Review by Retro

"A memorable ticket wielder that has a lot of luck involved"

For many years now, I've enjoyed taking vacations to Panama City Beach as a way to escape the harsh reality of everyday life. One of my favorite things in the world to do is to take a cherished trip to the arcades. Of course, when I was a kid, my main priority (when going to an arcade) other than to show off, was to earn tickets, save them up, and finally collect a prize. There was always one particular arcade that I always liked going to that had tons of arcade games and even more redemption (ticket-wielding) games. One of the games I always spent some time on when I was in the mood to stock up on some major tickets was Wheel 'em In.

As soon as your eyes come in contact with Wheel 'em In for the first time, you'll know by its design (an old man wearing a top hat, tuxedo, and an eyepiece, who is holding up a bunch of tickets) that it's a game where you can get a lot of tickets. The machine itself is shaped sort of like a pinball machine. Upon walking up to the red machine called Wheel 'em In for the first time, you may also think that it looks like it'd be simple to win and get rich in tickets real quickly. If this is one of your thoughts, then there's something else you need to learn. Looks can be deceiving.

Wheel 'em In's conveyor belt like playing field is always moving forward at a constant speed from the front of the machine (where you stand at to play) to the back. The playing area looks like a flat roll of poster paper that has nine different colored ticket designs printed on it. Every lane, or 'ticket design', is about as wide as the width of a quarter (lying face up or down), and each lane is also about a quarter's width away from the next one.

The object of Wheel 'em In is to put a quarter or token inside the machine and to try and make the coin land either entirely on top of one of the lanes (jackpot!), or completely in-between two lanes. It tells you in the back of the machine how much the separate lanes are worth. Those numbers represent how many tickets will shoot out from the machine if you're lucky enough to have your rolling coin land right on top of any certain lane. You can rack up a maximum of 120 tickets in just one roll of the coin. Other lanes hold lower, but still satisfying numbers, such as 75.

Before you put your quarter or token into the slot, you'll notice that you can move that slot to the left and right. Look at the very bottom of the playing field and you can also see the place where your coin will begin its dizzying journey once you let go of it. All that will happen once you do insert your money is that the coin will roll for a bit and then fall into place as the conveyor belt (that's what I call it :-Þ) takes it away from you. There's really no way to tell exactly how far your scrap of money will roll once it is released. It's against the arcade's set of rules to purposefully shake any machine, so doing that as a strategy is a no-no. Therefore, there's probably more luck involved in your winning the treasured paper (tickets) in this game, than there is skill.

The way you can win the most tickets is to make your quarter or token land entirely on top of one of the lanes. If you land on one of them, but part of your dough is hanging off the edge, onto the white part of the field, you will only get one ticket. Yes, even if you lose, you will always get at least one ticket. That's the game's way of telling you ''nice try''. Finally, you can win a good number of tickets if your coin lands between two of the ticket designs. In other words, if your coin lands on the white space between two of the lanes with the edge of your coin touching two separate lanes, you will be a winner (of about 20 tickets).

Another thing that's noteworthy about Wheel 'em In is its sound. It makes great sounds every time you put a coin into the slot, and then according to what happens, the speaker will say something such as ''so close'', ''whoops'', or something else. If you receive more than one ticket, the machine will become pretty loud in its enthusiasm over your win, which might make you the center of attention to local game players for a few seconds. It might also succeed in making you feel like you're at the top of the world for the time being. There are some other nice sounds such as the cash register sound it makes every time a ticket comes out of the machine, and while nobody's playing the game it'll say ''Wheel 'em In'' in a catchy sort of way, or play some decent music.

Wheel 'em In is an easy game for all ages to play, but as I said, it's not that easy to win at. Depending on your aim, and even more on luck, you could drop about ten quarters into the machine without even winning once, or you could wheel in 120 tickets three times in a row like the skillful high roller that you are. Either way, it never ceases to be a memorable and even a somewhat 'fun' redemption game.

If you're ever at an arcade and you're searching for a fun and challenging game to play, and especially if you're looking to get closer to winning that boombox, clock, stuffed animal, or whatever, look and listen for Wheel 'em In.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/23/01, Updated 09/21/02


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