"One of the questions that comes up is how does this compare to Zynga Bingo, what are the relations here? And, really, it's kind of like chess versus checkers," Zynga Slingo product manager Rich Sawel claims. "They're pretty fundamentally different gameplay experiences here."
"So, which one is chess and which is checkers?" I ask. "I'd say this one is chess," Sawel says. "There's a lot of strategy needed to play this game, again, for more than what you see at face value."
With that, we hope you've already deduced that Zynga has taken the 17-year-old computer game Slingo and given the classic its signature coat of paint, but souped up some parts, too. The game was born of a partnership between Zynga and Slingo that Zynga board member Bing Gordon helped spark, according to Sawel. But even then the project needed just a little bit more nudging along. This is Zynga's first ever licensed game, after all.
"Bing brought this to Zynga's attention. From there it found its way to me--I was looking for a project at the time. At first, it didn't fully grab my attention," Sawel admits. "But then I was talking to my wife, who was a Slingo player in the past, and she was like, 'Yeah, get on Slingo.' So, it definitely caught my attention from there."
If you don't know what Slingo is yet, go to its (sort of) original home, right here at AOL Games. (We're sure the original place it was played in through AOL is long gone.) Anyway, Sawel does a fine job of describing the game in the video below, though Zynga has brought a few visible differences to the table.
Players can call upon their friends for help in Zynga Slingo as Friend Jokers. These allow the next spin to feature a Joker that can be used to make a free match, and to thank their friend with a gift. Each level also sports multiple medals, which are rewarded to players that surpass specific milestones and serve to add a bit of meta game to Zynga Slingo. Of course, this game has leaderboards, but it also packs some power-ups.
Boosts like Slingo Vision and Coin Toss Blaster all cost coins, and provide powers like the ability to see all of the matches on the board and the option to avoid coin tosses.The Darn Devil returns to Slingo in Zynga's version, but the developer has introduced some gambling mechanics in which players can bet their points on a coin toss. If it lands on the devil, then you'll lose half of the points you wagered, but if the Cherub appears, you'll gain 50 percent more points.
And soon, players will be able to play any given level across the game's five worlds and afterward send a challenge to their friends to beat their score on the same game board. Think of it as, say, Scramble With Friends meets Slingo. At first glance, this is one of the most polished, genuinely fun-looking Zynga games to date, but it's also a bit of a shock. A partnership like this is a first for Zynga, as it usually develops its own games, so it raises a few questions. For one, will the game hit mobile devices?
"I'll tell ya, having my 3-year-old on my lap trying to click the screen with his fingers as I'm playing Slingo on my laptop is kind of testament to the opportunity there," Sawel muses. "So, we'll see how it develops."
As for where this could Zynga in the future, we see two different paths. One takes Zynga down a road of taking more and more established, classic casual games and giving them its signature polish. Another has Zynga work more with more big property holders to "Zyngafy" their games, so to speak. (The latter would be beneficial in more ways than one.) Sawel's take: "It's wide open."
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