituted of a memory device such as a flash memory and stores thereon a program such as BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) executed by the main CPU 41 and permanent data. When BIOS is executed by the main CPU 41, not only is initialization processing for predetermined peripheral devices conducted, but a capture processing for the game program and game system program stored on the memory card 53 is also started via the gaming board 50. In the present invention, contents of ROM 42 may be rewritable or not rewritable.

RAM 43 stores data and a program used at the time of operation of the main CPU 41, and various flags. RAM 43 can also store the authentication program read through the gaming board 50, the game program, and the game system program. RAM 43 further stores data on the number of credits, the number of coins-in or coins-out for one game, and the like.

Further, in the RAM 43, a number-of-free-game storage area is provided. The number-of-free-game storage area stores data indicating the remaining number of the free game.

To the mother board 40, a body PCB (Printed Circuit Board) 60 and a door PCB 80, which will be described later, are connected through respective USBs. Further, the mother board 40 is connected with a power supply unit 45. When the power is supplied from the power unit 45 to the mother board 40, the main CPU 41 of the mother board 40 is activated and the power is supplied to the gaming board 50 through the PCI bus so that the CPU 51 is activated.

The body PCB 60 and the door PCB 80 are connected with equipment and devices that generate input signals to be inputted to the main CPU 41, and equipment and devices operations of which are controlled by control signals outputted from the main CPU 41. The main CPU 41 executes a game program stored in the RAM 43 based on an input signal inputted to the main CPU 41, thereby executes the predetermined arithmetic processing and stores a result thereof in the RAM 43, or transmits a control signal to each of the equipment and devices as processing for controlling each of the equipment and devices.

To the body PCB 60, there are connected a lamp 30, a hopper 66, a coin detecting portion 67, a graphic board 68, a speaker 29, a touch panel 69, a bill validator 22, a ticket printer 35, a card reader 36, a key switch 38S, and a data display 37. The lamp 30 lights up in a predetermined pattern based on a control signal outputted from the main CPU 41.

The hopper 66 is installed inside the cabinet 11 and pays out a predetermined number of coins from the coin payout exit 19 to the coin tray 18, based on a control signal outputted from the main CPU 41. The coin detecting portion 67 is provided inside the coin payout exit 19, and outputs an input signal to the main CPU 41 when detecting a payout of a predetermined number of coins from the coin payout exit 19.

The graphic board 68 controls, based on a control signal outputted from the main CPU 41, an image display to the upper image display panel 33 and the lower image display panel 16. The number of credits stored in RAM 43 is displayed to the number-of-credits display section 31 (not shown) of the lower image display panel 16. The number of coins-out is displayed to the number-of-payouts display section 32 (not shown) of the lower image display panel 16. The graphic board 68 is equipped with VDP (Video Display Processor) which generates image data based on a control signal outputted from the main CPU 41 and a video RAM which temporarily stores image data generated by VDP, and of the like equipments. It should be noted that image data used in generating image data with VDP is contained in a game program read from the memory card 53 and stored in RAM 43.

The bill validator 22 not only discriminates a regular bill from a false bill, but also accepts the regular bill into the cabinet 11. When accepting a regular bill, the bill validator 22 outputs an input signal to the main CPU 41, based on the face amount of the bill. The main CPU 41 stores, in the RAM 43, the number of credits according to the face amount of the bill transmitted with the input signal.

The ticket printer 35 prints on a ticket, based on a control signal outputted from the main CPU 41, a barcode formed by encoding data such as the number of credits, date and time, an identification number of the slot machine 10, and of the like data stored in the RAM 43, and outputs the ticket as a ticket 39 with a barcode.

The card reader 36 reads data from a smart card and transmits the data to the main CPU 41 or writes data into the smart card based on a control signal from the main CPU 41. The key switch 38S is provided on the keypad 38, and outputs a predetermined input signal to the main CPU 41 when the keypad 38 is operated by the player. The data display 37 displays, based on a control signal outputted from the main CPU 41, data read by the card reader 36 or data inputted by the player through the keypad 38.

To the door PCB 80, there are connected a control panel 20, a reverter 21S, a coin counter 21C, and a cold cathode tube 81. The control panel 20 is provided with a start switch 23S corresponding to the start 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 maximum BET switch 27S corresponding to the maximum BET button 27. Each of the switches 23S to 27S outputs an input signal to the main CPU 41 when each of the buttons 23 to 27 corresponding thereto is operated by the player.

