John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

Aristocrat Technologies is proud of its Lightning Link progressive slot machines, and justifiably so. For 2016, Lightning Link was named the leading slot in North America in the annual Eilers Fantini survey, ending a five-year run at the top for IGT’s Wheel of Fortune.

Following up on Lightning Link’s success, Aristocrat is introducing Dragon Link. As in Lightning Link, you’re looking for pearls onscreen for bonus credits and possible progressive jackpots, and it’s possible to win multiple progressives in a single bonus spin.

“When you get six of these individual pearls, they have value on them and the player collects more and more money,” says Matt Wilson, senior vice president for global operations at Aristocrat.

The multilevel progressive Dragon Link is on Aristocrat’s premium Arc Single cabinet. It’s Asia-themed with base games that include Autumn Moon, Panda Magic and Golden Century. It’s available as a multidenominational game, so you can choose 1, 2, 5 or 10 cents, as well as $1 and $2 for the big players.

“Lightning Link, has been a revelation in every market where we’ve released it,” Wilson says, adding that Aristocrat is excited to take the concept to a premium cabinet and multidenominational format.

With origins and corporate headquarters in Australia, Aristocrat has grown into a global slot machine powerhouse. The third largest slotmaker in North America, Aristocrat has been an innovator in video slots and the industry pioneer in developing multilevel progressives.

Aristocrat has not been a major presence in wide-area progressives, in which machines at multiple casinos are linked to a common jackpot. That category is dominated by IGT with its Megajackpots series that started with Megabucks.

Fast Cash, which Aristocrat hopes will give it a niche in the segment, approaches wide-areas from a different angle.

“WAPs are proliferated by jackpot products with million and multimillion-dollar jackpots,” Wilson says. “What we tried to do with Fast Cash is turn on a lower jackpot that hits at about $45,000. It’s not life-changing, but month-changing or year-changing.

“With the volume that we can bring to the market, we can have that jackpot every two days. It’s trying to create lots and lots of winners. Players see it as an attainable jackpot. A million-dollar jackpot might hit once every five or six months, and players look at and say, ‘I’m never going to win that.’ Fast Cash, there’s a chance.”

The progressive system comes with four base games chosen from among Aristocrat’s biggest hits. You’ll find jackpot play layered atop Buffalo, Timber Wolf, Wicked Winnings or Miss Kitty. All are five-reel video slots, but there’s a sixth reel that triggers the jackpot event.

And then there’s Sharknado, based on the series of campy TV movies that have brought thrill-seekers to the Syfy Channel since 2013.

What do you do when a shark comes flying out of tornado right at you? Grab a chainsaw and defend yourself, of course. And if the bonus credits mount while the sharks meet their maker, so much the better.

That’s the way it goes in the Sharknado slot machines.

“Sharknado is a very fun slot game,” Wilson says. “This has a cult following, and it’s obviously a bizarre concept that the movie’s based around. Sharks are thrown out of the tornado at you. You swat the sharks for bonuses. All the time, the music from the show is playing.”

Features include a free-spins bonus with a tornado whirling across the screen, casting out sharks as it goes. If you’re lucky, the chainsaws will do their thing and turn the sharks into credit fodder.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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