Founded in 1953 in Sydney, Australia, Aristocrat has been around since a virtual slots game was just science fiction. Back then, their 'Clubmaster' slot machine was truly ahead of its time, offering new features such as a 'free-play lock'. The company followed this up with the one of the world's first-ever poker machines, known as 'pokies' in Australia, and five-reel slots games as they expanded globally in the 60s and 70s.
However, it was the advent of the Aristocrat 'Virtual Reel' in the 1980s which was the real game-changer, allowing machines to incorporate new symbols and features. It propelled US slots revenue past that of table games for the first time, according to the company website, and helped to usher in a new dawn in the gaming industry.
Aristocrat's expansion continued during the 90s, helped by its successful MK Gaming System and becoming publicly listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). They started to operate in Las Vegas, the slots capital of the world in 2000, as well as in Asia's equivalent to Nevada, Macau.
Since then, the company has embraced the digital age, winning awards for online slots such as Buffalo and Five Dragons thanks to its Video Games Technologies (VGT) software. It's also made several smart acquisitions, including Plarium Global and Big Fish, mobile gaming experts that have helped smooth the transition into the world of mobile-friendly casinos today.
Aristocrat's long history in slots games means there are two common aspects to look out for: a wealth of expertise that shines through in some excellent gameplay, and a traditional look that may appeal to some players, but look old-fashioned to others.
The award-winning Buffalo is a great example of the above. A vintage game with a Wild West theme, it offers a great bonus round where you can land lots of free spins. To access this, you need to get three or more gold symbols which could result in 20 spins. This feature, and over 1,000 ways to win, make up for basic graphics and tinny background noise of what sounds like other people playing slots – a common feature in Aristocrat games.
Lucky 88 is another slot with a similar graphic design, but a different theme with its ancient China setting. You'll see traditional Chinese symbols as you spin the reels, but it's the lamps you need to look out for: three or more of these triggers the Free Games feature. Also, the game's Wild symbol – a Chinese wise man – can multiply your wins up to 88 times.
Many Aristocrat slots come with a gamble option where you can double your win if you guess the correct card color of red or black. While this is a good way to increase volatility as part of a slots strategy, it's also very easy to lose a big win by just clicking the 'gamble' button. Recognizing when to stop is an important aspect of safe gambling, and something to bear in mind when using this feature.
You can play the above Aristocrat games and more for free on this page, a good idea if you'd like to find out what the games are like without spending money!