Remember that episode of The Twilight Zone where this guy named Franklin was haunted by a Las Vegas slot machine? Whenever he tried to quit shoving money into it, the one-armed bandit would appear in weird places, and call out to him in a creepy voice that was part coins clinking together and part smoker’s voice of evil incarnate. “Fffrrannkk-Lin!”
Still gives me the creeps.
That voice, resonating perfectly in my mind’s ears, is likely what kept me from gambling away my meager savings the few times I visited Las Vegas. In fact, gambling, for me, whether for fun or the attempt of profit, has been relegated to the occasional lottery Quick Pick. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the challenge of chance or flirting with Lady Luck. It’s just that, along with that creepy Twilight Zone voice reverberating in my mind, there are images of old ladies planted, like some strange hyper-realistic sculptures, in front of slot machines of every casino I’ve ever visited just pumping that shiny metal arm and watching, and waiting, for the spinning wheels to stop and the winner’s klaxon to sound.
Slot machines are easy to get hooked on. Drop money in, take a chance, spin the wheels, and if certain pictures match up, you win. If you’re a fan of slots and you live outside of Vegas and have an iPhone, then you’ve probably picked up one of many slot machine apps that are available. While there’s lots of variety, there’s one thing most slot machine apps lack, the slot machine arm. Without the arm it’s just video slots, which really aren’t slot machines at all, but just video game that occasionally pay out winnings.
There is, however, an alternative to video slots for the iPhone. A company called New Potato has created Jackpot Slots, and it’s pretty interesting.
There are two parts to Jackpot Slots, a free application and a specially designed hardware dock. The combination forms what New Potato calls an [app]cessory™, which, as the name implies, is an app that relies on a hardware accessory to be complete.
The Jackpot Slots app is like most other slot machine apps in that it presents you with a simulated three-reel one-armed bandit interface.
The accessory works like any other iPhone dock, except this one sports a slot machine arm, topped with an iconic red ball on the end.
Put the two together and you have a miniature slot machine, complete with casino sounds. Tap the “Bet” button to place your bet, or the “Max Bet” button to, well, you know. Pull the arm to set the reels rolling and keep your fingers crossed for the outcome. Like other slot machine apps, Jackpot Slots keeps track of your winnings or losses, and gives you a satisfying alert when you win the smaller amounts, and verbally congratulates you when you win big.
The app offers five different slot games, all based on the common three-reel theme. The first two, Jackpot Slots and Super Slots, are readily available for play. The others, Jungle Stakes, Pixel Slots, and Office Slots become available as your credit balance increases. Get to 50,000e credits in the Jackpot Slots game and all five are available. It isn’t terribly hard to do.
Playing slots is not so much about skill as it is persistence, which means you need to pull that arm a lot to get to 50,000 credits. That, in turn, means that the arm and the dock needs to made well to withstand the rigors of cubicle casino action.
The Jackpot Slots dock does look the part. It’s made of a good grade of plastic and is designed to make your iPhone or iPod Touch look like a little slot machine, right down to the tiny coin payout tray. The arm is made of metal and is attached to the dock well. But after repeated pulls I’ve noticed a bit more wiggle in the arm than I’d like. It doesn’t feel as if it will fall off, but it doesn’t inspire confidence that it’ll be around for that 50,000 credit pull.
I should mention that if you pull the arm all the way towards you it will unseat your iDevice. This is by design, to make it easier to remove your phone. So, if it’s design to be pulled like that then I probably don’t have anything to worry about.
I should also mention that there’s no way to spin the reels when the app isn’t in the dock, you must have the phone in the dock to pull the arm and set the reels rolling. This will put some folks off, but think of it this way; if you want an authentic slots simulator then it needs to have that arm, a real arm. This one does.
Note also that Jackpot Slots only plays in portrait orientation (unless you enjoy looking at your winning sideways). That’s because the app is designed for the dock, which support you iPhone in portrait orientation. This points out a minor limitation to tying apps so tightly with hardware. New Potato could have, for instance, designed the [app]cessory™ to rotate to landscape and reveal a five-reel slot machine. Slots more fun (pun intended), but to do so would have made for a strange looking dock and possibly no arm, and, as I said earlier, you need an arm.
Jackpot Slots is interesting in that it adds a nice dash of realism to slot machine apps. If you just want to play slots anytime and anywhere then this isn’t a product for you. The app won’t work without the dock. If, however, you’re looking for a unique iPhone or iPod touch dock for your desktop, you won’t find any more unique than this.
At US$35.99, the cost may be off-putting to those looking at it from an app perspective, but remember that this is an [app]cessory™, there’s a dock for recharging and syncing your iDevice, as well as a pretty accurate slot machine simulator. Even so, one can get a dock from Apple that sports an audio out jack for US$29.00, then grab any number of good slot machine apps for anywhere from free to US$3.99 from the App Store.
The difference, obviously, is the arm. Is it worth it? If you love slot machines, or if you’re looking for a cool desk accessory, or if you’re haunted by a mechanical one-armed bandit, then the answer is yes. In fact, the price and its limited appeal is really the only flaw in an otherwise great product. Which is why I can Highly Recommend Jackpot Slots.
|Review Item||Jackpot Slots|
|Manufacturer||New Potato Technologies|
Apple iPhone or iPod touch running OS 3.0 (or higher)
* Note: My rating system goes like this;
- Get it Now! - Highest rating and an absolute must-have
- Highly Recommend - Minor flaws, but a great product
- Recommend - Flawed, but still a solid product
- So-so - Problem product that may find a niche market
- Avoid - Why did they bother making it? A money waster.