Zynga Elite Slots on Facebook turns the casino into a dungeon crawler

Zynga Elite Slots
Zynga Elite Slots

The Slot machine is essentially the video game in its most reduced state. Aside from the push and pull of risk versus reward, there isn't much "game" there. In that case, how do you make the casino staple (both online and off) more interesting? With Zynga Elite Slots coming soon to Facebook, it seems that Zynga had a novel idea: bring some of the "game" back.

At first glance, Zynga Elite Slots isn't much more than Zynga Slots on iOS. But after a longer look, thanks to design directors Josh Gause and Nate Radcliff, this slots game promises much more than a slots game with cutesy characters frolicking above the reel. Zynga Elite Slots doesn't do much, if anything at all, to change the act of playing a slot machine. What it does do is add plenty of game around it to change or enhance the motivations for pulling the digital lever.
Zynga Elite Slots players can choose from and unlock a series of adorable characters to drive across the screen through six major, visually and aurally distinct themes at launch: Enchanted Forest, High Noon, Pet Park, House of Fangs, Treasure of Anubis and Aurora Dreams. These themes each bring with them unique artwork and music as well as special quests to complete. Yes, this slots game has quests.

"We have 50 to 60 minutes of original scored music, which is, again, for a social game almost unheard of. It's more of a AAA title game that would come out, you know for Xbox or something," Gause gushes ."So, again, every time you come into a theme, it's completely unique. Even before we start building a theme, we write a one-page story of: 'What are we trying to tell with this theme? What's the goal? What's the objective?' We have a massive quest system within the game. We plan on launching with 60 quests. Those quests can help convey that kind of message we want."

Zynga Elite Slots screens
Zynga Elite Slots screens

As players embark on these quests, they'll encounter mini games as simple as guessing which cute character has money behind it to full-blown boss battles with villains. Of course, the method for defeating these bosses doesn't change--pull the dang lever--but the particulars do. Instead of spinning for coins, you're spinning for attacks and other abilities of varying strength. The reward for besting bosses is essentially leveling up your current character.

There's an intense meta game surrounding Zynga Elite Slots, with characters that gain unique bonuses over time and themes that yield different encounters and mini games. At the same time, there's also a lot of social play at hand, with live, real-time chat rooms of 150 players that can affect their fellows' game boards with drops of rewards. For instance, when one player scores a big win, the other players in that same room will score a piece of that.

"Imagine being in a room with 150 people, and this stuff--it's always happening. So, you're actually engaging with players all the time, in real time," Gause tels us. "In that sense, what we're trying to create is a true social experience. Not just sending invites to your friends or posting to their wall, but actually engaging with people that are in the room."

As far as slots games go, Zynga Elite Slots offers a lot of promise what with its real-time chat and play component. But what's even more interesting is that Gause, Radcliff and crew seem to have created a slots RPG--an extremely light one--if that can even be considered a thing. Zynga Elite Slots launches on Facebook soon.

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