WHAT WORKS, WORKS
With restrictions to land-based gaming, new online-gaming devotees find that the best slot features translate easily to iGaming
By Frank Legato
If there was one bright spot during the shutdown of casinos due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was the discovery by many players of online casinos in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Online gaming continues to be popular in these states, even after the casinos have reopened.
There will always, of course, be aspects of live casino slot play that can’t be duplicated online—giant high-definition video monitors, immersive cabinets, community play with other players among the game aspects, the simple fun of being in a casino.
But what players who have ventured online for slot games have discovered is that many of the game features they have loved for years in brick-and-mortar casinos are just as enjoyable online.
In short, as far as slot games, what works, works. For example: Konami Gaming offers a popular feature called “Strike Zone,” in which an outlined “zone” appears over certain areas of the reel array on a video slot that changes symbols within the zone to wild symbols, multipliers and other special features. That feature is just as popular online in games like Celestial Sun Riches, which places the Strike Zone over the middle three reels of a five-reel game screen. Symbols become 2X and 3X wild symbols, turning all the symbols on a reel into wild symbols.
Another good example from Konami is Moai, with a theme built around the famous Moai monolithic statues that stand on Polynesia’s Easter Island. The mysterious human-figure statues are adapted here as full-reel wild symbols in a main feature that occurs randomly.
This online game reprises one of the most popular features of Konami’s casino games, “Action Stacked Symbols.” They appear on all reels during the primary game, clustering matching symbols to make up big wins. Randomly during the primary game, a number of adjacent symbols are replaced with the same symbol before the spin is initiated. Players love this in the casino, and they love it online.
Other manufacturers offer tried-and-true features that work on land or online. Scientific Games’ SG Digital division offers 88 Fortunes Megaways, a super- charged version of the company’s widely popular 88 Fortunes Asian-style game. In a great take on the “ways-to-win” format, this version employs a new game mechanic called “Megaways,” which uses a novel reel setup that results in a possible total of 117,649 ways to win on every spin. When there is one or more winning combinations, the winning symbols explode, and new symbols cascade into their spots. Wins are calculated before the winning symbols explode and after the new symbols are in place. The total win for the spin is calculated when no more cascades occur.
This online game calls on several popular land-based features—the ways-to-win enhancement joined by cascading reels, a feature pioneered by SG legacy company WMS Gaming.
For slot-maker AGS, one of the easiest decisions in picking games to port to internet casinos was Fu Nan Fu Nu, an Asian-themed slot featuring a four-level linked progressive jackpot. There are two bonus features. Three or more bonus symbols or wild symbols on consecutive reels trigger 10 free games, and there is a random Progressive Pick Bonus that leads to a guaranteed progressive jackpot. Randomly triggered any time a wild symbol lands on the reels during the base game, the picking bonus presents a screen of gold coins, which hide “Fu Baby” symbols corresponding with each of the four progressives—Mini, Minor, Major and Grand. The player picks until revealing three matching Fu Baby symbols to win the corresponding jackpot.
This tried-and-true progressive feature has made Fu Nan Fu Nu one of the most popular AGS games in casinos. It leads the company’s online lineup as well.
Another feature that works well whether a game is in a casino or on an internet site is the gamble feature, as evidenced by Ainsworth’s Safari Spirit, a five-reel,50-line game exclusive to Golden Nugget’s Betfaircasino.com in New Jersey. After every win, the player has the option to gamble the win by selecting a color or a card suit. If you pick the color and match the next card in the video deck, winnings are doubled. If you select the suit and win, the pay is quadrupled.
Several online games from Everi present one more commonality between casino slots and online slots: The features of traditional three-reel mechanical slot machines definitely translate well online.
This has been proven in several online offerings from Everi in New Jersey. Blue Ribbon is one online version of the classic three-reel mechanical slot style. A nine-line game, it features the timeless bar and 7 symbols you will instantly recognize.
The central feature of this game is the same as the most popular classic reel-spinners—multi- plying wild symbols. In this case called the “Doubling Wilds” feature, 2X Blue and Red Ribbon symbols are wild and substitute for 7 and Bar symbols to complete winning combination. One Blue Ribbon symbol landing in a winning combination pays double, and two Blue Ribbon symbols will multiple the award by four.
Zoltar Speaks is another great example, this time in a five-line format. The reel symbols are classics—bar symbols, several different “7” combinations, multiplying wild symbols, and a great theme centered around those creepy fortune-telling mannequins in amusement park booths.
Players can be certain to find most of their favorite features of casino slots whether they choose to go to the casino or to play it safer during the pandemic while playing at home.
Because, again, what works, works.