Phantom EFX takes its slot simulation series to a new realm, literally, with the surprise release of Battle Slots. Instead of winning big cash, you'll be hoping for big damage payouts. Instead of matching fruit or candy, you'll attempt to line up swords or talismans.
Featuring a format similar to Puzzle Quest, Battle Slots has you selecting a male or female character and earning experience points by challenging the creatures in a fantasy world to a one-on-one duel.
While the Puzzle Quest series and its competitors feature combat driven by a match-three puzzle mechanic, the fighting in Battle Slots is resolved with the help of a five-reel slot machine.
Yes, the idea of slot machine to decide battles seems silly at first, especially when the game humorously refers to it as a "magical" device, but the end-result is not unlike rolling dice in a board game -- there's an element of surprise and even some tension with every turn.
Though character progression is limited to leveling up, which automatically increases your health or hit points, there are a number of choices and decisions you'll make to help shape the outcome of a fight.
Factor in the random "loot" that will grant you things like new symbols on your slot machine, different melee- or magic-based attacks for your character, and so forth, and Battle Slots becomes much more than a simple game of sit and spin.
If you've played Puzzle Quest, Bookworm Adventures, or similar casual-oriented battle games, you'll know exactly how everything works.
Battle Slots features a slot machine that pays out varying amounts of mana points, attack points, experience points, or cash based on the color-coded symbols that pop up when you press the spin button.
Aligning multiple red symbols, for example, such as a dagger or war hammer, will not only cause damage to the creature you're battling, but will also give you attack points that allow you to activate a special technique at the end of a spin.
The creature you're battling also has its own five-reel slot machine underneath its portrait, using the randomly generated results to perform its own attacks. You can use one of your attacks or defensive moves immediately at the end of each spin, providing you have enough points, or decide to hold off and wait.
These types of decisions are what makes Battle Slots so engaging. Do you chip away at an enemy's health in small chunks, bank the points and wait for a more powerful attack, or decide to heal a portion of your health to survive the next attack?
You might also elect to prevent the enemy from spinning for a few turns, hoping something big happens to tip the scales in your favor, or drain a portion of its mana to stop it from unleashing a more powerful attack on its turn. Each enemy you'll face has its own forms of techniques, from shackling your slot machine to keep it from spinning for a set number of turns, to damage over time attacks, to healing itself, to making you weak against certain attacks.
Adding to the enjoyment is Battle Slots' simple yet appealing presentation, which features hand-drawn character art, amusing sound effects, rousing music, and dramatic animations such as lightning strikes, streams of fire, and more during the battle sequences. The game's biggest problem, however, is that it sticks a little too close to the Puzzle Quest formula.
Outside of the battle sequences, you simply click on dots on an overhead map to move from point A to point B. You don't actually see the locales you visit, and the quests involve reading passages of text, clicking on a new part of the map, battling a creature or series of creatures, and then returning to get your gold and experience points.
The story is painfully generic, progression is linear, and there is a puzzling lack of stat tracking, mini-games, or other play modes that would have spiced things up a bit. It's curious that a game that uses a slot machine doesn't have any activities that allow you to wager your character's gold for a chance at winning prizes.
Character customization is also limited, so you won't be able to purchase armor, weapons, jewelry or similar items, and there is no class system or hero type -- all you do is select a different graphic to represent your avatar and level it up to improve his or her health.
You can, however, build a more magic-based or melee-oriented character by moving a slider to increase the likelihood of seeing more red or blue symbols on the slot machine to take advantage of certain techniques you acquire.
Battle Slots is one of those games that you initially plan to play for a quick ten minutes only to later find that hours have passed. The new techniques and symbols to collect make you want to keep going for one more battle, and you'll also be able to acquire runes, friendly companions, zoo animals, and other surprises that keep things from getting stale.
The creatures you'll encounter also have some variety, often requiring you to think about how to use your techniques instead of blindly hitting the spin button and waiting for the results. Battle Slots is a highly polished twist on the traditional slot machine game that pays out big in terms of enjoyment, if not originality.