The coin counter 21C is provided inside the coin receiving slot 21 and discriminates a regular coin from a false coin inserted into the coin receiving slot 21 by the player. Coins other than regular coins are discharged from the coin payout exit 19. When the coin counter 21C detects a regular coin, the coin counter 21C outputs an input signal to the main CPU 41.

The reverter 21S operates based on a control signal outputted from the main CPU 41, and distributes a coin identified by the coin counter 21C as a regular coin into a cash box (not shown) or the hopper 66, which are disposed in the slot machine 10. Specifically, when the hopper 66 is filled with coins, a regular coin is distributed into the cash box by the reverter 21S. On the other hand, when the hopper 66 is not filled with coins, the regular coin is distributed into the hopper 66. The cold cathode tube 81 functions as a backlight installed on the rear face side of the lower image display panel 16 and the upper image display panel 33, and lights up based on a control signal to be outputted from the main CPU 41.

Next, processing executed in the slot machine 10 will be described.

FIG. 4 is a flowchart illustrating main processing executed in the slot machine 10 according to a first embodiment.

First, in the slot machine 10, activation processing is executed (step S101). The activation processing will be specifically described later by using FIG. 10 to FIG. 12.

After the activation processing, the main CPU 41 executes processing of addition of the number of credits stored in the RAM 43 as an interrupt processing, on receiving a detection signal outputted from the coin counter 21C when the coin inserted into the coin receiving slot 21 is detected by the coin counter 21.

After the processing of step S101, the main CPU 41 executes slot machine game execution processing (step S102). The slot machine game execution processing will be specifically described later by using FIG. 5.

Hereinafter, slot machine game execution processing executed in the slot machine 10 will be described.

The main CPU 41 reads a game program and executes the game program to progress a slot machine game.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of slot machine game execution processing.

FIG. 6 is a view illustrating a relation between a rearranged symbol and an award.

First, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not a coin has been BET (step S11). In the processing, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not to have received an input signal outputted from the 1-BET switch 26S when the 1-BET button 26 is operated or an input signal outputted from the maximum BET switch 27S when the maximum BET button 27 is operated. When determining that a coin has not been BET, the main CPU 41 returns the processing to step S11.

On the other hand, when determining that a coin has been BET in step S11, the main CPU 41 executes processing for making a subtraction from the number of credits stored in the RAM 43, according to the number of BET coins (step S12). It should be noted that, when the number of BET coins is larger than the number of credits stored in the RAM 43, the main CPU 41 does not execute the processing for making a subtraction from the number of credits stored in the RAM 43, and returns the processing to step S11. When the number of BET coins exceeds an upper limit of the number of coins that can be BET on a single game (50 coins in the first embodiment), the main CPU 41 does not execute the processing for making a subtraction from the number of credits stored in the RAM 43, and the processing is proceeded to step S13.

Next, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the start button 23 has been turned on (step S13). In the processing, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not to have received an input signal outputted from the start switch 23S when the start button 23 is pressed.

When determining that the start button 23 has not been turned ON, the main CPU 41 returns the processing to step S11. It should be noted that, when the start button 23 is not turned ON (for example, when a command to end the game is inputted without pressing the start button 23), the main CPU 41 cancels a result of the subtraction obtained in step S12.

On the other hand, when determining in step S13 that the start button 23 has been turned ON, the main CPU 41 executes symbol rearrangement processing (step S14).

In the processing, at first, the main CPU 41 starts scroll-display of the symbols in the symbol matrix SM. Then, the main CPU 41 executes the above-mentioned symbol selection program, determines symbols to be rearranged, and rearranges the symbols in the symbol matrix SM.

Next, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not a prize is established (step S15). Here, the establishment of the prize refers to the rearrangement of three or more normal symbols of at least one type, out of “RIBBON”, “HEART”, “STAR”, “MOON”, “SUN”, “JEWEL”, “CROWN”, and “SMILE”, in the symbol matrix SM (see FIG. 6). In the processing, the main CPU 41 counts the number of the symbol for each type, with regard to the rearranged symbols in step S14. Then, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the counted number is equal to or more than three.

