It’s impressive the rate Blueprint churns out content. What’s more impressive is I can’t think of the last bad game they released. Oh, wait, I can. Valletta was just plain boring. However, this week we review the new Rick & Morty Megaways, which I’ve actually been playing quite a bit of on stream (Ahem, come watch), and see if its any good.
UnPhiltered Slot Review: Wild Energy by Booming Games
For the first time on this series, we delve into a new slot by a non-top-5 provider. Booming Games have been live on our sites for many years, but I think they will even admit the quality of older releases is not… great. Some games are solid enough, but there was a lot of filler and not enough killer (I need to listen to Sum41 for a bit now). So, is this game as similar to Danger High Voltage as I feel by the name and look, or do we have a new game on our hands?
Good news first, its original (Like a girl from high school who wears something one day that no-one has seen before. We had a girl called Katie who did this, damn she was cool). I don’t remember a game in any way similar to this from any provider. Its confusing, games without Freespin features usually are with their random respins and special symbols, but its not so confusing that you can’t play it. It has some good potential, with 5,000x max win.
Negatives… there are a few. I hate the overlay on the games, its spin button is annoyingly large, and the paytable and information could be clearer. My main issue is the graphics. It’s not a pretty game, not even close, but there is a blandness to the game that you don’t feel with DHV or similarly styled games. The card symbols feel like they are designed by the same company who made the graphics for the Arnie movie “The Running Man”.
Bonus Round – There isn’t one! But it does have features all over the place. I found 4 features possible to be trigged with a reel hit or at random. I’m not a fan of a game with just random features, it doesn’t feel as “true” as a game where scatters can land, but that’s personal so I can’t judge too harshly for that. You can land a respin symbol on reels 2 and 5 which triggers a wild respin event. The reels expand to 7×4 (nice!) and reels 1 4 and 7 locks as full wilds and a respin occurs. You can land extra respin symbols on the last reel and keep it going, to amass some good hits. In the base game, the middle 4 reels can randomly turn wild, or wild with a 2x multiplier. No respins though from this just a base game hit. A Bursting wild can land at random on reels 3 or 4 and spread (or burst) on to the 1 or 2 adjacent reels to it. And finally, random wilds can rain down on you anywhere on the reels at any time. Its got some features that’s for sure, but I think a bonus round in this game similar to tombstone’s bounty spins would have turned this game into a classic.
Score – Well the game is fun. That‘s important. You can win a lot and it does like to throw in the features so the game isn’t boring. The graphics and design are average, but the game has good potential. At school, I was told I had the most potential in my class and I ended up writing this, so potential isn’t everything. I was also told to “pay attention” and “Katie is not for touching” but rebels will be rebels. The game is decent, playing it is fun, it’s not a classic as it’s missing a big bonus round and some graphics, but it’s not a game you can just cast aside. It’s better than what some premium content providers are putting out. With a good bonus and graphics this could be a 10/10 game, it needs more thought and I hope a followup draws from this, but its a solid release.
UnPhiltered Slot Review: Wild Cauldron by Quickspin
I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t looking forward to this game. Quickspin started, as we know, by making low volatility slots apparently for children, based on fairy tales and random folklore, and progressed to making games for teenagers about slightly more adult folklore. When a twilight game comes out I will know exactly who made it. However recently they turned off to one side, a more volatile side, like an uncle that reads you stories then all of a sudden takes you to a strip club and gives you 10 euros and says “go nuts”. Ahhh filthy uncle Dave. Recently Quickspin has gone down the model of mixing in some good new releases with some clones, similar to everyone else, but this one struck me as something that could be an interesting game. I had faith, similar to my religious beliefs, so I had faith in that I knew nothing and was going to be disappointed.
Wild Cauldon looks like a mix between a fairy tale and one of many dragon based games. It’s not a horrible looking game, Quickspin is always colourful and sounds good, but its nothing to write home about. The interest in this game comes from the game grid. It starts out as a 6×3 grid, with dropping down symbols forming a win, and then a new drop-down occurs but the reels expand by 1 vertically, going to 4×6, all the way to 8×6 if you are lucky enough to get a few mins. Spoiler – you usually are. This game expands more than Uncle Dave on our aforementioned trips.
