Those of you who have been reading my columns or reports in the field over the years have probably got a pretty good idea that I love Las Vegas. In fact, it’s pretty much my favorite city in the world. Besides living it up there while supposedly covering a convention or two, I also happened to get married there and the wife and I occasionally get to vacation out that way from time to time.
But living on the East Coast means that heading out to Vegas is a bit of chore, not to mention a little on the expensive side. So it’s not like we are out there every weekend. And Atlantic City is a pale substitute.
It was with some skepticism that I popped Reel Deal Casino into my laptop. Most games that try to simulate the excitement of a casino end up pale by comparison. The games don’t seem all that real, and the atmosphere of a casino is just not present.
So I was taken aback to find the opposite when looking at Reel Deal Casino. Considering that developer Phantom Efx has purchased the rights to use many of the most popular slot machine games, don’t be surprised if your favorite nickel poker title looks and feels exactly as you remember.
The emphasis of High Roller is on table games. There are eight slots which run the gamut from traditional reel type games to the more interactive nickel machines with their dizzying array of payout lines and cool videos. The best of these is called Rapunzel and will have you climbing a tower using your trapped girlfriend’s hair, trying to guess which windows you pass are filled with coins you can win.
However, if you are really into slot machines, then High Roller is probably not the Phantom title you want to buy. Instead, grab Mystic Forest, which has about 40 of the coolest slots around. Both titles are only about $20 so are a great value. It just depends on whether or not you like slots or table games.
Back to High Roller. In a very smart move, one of the things the game lets you choose is whether or not to use real world odds or dream world odds. Some of the table games don’t give you a choice, but most of the slots do. Dream world odds obviously are more favorable to the player. Nobody would dream of a world where the machines payout less after all. Your total money for the dream world and the real world are kept separate, but other than that, there is no difference other than your odds.
You are given $10,000 to play with when you enter the casino, a policy I think all Vegas gambling houses should follow. If you lose your money, the game will advance you some more.
In addition to the eight slot machines, High Roller features 28 table games and a poker room. The poker room is pretty much like most poker games and the bots you challenge are fairly smart.
Interestingly, the way you get to the table games is fairly innovative. You are shown an overhead view of a casino, with people walking around and playing the various games. You scroll around the room and point to whatever title you want to play. Then that game loads and takes up the entire screen.
Expect to find all the standard table games like blackjack, craps and roulette, plus some rare ones like Catch a Wave, which is apparently popular in East Coast casinos in the US. And you will find popular Asian games like Sic Bo, which would be way to intimidating to try and learn on a real casino floor. That game is very complex.
Two minor problems I have with High Roller involve marketing decisions with the packaging on the box. A game that apparently emphasizes fishing (a nickel machine) is really shown on the box, but is not actually included in the game. Also, High Roller has an online component whereby you need to pay a monthly fee. This gives you access to a hotel suite and the more you win in the casino, the more cool things you can equip your room with online. Also you are given a free new casino game each money as part of your subscription. I have no problem with the subscription fee, which is $10 per month, but I think the packaging on the box should make it clear which parts of the game are online only and what that costs. There is one tiny little asterisk that says that there are some fees involved, but this is not highlighted enough for my tastes. Also, somewhere it should say what the fee is, instead of having to learn this after you buy the game and want to go online.
Because there is a lot of content in the game and because you can be completely happy playing either High Roller or Mystic Forest offline, these are forgivable mistakes.
Taken as a whole, High Roller and Mystic Forest really bring the casino experience home. The sounds of a casino with the little tones going off in the background (if you have ever been to a casino you know what I mean) as well as people talking are very well done. If you close your eyes and listen, you will think you are really in Vegas or Atlantic City.
For a very small amount of money, you get quite a few games. If you like to gamble, then High Roller and Mystic Forest are about as close to a sure thing as you are likely to find. Taking a chance on either title will be rewarding, so I am doling out 4 and 1/2 GiN Gems into their collection bucket.