When determining that the prize has been established, the main CPU 41 executes processing according to payout of the coin (step S16). In the processing, the main CPU 41 determines the amount of payout based on the number of rearranged symbols with reference to the odds data (see FIG. 6) stored in the RAM 43. The odds data indicates the number of coin-outs in the case of a BET of a single coin, which is determined for each type and each number of the rearranged normal symbols.

In the case of accumulating the coin, the main CPU 41 executes processing for adding an amount of credits corresponding to the determined amount of payout. On the other hand, in the case of paying out coins, the main CPU 41 transmits a control signal to the hopper 66 in order to pay out the coin in amount corresponding to the determined amount of payout.

When determining that the prize has not been established in step S15 or after executing the processing of step S16, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the free-game trigger is established (step S17). In the processing, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not three or more free-game-trigger symbols are rearranged.

When determining that the free-game trigger is established, the main CPU 41 executes free game execution processing (step S18).

When determining that the free-game trigger is not established, or after executing the processing of step S18, the main CPU 41 terminates the present subroutine.

Subsequently, there will be described the free game execution processing by using FIG. 7.

FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of free game execution processing.

First, the main CPU 41 sets the remaining number F of the free game to F=C (C=20 in the first embodiment) in the number-of-free-game storage area in the RAM 43 (step S20).

Then, the main CPU 41 executes processing of step S21 to step S24. The processing is virtually the same processing as the processing of step S13 to step S16 in FIG. 5, and the description thereof will be omitted here.

When determining that the prize has not been established in step S23, or after executing the processing of step S24, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the special symbol is rearranged (step S25).

When determining that the special symbol is rearranged, the main CPU 41 executes rank improvement processing (step S26). The rank improvement processing will be specifically described later by using FIG. 8.

On the other hand, when determining that the special symbol is not rearranged, the main CPU 41 executes special award processing (step S27). The special award processing will be specifically described later by using FIG. 9.

After executing the processing of step S26 or step S27, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the free-game trigger is established (step S28).

When determining that the free-game trigger is established, the main CPU 41 sets the remaining number F of the free game to F=F+C (C=20 in the first embodiment) in the number-of-free-game storage area in the RAM 43 (step S29).

When determining that the free-game trigger is not established in step S28, or after executing the processing of step S29, the main CPU 41 sets the remaining number F of the free game to F=F−1 in the number-of-free-game storage area in the RAM 43 (step S30).

Next, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not F is zero (F=0) (step S31).

When determining that F is not zero, the main CPU 41 returns the processing to step S21.

On the other hand, when determining that F is zero, the main CPU 41 clears a “MINI” flag, a “MINOR” flag, or a “MAJOR” flag (step S32).

The “MINI” flag is a flag set in the case that the special symbol is rearranged for the first time after the free game is generated, or in the case that the special symbol is rearranged for the first time after the successive games in which the special symbol has been rearranged are stopped (see step S49 in FIG. 8). The “MINOR” flag is a flag set in the case that the special symbol has been rearranged in the two successive games (see step S42 in FIG. 8). The “MAJOR” flag is a flag set in the case that the special symbol has been rearranged in the three successive games (see step S45 in FIG. 8).

After executing the processing of step S32, the main CPU 41 terminates the present subroutine.

FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of rank improvement processing.

First, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the “MINI” flag is set (step S40).

When determining that the “MINI” flag is set, the main CPU 41 clears the “MINI” flag (step S41).

Then, the main CPU 41 sets the “MINOR” flag (step S42) In the processing, the main CPU 41 terminates the change in the display mode of the “MINI” display portion 110D and changes the display mode of the “MINOR” display portion 120C (see FIG. 1C). Further, the main CPU 41 displays the text image 122 (see FIG. 1C) to the lower image display panel 16.

On the other hand, when determining that the “MINI” flag is not set, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the “MINOR” flag is set (step S43).

When determining that the “MINOR” flag is set, the main CPU 41 clears the “MINOR” flag (step S44).

Further, the main CPU 41 sets the “MAJOR” flag (step S45). In the processing, the main CPU 41 terminates the change in the display mode of the “MINOR” display portion 110C and changes the display mode of the “MAJOR” display portion 110B (see FIG. 1D). Furthermore, the main CPU 41 displays the text image 123 (see FIG. 1D) to the lower image display panel 16.

On the other hand, when determining that the “MINOR” flag is not set, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the “MAJOR” flag is set (step S46).