The main difference between this game and the other similar expanding grid games is the win-mechanic. On Elk games the winning symbols are removed, on BTG its similar, this is the first game (That I can think of at least), where the winning symbols stick around and then the reels expand. You can technically get some insane wins int he base game on this slot just from filling 20% of the screen with the same symbols. On top of that, wilds increase the multiplier for the spin. Each wild adds a x1 tot he overall multiplier, so the wins can go up fast. I honestly really love the base game of this slot. This twist to expanding reels is great, and I have played this game a few times since it came out and at no point was I bored. Which is impressive.
The bonus is a standard “bonanza” style trigger. 4 scatters is 8 spins, with 2 more spins per extra scatter. I believe the maximum is 6 scatters for 12 spins. Doesn’t sound like a lot? Yeah, that’s what she said. But then you see what the bonus does and it kind of makes up for it. Each wild again adds to the multiplier but it’s sticky. So by the last spin, you could be on a large payout for a smaller win. 2 scatter symbols is a retrigger in the bonus, so it’s not too hard to activate. Most importantly, the reels expand and stay expanded. None of this building from 4×6 every spin, if you get it to 8×6 it stays there for the rest of the bonus. What’s more it doesn’t seem to Deadspin you to death with 3 spins left once you have a good set up. I’ve had 10 bonuses, all paid over 50x, with 2 paying over 500x. One was a red dragon away from about 5,000x. Being welsh I felt this was unfair, dragons are our creatures.
Score – Well, I loved this slot. It’s original enough to be fun, but also follows the right amount of “what makes grid/expanding reel games work” to be fun. Thematically it’s mediocre, but the gameplay and volatility/variance makes up for it enough to be enjoyable and thrilling on most spins. It’s not like me to love a game by Quickspin, I find them either poor or decent quality, but this takes the journey they are on to a whole new level. I really hope this game does well for them as the idea and fun of playing it makes it worth it. It would be a perfect score if the theming was a bit better, graphics on the symbols could be more “advanced”, and it didn’t remind me of my uncle (Sit on my lap Tuesdays still haunt me), but it is a very solid release and I still play it after reviewing it.
UnPhiltered Slot Review: Punk Rocker by No Limit City
No Limit City (NLC) has really come a long way in the last 18 months. From games like the beautifully entitled “Kitchen Drama: Barbeque Frenzy,” the world has changed for them, and only for the better. Most of their recent releases have gone down very well, Tombstone with some huge volatility and clever bonus dynamics, Thor and his magical Hammer was fun, then the conception of Xways with Pirates vs Pixies and their more recent things. I am a fan of their games and find them one of the most inventive and innovative providers on the market (This is not a paid-for advertisement!)
Their newest release, “Punk Rocker”, is a homage to 1970’s London, using theming and symbolism to create a slot that should do well in the UK market. It’s well themed, but it’s not a pretty game. The banner at the top advertising “243 win ways” is just a green stripe, which looks ugly as hell and simple afterthoughts to the game. That being said the animations and sounds are good. The pop up when you get 2 wild reels missing a win saying “Bollocks” is hugely entertaining and actually made me laugh out loud. Nice work.
In the base game, this slot seems pretty volatile. You have a mix of things going on, possibly too much for a casual player to enjoy it, but for serious slot nerds, this is a fun game to play. Its a 5 reel base game, with a 6th reel unlocking for a 2 bonus symbol trigger for one spin to offer bigger wins, a “Riot respin”. This is a good way of rewarding a bonus tease that missed. On top of this, there is Xways dynamic, adding a specific number of random symbols to a reel, creating the opportunity for some immense ways and hits. With up to 15,000x on offer in the base game alone, it’s impressive to get that level of volatility on a standard 243-way slot. Even more “rad” is the expanding wilds which fill the reel vertically from its landing position. So all in all you are gonna take a couple of hundred spins to figure this slot out.
