Gambling With An RPG: Battleslots

By John Walker on April 14th, 2011 at 10:47 pm.

This looks somewhat familiar.

Since Puzzle Quest surprised everyone by making the combination of match-3 puzzling with an RPG really very good, people have been trying the same with every other imaginable format. Often to less success, lacking the humour and effort that went into PQ. However, no one’s made a Slitherlink-based RPG yet, and for that I will never forgive the world. What is now getting added to the list is, er, fruit machines. That’s the premise for Battleslots, that’s launched five days early today.

It’s from Phantom EFX, who make their money from more regular slot machine products, turning their hand at a bit of more involved gaming. Here’s their rather lengthy description:

“Embark on a journey of exploration into the foreign world of Tellus. Formerly a peaceful world, Tellus has been wrought by an evil plaguing the land. Every land needs a hero, and that’s where you come in. A map-driven adventure, you will travel across over 100 unique locations, battling monsters and completing nearly 200 daring quests.

Taking the place of traditional RPG dice or number generators is a customizable, magical slot machine – however there is no gambling. Battle Slots harnesses the excitement of popular Slot Machine mechanics, progressing your adventure through fantastic gameplay. Spinning the slot machine yields Magic Points, Attack Points, Experience Points, Gold, and Summons.

Magic Points and Attack Points are used to cast techniques that yield devastation upon monsters throughout the world of Tellus. Experience Points allow you to gain levels and boast higher Health, Attack, and Magic Point totals. The Gold earned can be used in the world to upgrade the Academy and the Zoo or purchase Runes, Techniques, or Slot Symbols. When the slot machine pays out a summons, the creature called for will appear and cast it’s effect. These summons may stun opponents, deliver gold, or place Wilds throughout the reels of your slot machine.

Techniques affect combat in a variety of ways. Some will damage your opponent, others will stun them. Some techniques will allow you to heal yourself in battle, increase strengths, or become resistant to damage. Slot machine related techniques will offer extra spins or Wilds as you collect new Slot Symbols and Runes.

With money earned in battle, you can choose to upgrade the buildings in your village hometown to increase the strength of your Allies and expand your Zoo. The beasts kept in your Zoo drastically evolve your experience as they come equipped with unique spells and skills. Who knows, these new skills and slot machine customization just might give you the upper-hand in the battle to restore peace to Tellus. This is your story.”

There’s more details at the game’s website.

Gosh, it looks a lot like Puzzle Quest. I dunno – I’m intrigued. I’ll definitely take a look. I mean, I’ve never understood the point of playing a pretend fruit machine – the combination of dumb luck and more dumb luck seems to lose any element of thrill when there’s no coins going in or falling out. But adding in an RPG, that sounds interesting.

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50 Comments »

  1. pakoito says:

    There’s a lot of this kind released every day, what makes this one special?

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Oddly, I’ve found that certain pirate sites are the best place to follow the release of weird little games, especially of the hidden object variety. You really don’t hear about them otherwise.

    • pakoito says:

      Same here, but I didn’t dare to put it in the way you did.

  2. Hoaxfish says:

    Why is that woman called “Bryan”?

  3. karry says:

    There was this one Puzzle Quest-y game made by Square i think, Gyro-something…i was crap. Well, everything from Square post-2002 is crap, but still.
    Actually, i never really finished Puzzle Quest. First or second. They are just way too long.

    • Premium User Badge

      Arathain says:

      Gyromancer, it’s called. I rather like it, although it’s no Puzzle Quest. It’s funny, really, that nothing since has even really had the scope and vision of the original. Even its own sequel I find a tad dull.

    • Memphis-Ahn says:

      I thought Gyromancer was a great little gem. Popcap puzzle gameplay with Square Enix-type grinding and setting.
      The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the trailer was “Gyromancer with slots” actually…

    • pakoito says:

      Gyromancer was great on paper. Then they screwed it with the dungeons, lack of pokemon and the lackluster story, same as PQ2.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Actually I preferred PQ2 to PQ1. The first was too dense for my taste. never sure where to go next due to the sheer number of constantly active quests and opened paths. PQ1 was more true to the idea of casual gaming, allowing me to relax, instead of putting much thought into it.

