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High Roller Casino
~ 2001 ~
Stern Pinball, Inc.

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hrcmachine

My High Roller Casino, only four days out of the box. This is first and (so far) only pinball game I've bought brand new. I purchased it from Mountain Coin in Phoenix on March 7, 2001. It has been a very dependable and enjoyable machine, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another new Stern pin, if I'm ever in a position to again. Of all my games, this will probably be the last to go since it remaines one of my favorites and is definitely Diane's favorite.


Introduction:

High Roller Casino was introduced by Stern Pinball, Inc. early in 2001. It was the third offering by the company since morphing from Data East/Sega, and I believe the first game that was conceived, produced, and released independent of influence from Sega. The theme is obviously Vegas-style gambling theme, with glamour, rich colors, showgirls, and plenty of games of skill and luck!
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Six games to play
The game has the standard flipper setup at the bottom of the playfiled, and the familiar outlane setup, but the playfield is littered with all sorts of unique toys and devices. Many of the most popular Las Vegas games are represented here: Blackjack, Slots, Roulette, Craps, Poker, and Hi-Lo !
To quote Jake Hamilton: "You can't lose!"

Jump to areas of interest here (or read straight through):

The Games:
- Slots
- Roulette
- Poker
- Craps
- Hi-Lo
- Blackjack
Features:
- Skill Shot
- Roll-N-Win
- Cheat Games
- The ATM
- Chips and Ramps
- Pop Bumpers
- Spinner and Combos
- Bonus
Multiball Modes:
- Slot Machine Multiball
- Casino Frenzy
- Break The Bank

Pictures and Descriptions of the Machine

Playfield of High Roller Casino
The game is fast-paced but fairly forgiving. There are some easy shots but also some challenging ones to balance it out. There are several goals to the game (other than getting high score, that is). You want to win all the games of skill and luck in order to achieve Casino Frenzy. You want to collect 100 chips in order to play Break the Bank. You want to lock three balls in order to play Slot Machine Multiball. Spinning the spinner drives up your bonus multiplier, and the ramp shots can lead to bonuses like extra Cheat Games and light the Extra Ball.

Ball times on this machine can be long, and games can sometimes last awhile. It is 'nudging friendly', which means with a bit of shaking the ball can be persuaded to not drain down the outlanes on the sides. I was finding myself doing a bit too much of this, so I actually set the tilt more sensitive! There is also a center post between the flippers which prevents the ball from draining directly between the flippers.

There are four main shots on the playfield: Main ramp, Slot Machine, Left Orbit, and Right Orbit. The Main Ramp shot can have three different outcomes: straight through to the left return lane, diverted to the Roulette Wheel to play Roulette, or sent temporarily to the lock post in order to play Roll-N-Win.

Details of these features and shots are below...

Game: Slots
The slot machine is one of the largest and most obvious piece of hardware on the playfield. I believe this is the first use of the Mini-DMD (dot matrix display) on a pinball machine. Stern also used it on their later release Monopoly.

The Slot Machine shot is not a very difficult one to make, and is makeable from either flipper, but much more easily from the right. The Slot Machine ramp has three different positions: full up, which spins the slot reels; halfway up, which allows you to 'bash' the Slots, which is necessary for raising the ramp; or down, for when Ball Lock is available. This is the only way to lock a ball. During multiball modes, the Slot Machine behaves differently, sometimes allowing straight-through shots, and sometimes just allowing 'bashes'.

The Slot Machine is flanked by the two 'Hit Me' targets associated with the Blackjack game, These targets get pounded pretty heavily by slightly mis-aimed slot machine shots.

Shots also frequently fly off the ramp mid-way up, and smack the edge of the machine. I'm not sure what kind of plastic the Slot Machine cover is made of, but it's pretty tough stuff. I have thousands of plays on my machine so far, and there's not a mark on the Slot Machine. One of the few modifications I made was to put red bulb caps on the bare lamp bulbs inside the Slot Machine. The bare bulbs were too glaring, and the red glow looks much cooler!
The Slot Machine

The Roulette Wheel Game: Roulette
The Roulette Wheel is used for two main purposes: the initial skill shot and outcome; and for (of course) playing the roulette game. The skill shot is very difficult to control, and I have just shot the ball and hoped for the best. There is an award for every plunger shot, so the term 'skill shot' is kind of a misnomer.

The Wheel turns by a rather noisy motor, and when the ball is shot into the wheel, it settles into one of the black, red or green slots, and it evenually falls through to the playfield where the color is detected. Proper color detection had been a problem up till the latest release of the software, which was very frustrating.

The Roulette Wheel is closely tied with the pop-bumpers just below the wheel... The more times the pops are hit, the more colors are 'bet' by the player, making the odds of winning higher. Once at least one color is bet, the diverter on the main ramp sends all ramp shots to the Roulette Wheel.

Game: Poker
Your Poker hands are drawn from a set of drop targets and standup targets behind the drops. The card selections are cleverly selected so that you can achieve anything from one pair through a straight flush. While it is possible to become skilled at hitting specific targets, there is so much incidental bouncing around and hitting of targets that it's hard to intentionally get a good hand. Once five cards have been drawn, you have qualified to play the game by shooting the right orbit. You can draw as many different hands as you like, and the best hand of all that you've drawn is what counts against the house. Once five cards have been drawn, the drop targets reset, and you start all over drawing more cards.

With software version 3.0, you are finally able to review your current hand. This can be very useful in determining if you want to shoot for that right orbit if you have the ball trapped on the left flipper.

This is one of the hardest games to win, since the house plays very tough with a lot of full houses and four-of-a-kinds. Cheat games come in very handy with Poker...
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hrc_midleftpf Game: Craps
Yes, this is Craps. One single little target located in the middle of the left side of the playfield. Stern needed to put a flasher directly above it, evidently to draw some attention to it. (!)

It is deceptively hard to hit directly with a flipper shot; so most Craps rolls are made by incidental target hits. Craps is often the last game of the six to be won, but ironically is the only one which you do not need to 'qualify' for to play! Cheat Games and the Roll-N-Win 'Casino Game' selection often come in handy for lighting this game..

Game: Hi-Lo
The Hi-Lo game is 'qualified' for by spotting the four letters H-I-L-O in the outlanes and return lanes. The flippers activate lane-change, so it's not difficult to qualify for, especially since the straight-through ramp shot feeds the left return lane and the ball lock feeds the right. Hi-Lo is then played by shooting the right orbit (along with Poker), where the ball is stopped by a magnet diverter and trapped behind a post while the game is played on the DMD. You have to guess at least the first card, but the more you draw (and guess correctly) the more points and chips you win. Of the two games, Hi-Lo is always played before Poker if they are both active.

This is typically one of the first games won, and it's not unusual to play it several times per game.
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hrc_blackjack Game: Blackjack
The Blackjack game is qualified by drawing at least two cards by hitting the standup targets that flank the ramp of the slot machine. Don't let the size or position of the targets fool you... You will hit them very often while trying for the slot machine, the ramp, or with just incidental bouncing. In fact, the right target is already showing wear from being nicked by ramp shots. Once two cards are drawn, the left orbit is shot to play against the house. The house isn't particularly lucky in this game, but you can also play Blackjack with a total less than 10 (quite annoying, actually).

If you can draw 5 cards without busting, you win automatically. On totals of 10 or 11, the 'Double Down' feature is active, giving you one more card. The winnings (or losses) are doubled, of course.

Next Section: Features