The simulated gambling experts at Phantom EFX continue their annual slots series with Reel Deal Slots: Adventure III. The game features 15 themed video slot machines -- some old, some new -- with your choice of real world or "dream world" odds and payouts. What sets this title apart from previous entries is the "World Tour Mode."
Taking a Trip
As with earlier titles in the slot-centric series, you'll begin Adventure III by entering your name and gender. You'll then receive a player's card that will track your overall winnings and stats (multiple profiles can be created for family members who share the same computer), and a starting bankroll of $2,500. You can use this money to play any of the available slot machines directly, but in order to unlock the full lineup, you'll have to go through the World Tour Mode.
The World Tour Mode has you visiting destinations on eight continents to complete specific challenges. Your first challenge in Africa, for example, is simply to play the "Serengeti" video slot machine until you reach 100 spins. Subsequent challenges have you doing things like earning 20,000 credits, completing three bonus rounds, and so forth.
Spin to Win
While this mode offers a welcome "spin" on traditional slots, it can become repetitive. You can't advance without completing a challenge, so you'll have to sit in front of a machine for quite some time until your objective is met. There's no way to save your progress during a challenge, so you have to be prepared to complete the objective in one sitting. With some challenges, this can mean playing the same machine for 30 minutes or more.
Another concern is that there's no real strategy involved in completing the challenges, since you are not actually winning or losing any of your (virtual) money. On each machine, you simply bet the maximum and let the reels spin their way toward fulfilling your objective. You don't even have to look at the screen -- just keep clicking spin until you're done.
Without risking your own money, you don't have the fear of failure, so completing challenges is really more a test of patience than anything else. Of course, if players were forced to spend their virtual cash on the machines, they could potentially take much, much longer to complete. At least it should have been considered as an option (like a high roller mode for those looking for a real challenge).
There's also some rather long and pointless text that prefaces each new destination on your World Tour, which is narrated with some style and flair by a ne'er do well announcer who tries way too hard to be funny. Suffice it to say that the trip doesn't work out so well for your partner and leave it at that. Some pictures or comic-book like artwork would have been an improvement, as the text is a bit sloppy and can be read faster than the narrator can talk, diminishing some of the comedic elements.
With a few tweaks, World Tour Mode could have been more engaging, but chances are you'll only want to play it to unlock the remaining slot machines. Yet completing this mode has another benefit: it opens up "enchanted challenges" that offer a more interesting twist on the games. These special challenges have you trying to earn a specific amount of credits within a time limit, which adds some thrills and excitement to a session.
Apart from the World Tour Mode, you can play the individual slot machines by themselves, trying to see how much you can earn in your choice of odds and payouts. There's no prize vault for this game, which is disappointing since it provides an added incentive to play regularly. Previous titles let you spend your cash to on a little in-game shopping spree. There are also no mini-games or other surprises to unlock other than the slot machines themselves.
All things considered, Reel Deal Slots: Adventure III falls short of the other casino-style slot games in the publisher's library. The World Tour Mode seems hastily thrown together, and some of the slot machines have been carried over from the first Adventure. While each has been enhanced, those expecting completely new machines might feel slighted. Those new to slot machine sims should consider any of the other Reel Deal games before pulling the lever on Adventure III.