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‘Big Bang Theory’ slot machines are no ‘Bazinga!’

Where else would developers of a slot machine based on a television series centered around the escapades of a group of nerdy, science fiction-loving CalTech scientists unveil the game?

At the Comic-Con International: San Diego, of course, which is often mentioned as a holy shrine by the central characters of CBS's "The Big Bang Theory."

Game designers and developers from Aristocrat Technologies' Secret Sauce Studios, who spent two years developing the slot machine, accompanied one of the "Big Bang" games to Comic-Con this summer. It was displayed in the Warner Bros. Studio's booth on the showroom floor in during the weeklong event in July.

Aristocrat shipped the game from Las Vegas to Burbank, Calif., a few weeks earlier so the stars of the television series could check out the slot machine, which features their images and more than 100 video clips from the first three seasons of the highly watched television series as part of the game's bonus rounds.

"The producers of the show decided to take the game down to Comic-Con," said Secret Sauce Studio Vice President Kurt Larsen. "Needless to say, it was a popular attraction."

Larsen sent a couple of the game's designers to Comic-Con to help explain the slot machine to fans of the show. As in Las Vegas, only those 21 or older could try out the slot machine.

A few weeks after Comic-Con, "The Big Bang Theory" slot machine began showing up on casino floors. The game, which is designed for three different-sized slot machine cabinets, is currently in almost 100 casinos, primarily in Nevada. The game has also landed in south and Midwest regional casinos, California Indian casinos and Atlantic City.

"It's performed better than we anticipated, which is a great sign this early," Larsen said.

Aristocrat displayed a prototype of the slot machine in its booth last year at the Global Gaming Expo. But the game was hidden in the back along with other titles still in the development stages. At the this month's G2E at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, "The Big Bang Theory" will be front and center.

But sorry, fans, the actors who portray Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, Raj and Penny will not be in attendance.

"What we had in the booth last year was pretty rudimentary, basically put together with spit and Scotch tape," Larsen said. "We'll have the actual game this year."

The game joins a line-up of licensed brands based on television series that Australia-based Aristocrat has introduced in the past few years to U.S. casinos, including "The Walking Dead," and "Sons of Anarchy."

"The Big Bang Theory" wasn't easy to produce. Secret Source spent a year acquiring the license from the studio, which happened to be the same time the series' primary stars were negotiating new five-year contracts.

Game designers then spent a year creating the slot machine. Larsen credited the team — lead game designer Gary Penacho, lead artists Pat Finch and Matt Smith, and lead engineer Santiago Allen — who were also fans of the show.

The television series is entering its ninth season but the game focused on the first three years and the five primary characters.

"It's really about the guys and Penny," Larsen said.

The bonus rounds focus on the characters and certain aspects of their story lines — "Large Leonard Hofstadter Collision Feature," "Dr. Sheldon Cooper Roommate Agreement Feature," "Penny Friendship Paradigm Feature," "Howard Wolowitz Mystic Warlords Of Ka'a Feature," and "Raj Koothrappali Scavenger Vortex Feature."

Emmy Award winning actor Jim Parsons, who portrays Dr. Sheldon Cooper, recorded specially written voice overs that are featured on the slot machine, including his catch phrase, "Bazinga!" that accompanies his pranks.

Larsen said the "Big Bang Theory" game appeals to the "nerd element" associated with the show.

"We tried to home in on that with the bonus features," Larsen said. "We want players to feel as if they are watching an episode of the show."

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Find @howardstutz on Twitter.

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