When determining that the “MAJOR” flag is set, the main CPU 41 clears the “MAJOR” flag (step S47).

Then, the main CPU 41 executes the payout processing according to “GRAND” (step S48). In the processing, the main CPU 41 pays out coins in number corresponding to “GRAND”. The payout is conducted as a hand pay. Examples of the processing executed by the main CPU 41 in step S48 include output of a notification sound from the speaker 29, lighting of the lamp 30, print of the ticket 39 with a barcode indicative of the number of coin-outs, and the like.

When determining that the “MAJOR” flag is not set in step S46, the main CPU 41 sets the “MINI” flag (step S49). In the processing, the main CPU 41 changes the display mode of the “MINI” display portion 110D (see FIG. 1B). Further, the main CPU 41 displays the text image 121 (see FIG. 1B) to the lower image display panel 16.

After executing the processing of step S42, step S45, step S48 and step S49, the main CPU 41 terminates the present subroutine.

FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of special award processing.

First, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the “MINI” flag is set (step S50).

When determining that the “MINI” flag is set, the main CPU 41 executes the payout processing according to “MINI” (step S48). In the processing, the main CPU 41 pays out coins in number corresponding to “MINI”. The payout is conducted as a hand pay.

Then, the main CPU 41 clears the “MINI” flag (step S52) Further, the main CPU 41 terminates the change in the display mode of the “MINI” display portion 110D.

When determining that the “MINI” flag is not set in step S50, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the “MINOR” flag is set (step S53).

When determining that the “MINOR” flag is set, the main CPU 41 executes the payout processing according to “MINOR” (step S54). In the processing, the main CPU 41 pays out coins in number corresponding to “MINOR”. The payout is conducted as a hand pay.

Then, the main CPU 41 clears the “MINOR” flag (step S55). Further, the main CPU 41 terminates the change in the display mode in the “MINOR” display portion 110C.

When determining that the “MINOR” flag is not set in step S53, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the “MAJOR” flag is set (step S56).

When determining that the “MAJOR” flag is set, the main CPU 41 executes the payout processing according to “MAJOR” (step S57). In the processing, the main CPU 41 pays out coins in number corresponding to “MAJOR”. The payout is conducted as a hand pay.

Then, the main CPU 41 clears the “MAJOR” flag (step S58). Further, the main CPU 41 terminates the change in the display mode of the “MAJOR” display portion 110B.

When determining that the “MAJOR” flag is not set in step S56, or after executing the processing of step S52, step S55, or step S58, the main CPU 41 terminates the present subroutine.

Subsequently, there will be described activation processing (see step S101 in FIG. 4) by using FIG. 10 to FIG. 12.

FIG. 10 is a flowchart illustrating a procedure of activation processing. This activation processing is the processing conducted by the mother board 40 and the gaming board 50. It should be noted that the memory card 53 is inserted into the card slot 53S in the gaming board 50, and the GAL 54 is mounted onto the IC socket 54S.

First, when a power switch is turned on (power is turned on) in the power supply unit 45, the mother board 40 and the gaming board 50 are activated (steps S1-1, S2-1). Inactivation of the mother board 40 and the gaming board 50, individual processing is respectively executed in parallel. Namely, in the gaming board 50, the CPU 51 reads the auxiliary authentication program stored in the boot ROM 52, and conducts auxiliary authentication according to the read auxiliary authentication program, to previously check and prove that the authentication program is not falsified before loading the program to the mother board 40 (step S2-2). Meanwhile, in the mother board 40, the main CPU 41 executes the BIOS stored in the ROM 42, and expands compressed data which is incorporated in the BIOS into the RAM 43 (step S1-2). The main CPU 41 then executes the BIOS expanded into the RAM 43 to diagnose and initialize a variety of peripheral devices (step S1-3). The processing of step S1-3 will be specifically described later with reference to FIG. 12.

Since the ROM 55 of the gaming board 50 is connected to the main CPU 41 via the PCI bus, the main CPU 41 reads the authentication program stored in the ROM 55, and stores the read authentication program into the RAM 43 (step S1-4). At this time, according to the standard BIOS function of BIOS, the main CPU 41 takes a checksum by ADDSUM system (normal checking system) and stores the authentication program into the RAM 43, while conducting processing for confirming whether or not the storage is certainly conducted.

