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

Wheel of Fortune slot machines have been with us for 20 years now. The most popular games in slot machine history, Wheel of Fortune machines have commanded space on casino floors in countless variations on video and in the original three-reel format.

International Game Technology celebrated Wheel’s 20th anniversary in style at Global Gaming Expo this fall in Las Vegas. Vanna White, Pat Sajak’s partner in hosting the “Wheel of Fortune” TV show since 1982, made an appearance and was given the keys to the City of Las Vegas.

For its part, IGT introduced several new Wheel incarnations, including a three-reel Double Diamond-based game on the new Megatower cabinet.

“It is 11 feet tall has a 27-inch wheel on a 50-inch display,” Michelle Schenk, manager for corporate communications said as she gave me a guided tour through IGT’s slot games. “This is a direct request from customers, to have a bigger Wheel of Fortune cabinet — big celebrations, big wins.”

Like other new Wheel games, the Megatower version incorporates a bonus mechanic called Gold Spin. Landing the Gold Spin symbol on the reels takes you to a video screen in the top box, where a virtual wheel spin can bring you credits, multipliers, progressive jackpots or a spin of the main wheel that is always part of Wheel of Fortune games.

Among other Wheel games you can expect in the coming year are the Wheel of Fortune 3x, 4x, 5x 3D game on the AXXIS cabinet, WoF Triple Red Hot 7s on the new Crystal Wheel stepper cabinet and Wheel Across America — California Coast on the Crystal Wheel video cabinet.

With its collection of video and reel slot games, video poker, electronic table games, cabinets and management solutions, IGT was showing off more than 400 new products. One that stood out for me was Sphinx 4D, the latest in the Sphinx line that came to IGT in its merger with Spielo International.

The original Sphinx, an Egyptian-themed video slot with a free-spin bonus, has been a durable favorite that spawned several successor games. One is Sphinx 3D, one of the most popular games going today with amazing three-dimensional effects with no need for special glasses.

How could IGT top Sphinx 3D? With Sphinx 4D, which adds a dimension of touch to the experience.

“In Sphinx 3D, what would players do when they were playing the game?” Schenk said “They’d reach out and grab for the coins or the rainbows.

“Sphinx 4D introduces the fourth dimension. The game can track your hand movement and it will give some tactile feedback as well.”

Schenk demonstrated by launching a free spins bonus.

“Reach out to the screen,” she told me. “As you move your hand close, you should have some tactile feedback.”

I did just that, and it was as if I was launching an electrical discharge. Lightining-like lines appeared all around my hand, and I felt a small tingling sensation.

“Pull your hand in, draw it out,” I was told.

The energy discharge followed my hand, seeming to pull out toward me with the 3D effect as I drew my hand away from the screen, then contracting inward as I moved back.

A quick flick, and the electrical effect disappeared, and my bonus launched.

Sphinx 4D has a 32-inch curve display on its main screen, and a giant 50-inch top box display. There are both free spin and pick’em bonuses.

And aside from the new touch sensations, the three-dimensional effects are as realistic as ever. After a big win, I still wanted to reach out and grab the coins that seemed to fly off the screen.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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