In the old fashioned electromechanical land casino slot machines the reels consisted of drums mounted on the same axis. The symbols were placed on the curved surface of the drums. When the slot machine was activated each drum began to spin independently. When the drums came to rest some of the symbols were displayed through the slots. In online casinos this process was simulated using random number generator based computer software. What the player saw on the screen was a replication of the land slot machine mechanism. The player could see the symbols descend from the top and disappear from the bottom till the reels stopped. Almost all online slot games display this mechanism. But online slots operate in a competitive space and differentiation of the product is a marketing mantra. Therefore occasionally there are slot games that have a slightly modified mechanism for reel spinning. This article discusses some such slot games.
2010 Microgaming released a branded online slot game called The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, popularly abbreviated to LOTR. LOTR was based on the first of the trilogy of the movies. In order to exploit the brand value the slot needed to show clips from the movie. The mechanism it chose to display the clips was called Cinematic Spins. In Cinematic Spins, the reels start to spin in the usual manner described earlier in the article. But very soon the spinning reels fade away, giving an unhindered view of the screen. Clips from the movie are then shown. Once the short clip is over the spinning reels appear again on the screen and eventually come to rest displaying the symbols.
LOTR was released only a few months back but there is a different reel spinning mechanism in some of the much older online slot games from software providers like WagerWorks and Cryptologic. WagerWorks calls this mechanism Tumbling Reels, whereas Cryptologic does not give it a special name. Here the reels do not spin but the symbols drop from the top. The first symbol to drop in each reel does not disappear from the bottom but rests on the bottom row. The symbols that follow come to rest on the successive upper rows. Then a unique process takes place. The symbols that form part of winning paylines disappear and the symbol from the upper row tumbles down to take its place. Eventually fresh symbols fall into the empty spaces on the top row. This process is repeated till there are no payouts in the new combination. A WagerWorks slot game with this mechanism is Crystal Caverns and a Cryptologic slot game with this mechanism is Bejeweled.
Recently Rival Gaming released a slot game called Cream of the Crop that had a modified version of the Tumbling Reels mechanism. The symbols in this slot game are crops and vegetables that grow in the ground like corn, pumpkins, carrots and turnips. The symbols do not drop from the top. Instead seeds fall into the ground and one of the symbols grows out from the seed. There is no further repetition of this process as in Tumbling Reels.