    • MaXimillion says:

      The Last Remnant was hardly crap, especially the excellent PC port.

    • ran93r says:

      I actually enjoyed Gyromancer as well, it was the red-headed step child of Puzzle Quest and Bejeweled Twist (which I also enjoyed).

  4. Keith Nemitz says:

    > What is now getting added to the list is, er, fruit machines.

    You mean THIS? The fun of match-3. The beauty of fruit.

  5. son_of_montfort says:

    Wait, I clicked this thinking it said Battle sluts. Carry on.

  6. Mike says:

    I found a great iPhone Slitherlink game, John! It was relatively cheap too. I’ve been looking for one for ages because I don’t carry my DS around much any more.

    • d32 says:

      There’s one greatly done for android too. Goes by the name ‘Slitherlink’.

  7. Camerooni says:

    How can a gambling focused game.. basically slot machine with trappings.. be rated E for Everyone?

    This is much more insidious than unrealistic violence based games – how often do you see GTA IV style violence out on the street.. in comparison to people ruining their lives (and those they love) via the ol’ pokies down at the local RSL?

    The content descriptor doesn’t even state ‘Gambling’? What the hell?
    Don’t mean to sound all ‘concerned parents group’ here, but seriously.. what the hell?

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      ESRB content descriptors include “Real Gambling” and “Simulated Gambling”, for gambling related games. But these descriptors refer to games were gambling actually happens. It’s the same with the PEGI system (although this one only includes one descriptor and makes no differentiation between real and simulated money). The concern here is with games that teach, promote or play out as gambling tools. Not really with games that may abstract some elements of gambling, as is the case here.

      The slot machine is just an abstraction of the RNG element of RPGs. It doesn’t really seem to work as a gambling machine, but as the plot driving engine. The game is rated E 10+ (everyone aged 10 and up), which I do find adequate (meaning I wouldn’t worry about getting this to my own daughter).

      Since you posted this, I debated with myself whether or not the “Simulated Gambling” descriptor should however have been included. But only after playing the game I would be able to judge that for myself. My guess is that — since it hasn’t — the game mechanics don’t resemble a gambling machine in any way as to teach or encourage gambling. On the other hand, that descriptor would have forced the game to be rated AO — or at the very least M — which would have been very unfair towards the makers of the game. So I’m sure, they must have pondered about the use of a slot machine-like device. But must have considered it harmless enough to not warrant such a penalty as rating the game game so high.

    • Camerooni says:

      Fair points Mario, thanks for clearing up how some of those content descriptors apply in context.

      My machine is packed up and in storage for a move so I’ve been unable to try the demo. I’ll reserve my judgement until then, I just find it strange to normalise slot machines in the mind as something that has no real cost or risk, and in fact is something that can be used to achieve a positive end (progress through the game, defeat the ‘bad guys’, etc.).. Real slot machines can have minor positives for some people, but for many it’s just short term happy feelings on a win and a long term descent into depression, while destroying relationships and emptying out life savings.

      Why would an M rating be unfair for a developer? Because they put time and effort into making a game? They chose what to put into the game.. If gambling gives a higher rating, then they should expect a higher rating?

      This is also why I get frustrated with the amount of violence in games and the general trend towards violence and aggressive response being the ‘right way’ to solve problems. We frown on it in the real world, why is it okay at times of play (which really is better spent in a state of experimentation and learning rather than ‘switch off brain dead entertainment time’).. Shouldn’t we expect violence in games to have a reason or a meaning or make you think rather than just more ‘gore-porn’.. or worse – I wanted to get past that guard and the only way to do that is to hit him in the head until it explodes?

      Sorry for the rant. I’ll stop talking now.

