The hold-and-re-spin game mechanic is ubiquitous among the coming year’s new slot games
By Frank Legato
The history of the slot machine is steeped in trends that have been reprised in various forms by the major slot manufacturers. In the 1970s and 1980s, the trend was in progressive jackpots—the top jackpot on a game carousel often offered as a new convertible, boat or other tangible prize, sometimes actually perched atop a bank of slot machines.
In the mid-1990s, IGT’s Wheel of Fortune began a wheel-bonus trend that still exists today. The other trend that began around then was the multiplying wild symbol—wild symbols that double the jackpot in a winning combination, introduced in the IGT game Double Diamond. Multi-line video also appeared in the U.S. during that period, a form that is the standard for modern video slots.
The early 2000s meant movie and TV themes, and second-screen cartoon bonuses. The 2010s brought multiple progressives—typically four prizes displayed on top of a game, with two static bonus awards and two progressive jackpots.
Nowadays, it’s all about what is called hold-and-re-spin. The trend started with Aristocrat’s venerable Lightning Link game franchise, and has only gained steam in recent years. The idea is that the player is given a certain number of free spins in which to collect icons of some value, the prizes for which accumulate. If the number of free spins is three, every time one of those icons appears, the free spin meter goes back to three. This type of bonus ends when either a spin yields none of the special symbols, or the entire screen is filled with the symbols.
Filling the entire screen with special symbols has become known as a “blackout,” and for many games, it results in the game’s top progressive jackpot.
The hold-and-re-spin feature is prominent among the new slot games slated for release over the coming year (to be chronicled in detail in the January issue of our sister publication, Strictly Slots).
Here are a few samples:
Aristocrat, which originated the mechanic under the proprietary moniker “Hold & Spin,” will offer several games including this feature. For one, the supplier brings the mechanic to its most popular game franchise, the Buffalo series. Buffalo Link combines the Buffalo and Dragon Link brands. (Dragon Link was the sequel to Lightning Link.) That game, in fact, combines all the modern trends:
In addition to the Hold & Spin feature, it’s got 2X and 3X multiplying wild symbols, and a four-level jackpot consisting of two static awards and two progressives.
Slot-maker IGT also has brought the hold-and-re-spin mechanic into one of its most successful game franchises, this one being the Wheel of Fortune series. Wheel of Fortune Mystery Link is the first version of famous game-show franchise to include a hold-and-re-spin bonus feature.
Ainsworth is another slot-maker applying the hold-and-re-spin feature to one of its most successful game groups, the QuickSpin series. Super Lit Vegas, a QuickSpin variation, incorporates a seven- spin cycle. During primary game play, the player collects orb symbols. On the seventh spin, all orbs change to wheel symbols, and eight or more orbs trigger the wheel.
Supplier AGS is using the hold-and-re-spin feature in a couple of creative scenarios. Royal Phoenix features a hold-and-win feature in which wilds stay in place while the remaining reels spin for bigger wins. Sacred Dragon features expanding wilds and a persistent feature in which the player collects yin-yang symbols, which transform into the top-paying dragon symbol.
In AGS’ Imperial 88 Tiger Lord and Peacock Beauty games, the player accumulates gold coins during a free-spin round, each collected symbol resetting the number of free spins to three.
Normally, the player would collect the credits for the accumulated coins when no coins appear for three spins, ending the feature. However, the feature in Imperial 88 includes a “Win Now” symbol that awards all accumulated bonus credits, keeping the coins in place to continue the feature—collecting again at the end of the bonus.
The hold-and-re-spin feature is not limited to video. Everi is offering Diamond Lock, which takes the video trend to the traditional reel-spinning genre in a high- denomination mechanical three-reel game.
Slated for release early next year, Everi’s Diamond Lock Ruby and Diamond Lock Sapphire are both three-reel, nine-line mechanical reel-spinners that include the former video-only gimmick.
Scientific Games also is featuring a hold-and-re-spin bonus on a reel-spinner, in this case on the TwinStar 5RM five-reel mechanical format. Locked & Loaded is a mechanical-reel adaptation of the popular Lock It Link hold-and- re-spin series.
There are many other variations of this popular game style—in fact, too many to list in this space. However, players love this feature, so, like the wheel and multiplying wild symbols, you can expect this to be a common feature of slot machines for years to come.