Fans of video games may remember an era when full motion video was all the rage. Get actual actors into the game, and have them react to the actions that players make, and it would be one of the most lifelike experiences on consoles and PCs, revolutionizing gaming forever!
Okay, so that never quite happened: while a few of these games were moderate successes, the video thing never really caught on. But that doesn’t mean other industries can’t try it. Join Games is an online casino software provided that has done just that with their Cineslot games, which feature real actors as a part of the presentation.
Founded in 2014, Join Games is a Maltese company that was formed out of a partnership between two professionals in the industry who wanted to create a renowned slots provider by combining their ideas. In the past two years, they’ve started on that venture by a small portfolio of slot machines – with the ones that incorporate video certainly being the ones that have drawn the most attention thus far.
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Interesting Concepts, Awkward Execution
In total, there are about 18 titles in the Join Games collection at the moment, all of which are slot machines. That may change in the future – the company’s website features tabs for table games and video poker, though these are empty at the moment – but for now, they are a slots-only provider.
Of these machines, exactly two fit under the Cineslot label, and these are the first two we’re going to talk about. As we described above, these are different than most of what we’ve seen on the Internet, at least recently, in that they utilize real actors to play roles on the screen as a part of the action. They are superimposed on the setting for each game, doing thematically appropriate actions when you win or enter bonus rounds.
Our first example is the Legend of Emerald game, a pirate-themed slot machine with five reels and ten lines of high seas adventure. The game takes place against the backdrop of a ship’s deck, and a rousing action theme is played throughout the game (reminiscent of the kinds of music you’d hear in a Pirates of the Caribbean film). During the game, you’ll be matching anchors, treasures, bombs and more, while a wheel bonus grants players instant prizes.
How does the live talent play into all of this? Well, the main game screen features a woman in pirate garb standing next to the reels. She’s moving just enough (and we do mean “just” – she is mostly still) for you to realize she’s not part of the static background, and for most of the game, that’s all she does. However, should you enter a bonus round, she’ll turn to the reels and fire off a round from her pistol. In the bonus round, a male pirate yells in celebration after you play through the selection process and find out what your prize is.
The other Cineslot title is Kleopatra. As you’d expect, an Egyptian queen theme is at play here; the game itself is similar to Legend of Emerald, with five reels and ten lines. In this case, we have to give major credit to the design team, because the background images are intricately detailed, with hieroglyphics and ornate decorations everywhere – while Kleopatra (or Cleopatra) sits comfortably on her throne. Wild mummies dot the reels to help players win with combinations of sphinxes, cats, Egyptian gods, and ankhs.
Again, in this game, the use of the footage they took of the actress playing the main character is very limited. Only when you enter the bonus round will you see her get up and magically transport herself into the second screen game. You’ll then pick some random prizes, after which she’ll put on another magical display in order to end the round.
Overall, we have to say that the Cineslots line was fairly disappointing. The games themselves aren’t very interesting, and the developer didn’t try to do all that much with the cinematic gimmick. Sometimes, the video was even a little slow to load or sputtered a bit, which made the presentation feel very dated.
But how is the rest of the collection? With that question in mind, we took a look at one of their Premium Slots, one that is based on a very popular theme these days. Zombie Escape is a five-reel, 20-line game in which you’ll be matching a series of nasty looking zombies across the reels. The game is made up to look like a post-apocalyptic city, though once again, the artwork leaves something to be desired: the 3D models are ugly and lack detail, and when they are animated, they look stiff and unnatural. As for the game itself, it’s pretty standard: a free spins game can be reached by hitting three or more scatter symbols, while a bonus game has you shooting zombies with a crossbow in order to collect prizes. On the bright side, this and other games do seem to run at a higher speed than the sometimes sluggish Cineslots.
The other titles in the Join Games collection cover some rather interesting themes, with a heavier-than-expected focus on Japanese and Chinese culture (though with many operators now targeting these Asian markets, perhaps this is to be expected). Here’s a quick look at some of the other titles you’ll find in their collection:
- Cyber Ninja
- Venice Carnival
- The Dragon
- Aztec Temple
- Caesar’s Glory
Partnerships See Games Included in Several Networks
While Join Games may be relatively new to the online casino landscape, they have already found their way included into a wide variety of gambling sites. This is due largely to a series of strategic partnerships that have allowed them to be a part of larger software platforms, bringing their games alongside those of many other publishers on some prominent networks. These include iSoftBet, EveryMatrix, and BetConstruct, all of which provide platforms that many operators rely on to provide content.
While Join hasn’t created any award winning machines yet, they have tried to make themselves a regular presence at major industry trade shows, which could help them expand further in the future. It’s worth noting that unlike many other up-and-coming providers, this studio is only working on games – as far as we can tell, they don’t plan to launch a platform of their own, meaning their titles are meant to be integrated into other software systems as a supplement to an existing casino.
More Cult Classic than Hollywood Blockbuster
While our evaluation of their games may have seemed a bit harsh, we’re not actually all that down on Join Games. We love that they are doing what they can to innovate in an industry that sometimes seems stale. And while their games may not be world beaters just yet, they make a pretty solid addition to a typical casino site, so we wouldn’t be disappointed if we saw these titles as part of a larger lineup.
The idea behind the Cineslots line is certainly a promising one, and we hope this develop will continue working on it. With a better and more expanded interaction between the filmed actors and the games themselves, we think this sort of game could become a lot more interesting to players who want a little more life in their slots.