    • Chris D says:

      To play devil’s advocate for a minute, is this any different than using dice or cards as a mechanic? While I suppose you could make an argument that slot machines are a more addictive form of gambling but I think if I were educating my non-existent kids I’d focus on the principle of risking money to get more back, rather than the specific mechanisms used to do that.

      Also, I think the number of times I’ve been cleaned out while pretend-gambling in video games has only strengthened my resolve that participating in the real thing would be a bad idea.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I’m sure if the player had to put the in-game money to spin the slot machine, or something similar, the rating would have been different.

  8. amandachen says:

    Anyone play the neopets adventure thingy? That’s this kind of game, but with an othello/reversi mechanic.

    • Camerooni says:

      I worked on this one, and I have to honestly apologise for the quality of the Wii version :/

      If anyone is considering checking the game out – please avoid the Wii version like the plague (unfortunately the build of the engine that the publisher pushed through wasn’t as far along as it should have been and it stutters horribly).. that’s all I’ll say on that

      But the quality of the writing is (I believe) some of the best work at Infinite, despite us being told that we couldn’t have a quest called ‘Trials and Triangulations’ – because a 4 year old would’t understand what Triangulate means.. oh and ‘Pinpoint’ is also an unacceptable word’. The work that our main writing man did was stellar, and I do believe the quality of PQ2 questing would have been improved had he still been with us towards the end.

      Unfortunately I believe the publisher has locked this title on Steam to only be sold in the US (I really REALLY hate regional locking of digitally distributed games).. and the retail release had a HORRIBLE version of Securom that required online activation – despite it being a game that marketing aimed at kids (I know when I have a kid and give them games to play on the computer I’ll be sure not to have that computer on the internet at the age that this game was ‘refocused’ to).

      It’s very unfortunate that our (very) positive press response prior to release was wasted by systematically cutting out every aspect that had garnered that positive response – and the subsequent title released with a whimper before disappearing into the ether.. Nice to see it brought up here tho amandachen =)

  9. Sarlix says:

    If this was down my local arcade and 5p per play with a tenner jackpot, I would certainly play it.

  10. tossrStu says:

    Anyone with an iOS device would be well advised to check out Dungeon Raid — it’s kinda like Puzzle Quest (if Puzzle Quest let you match ANY connected tiles rather than just ones along the same row/column/diagonal) but instead of a set storyline, quests etc. it’s more like a roguelike game, throwing more and more monsters onto the game board until you inevitably lose. There’s a free ad-supported version (iOS4 only due to it using Apple’s iAds) and an ad-free version which also includes character classes. It’s frighteningly addictive and I’ve sunk more hours into it recently than I care to count.

    • Premium User Badge

      Schaulustiger says:

      Good god, I can’t tell how many hours I have already sunk into Dungeon Raid. With the latest update and the addition of some meta-game (levelling classes) it became the ultimate timesink.
      I think these kinds of games work especially well on touchscreens. Of every Puzzle Quest port I’ve played (Symbian, PC, PSP, iPad) I found the iPad version to be the most fun.

  11. trjp says:

    I tried this and despite being a bit dismissive at first (I was astounded it had no ‘HOLD’ concept) I was still trying it an hour later!!

    It seems to have a lot going on in the customisation of your ‘fruit machine’ (maybe HOLD will appear at some point!?) but it’s hard to tell how deep that goes after just a dozen fights. I do get the feeling you’re going to be a bit dependent on luck – it certainly doesn’t seem to offer the in-fight tactical options PQ did – you ‘ll do all your thinking at the Academy/Slotsmith I reckon.

    Worth a peek for sure tho…

    p.s. I quite like Gyromancer with the proviso that you could paint yourself into a corner difficulty wise – with only ‘dead easy’ or ‘impossible’ stuff left to progress…

  12. patricij says:

    I AM VERY surprised, indeed….I like me some shoe forking…AND IN THE GAME.

  13. Jason Moyer says:

    Jesus, what’s next, RPG’s with dice rolls?