Next, after confirming what is connected to the IDE bus, the main CPU 41 accesses, via the IDE bus, the memory card 53 inserted in the card slot 53S, to read a game program or a game system program from the memory card 53. In this case, the main CPU 41 reads data constituting the game program and the game system program by 4 bytes. Subsequently, the main CPU 41 conducts authentication to check and prove that the read game program and game system program have not been falsified, following the authentication program stored in the RAM 43 (step S1-5). When this authentication processing is normally completed, the main CPU 41 writes and stores the game program and the game system program, which have been the authentication targets (which have been authenticated), into the RAM 43 (step S1-6). Next, the main CPU 41 accesses, via the PCI bus, the GAL 54 mounted on the IC socket 54S, reads payout ratio setting data from the GAL 54, and writes and stores the data into the RAM 43 (step S1-7). Subsequently, the main CPU 41 conducts processing for reading country identification information stored in the ROM 55 of the gaming board 50 via the PCI bus, and writes and stores the read country identification information into the RAM 43 (step S1-8).

After conducting the above-mentioned processing, the main CPU 41 sequentially reads and executes the game program and the game system program, thereby execute insurance setting processing and game execution processing.

FIG. 11 is a chart illustrating a procedure of peripheral-device initialization processing.

First, the main CPU 41 diagnoses and initializes a reel-related device (step S3-1). In this processing, the main CPU 41 sequentially transmits request signals to the index detecting circuit 65, the position-change detecting circuit 71, and the motor driving circuit 62. Then, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not to have received predetermined response signals and conducts clearance of a predetermined storage area, and the like.

Next, the main CPU 41 diagnoses and initializes a display (step S3-2). In this processing, the main CPU 41 transmits the request signal to the graphic board 68. Then, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not to have received a predetermined response signal and conducts clearance of a predetermined storage area, and the like.

Next, the main CPU 41 diagnoses and initializes various types of input devices (step S3-3). In this processing, the main CPU 41 transmits request signals to the input devices such as the spin switch 23S, the change switch 24S, the CASHOUT switch 25S, the 1-BET switch 26S, the maximum BET switch 27S, and the touch panel 11, and then determines whether or not to have received predetermined response signals.

Subsequently, the main CPU 41 diagnoses and initializes other peripheral devices connected to the main CPU 41 (step S3-4). Then the present subroutine is terminated.

In the first embodiment, there has been described the case where the slot machine 10 is a stand-alone type slot machine. However, in the present invention, a plurality of slot machines may be connected to a central controller via a network and controlled by the central controller.

FIG. 12 is a chart illustrating a procedure of activation processing executed by the central controller.

First, when the power switch is turned on (the power is turned on) in the power unit, a mother board is activated (step S4-1).

In the mother board, a CPU executes a BIOS stored in a ROM so as to expand compressed data incorporated in the BIOS into a RAM (step S4-2). Then, the CPU executes the BIOS expanded into the RAM, and then, diagnoses and initializes various types of peripheral devices such as a display (step S4-3).

Next, the CPU executes initialization processing of each slot machine. In this processing, the CPU establishes a network connection between the central controller and each slot machine, and diagnoses if the network functions properly.

After the above-described processing, the CPU controls proceeding of the game executed in a plurality of the slot machines by reading and executing a game control program.

There has been described the first embodiment.

In the present embodiment, there has been described the case where coins are paid out as the special award. However, the first special award and the second special award in the present invention are not limited to the payouts of coins. In the present invention, for example, a game (feature game) different from the normal game may be generated. For example, according to the number of the successive games in which the specific symbol has been stop-displayed, the number of the feature game to be generated may be varied. Further, according to the number of the successive games, a predetermined premium or a ticket such as a discount coupon may be offered.

According to the slot machine 10 of the first embodiment, the special award according to “MINI” is offered in the case that the special symbol is not rearranged in the successive games. On the other hand, the special award according to “MINOR”, “MAJOR”, or “GRAND” is offered in the case that the special symbol is rearranged in the successive games. The special award according to “MINOR”, “MAJOR”, or “GRAND” is larger in number of coins to be paid out, compared to the special award according to “MINI”.

