When it comes to casino slot machines, they don’t come much bigger than IGT’s Cleopatra, a game that’s based on one of the most famous queens of all time. In this article we take a look at the mechanics of this popular casino game and some of the reasons behind its massive success.
If you’ve heard of just one slot machine, we’re willing to bet money it’s Cleopatra. This famous game has been doing the rounds at countless casinos for a number of years. Although there are a several different Cleopatra variants available, we’re going to be investigating the most popular version – the large, multi-payline video slot that seems to have captured the hearts and minds of the Las Vegas gaming audience.
Let’s take a look at the structure of Cleopatra. As with most modern slots it uses a five reel formula that owes its origins to the poker machines from which all reel games have evolved. Players can bet on a maximum of 20 pay-lines, and can adjust their coin size to find their ideal bet level. This machine also gives gamblers an additional helping hand to make money in the form of the signature Cleopatra wild multiplier, which not only helps complete combinations by substituting for other symbols, but also doubles the value of their prize. A huge part of the success of this mathematical model is its simplicity. This isn’t a game that relies on lots of different second-screen action or over-done bonus rounds. Instead it offers what’s known as good action from the first spin to the last.
Believe it or not, this game structure, which is called the ‘Cleopatra formula’ by many critics and reviewers, is actually a copy of another game. Queen of the Nile is a slot from top Australian pokie manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure, and is known to be the first game that featured a mix of Egyptian themes and a triple paying free-spin bonus round. These guys are one of the most under-represented innovators in the casino industry, as they actually came up with the concept of the multi-payline slot. However, as with many things in life, it’s not enough to be the originator – you have to be bold enough to put some real money muscle behind your ideas to make them slide into universal reception.
One of the things that’s made Cleopatra such a world-wide success is its clear theme, graphics and sounds that enable personification. Slot players are well known for bestowing an almost human quality onto their games. Sit in any casino and you’ll hear players talk in sweet, sugary tones to games that are streaking, and plead desperately with machines that have frozen up. Cleopatra is one slot machine that actually whispers seductively back at players, based on the action on the reels, giving its audience the feeling they’re actually communicating with this game.
The visual branding used on Cleopatra harks back to Ancient Egypt, which is a land that’s been associated with hidden riches ever since the days of Howard Carter. The idea of grabbing fabulous wealth from archaeological explorations is one that’s still popular to this day, and this is definitely a cultural reference the Cleopatra slot plays upon strongly. This theme has been carefully chosen to suggest the thrill of chancing across huge wealth to slot gamers, and this is undoubtedly a large part of its success, harnessing people’s subconscious desires.
IGT has continued their success with Cleopatra by following up this awesome production with not one, but two sequel slots. Cleopatra II uses the same formula as the original in its base-game, but introduces a new element into the bonus free-spin round with an incremental multiplier, allowing players to reach some considerable payouts.
There’s also a progressive machine, Cleopatra Megajackpots, which takes a little of every credit spent on the game and siphons it away to form a huge, ever-growing top prize. This is a wide-area network progressive made up of many clone terminals, which allows hundreds of players to spin for the same huge jackpot.
As with everything that’s successful within the casino world, Cleopatra’s highly addictive game structure has been copied ad infinitum by a number of rival companies. However, no matter how many clones you play, the truth of the matter is there’s something about Cleopatra’s base-game balancing act that simply works. It’s low to medium variance structure offers players a constant stream of wins with a chance to hit some big money in the feature round, which apparently just feels right everytime they take this game for a spin.
AUTHOR BIO: David Newstead is a keen player of Las Vegas slot machines and makes a couple of trips to the Nevada gaming destination every year, where he enjoys researching the latest games for his numerous trade articles and his website, www.slotsonline.co.uk.
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