Welcome to the future of slot machines. Now watch out for flying coins.
The Sphinx 4D combines the intense sensations of virtual reality — no geeky glasses required — with sci-fi-worthy gesture recognition that allows you to change what’s happening on the screen, just by moving your hands.
The machine, from gaming giant IGT, is the first to use so-called “mid-air haptic technology,” which puts players at the center of an engaging, futuristic experience.
“Cutting-edge technology” is what Sycuan general manager John Dinius called it.
“Like Bruce Wayne’s computer in some of the new Batman movies,” is how Pechanga vice president of slot operations Alex Rodriguez described it.
I called it a trip.
I recently got a personalized tutorial in how to play the Sphinx 4D at Sycuan from slot attendant Alexandria Santana, who patiently guided me through this hyper-dynamic, if a little complicated, machine.
Getting a tutorial on how to play the Sphinx 4D from Alexandria Santana at Sycuan Casino. Think of it as virtual reality gambling without the geeky glasses. (Alejandro Tamayo / The San Diego Union Tribune)
Here are the key takeaways:
- The penny slot machine has a minimum bet of 80 cents and offers a three-level progressive jackpot, with seven interactive bonuses.
- You sit in a black, adjustable space ship-sized chair that rumbles and has speakers, which makes for a true, multi-sensory adventure.
- As a devotee of old-style, flat-screen video poker machines, I was immediately drawn to the lively and ultra-realistic looking graphics.
- How realistic? When I hit a bonus and coins started spilling out onto the screen, they seemed to be coming right at me — and I ducked!
- Just by moving my hands, I was controlling the screen. By drawing certain shapes in the air, like hearts or a crown, it launches different graphics (changing the screen from night to day, for example) or launches a bonus round.
- Santana clued me in that it would easier to make the infinity symbol, which unleashes a magic butterfly you want catch, if I just made a gesture that looked like an 8.
- I was reminded how bad I was at drawing. My “crown” took several attempts to nail.
- To put the cosmetic changes to the screen in some context, they’re like Snapchat filters.
- As much as I wanted the faux lions to roar — a good thing, winning-wise — I was startled every time they did (a bad thing for my image).
- There are 15 pages worth of instructions and payout details to swipe through. I got overwhelmed and ignored them and still won $40. Which I gave back to Sycuan. That’s my virtual reality.