  14. geldonyetich says:

    You all need to be panicing more. Lets take this into account:

    1. Roleplaying games, with their skinner’s box grinds, can be very addictive.
    2. Slot Machines, with their variable reward structure, can be very addictive.
    3. This is a roleplaying game that is also a slot machine.

    It’s the end of civilization as we know it.

  15. Gothnak says:

    Puzzle Quest 1 > Might And Magic: Clash Of Kings > Sword & Poker > Gyromancer > Puzzle Quest 2 > Puzzle Quest Galactrix > Neopets.

    Need to try Dungeon Raid and this one.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes doesn’t belong in this chain. The puzzles are truly tactical. Really a great game with a great mechanic.

    • trjp says:

      I really, really wanted to like M&MCoH BUT I felt it fell into the same trap that PQ1 did – in that you spent FAR too much of you time playing a defensive game…

      It’s a fantastic idea – as was PQ1 – but both ended-up being just a BIT of a grind as you desperately attempt to defend yourself – with little time left for planning your own attack in many cases.

      I feel there’s a better game in M&MCoH if they’d just rebalance the units a bit and get rid of the bigger stuff entirely – more strategy, less grind.

      PQ2 resolved a lot of this in it’s improved puzzle mechanism – but then wrapped that up in a less satisfying container. I much preferred the vast overworld of PQ1 (and this) to the isometric PQ2…

    • Gothnak says:

      The problem with PQ2 is the decisions you get to make OUTSIDE of the game. Setting up your character with intersting combos is impossible as each class has a set of powers, and equipment doesn’t give you anything useful. This generally means that the games gets very very repetitive as you unlocked the next prescribed power. In PQ1 it was generally awesome as the combinations and strategies kept it interesting even if the in game fights, chest opening, lock picking are better done in PQ2 .

      The only problem in PQ1 was that i found an infinite combo meaning i couldn’t get beaten, that was the only reasn i stopped playing it.

  16. Gothnak says:

    Oh, and it’s an actual slot machine… hmm…

    The only place i play these is in Vegas, can’t resist the 1c Robin Hood ones that let you fire catapults and storm the castle. Will be interesting to see how this plays.

  17. Cronstintein says:

    Darn, that Sword and Poker looks interesting but it’s iphone only, boo. That would work fine on PC or DS :/

    • Gothnak says:

      I’d wanted to play it for ages. Then my gf with an iphone moved in.. w00t!… It is an excellent little game. M&M: Clash of Kings is great too.

  18. trjp says:

    Well I wrung-out the demo to it’s end and – erm – I’m not really sure it’s quite got the hook it needs…

    Most combat is ‘spin the wheels and hope’ – there’s no strategy in-combat, you just use whatever you’re given.

    Early fights left me awash in MP but with few abilities which used it so I changed the slots to be more AP focussed – and promptly got kicked-to-death in a fight where over 20 spins yielded nothing but money and XP :(

    The next fight was against something with high physical resistance (and me still with no decent MP abillities) and so on and so on…

    End of the day there’s just too much luck involved. In a few cases I only survived because a monster chose to heal when I was on just 1 or 2 points of health, and too-often I’d have 10+ spins which gave me nothing as my health was chipped-away…

    If there IS a strategy in there – the demo isn’t showing it..

    • Gothnak says:

      The strategy i found was ‘do i save up for the big attack or do 3 small attacks that do less damage but take longer?’ or ‘do i heal or do frost damage?’. Very similar to Puzzle Quest. However, the decision of what gem to switch is replaced with ‘PRESS SPIN’.

      Therefore it won’t ever be as interesting as PQ1. However, where it does look like it will shine is in the slot machine customisation where there are lots of interesting abilities and combos you can set up. This is pretty much the same as PQ1, and therefore about 100 times better than PQ2.

      The presentation is better than both imo.

      I can see it as a game that i’d play on my laptop while watching tv, i tend to do that a lot, i’m strange. The fights themselves are low strategy and the slot construction looks ok.

