Friday, July 13, 2012

Of Import: Slot Gambler (1995)

Nichibutsu is best known in the West for the arcade game Crazy Climber, but in Japan the company's output seems to have been dominated by risque pachinko and mahjong titles.  Slot Gambler, a similar game involving slot machines, was released in 1995 for the PC Engine's Super CD-ROM format.

Many of the images in this game are NSFW -- there's nothing X-rated, but for propriety's sake I'm going to put the later parts of this post below the fold, including the title screen that usually serves as my lead. I'll try to describe the gameplay first, so people with scruples and dignity can avoid the seedier side of the game.

I've never been a big fan of gambling videogames -- there's nothing at stake, really, and most of the time the results are completely dependent on chance.  This game features two types of slot machines -- 3 x 3 grids where success can be scored in numerous ways a la Tic-Tac Toe, and separate single-window machines where a row must be matched.   The slot machines look different on each island, but the seem to fall into these two categories consistently.

The player can bet one to three medals on each round, with the rewards scaled accordingly; some games allow better chances of success if we lose bet more on a given round.

The game's Story Mode is structured as a series of islands in a manner reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3:

Oddly, the game casts the player as a totally 80s American boy, with blonde hair, a backwards baseball cap, blue jeans and a hot pink jacket.  There is a little bit of skill involved here, as to clear each island we have to visit all the establishments there, sliding map tiles around on occasion to open up pathways.

Beyond the cheesecake and slot machines, sometimes we find bonus round kiosks on the island that offer more traditional game-like activities:

And... below the fold you'll find further discussion of Slot Gambler's aesthetic.

Each of the slot machine parlors on the island is hosted by a digitized woman, fulfilling one male fantasy stereotype or another.  You can tell these games are created by men, because none of these women seem to be able to keep their hands off their own anatomy:

The bonus rounds include sliding tile puzzles, though the monochrome background image behind the tiles takes most of the challenge out of it, as we are clearly shown which tile goes where:

And then there's the "Mystery Photo Studio" event, where the player's only input is to pick photo 1, 2, or 3 while wondering why the proprietress seems to be just getting dressed as customers are walking in the door.

Basically, the goal is to visit (and spend "medals" at) each of the available gambling houses.  When we've seen everything there is to see on the island, the level is finished and a more risque image is displayed, for example:

And of course, when we run out of money, the game is over!  And this appears to freeze the machine -- to play again we have to reset.

Slot Gambler is exactly what you'd expect, with perhaps a little more nudity than the norm.  Gamble, ogle, repeat.  There's some game-like structure to it, but winning at a virtual slot machine never really feels like winning to me.  Rather, it feels like we are playing a gambling addict, doomed to wander from casino to casino, wasting his randomly-earned money until it's all gone.

Risque entertainment has always been a part of pop culture, and these borderline-underground products document some interesting aspects of human behavior.  It's not much of a game, but if you're looking to add an example of this sort of thing to your collection, you might be able to find a copy for sale here.

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