Zynga Elite Slots is Zynga’s latest game for Facebook, and an attempt to shake up the slot machine genre — a style of social game which, while popular and profitable, tends to consistently play it safe and not try anything new.
The concept behind Zynga Elite Slots is that the game combines elements of a standard Facebook multi-line slot machine with a cooperative role-playing game. The slots angle is very traditional, but it’s the additions to that formula that make Zynga Elite Slots stand out somewhat.
The game begins with a tutorial to explain the new ideas that Zynga Elite Slots brings to the table, and in a move highly worthy of praise, this tutorial may be skipped completely if the player desires. The tutorial walks players through how the slot machine works (including how to change their bet and the number of lines) and the manner in which the game’s RPG-style mechanics work.
Essentially, the game is split into two main components representing chasing down a “boss” character and the subsequent battle with them. Chasing the boss is accomplished by simply playing the normal slot machine with soft currency. The character the player has chosen as their “pet” appears at the top of the screen and moves forwards along a linear path with every spin. The path is littered with experience point and “gems” rewards, so the further the player goes, the more rewards they will attain. Experience levels are used to unlock new machines, while gems are used to purchase new pets in the store, each of which have their own different abilities and some of which are only available with hard currency. If the player enjoys a relatively big win, the pet will rush forwards at high speed. As usual for the genre, certain combinations of symbols unlock special abilities including free spins and chance-based bonus games.
With each win from any of the players currently playing that particular machine, a progress bar advances towards an icon representing the boss. At several intervals along this bar, there are question mark symbols which, when reached, explode into a shower of rewards on the path for all players. When the bar reaches the boss icon, the battle begins.
Battling the boss is accomplished in much the same manner as spinning the reels for the normal slot machine, with a few exceptions. Firstly, it does not cost soft currency to spin the reels — all players participating in the battle must simply spin as many times as possible during a 1-minute time limit. The boss occasionally “stuns” players, requiring them to click repeatedly to regain their senses. Secondly, the number of win lines the player has access to in the boss battle is determined by how much they won during the chase sequence. Thirdly, the reels are made up of special symbols that may inflict varying amounts of damage on the boss if matched correctly — the exact combinations that are most effective vary according to the selected pet. Finally, special items that were collected during the chase sequence automatically inflict “free” damage on the boss at the start of the battle.
If the boss is defeated in the time limit, all players who participated receive rewards; if it is not, players are ranked according to their winnings in that round, awarded gems accordingly, and then a new round begins. When the boss is reached again, it has the same amount of life remaining as when it was last encountered.
The game features a strong focus on live social play. A real-time chat facility (which includes mute and report functionality) allows players to talk to each other, and any time a player scores a big win, a box appears at the top of everyone else’s screen inviting them to give props to the big winner. There’s a strong sense of cooperation and collaboration in the game as the progress bar advances or the boss’s life bar decreases, adding a strong degree of incentive to keep playing well beyond the already-addictive nature of slot machines. Players can even call out to help from their friends via their Timeline if the team fails to take down the boss in time, inviting them to come and join the game and the subsequent battle.
Ultimately, though, Zynga Elite Slots still boils down to repeatedly and mindlessly clicking on the same button over and over again. There is no real strategy to the boss fights, it’s just a slightly different slot machine where the rewards are different. That said, all the additional elements Zynga has added to the conventional slot machine formula help disguise the simplistic, rudimentary gameplay and make this feel like a much more satisfying game than many other slots titles on the social network. As usual for a Zynga title, it is also immaculately presented with beautiful graphics and high-quality sound — although the scantily-clad “holiday girls” in the snow-themed area (above) are a bit unnecessary. On the whole, it’s a great addition to Zynga’s portfolio, and with the popularity of slots games on the social network, likely to enjoy a good degree of success.
Zynga Elite Slots has only just launched so detailed information is currently limited. Facebook currently reports that the game has “900+” monthly active users at the time of writing. Check back shortly to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.
While the core gameplay is just as mindless as other slots games, the beautifully-presented Zynga Elite Slots does a much better job of wrapping a game-like structure around the endless clicking.