    • Cronstintein says:

      i agree with Tripj. Combat is completely luck based: very unsatisfying. PQ/Gyromancer/Sword&poker/might&magic all use a little brain power during the turn phase. This one is sorely lacking compared to any of those.

    • trjp says:

      It’s a shame too, because I think you COULD do something really interesting with the idea of ‘slots’ – but I’d have made the reels ‘shared’ (with the enemy’s lines starting from the opposite side) and included things like nudge and hold to allow you to both benefit yourself AND disadvantage your opponent…

      Perhaps there’s more depth in the latter parts of the game – there’s certainly a fair few things promised – but I think I’d rather be engaged in the “don’t give anything away” tension of a PQ1 board than just pressing ‘Spin’ and praying for points…

    • Chris D says:

      I quite enjoyed it actually, although I do think it has some pacing issues. I suspect the demo also suffers from not having as much customisation at this point in the game as it really needs.

      I think the main part of the strategy would come in customising your machine, getting the perfect combination of abilities, buffs and symbols; a bit like building a magic deck. There’s also some tactics involved in the combat itself, do you heal yourself or go for the quick kill? I suspect it would become much more involving with more abilities available. It’s not a million miles away from the same kinds of decisions you’d be making in a dice-based RPG.

      It also seems to be quite dependant on which drops you get. There’s a massive difference in fighting a brownie trapper with or without having cleansing.

      It’s probably a little overpriced though, I’d be more inclined to take a punt on it if it was cheaper. There’s also too much other interesting stuff being released right now. I am still tempted, though.

  19. finbikkifin says:

    As has been mentioned, there are some really good RPG + Unexpected Non-RPG Game games on iOS. Dungeon Raid is the best match-x RPG I’ve ever played, the two Sword & Poker games are the best weird-poker-variant dungeon crawls I’ve ever played, and Dungeons & Coin is not that good, but it’s the best free rpg based on those pusher machines you drop coins into to push coins out the front and then run out of coins and have to beg your parents for a pound so you can convert it into a pile of 2ps and do it all again.

    I love Sword & Poker.

  20. nsherrets says:

    Hey all! I was the Story and Quest Designer on Battle Slots.
    To answer a few questions -
    Concerning M rating because of gambling – there is zero gambling in this game. Yes, we’ve used a slot machine mechanic to fuel the battles, but you aren’t gambling at all. You aren’t giving up any currency to hopefully get more returns. The machine pays out, or it doesn’t. If it pays out, it’s like getting a hit in a regular RPG. If it doesn’t pay out, it’s like rolling a failed hit in a regular RPG. The machine gives you the two different types of mana and gold and experience.
    Concerning the lack of strategy – as stated by someone else (thanks!) in the demo there isn’t as much strategy. You’ve only tapped the surface of the techniques available, and the number of symbols and runes you can get really makes things crazy. Everyone’s game is different because you’ll get a few techniques as scripted drops, but most are as random drops, making it fun and replayable. We hope!
    Concerning the person who had some bad spins – yep, that is the nature of random numbers some don’t fall your way. You’re not going to hit every spin. I will tell you though that our slot machine in Battle Slots pays out more than real slot machines, since you’re gaining four different types of payouts. Yep, you might lose, heck you might die! But you’ll notice there isn’t any consequences from dying other than that you don’t get what you built up during that battle. If you don’t like your first 10 spins, flee and go back into the fight. You only lost what you got or didn’t get in those first 10 spins.
    Concerning the person who said it’s addictive – roleplaying and slots = addictive! You’re right! But it is also fun. :)
    There, I’ve given my 2 cents.
    I will say though that seeing everyone’s comments, good or bad, is great! We love hearing from you guys and every piece of criticism is taken into account and filed away. Also every piece of praise is taken and filed away.
    Thanks everyone, for your support and your criticism. It will only make for increasingly better games from us in the future.
    Nate

  21. archcorenth says:

    I’d rather play BattlePachinko or better yet BattlePinball.