Wheel of Fortune was developed by legendary showman and media mogul Merv Griffin in the mid-1970s. Although the show has been produced in many formats for many countries the most well-known stars are Pat Sajak and Vanna White, who took over the network broadcast in 1982 and premiered a syndicated night-time version of the show on US television in 1983. White was originally one of three co-hosts hired for the network show but she took on the role full-time after two months.
The game was inspired by the word game Hangman. Contestants spin a large wheel for the chance to win money and to add a consonant letter to the game’s puzzle board. Every time a letter from the puzzle is called out the appropriate positions on the board light up and the co-host turns the tiles to reveal the letters. The contestant is awarded the money from the wheel for correctly guessing a consonant that is used in the word puzzle.
When contestants feel confident they can buy vowels to help improve their chances of guessing the word or words in the puzzle. Each contestant continues to spin and guess until they call out a consonant that is not found in the puzzle.
The show also features prizes such as boats, cars, and trips. As the main host (Sajak for most American audiences) talks with the contestants the co-host (Vanna White) stands by the prize display. Sajak and White often talk briefly at the end of a game show episode. Sajak usually does all the talking while the game is being played.
Television game shows are filmed in front of studio audiences which are usually comprised of tourists visiting the studios. The most popular shows have waiting lists for seats in the audience. Filming runs throughout the day and as many as five episodes are filmed each day. The hosts and contestants change clothes in-between episodes while the audiences are changed out. An entire year’s run of a daily game show broadcast can be filmed in the course of just ten weeks.
Merv Griffin sold the rights to the show as part of his retirement deal to Columbia Pictures Television in 1986. At the time CPT was owned by the Coca-Cola Company, which spun off its Columbia Pictures subsidiary in 1989. The rights to the show eventually passed to Sony Pictures. Starting in 1996 International Game Technology (IGT) has developed and released more than 200 slot machine games using the Wheel of Fortune trademark, co-host images, and theme music. Together the games have paid more than 1,000 prizes in excess of $1 million each and over $3 billion in jackpots. These successes make Wheel of Fortune the most successful slot game franchise in history.
The game’s premise, already very similar to gambling, lends itself to gambling style game design very easily. The slot machines can incorporate some aspect of almost every part of the show, although the puzzle game is really superfluous. The real centerpiece of the game is the wheel and the slot machines use that for bonus games. The rest of this review describes the Wheel of Fortune Triple Extreme Spin online slot game that IGT released in 2014.
Wheel of Fortune Triple Extreme Spin is a 5-reel, 720 Ways, Multiway Xtra Win video slot game. Games designed in the 720 format use reels with 3, 4, 5, 4, and 3 tiles respectively and are sometimes called 3-4-5-4-3 games. Some games of this format are also called “all way pays” games. Every possible combination involving one tile from each reel comprises an active pay line in these games. The theoretical return to player for this game is listed as varying from 92% to 95.08%. The rules cannot be more precise than that because of the in-game volatility features described below.
The game uses three special symbols to enhance the player experience. Because of the way the playing area is laid out, the fact that every possible combination pays prizes, and the special rules for each special symbol the game’s RTP is volatile, essentially less predictable than other games.
The Wild symbol will only appear on reels 2, 3, and 4. This symbol substitutes for all other symbols in the game except the Wheel of Fortune logo, the Scatter symbol, and the Bonus symbol. Wilds can be stacked on one or more reels, thus enhancing any prizes paid for winning combinations. The stacked Wild symbols do not guarantee that a winning combination will appear.
The Scatter symbol pays a prize only if three or more symbols appear in the playing area. The symbols transform into mini-wheels that begin spinning automatically. This is the Mini Wheel Bonus and each wheel pays a prize in multiples of the currently selected coin value.
Three or more Bonus symbols in any position on the reels trigger the pick game. The playing area is replaced by a new screen with 12 yellow envelopes on the left and three color-coded wheels on the right.
You pick as many envelopes as the number of bonus symbols that triggered the game. Each envelope reveals a color-coded pointer or a cash prize. You can win up to 3 pointers per wheel. Cash prizes from the envelopes are added to the total prize for the bonus round.
The largest wheel is the Red wheel. This wheel pays large prizes ranging from 100 to 5000 coins. If you choose no red or blue pointers among the envelopes the center pointer on the Red wheel is lit for you.
The Blue wheel pays smaller prizes ranging from 30 to 1000 coins similar to the Red wheel. If you choose pointers from both the Red and Blue wheels the prizes are added together.
The Yellow wheel contains multipliers. The base multiplier for the cash prizes is 1X but all the yellow pointers you win increase that multiplier by adding more multipliers to the total. For example, if you choose 2 yellow multipliers they are added together to replace the 1X default multiplier.
