Gaming Slots and electronic gaming

Pyramids of gold

Written by The Tiger

This article first appeared in the May/Jun 2015 issue of WGM.

Slots have come a long way over the years. Far from the original Liberty Bell slot invented in San Francisco way back in 1895, the slots of today feature stunning graphics, surround sound and even specially designed chairs that vibrate when players win a feature.

In between we’ve seen hundreds of different slots hit casino floors around the world with varying degrees of success but only a tiny handful can lay claim to having made a significant and lasting impact on the industry. Perhaps the most memorable of all was a machine first released by Aristocrat in 1997 called “Golden Pyramids”. Boasting an Egyptian theme, players quickly fell in love with the game’s unique feature whereby 15 free games were awarded whenever they spun three or more pyramids.

The success of “Golden Pyramids” saw free spin features become a crucial part of most new slot games that followed and laid the foundations for other notable slots such as “5 Dragons”, so it should come as no surprise that “Golden Pyramids” was the subject of one of WGM’s very first electronic gaming stories back in our Nov/Dec 2010 issue.

Enjoy – and as always you can find all our past issues and articles on our website,



The Tiger checks out a slot machine classic from the 90s, Golden Pyramids. Why did this game strike a chord with so many players?

In 1997 Aristocrat released what is considered by many as one of the most significant slot machines in history. Golden Pyramids quickly captured the attention of slot players all over the world and changed the face of slot machines forever.

Prior to the 1990s the most influential icon in slot machines was the ‘Lucky 7’ and the ‘two cherry symbol’ from the classic old fruit machines. These were back in the day where machines had actual spinning reels instead of computer-generated symbols. Mechanical style machines still exist today (with a few modern technology adjustments) but they continue to be replaced by more elaborate games with bells and whistles that slot players 20 years ago would never have dreamed possible.

Compared to what is being created by leading slots companies these days Golden Pyramids is a dinosaur but if you look closely you will notice it has many of the features that have revolutionized the industry. This classic slot actually followed a slot called ‘Dolphin Treasure’ which was released in 1996. The game-play of Dolphin Treasure and Golden Pyramids is exactly the same. The difference is that the Egyptian-themed graphics were far more popular than the ocean-themed graphics.

Symbols and feel do matter in this industry and for some reason Golden Pyramids captured the average slot player’s attention. Aristocrat also introduced another slot in 1997 called ‘The Queen of the Nile’ which was exactly the same as Golden Pyramids but simply had a different name. It was now a two-pronged attack, and the world of slots would never be the same again.

The aim of the game was to get three golden pyramid symbols that would trigger 15 free games. This would become known as ‘the feature’ and would go on to become standard on most slot machines. Not only could you win 15 free games, you would also get another 15 free games if you got three pyramids during your free spins. Golden Pyramids may not have been the first to offer free games but it created an expectation in players that they would find this feature in other slot machines. Sometimes you could play seemingly unlimited free games because you kept hitting the ‘feature’. During this feature all pays were tripled so if you landed a big win during your free spins you were looking at a seriously big pay day.

The Cleopatra symbol was a wild card that also increased the amount of the win. The dark haired beauty was a welcome sign and gave another image for the player to focus on outside of the magical pyramids. The standard machine had up to nine lines and you could bet up to 10 credits per line meaning that 90 credits was the maximum bet per spin. This was standard for the time but the lines and the credits have increased over the years. You could also gamble your winnings by betting red or black on any payout or even choosing a suit which would see your win multiplied by four if you were lucky enough to pick correctly.

This basic concept went on to be used by Aristocrat for many years as the backbone of their slot design. Why change something that so many people liked? A twist here and a turn there and you had a totally different game that still delivered players the same features they had come to love. Many more of the attractive Egyptian-themed slots would be created by Aristocrat and copied by other manufactures worldwide.

As with many things in business it is interesting that for inexplicable reasons some things just work better than others, in this case the evocative symbols of ancient Egypt. Just like the people who play the slots, the manufacturers are looking for that ‘jackpot’. Aristocrat, who had been in the game for decades, most definitely hit the jackpot with this little beauty.

Golden Pyramids is a timeless classic and is still a great machine to play. Ten years ago you would find this machine in the high traffic areas of major casinos and slot clubs. If you look hard enough you might still find a Golden Pyramids machine thrilling avid slot players. If you do, throw in a few coins and enjoy this classic game.