“A boy’s best friend is his mother,” are words to live and die by. However, they mean something completely different when uttered by the deranged psychopath, Norman Bates in Psycho Slots from NextGen Gaming.
- Classic Horror Film
- Good Graphics
- Disappointing Game Features
Review of Psycho Slots
As a child I was never a huge fan of the movie Psycho because my friends and I made the mistake of sneaking into the local theater to watch it and I was completely scared to death. There was something about the character of Norman Bates that struck absolute terror into my impressionable, young mind. Looking back, we probably saw that movie at way too young of an age.
Then with the explosion of home cinema in the 1980s thanks to VHS players, (and the short lived BETA format), of course my children picked up Psycho at the local rental place one day. Most of my kids were slightly older than I was when I first saw it so I thought that the whole family could safely watch it. Not to mention that television was so violent in the ’80s I figured that it couldn’t possibly be any worse.
Re-watching it in our family room with the children laughing at how corny it was to them I realized that the film simply caught me at the perfect moment to terrify me. I now appreciated the story and Alfred Hitchcock’s amazing direction and ability to build suspense: it’s a classic movie that any fan of cinema should watch. Unfortunately, the gambling game that bears its name is nowhere near the same caliber.
I relayed the above history so you would know that I really did want to like Psycho Slots and be able to sing its praises, however, it was very disappointing. This review isn’t tainted by my childhood fright of the original film, it’s tainted by the boring game itself.
This machine should obviously be quite dark in tone and mood, and the creepy graphics throughout help to accomplish this and raise the level of terror. The screenshots below give you a taste of exactly what to expect with this knife-slashing, thunder-cracking title.
There is always something unsettling about a grown man arguing with his mother – especially if his mother is dead. However, this is an everyday occurrence for motel manager, Norman Bates.
After Marion Crane steals $40,000 from her employer and tries to escape to another state to elope with her lame boyfriend, she is forced to pull over for the night at the Bates Motel due to a thunderstorm. After checking in she has dinner with Norman and her life ends tragically in her motel room shower a short time later.
Marion’s sister Lila arrives at the motel with Detective Arbogast coming on the scene shortly after. Both are looking for Marion and are determined to find out exactly what’s going on. Horrific twists and turns befall them both as Norman looks on innocently from afar…and you’ll just have to watch the movie for yourself to find out the rest.
Now in regards to this release, it gets extremely low marks for storyline because there simply isn’t one. It relies solely on imagery from the movie to set the tone but it doesn’t give players any of the original movie plot to build the suspense. This is a downright shame because there is so much content that could have been drawn upon.
The only two elements that add to any semblance of a story is the knife-slashing Wilds and the blood running down the drain at the end of the free spins mode. It’s baffling that they didn’t incorporate scenes such as the ice machine or Norman’s mother into the action. With a little more effort NextGen could have built a truly suspenseful title that would have had players on the edge of their seats.
Let’s get the most obvious question out of the way: where in the heck is the Norman Bates symbol? Did Anthony Perkins’ family not want him to be immortalized in a gambling game? Was it even discussed with them?
The absence of Norman doesn’t make any sense whatsoever and it pretty much ruins everything. In order to have a story about a psycho, we have to have an actual psycho featured somewhere! This omission is absolutely indefensible so let’s just move on and look at what we did get.
- J (Jack)
- Q (Queen)
- K with a Crow (King)
- A with an Owl (Ace)
- Room Key #1
- Envelope with Cash
- Eye Looking Through Keyhole
- Detective Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam)
- Marion Crane (Janet Leigh)
- Knife Slashing (Wild)
- Bates House (Scatter)
Marion Crane awards the most for Five of a Kind with 1,000 coins, followed by Detective Arbogast with 250, and the Eye Looking Through a Keyhole and Envelope of Cash each giving out 200 coins.
Also, you’ll want to give extra attention to any Wilds that are involved in payline wins because they can randomly multiply amounts by anywhere from 2x to 20x.
Sadly this release comes up short on many features so it’s predictable that there’s not a Psycho Slots jackpot at this creepy hotel. As you’ll read below, this is the least of this title’s problems, though.
Of course this game is going to frighten many players due to its content but the truly shocking thing about it is the absence of a proper bonus round. This is an omission of epic proportions.
At least there is a Gamble Feature in Psycho that allows you to wager your wins after a spin. You can choose to wager on red or black to receive a 2 to 1 payout, or you can choose to pick a specific suit to potentially get a 4 to 1 return.
Normally you should be scared as heck at the sight of the ominous Bates House on the hill, however, since it’s the Scatter you’ll want to see it again and again. Three of them gets you 10 free spins, 4 gets you 15, and 5 Bates House symbols will award you with a whopping 20 extra turns.
The freeroll mode in Psycho gets a little crazier than most due to the addition of more Wilds to the board for the duration of the round. This leads to bigger balances and is definitely one of the only highlights.
Although the overall graphics are basically on par with other movie-themed releases over the last few years, it does have one of the best visuals to come along in a while. When you get a big win, hundred dollar bills shoot from the bottom of the screen and explode all over the reels. My son said that this reminds him of when people in a discotheque “make it rain” by throwing bills up into the air but I really don’t understand any of what he’s saying. People throw money into the air? Whatever!
Also, when in regular mode the Wilds are placed on the board by a slashing knife in front of a shower curtain. It’s quite the violent imagery and it really does come out of nowhere and successfully gives you a fright. Those who are interested in being scared like that will be happy to know that the visual runs perfectly and the slash of the knife is basically of movie quality. And yes – that silhouette you see is of Norman Bates in a wig and dress…finally a cool reference to the original film!
Audio & Soundtrack
The soundtrack in regular mode is quite intense and it sounds pretty much like you would expect it to. It has a wind blowing sound effect throughout and is sometimes accentuated by a scary score performed by string and percussion instruments, as well as crashes of thunder.
The audio of wins being added to your balance sounds like a fire alarm so you’ll want to turn down the volume if you don’t want to get blasted out of your chair. Actually, most wins involving any symbol combination come with a whole array of sound effects that are offensive to the ear. iSoftBet was trying to be frightening but it all turned out annoying – try to find the mute button as soon as possible.
This one is not for the faint of heart or anyone who is easily scared because both the actual content of Psycho Slots and its lack of special features are truly frightening. Yes the visuals and soundtrack help to make it somewhat creepy but the violent imagery alone does not create a storyline or build any kind of suspense. When this is added to the shocking omissions of a bonus round, jackpot, and action in general, it makes you wonder why you’re playing the game in the first place.
For the small number of people who are simply super fans of the movie searching for a release that bears the “Psycho” name, you will probably be happy for at least a little while. For the rest of the casual fans who were hoping for a scary machine that pushed the boundaries of comfort and provided a good gambling experience, you will definitely need to look elsewhere.
“We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?” Well now that you mention it Norman, yes I have. Most recently was when I playing this title for the first time. So if you feel like practicing that taxidermy hobby of yours, feel free to stuff this game and put it on a shelf. Hard pass!
Random Video of Psycho
Now here is a very cool video of the old Arsenio Hall Show from 1989 with an interview of Anthony Perkins. Is it just me or is there a lot of Norman Bates in the real Anthony Perkins? I can’t separate the two! And what’s up with that outfit?! Finally something really scary!