Free spins are achieved with 3 or 4 bonus London underground scatter symbols landing. 3 symbols give you the “Anarchy” spins, but 4 gives you the “Civil War” spins. In Anarchy free spins the scatters you hit become wilds, floating around the screen randomly per spin, the extra 6th reel opens up, and an extra sliding bar above the reels gives enhancement features. Still, confused? Me too. They can multiply your wilds, add extra ways, more free spins, expand the reel set, add another wild, or miss and give you nothing extra and make you feel like a dick. For me usually the latter. The Anarchy free spins I’ve had were incredibly volatile and variant, with wins from 10x up to way over 500x. In the Civil War, you get the same setup, same 8 free spins, but the 4 floating wilds seem to really give the potential a boost. The one time I managed these spins I won a whopping 45x stake. Which was a shame from what you can see the potential is? You really need to be landing extra wilds and connecting with some Xways hits for this bonus to go insane on the big wins. The big win music though is pretty awesome.
Legal – RTP is 96.01%. The game does have 2 bonus buy options. Anarchy Free spins at 80x stake (96.54% RTP) and Civil War spins at 238x stake (96.44% RTP). Personally, I hate bonus buy options over 100x stake, it promotes irresponsible gambling. The base game is fun enough to not need a bonus buy option too so the UK market should be happy.
Score – The review is quite serious for once. As there is too much going on in this slot to spend half of it making Johnny Rotten jokes. Theming wise the game works well, musically also. The Xways on NLC games always adds a huge win possibility which is enjoyable, and the bonuses are quite unique. It’s another good original game from a company who specialises in just that. Quality-wise is it good enough? Early signs point to yes, but the theming could be a bit divisive in some markets or fans who avoid rock-themed games. The bonus buy for 238x is the biggest negative for me, and the game does seem weighted on the volatility towards very seldom monster wins (2,000x+) over slightly more frequent very large wins (1000x ish). I tried a few bonuses buys to see what happens on the max stake and have hit just one set that paid profit, and it came from the grid expansion to 6×6 reels, so hitting that seems vital., but that should just show the possibility of life-changing wins. Most of all the game is different and fun, and that alone makes it worth of future plays.
UnPhiltered Slot Review: Release the Kraken by Pragmatic Play
Pragmatic Play is an odd provider. They are the slot version of Heinz beans. 57 varieties, of mixed quality. They have something for everyone, 3 reels up to 6 reel, land-based copies, original ideas, crazy concepts, and now moving into the Blueprint style of slots which is aimed at the UK and similar regulated markets. This game is of the latter mould, but they have made a few changes to the Blueprint concept of slots, with some increased volatility, more reels, different style of bonus, and smoother graphics and content. What’s more, they currently are giving away 1.5million Euros in “daily drops and wins”, which is just an insane amount of money.
Diving down to the basics (Oh there will be some puns here), we have a fish-based game. Hardly groundbreaking stuff but the graphics are quite decent, the spins are smooth, as you come to expect from Pragmatic, and the slot just makes sense. It’s easy to work out how it works without reading the pay-table, and I like that from a game. The symbols seem to be based on Finding Nemo, the turtle and shark look identical, but the slot looks good. I oddly really like the bubbles that pop up on the side of the screen while you spin. Not sure why but its quite fascinating!
My main issue with Pragmatic games is their “win up to 180,000x” claims. I will dare them to openly share me a win on Peking Luck of anywhere up to that amount. You see crazy amounts on their game load screens, insane possible wins, but I have found nothing close to the max wins ever. It drives me insane to see these claims with no-one ever getting close to those amounts. Id love to wrap my tentacles around that size of a win but I can’t see how it’s ever possible.
Getting to the game, its medium volatility it seems. nothing dramatic. The up to 10,000x claim seems to be a full screen of jackpot symbols after collecting 10 wilds somehow in around 9 free spins. No idea how this is possible but let’s swim past that claim. The base game is simple, 5 reel 4 line slot, 20 ways up to 40 ways in the bonus. Two bonuses are available on this game, a simple underwater chest collector, which seems to average about 25x, and a free spins bonus. There are 3 random in-game features like any Blueprint game, giving 3 types of wilds which can boost that spin.
The free spins also have a bonus buy of 100x. As the volatility is medium on this game I don’t see the benefit of a bonus buy on this game. I tested 30 buys to see what the ranges were, and between 60x and 130x was the standard outcome. The max was just over 200x. The bonus involves between 7-10 free spins it seems, collecting wilds which roam around and multiply your win by how many wilds are on the screen. It’s a simple older concept, it looks nice, but it’s just a bit… plain.