As thus described, in the case that the special symbol is rearranged in the successive games, there is offered to the player the special award, which is larger than the special award to be offered in the case that the special symbol is not rearranged in the successive games. Accordingly, it is possible to match the player's feeling that he or she is inclined to receive the larger profit in the case that the special symbol has been successively appeared, compared to the profit to be offered in the case that the special symbol has not been successively appeared. As a result, it is possible to provide the player with a satisfaction.

Further, according to the slot machine 10 of the first embodiment, as triggered by the free-game trigger being established, a free game is played. Further, the special award according to “MINOR”, “MAJOR”, or “GRAND” is offered in the case that the special symbol has been rearranged in the successive games in the free games.

Generally, in the case of spending all the game media, the player is compelled to terminate the game. In the case that, even though the specific symbol is stop-displayed in a certain game, the player has spent all the game media in hand at the same time, it is possible that the player misses a chance to acquire the special award according to “MINOR”, “MAJOR”, or “GRAND”, since the player cannot play the next game. In such a case, the player may be disappointed very much.

In this regard, according to the slot machine 10 of the first embodiment, in the case that the special symbol is rearranged in the successive games, the special award according to “MINOR”, “MAJOR”, or “GRAND” is offered in the free game. Accordingly, the player does not miss the chance to acquire the special award according to “MINOR”, “MAJOR”, or “GRAND” because the player has spent all the game media in hand. Consequently, it is possible to prevent the player from being disappointed.

Furthermore, according to the slot machine 10 of the first embodiment, even in the case that the special symbol is rearranged in the successive games, once the successive games are stopped, the award to be offered when the special symbol is rearranged next is the special award according to “MINI”, not the special award according to “MINOR”, “MAJOR”, or “GRAND”. Therefore, in order to acquire the comparatively large special award, the player is required not to stop the successive games in which the special symbol has been rearranged. Accordingly, it is possible to have the player play the game with a sense of tension. Then, in the case that the successive games in which the special symbol has been rearranged are continued, the player may be delighted. On the other hand, in the case that the successive games are stopped, the player may be greatly disappointed. As above described, the player can be taken through emotional ups and downs. Consequently, the player can be absorbed in the game.

According to the slot machine 10 of the first embodiment, the number of the coins to be paid out as the special award according to “MINOR”, “MAJOR”, or “GRAND” is determined based on the number of successive games in which the special symbol has been rearranged. Accordingly, as the number of the successive games becomes bigger, the larger number of the coins can be offered. Generally, the player is inclined to receive the larger profit according to the increase in number of the successive games in which the condition as the trigger for offering the special award is established. The slot machine 10 of the first embodiment is configured to match the player's feeling and capable of providing the player with a great satisfaction. Further, the bigger the number of the successive games in which the special symbol has been rearranged becomes, the higher the rank of the special award that the player can acquire becomes. Therefore, it is possible to significantly increase the player's expectation for the successive games in which the special symbol has been rearranged. As a result, it is possible to have the player absorbed more in the game.

Further, according to the slot machine 10 of the first embodiment, the player can get a chance to acquire a larger special award without a BET of the coin. Therefore, it is possible to increase the player's motivation for acquiring the special award.

Second Embodiment

It is to be noted that in the following, the same constituents as those of the slot machine 10 according to the first embodiment are described while provided with the same numerals.

Further, a description will be omitted as for a part in the second embodiment to which the description in the first embodiment is applicable.

FIG. 13 is a view illustrating a special award table.

The special award table is a table in which the number of the successive games in which the special symbol has been rearranged is associated with the rank of the special award.

In the slot machine according to the second embodiment, the special award table data indicative of the special award table is stored in the RAM 43.

Further, the number-of-successive-games storage area is provided in the RAM 43. In the number-of-successive-games storage area, data indicative of the number of the successive games in which the special symbol has been rearranged (also referred to simply as the number of the successive games) is stored.

FIG. 14 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of rank improvement processing according to a second embodiment.

First, the main CPU 41 sets the number T of the successive games to T=T+1 in the number-of-successive-games storage area in the RAM 43 (step S60).

Next, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not T is 4 (T=4) (step S61).

When determining that T is 4, the main CPU 41 executes the payout processing according to the rank (“GRAND”) corresponding to the value of T, with reference to the special award table data stored in the RAM 43 (step S62).

Then, the main CPU 41 sets the number T of the successive games to zero (T=0) in the number-of-successive-games storage area in the RAM 43 (step S63).

