Fruit Machines

 'Iron Man 2'

No fruit symbols in ‘Iron Man 2’

Those slot games that we all know and love have many different names all over the world. The most familiar name however is a fruit machine. Now this might not sound a strange title when you spend most of your time nowadays the only fruit you’ll see is the banana and apple you might be eating while playing a slot game about Marvel Superheroes as in the Playtech game ‘Iron Man 2’.

But just like if you talk to anyone about wrestling they automatically say “Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks’, talk to someone about slot games and the words “fruit machines” will be uttered.

Why Fruit?
So just where does this term ‘fruit machine’ come from? The name comes from the UK and even now a lot of people still call slot games by that title. When we are referring to fruit machines though, it’s more a reference to the machine you’ll find in your local pub/club or in the amusement arcades.

Old style 'Fruit Machine' symbols

Old style ‘Fruit Machine’ symbols

Back in the day the machines didn’t have a variety of themed symbols such as in the Ash Gaming slot ‘Jewels of Atlantis’ which takes us to that lost city under the sea.

The reels were full of fruits such as oranges, lemons and melons with cherries as the lowest value symbol and fulfilling the role that nine to Ace playing card symbols seem to play in games in the current day.

There were other symbols such as 7’s, bars, double bars and triple bars but it was the presence of all that fruit that gave the machine their name.

What was Different About Them?
The classic fruit machines were three reel games that only had the one payline, though this was usually referred to as the win line. The days of five-reel games had yet to appear and scatter symbols hadn’t been thought of yet.

There was no need to spend time working out your stake, there was just one flat rate that you had to pay and then just spin those reels, cross your fingers and hope for a good win.

Don’t think that fruit machines were that simple though, they did contain some additional features such as nudge and hold that made the player think about what to do next. The nudge came into play at the end of a spin when you were allowed to nudge down a certain number of symbols down the reels. We all used to bending down trying to look up the reels to see what symbols were above the payline to see if a winning combination was possible.

The hold feature is pretty self-explanatory. At the end of a spin you were allowed to hold one or two of the symbols in the hope that would give you the chance to get a win on your next spin.

Also available was a ‘bonus trail.’ As you continued to play the fruit machine this trail, basically just a ring of spots, would be activated and you’d progress from one bonus amount to the next one. Other versions had you having to press a button and hopefully stop the flashing lights on a high value cash or multiplier amount. It wasn’t just cash that was on the line here, but also specific numbers of holds or nudges that could help you get more valuable wins.

There was also a ‘cash ladder’ game where you worked your way up that ladder and had the choice of taking a win or trying to get higher up to win more cash.

A gamble feature is a common sight in most of the games we play now. Games such as Playtech’s ‘Frankie Dettori’s Magic 7’ see you having to try and choose cards that are higher than the one given to the dealer. With fruit machines there were also double or nothing opportunities involving correctly choosing the colour of the next card or the result of a toss of a coin.

Trip Back in Time
Game developers still hark back to the old days with some of the games produced in the 21st century. The Microgaming slot ‘Pub Fruity’ is set in a pub with the reels in the background. The symbols are fruit, there’s only one payline and bonus features include the chance to earn some nudges.

Many of us have fond memories of the fruit machine, they were fast paced games and there was a bit of thinking to do too. It’s good to see that current game developers still want to recreate those games.