Legal – The RTP of the game I played was 96.5%. Pragmatic does make different sizes of RTP (Which I hate) so make sure you are playing on the 96.5% version. Available on all licences.
Score – Its a copied game idea, but it is not a dry game. Its got some play-ability, this will appeal to more UK markets I believe, and ties in well with timing for their drops and wins promotion. It looks good, it plays well, but it’s not exactly… great. Its an average release and I cant see this being a game people bonus buy on either. It’s in the middle of trying to be many different things at once. It does OK, but it doesn’t nail any of them.
UnPhiltered Slot Review: Temple Stacks by Yggdrasil
Hold the phone. Someone is making their own version of Megaways? What crazy thing will the slots companies think of next? All kidding aside, we have had a plethora of Megaways slots recently (Does anyone realise how much BTG is making off this?!) and also some variants. Temple Stacks “Splitz” is the next contender. But does it nail the landing?
For once I don’t like the graphics on a Yggdrasil game. It’s unoriginal and bland. While the low paying symbols are fine, anything that isn’t AKQJ10 is a joy to see, the high paying symbols just look… crap. They are dull, overly simple, and the whole game looks very cheap. The music, on the other hand, is very good, so at least there is some familiar Yggdrasil quality to behold.
Things get more fun when we look at the new “Splitz” design they created. Getting around the Megaways trademark and patents must be hard, so credit where it is due for finding a way. A full stack of mystery symbol can land on any reel, and it will be split a random number of times up to 12. This by my maths makes 248,832 ways to win. Which for a 5 reel slot is pretty huge. In the base game, this does make for some volatile wins, in 1,000 spins I had 300x and 130x from a lower paying symbol being split more times than Kim Kardashian (That’s my one per review). 3, 4 or 5 bonus symbols offers a free spins bonus, with more symbols giving a better bonus choice, while 2 bonus symbols offer a free respin to see if you can land the third.
The bonus game is even more volatile. Its a choice bonus (which is fine, the problem of choice adds for a fun dynamic to a bonus), but the choice is extreme, to say the least. Choosing between 15 free spins with less splitting symbols and less possible ways (3 to 9 splits), and fewer amounts of splits if they land, all the way up to 3 free spins where they can all split 12 times but a minimum of 6 times. This game takes volatility and throws it down your throat, with a max win of up to 25,000x. This size is capped, which makes sense for a game like this, as with those ways it would be over 1million times stake for high symbols As the base games wins are minimal for medium-sized amounts, this is one of the more volatile recent releases by any provider.
This game benefits from having no bonus buy. While avoiding issues with regulations, it also adds some fun to the base game because you can see the way the game pays and plays without being torn to shoot for a huge win for a 100x stake for a change.
Legal Stuff – RTP is 96.10%. Max win capped at 25,000x. Offered on all licences.
Score – I did not expect to like this game. From when it opened and the graphics looked so dull, I wasn’t impressed. The bonus feature is good, possibly a bit too volatile on the offer of just 3 free spins, but you don’t “have to” click that one, so I don’t mind there being such a duck-in-an-tsunami crazy option (Poor ducks). The score here comes down to the question “Does the game-play make up for an uncommon bad Yggdrasil designed slot?” And the answer is probably Yes. It’s not amazing, but it’s definitely playable. Its a new twist on Megaways, which is always welcome, as churning the same slots out week after week gets old, and it’s not copied from somewhere else (That I can recall anyway). It’s fun and volatile. It’s poorly designed and bland. But most importantly it’s new and fresh. It brings an idea that someone hasn’t had before. And that is what review sites usually cry out for, so you cant drop down a score too much for the fact it’s not a finished product.
UnPhiltered Slot Review: Serengeti Kings by Netent Red Tiger
For the past year NetEnt has been releasing an unhealthy mix of poorly designed followup games (Reel Rush 2, Butterfly Staxx 2, actual carbon copies of their previous content from years ago, or identical games from glory years with the word MAX in the title to offer some kind of volatility in a previously very docile slot. Since the merger with RedTiger broke the LinkedIn pages of most of us, this is the first truly original game to come from the provider. But is it a quality release from the team who can create just that, we need to look no further than Dead Or Alive 2 to know what kind of slot they can make and the kind of following their games can generate.