When determining that T is not 4 in step S61, or after executing the processing of step S63, the main CPU 41 terminates the present subroutine.

FIG. 15 is a flowchart illustrating a subroutine of special award processing according to a second embodiment.

First, the main CPU 41 determines whether or not the number T of the successive games is zero (T=0) (step S70).

When determining that T is zero, the main CPU 41 terminates the present subroutine.

On the other hand, when determining that T is not zero, the main CPU 41 executes the payout processing according to the rank corresponding to the value of T, with reference to the special award table data stored in the RAM 43 (step S71).

Then, the main CPU 41 sets the successive games T to zero (T=0) in the number-of-successive-games storage area in the RAM 43 (step S72) and terminates the present subroutine.

In the embodiments described above, there have been described the cases where symbols are rearranged in the symbol matrix SM of the lower image display panel 16 (the slot machine 10 is a so-called a video slot machine). However, the slot machine according to the present invention may be configured to stop-display symbols using so-called mechanical reels.

FIG. 16 is a perspective view illustrating the general appearance of a slot machine according to another embodiment.

In the following description, the components corresponding to those of the slot machine 10 will be designated by the same reference numerals.

Further, the slot machine 310 has substantially the same external appearance, the same circuit structure and the like as those of the slot machine 10 and also executes substantially the same flowcharts as those executed by the slot machine 10, except that it employs mechanical reels, and, therefore, only the mechanical reels will be described herein.

As illustrated in FIG. 16, five reels 314 (314A, 314B, 314C, 314D and 314E) are rotatably provided within a cabinet 11. On the outer peripheral surfaces of the reels 314A, 314B, 314C, 314D and 314E, there are drawn symbol sequences constituted by symbols such as “RIBBON”, “HEART”, “STAR”, “MOON”, “SUN”, “JEWEL”, “CROWN”, and “SMILE”, and the odds-change symbol.

At the center portion of the lower image display panel 16, there is provided a display area 328 for displaying the symbols. Within the display area 328, there are formed five display windows 315 (315A, 315B, 315C, 315D and 315E) visible through their back surfaces. Further, the symbols drawn on the outer peripheral surfaces of the reels 314A, 314B, 314C, 314D and 314E are displayed on a three-by-three basis, through the display windows 315A, 315B, 315C, 315D and 315E.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to embodiments thereof, these embodiments merely illustrate concrete examples, not restrict the present invention. The concrete structures of respective means and the like can be designed and changed as required. Furthermore, there have been merely described most preferable effects of the present invention, as the effects of the present invention, in the embodiments of the present invention. The effects of the present invention are not limited to those described in the embodiments of the present invention.

Further, in the aforementioned detailed description, characteristic portions have been mainly described, for ease of understanding the present invention. The present invention is not limited to the embodiments described in the aforementioned detailed description, but can be also applied to other embodiments over a wider range of applications. Further, the terms and phrases used in the present specification have been used for clearly describing the present invention, not for limiting the interpretation of the present invention. Further, those skilled in the art will easily conceive other structures, systems, methods and the like which are included in the concept of the present invention, from the concept of the present invention described in the present specification. Accordingly, the description of the claims is intended to include equivalent structures that fall within the technical scope of the invention. Further, the abstract aims at enabling engineers and the like who belong to the present technical field but are not familiar with the patent office and public institutions, the patent, law terms and technical terms to immediately understand the technical content and the essence of the present application through brief studies. Accordingly, the abstract is not intended to restrict the scope of the invention which should be evaluated from the description of the claims. It is desirable that literatures and the like which have been already disclosed are sufficiently studied and understood, in order to sufficiently understand the objects of the present invention and the specific effects of the present invention.

In the aforementioned detailed description, there have been described processing to be executed by computers. The aforementioned description and expressions have been described for the sake of enabling those skilled in the art to understand the present invention most effectively. In the present specification, each step for deriving a single result should be understood to be self-consistent processing. Further, each step includes transmission, reception, recording and the like of electric or magnetic signals. Although, in the processing at each step, such signals have been expressed as bits, values, symbols, characters, terms, numerical characters and the like, it should be noticed that they have been merely used for convenience of description. Further, although the processing at each step was described using expressions common to human behaviors in some cases, the processing described in the present specification are to be executed by various types of devices, in principle. Further, other structures required for conducting each step will be apparent from the aforementioned description.