Available multipliers are
After you have selected your envelopes and been awarded pointers you activate a Spin feature for the wheels with active pointers. Your final prize is calculated based on the spin results.
The minimum bet is set to $50. That is, you must bet at least 50 coins with a minimum value of $1. You can only change the coin value. The number of active pay lines and coins per bet are fixed.
In addition to the 3 special symbols there are 9 regular symbols in the game. The Wheel of Fortune logo is the highest value symbol, paying 10,000 times coin value for five of a kind, 5,000 times coin value for four of a kind, and 2,000 times coin value for three of a kind.
The Yacht pays 1,000 times coin value for five of a kind, 150 times coin value for four of a kind, and 50 times coin value for three of a kind.
The Emerald pays 400 times coin value for five of a kind, 75 times coin value for four of a kind, and 25 times coin value for three of a kind.
The Convertible pays 300 times coin value for five of a kind, 50 times coin value for four of a kind, and 20 times coin value for three of a kind.
The lower value symbols are:
These symbols pay maximum prizes from 125 times coin value down to 50 times coin value for five of a kind.
Game controls are very simple in this version of the game. IGT specializes in streamlined game control interfaces but this one is really simple since you cannot change either the number of active pay lines or the bet per line. The game is configured to play 50 coins on 720 pay lines. All you can change is the value of the coins.
The Coin value widget uses left and right arrow controls to cycle through the various coin values ranging from 1 to 10. That means the maximum possible bet per spin or Total Bet is $500. This can easily wipe out your balance with one spin, although the game won’t play if your balance is less than the total bet.
The Spin button initiates a single game. It cannot be used to stop the reels from spinning.
To the right of the Spin button is a “Win” display window which shows you how much you won on the last spin.
Your balance is displayed between the “Win” widget and the Auto Spin button.
The Auto Spin button uses a symbol of two arrows curving around a plus sign. Click on this button to see five choices ranging from 10 to 50 spins. If you click on any of the choices the game begins spinning the reels for you.
The Auto Spin feature deducts the amount of your wager from the balance at the beginning of each spin. It continues until you leave the game, the last spin finishes, you win a bonus game, your balance drops below the current bet amount, or you click on the red Stop button that replaces the Auto Spin button.
The last control is the Wrench button which brings up a dialog that allows you to change the quality of the graphics display.
There is an information display in-between the playing reels and the control bar at the bottom of the screen. The game will occasionally unveil a helpful tip in this area. Otherwise it merely tells you what you just won on your last spin.
The Pay Table button is located in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. This may not be visible on some Websites.
With a minimum bet value of $50 the Wheel of Fortune Triple Extreme Spin game is a high roller game. You don’t want to go into this game with a small amount of money because at $50 a spin your chances of getting your money back in just 3-6 spins are not very good. The game is highly volatile and you can take a thousand dollars down to almost nothing in a few spins run it up to several thousand dollars in about as many.
The “partial win” prizes are really just defrayed losses. You are not playing for a bonus game. You are playing for any winning combination that pays more than what you bet. The stacked Wild symbols come in handy with their multiplier effect.
The game’s soundtrack uses music from the show but it can get old after a few minutes. The upbeat organ and faux rock music is quite loud. You may mute your sound after a while just to give yourself some peace of mind. That said you’ll have to pay extra attention to the screen because the audio cues (incidental sounds) tell you when you win prizes.
The game employs a “near miss” style of spinning. If two Scatter or Bonus symbols appear in one or two columns on the left side of the screen the remaining reels begin to sparkle and spin at a different pace.
While the bonus games are fun to win you can get some very big prizes just from the regular spin games. That is due to the multiway pay feature, the in-game multipliers, and the stacked Wild symbols.
In addition to the cheesy organ music Vanna White will occasionally compliment you on your latest win in a bonus game.
This game compares well to the physical slot machines, of which there are many. You won’t get in-time animations or video clips of Pat Sajak and Vanna White as some of the games show you but IGT has probably found that people are not as interested in Pat and Vanna as they are in the wheel. With two ways to see wheels spin in this game, along with all the ways to win prizes, you should find it enjoyable.
However, if you prefer slot games where your balance does not take sharp nosedives this is probably not a slot you should be playing. This game is targeted at high stakes players who want those big wins and are willing to risk a lot of money to get to them. This is the kind of game where you pay for a few spins after you have won big on another game. Think of this as a Second Level game you play because you can afford to lose a few hundred dollars without feeling the pinch.
As long as you don’t need the money and you have plenty in your balance, you have a good chance of walking away with an even bigger win. Just don’t let false expectations make your decisions for you. Remember, casinos only offer games that guarantee them a percentage of the wagers. Players get no guarantees. And that is what makes these games so exciting.