At first glance we have a new take on the IGT spin collection mechanic. 11 spins collecting symbols (Lions and Panthers) which the Lions then are added onto the screen after the 12th spin, creating more opportunities for big wins. Then you have a further 11 spins to collect more Panthers which are in turn added after the 12th spin to create more wins and larger pays. A nice twist on an existing idea, but one that makes it better. So far, not too shabby.
The bonus round is 12 spins again, but all symbols collected on all sides are added. 3 scatters gives a simple 12 free spins with the collected symbols reset to 0. 4 scatters and you get to keep what you have collected so far, and 5 scatters means you get what you saved up with an additional 5 of each symbol added. This can lead to some huge collections saved up, which should lead to some big wins. I use the word should, as this game can also be a bit of a dick to you (like most people in 2020), and stack its symbols on top of other symbols. I managed to collect 19 lions in the base game, and on a reel set of 20 spaces I expected some nice connections. The Lions were added on top of other lions, like some kind of weird Lion orgy, and while this can multiply the win by the number of additions, on this occasion is paid 0x. Not one single line win of 19 collected symbols. If I was near Simba id have shot him myself. Stop lion around and pay me some money.
In my opinion the biggest issue I have with this game is from a responsible gambling aspect. The feature buy on this game, for want of a better word, is moronic. For 58.7x you can buy a standard bonus. That’s fine, reasonable, even decent. It’s not very volatile on this mode so you are in effect just buying it to either lose 30x or win 30x. From 10 test buys the highest win was 85x. The lowest win was 4x. This can be defined by the phrase “meh”.
The issue comes from the larger buys. 4 scatters (where you keep your collected symbols from the base game) can cost the player (From my testing) up to 500x stake. This is a bit ridiculous. Whats more ridiculous is that the 5 scatter feature buy (keep all collections +5 on each) I have seen for almost 1,500x stake with a good base set up. No offence to the game creators, but on what planet do you think that’s responsible? We live in times where companies are being sued, UKGC and soon MGA maybe will cut off bonus buys, Responsible Gaming and KYC/SOW checks are everywhere, and the max anyone is really doing is 100x stake, so at least for those playing on 1 euro stake its not unfeasible to afford a good bonus buy session. Paying 1,500 euros for 1 euro stake bonus, with no guarantees of a win (I purchased one for 800x stake on a 20c stake, costing 165 euros. It paid 12 euros for example), is ridiculous, immoral, and stupid.
Score – The base game is nice. Its attractively made, its a good twist on a system that people know, and the payouts are decent. I had a few 90-150x wins in the base game when testing. I quite enjoyed collecting the symbols on both sides and seeing more chances for wins. But the bonus feature, especially the bonus buy, makes this game score worse than it should. A bonus where collected symbols don’t even have to pay out by stacking themselves all on reel 5 is a bit of a kick in the sabre-teeth, and needing them to connect not once for a line of medium pays, but then twice on top to make them wildfires so the money is actually worth it, is not a fun dynamic for the game and makes it more stressful than fun.
UnPhiltered Slot Review: Piggy Riches Megaways by Netent RedTiger
Last year the slots landscape changed with the purchase of Red Tiger by NetEnt. One of the original slot companies, tracing back to the late 1990s was moving into the M&A market. After experiencing a huge drop in share price from the 2016 “glory days”, before the explosion of new and innovative slot companies, NetEnt went big, bold, and bullish into their purchase of Red Tiger. Red Tiger was a great choice, with some solid titles performing well around the world, a big presence in Asia, and a licence to use the BTG Megaways reels players fell in love with from the launch of Bonanza.
So, what has this deal for up to £220 million brought us, aside from less office space in Malta? Well, the wait is over as the first joint release of the two companies is Piggy Riches Megways. NetEnt are proud traditionalists, this much is clear from their recent “Max” versions of their older slots, offering the same game with a more volatile pay model, so it makes obvious sense that one of their classic hits would be the first game to get the Megaways treatment. But is it any good?
The game uses the red tiger layout and overlay, which I assume is due to the Megaways being built into Red Tigers system, not NetEnt’s, so the game-play and speeds, the bonus teases, the wild reels, are all similar to how they appear on any other Red Tiger Megaways release. The base game is pretty standard, no sideways spinning top or bottom reels like the BTG slots, but it does come with random Wild Reels. These can pay from 2x to 7x, with up to 3 of them landing on one spin. The theme is solid, pigs, cash, and a nice mansion. Basically think the Kardashians, but with pigs instead of… well worse pigs. So it’s pretty much identical.
