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Scientific Games renews one of its most popular hold-and-spin games with ULTRA HOT MEGA LINK

By Frank Legato

 

For slot players, this is surely the age of “hold-and-spin.” Or “lock-and-spin,” as some slot manufacturers call it. Whatever the name, it’s the hottest game-play feature in the slot industry right now.

Hold-and-spin game-play mechanics have the player chasing a goal by collecting symbols, usually within a set number of spins. The more collected symbols, the higher the award. This style of game play started with a mega-hit from one manufacturer, but spread as more and more players demanded this style of game. These days, the hold-and-spin game style is every- where, on games from just about every major slot-maker.

“It’s popular because you can really see the possibility of winning,” comments Kimberly Cohn, director of game development for slot supplier Scientific Games, on the hold-and-spin phenomenon. “That’s been the key to success for many of these games; you can see exactly what you can win, and it’s right there at your fingertips.”

The hold-and-spin style is at the center of what has been one of Scientific Games’ most popular game series over the past several years, Ultimate Fire Link. The main feature in the Ultimate Fire Link series involves fireballs bearing credit amounts or progressives.

Land four fireballs on the screen, and it triggers the main feature. The four fireballs—and their awards or progressives—stay in place for three free spins. Any other fireballs that land during those spins also stay in place, moving the remaining free spins back to three.

This process repeats until there are three spins with no fireballs appearing. Then, the player receives a bonus award that accumulates all awards on the locked fireballs.

Ultimate Fire Link has been a big hit for Scientific Games, which has churned out 10 titles in the series in all.

“Ultimate Fire Link has been really successful for us, so we decided we wanted to upgrade the package and put it on a new platform—and add a little twist to the mechanic,” explains Cohn. “So, enter Ultra Hot Mega Link, which has a slightly different feature in that there are additional Ultra Hot fireballs that can add credits to other fireballs.”

SPICING UP THE FEATURE

That “slightly different feature” is a major improvement—one that can be very lucrative. When an Ultra Hot fireball lands on the screen during the feature, it randomly adds credits to anywhere from two to five fireballs already locked in place. That includes the four progressive jackpots. If you already have a progressive prize locked in, the Ultra Hot fireball can add the amount of the Mini jackpot to the prize. “That’s why the Ultra Hot modifiers are exciting,” says Cohn. “Not only do they add credits to the fireballs you already have there; they can also add Mini jackpots to any other jackpot, so it all adds up.”

That feature spices up a game that’s already popular. SG was careful to keep everything about Ultimate Fire Link that players have already proven they love, from the four-symbol trigger for the feature to the vertical play field on the portrait-style monitor.

“We really try to use that vertical space, so the play field is larger,” says Cohn. “The players really love that, so we tried to keep those features the same in the sequel.”

Add to that the improved hold-and-spin feature, which retains the basic appeal of being able to win more than one of the four progressive jackpots in one big shot. In the penny version, progressives reset at $15 (Mini), $50 (Minor), $500 (Major) and the top

$10,000 Mega jackpot. The odds of landing that Mega—it’s larger with the larger denominations; the prize is 1 million credits times the denomination—are a very favorable one in 3.9 million. By comparison, a big wide-area progressive jackpot hits anywhere from once every 50 million to 100 million spins.

That’s a very frequent five-figure prize.

The program math of the base game is the same as the original as well. It is a five-reel video slot with four symbols on each reel, available with 10, 20 or 50 paylines. Casinos can choose from a variety of denomination groups, ranging from low denominations—penny, 2 cents, 5 cents and 10 cents—to a top combination of $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations. In other words, this game can go in the high-end slot parlor as well as the main floor.

Scientific Games will release the two inaugural games in the series—Ultra Hot Mega Link Amazon and Ultra Hot Mega Link India—by the end of the year, but Cohn predicts there will be many sequels to this version. The first versions are on SG’s TwinStar J43 curved-monitor cabinet, but according to Cohn, the game can be presented on any of the portrait-style cabinets the company offers.

“We have a lot of cool ideas based around the original Ultimate Fire Link game mechanic, so as long as players love it, we’ll keep making them,” Cohn says.

SLOT TYPE

Five-reel, 10-line, 20-line or 50-line video slot; hold-and-spin free-game bonus feature; four-level progressive jackpot; multi-denomination setups from penny to $100

PAYBACK % RANGE

87%-90% (Estimated)

AVERAGE HIT FREQUENCY

30.01%

TOP JACKPOT

Progressive; resets at 1 million credits times denomination

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