Both casino slots games and bingo sims are proving popular on Facebook, so what better time for Zynga to revive Slingo, a combination of both? Originally released on AOL back in 1995, Slingo combines the luck element of slot machines with the fast-paced observational gameplay of bingo to create a fun and addictive experience that everyone can enjoy.
Zynga’s interpretation of the game — officially licensed from the original creators — remains true to the basic format, but adds a recognizably “Zynga” layer of polish and social features over the top. Rather than simply playing a random board as in the original game, players have a series of “worlds” to work through, each featuring a distinctive background and a range of levels to play. Taking on levels uses an energy system, the implementation of which forms the backbone of the game’s monetization strategy.
Upon beginning a level, players are presented with a bingo card and a slot machine-like device underneath. Upon clicking “Spin,” five numbers are revealed, and the player must then mark any matches off on their card. Occasionally, special symbols appear on the reels — Jokers allow players to mark off any number in the column they appear in, Super Jokers allow the marking of any number on the board, explosions mark any number and the squares around it, and a “coin toss” symbol allows the player to gamble up to 50% of their score based on a 50-50 chance.
The game doesn’t allow the player to make mistakes when marking squares, or to spin the reels before they have marked off all the available numbers, and it dims the reels when all available spaces from a particular spin have been found. This helps keep the game fast-paced and eliminates the frustration of the player seeing a missed number at the exact second they click the “Spin” button.
Despite the fact it is impossible to make a mistake, however, players are encouraged to be fast and efficient in their search of the board. Unlike the original Slingo game — which simply had a timer for each spin — in Zynga Slingo players receive score bonuses for finding numbers in rapid succession, with a “combo” meter at the side of the play area building up with each successful match. Taking too long to find a match causes this meter to drain, so players who develop the most efficient card-searching strategies will prove the most successful. While the game is otherwise almost completely luck-based, the addition of this feature adds an element of skill to gameplay which helps contribute to it being a more satisfying, addictive experience for players. Combine this skill-based scoring mechanic with friend leaderboards and you have a highly competitive social interpretation of Slingo that still remains true to its roots.
Players progress through the game by earning medals rather than experience levels. Each stage in a world has five medals available — three for breaking specific score milestones, one for marking off every square on the stage’s unique pattern and a fifth for marking off every number on the whole board. Upon reaching certain numbers of medals, players unlock new powerups (including extra spins and items that cause certain special symbols to be more likely to appear) and upgrades to their energy limit. Players may also unlock access to these powerups early using hard currency, and may also purchase unlimited energy packages for a day or a week at a time. Soft currency for acquiring powerups may also be purchased, and since stages often end with the necessity to purchase a couple of extra spins at 2,000 coins each to clear the board, it’s easy to rip through a large amount of this in just one level. That said, soft currency is quite easy to come by through play, so players willing to put in the time to grind and not give in to temptation will be able to earn a healthy balance over time.
Zynga Slingo is a recognizably “Zynga” experience. It is a highly-polished experience with plenty of lively animations and colorful visuals, though the screen can get a bit “busy” at times when rewards and powerups are flying around. Fans of the original Slingo game will be pleased to note, however, that Zynga’s interpretation uses the same sound effects as the classic Web-based version, giving the new version an air of authenticity while revamping the core experience for today’s social players. It’s a solid, simple but addictive little game that is already proving popular and will likely only continue its success when the promised new “Play With Friends” multiplayer feature is added.
An excellent social adaptation of a popular, enduring web game that will appeal to fans and newcomers alike.