Oddly I think this is the first Red Tiger megaways slot with no random in-game feature, but 3 Scatters on the reels anywhere triggers the free spins. A wheel spins and gives up to 22 spins with a multiplier up to 10x. This feature has positives and negatives. While its fun to watch a wheel, builds excitement, and can add some volatility, it also decreases the engagement a bit. As this slot has no bonus buy (At least that I can see), the game is adding to the longevity of triggering the bonus by adding a way for the bonus to instantly be a negative for the player. If the player lands on 7 spins x1, add that on to the very low odds of hitting a bonus, I can see this getting on peoples “play once and not again lists”. So far when making this review after 1,200 spins we didn’t get a bonus, but I will update once it lands. I am achin’ for some bacon at this point.
Legal stuff – 95.7% RTP (Why under 96?) Up to 10,000x max win.
SCORE – It’s hard to measure. When you see NetEnt, and the worldwide acclaim that Dead Or Alive 2 has (Ignoring the worlds most boring base game, that bonus makes up for it a thousand times over), and you combine it with Red Tiger, you expect… more? It feels like the design, the idea, the name, were all great, but the end product, and especially the bonus round, were just afterthoughts. With the volatility of the Megaways bonus, you can make insane things happen. Every BTG Megaways title feels innovative, sometimes in the wrong direction admittedly, but they change what they do each time. Even Blueprint for all their mass production of titles had the same idea for Spins/Multiplier offer on Megaways with Safari Gold and Leo Vegas own branded slot months ago. It just feels… lazy. It’s playable for sure, it’s not a bad game by any means, but it just leaves you wondering why you would play this over any of the similar, and to be honest, superior, near-identical offerings. That being said as it is NetEnt and Red Tiger, this game will be guaranteed great positioning and good traffic, but on the player enjoyment and player rating categories, this one will be on the outside of the barbecue looking in.
UnPhiltered Slot Review: Skulls Up by Quickspin
This week Quickspin is launching its first original game of the year – “Skulls UP!“
Fresh off the back of their last game, Goldilocks gets cloned and turns bi-polar. It’s nice to see something new that doesn’t seem to have been cloned from any other game.
Graphically the game is what you can expect for a QS release, fun, quirky, colourful and bold. Pirates, parrots, primates and princesses adorn the reels, and guide you to some average sized wins. This provider isn’t well known for its huge base hits, outside of Eastern Emeralds, and this slot is no different. I would say medium to low volatility personally, but I thought the same about my ex-girlfriend and I ended up with vodka thrown in my eyes so I could be wrong.
The game is a simple 3×5 format, with 243 all-ways pay, and extended reel possibilities on the middle 3 reels. Landing a Golden Skull will offer 2 respins and the skull rises up like a Netflix documentary after a real life crisis, and sticks at the top of your screen, extending the reels and ways. Keep landing skulls and all 3 reels can extend to 6 high. I’m sure there is a joke about extending something to 6, but I just cant think of it. According to Quickspin “Skulls smash up to 1,944 ways to win“. I wish I smashed in that many ways.
Annoying to few, loved by some, and tolerated by pretty much everyone, this game only has bonus symbols on reels 2,3 & 4, so expect some famous Quickspin “walking past waving” bonus teases. It’s like watching your dreams be crushed in front of your eyes when the last bonus symbols drops out of view by one position. This game loves a tease, on my testing dropping 2 chests every 13 spins. The bonus lands (1 in 130 odds, not bad) and 6 spins are awarded. More Golden skulls are in the bonus, and the extended reels stick for the duration of the bonus. 2 Extra spins are awarded for reaching a max reel height. Not a bad bonus, but
Legal stuff – Game runs at 96.29%. Bets range from 10c to 100 Euros. Max win seems to be 3,650x stake.
Score – Its hard to rate Quickspin games. They do exactly what they are designed to. Nothing dramatic or life changing wins, but can be fun and always unique bonus round for their new slots. The downside is the low average payout of their bonuses, but they mask that with decent playability and a good user experience. 7/10. Would play again but not regularly… Much like what I say about the gym.