Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat – there is no wild symbol, no scatter symbol, no wage multipliers, no free spins, and no bonus game. But that is a feature of the game rather than a limitation. The name of the pokie refers to the slang word used around the world for pokies – the lever pulled to spin the reels is the “arm.” It is a simple game based on the original rules and style of poker machines in American frontier saloons in the 19th century.
That’s not to say that Microgaming’s classic games are boring or plain. The graphics and symbols are far more modern than what gamblers in the 1800s would have seen. And yes, only three reels spin during play, but this machine pays out for combos on three different pay lines. The jackpots are also decidedly modern, the largest of which is worth as much as $20,000.
The game has no plot to speak of; the theme is simple but attractive. The game’s main character is a Western-styled tough guy; it’s a fun play on the slang term that gives this pokie its name. The cowboy in the title has a tough-guy grimace on his face, a hand-rolled cigar between his teeth, and the wizened look and scruffy appearance of a fellow you don’t want to meet in a dark alley. The display is refreshingly easy on the eyes – a small pay table, a layout for the simple arrangement of three reels, and a couple of buttons are all a gambler needs to play this classic poker machine game.
Yes this is a three reel classic poker machine, but it does use three pay lines, giving bettors a chance to make winning combinations a little more often. The limit of one coin per line is a throwback to the early days of poker machine design. But there is some wager variety in this and other classic games.
Allowing more than a couple of choices in terms of the value of each credit is not a common feature of online or land-based low roller games. Poker machines in the penny, nickel, and quarter range frequently allow just one or two credit sizes, so it is nice that the game offers a total of five different credit values. The ability to set the value of a credit at $0.25, $0.50, $1, $2.50, or $5 is a deviation from classic design, one that modern machine gamblers appreciate.
“Antique” versions of poker machines are downright charming when they’re part of modern Internet casino software, and classic-style pokies have a loyal following.
Offering titles similar to those of the late 1800s in software designed for use on gadgets like laptops and smartphones is a way for Web-based casinos to appeal to our culture’s taste for retro entertainment and imagery.
The inclusion of this feature (and a few others that would not have been a part of 19th century mechanical poker machines) keeps 1 Arm Bandit and games like it interesting for modern audiences without straying too far from the traditional style classic game fans are after.
Only three reel symbols are used during the game: the main character has his own symbol, then there are the classic bar icons (replaced in this title by bullets), and finally stylized number 7s. The biggest prizes come from trios of the main character’s symbols; depending on which pay line they appear, a set of three bandits will earn you 1,000, 2,000, or 4,000 credits.
Take note that all other prizes are decidedly small; the largest is worth just 150 credits. Fans of 1 Arm Bandit play for those bandit symbols the way bonus poker machine players are mostly interested in triggering the valuable free spins or instant credit prizes available in bonus games.
Three of the tough guy symbols on the third pay line pays out 4,000 credits, which is a cash reward of $20,000 at the max coin denomination of $5 apiece. Even betting just a quarter per credit, landing three Bandit symbols on the number three pay line will put $1,000 in your pocket. If you take your time and play at a leisurely pace (and bet three $0.25 coins to activate the third pay line required for the top jackpot) it’s possible to spend $50 or $60 an hour for a shot at that $1,000 prize – just the kind of risk-reward ratio classic poker machine players are after.
This game lacks most features found on modern games, but that is exactly what some gamblers like. Imagine two customers at the local pub. The first is drinking a fancy cocktail made of top-shelf liquor. The other nurses a plain glass of cheap whisky. Neither drink is superior they’re just made for different tastes. Imagine this and other traditional style games as the plain glass of whisky. Sure it lacks the sex appeal of a top-shelf cocktail, but the lower cost and simplicity of the drink are exactly what the second customer wanted, and exactly what he got.
Like most classic poker machines, this game lacks bonus rounds, requires little attention or interaction, and doesn’t use wild or scatter symbols that make pay tables more complicated. Many Internet casino gamblers aren’t interested in these extra features – at least not all the time. There is a market for a 3D multiplayer ultra-progressive licensed-theme poker machine with a 1080p HD display.
Simpler games are relaxing; no need for decision-making or tests of hand-eye coordination. They also tend to be less expensive. Bettors interested in mindless casino entertainment are no different from people who unwind after their 9-to-5 job with a gossip magazine or an hour of a trashy TV programme. Also, it’s easy to understand the appeal of playing a poker machine that looks and acts like one your great-great-grandfather may have fed pennies into.