Gambling is fun. It must be. Millions of grandmothers and potential homeless people can't be wrong. But what, exactly, is fun about it? Is it the glitz of the casino? The pulsing energy of the crowd around you? The free drinks? The wandering magicians and entertainers? The risk? The rush of joy that comes with winning a particularly large amount of money?
You'd better hope not, because none of that is present in Fantasy Slots: Adventure Slots and Games. Instead, this release reduces the gambling experience to tapping the screen once every few seconds and wishing you had your DSi Points back.
There's enough good here that the release isn't a completely lazy bomb, but there still isn't much to recommend Fantasy Slots: Adventure Slots and Games. (In fact, we're even a little disappointed in the title. If you're going to be redundant, at least be comically redundant. Why not "Fantasy Slots: Adventure Slots and Games and Slots and Adventure Fantasy?" Such a missed opportunity.)
The game itself is really just a menu linking you to eight different slot machine mini-games, and that's probably the most generous use of the word "different" you'll ever see on this website. There are six five-reel machines and two three-reel ones, but within those categories the only differences are the pictures that you'll see spinning by, rendering the themes pretty useless and more than a little lazy. "Pirate Cove," for example, doesn't have sea shanties or uproarious pirate laughter playing the background, and "King Arthur's Excalibur" doesn't feature royal trumpets or medieval zither tunes. In fact, each of the slot machines share the same background score: silence.
The dead quiet of these slot machines is actually pretty eerie. Anybody who's played the game in real life will associate the experience with the sounds of a casino: the background chatter, the music, the periodic chiming of coins tumbling out of a machine. Here, there is nothing. We're not sure which casino Fantasy Slots is meant to take place in, but at least we know it does so long after the apocalypse has wiped out every living creature apart from you, lone (and truly compulsive) gambler. There are a few sound effects punctuating the outcome of your spins (from the disappointed thunk of a reel stopping on a non-payout to a theoretically uplifting electronic riff if you win) but they just serve to make the background silence seem even more cold and bizarre.
Playing the slots is a simple matter of using the touch screen to place your bets and then pressing the big red SPIN button. (We won't tell you what that does, because we don't like spoilers.) The top screen displays the results of your spin. It's exactly as much fun as telling a computer to generate a random number, and then reading the random number that it generates.
Beyond that, there is not much to say. The reels animate pretty smoothly, and the graphics are clear, if not exactly memorable. Fantasy Slots achieves what it apparently set out to accomplish – it's just a shame that it doesn't want to accomplish anything more.
Two diversions from slot-watching boredom are available, in the form of Bonus Games and Suite Living. Bonus Games must be unlocked from their corresponding slot machines (except for Wild Safari, which is unlocked from the start, therefore nullifying the need for anyone to play the "Wild Safari" slot machine ever beyond the basic experience described above), and they tend to consist of single-tap micro-games that would put Wario to sleep. They are unlocked by random outcomes in the five-reel slot machines, and the fact that they couldn't even get headlining status over experience of watching virtual wheels spin should give you an idea of how fun they are.
Suite Living is a bit more interesting. It's a section you can visit when you unlock at least one suite (the first is unlocked by winning 1,000 or more credits), and it's basically a virtual room in which you can virtually display virtual furniture that you virtually bought with the virtual money that you actually wasted actual time accumulating.
The Suite Living area at least looks like it should, and you can actually walk around the room you decorate in first-person mode. This, sadly, is the most exciting thing about the entire release. In fact, it just makes us wish that we got some sort of first-person exploration game instead of this, as the Suite Living controls are smooth, the graphics are very good, and the promise of walking around and doing things (any things) is preferable to the joyless act of pumping invisible coins into a game we have no chance of winning.
As a handheld experience, Fantasy Slots ranks somewhere between Flashlight and accidentally dropping your DSi into somebody's milkshake.
For everyone who waited so patiently for a slot machine they could play without the risk of winning any of that pesky money, Fantasy Slots: Adventure Slots and Games should scratch your itch just fine, though it doesn't contain the property-selling mechanic of the already available Adventure in Vegas: Slot Machine. But for anybody who either likes their gambling to involve cash or their gaming to involve fun, this release comes up short. Even taken on its own merits as a time-waster, there are better options for the same price, or cheaper. Or, y'know... free.