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Video Slots

On this page, you’ll find all of our video slot reviews in one place. Before you scroll down, read our primer on this industry game changer; video slots.

 

Video Slots Introduction

The first question players will no doubt have is… what is the difference between a video slot and a normal slot machine? The answer is pretty self-explanatory. Historically, the slot machine was a physical mechanical device. The technology became more advanced with the introduction of computerization.

Eventually, in the latter part of the 20th century, the video slot was born. The reels were no longer mechanical. Rather, players were watching a screen of the reels moving on video slot terminals, or VLTs (Pokies in Australia). These strides in the development of slots owe a great deal to the first electromechanical slot, the Money Honey.

The Money Honey

As mentioned on our online slots page, the Money Honey was a pioneering slot that advanced the basic concepts of automated pay-outs seen in early 1940s machines. Released in 1963 by Bally, it was the first of its kind to utilise a bottomless hopper and could pay out coins unassisted. Previous slots required an attendant to retrieve a player’s winnings. Clearly, this wasn’t a sustainable method. The Money Honey removed this requirement completely.

Fortune Coin

The enormous popularity of Bally’s revolutionary slot paved the way for the first video slot machine, which was developed by Fortune Coin in 1976. The prototype featured a 19-inch video screen which displayed the reels which were in turn operated by a series of logic boards. These were then mounted in cabinets.  The early units, named after the company, were trialled at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. Following a few upgrades, they were approved by the Nevada State Gaming Commission and became popular on the strip during the late 1970s and early 80s.

The Microprocessor

The advent of the microprocessor during this period also had a huge impact on video slots development. They began to be used extensively in US and UK machines and could monitor the path of coins as well as their amounts inserted by the user. They could also control the stepper motors by way of proximity sensors. In addition, software enabled the processor to determine which symbols were being displayed on the reels as well as the extent of each pay-out. The microprocessor also ushered in random number generators. Whereas original slot machines relied on a series of gears to spin their reels, which were activated by a lever, video slots make use of RNGs. This made the lever redundant, improved reliability and prevented casino owners from tinkering with the RTPs.

IGT Video Slots Pioneers

These new electronic slots began to proliferate in a big way after IGT acquired Fortune Coin. They became popular with operators because of their reliability and ease-of-use. Free from the mechanical restraints of their more primitive predecessors, the use of graphical reels and computerised displays allowed developers to include more symbols and pay-lines which in turn resulted in more lucrative jackpots. Unsurprisingly, they went down a storm with players. Because of this, IGT started to focus their attentions and considerable budget on video slots instead of traditional mechanical machines. Their innovations led to the introduction of slots like Reel ‘em In’ – the first to introduce a second bonus round screen.

Due to this video game transformation, the scope of what video slots could achieve eventually became grander. Bonus rounds, free spin games, and mini tangential adventures all became part of the video slot experience. And to this day, most of the latest, most innovative online slots incorporate some if not all of these elements.

Of course, this isn’t to say that the classic slots of old have ceased to be popular amongst players. In fact, they continue to be a major draw for those looking to enjoy no-frills old-school game-play. The best ones do a good job in recapturing some of the magic of traditional fruit machines with simple 3-reel play and a limited number of pay-lines.

Here are a few examples of ground-breaking online slots that owe a great deal to the bricks and mortar video games of old.

Cash Splash – Three/Five Reel Video Slot – Microgaming

Cash Splash is one of the earliest online video slots. Originally a three reel game, it was updated to include five reels as well as progressive jackpot. Although not exactly brimming with extra features by today’s lofty standards, this relatively basic slot harked back to the classic 3-reelers thanks to the inclusion of retro symbols such as playing cards (still used to this very day) as well as cherries and bars. Although there are just 15 pay-lines and a scatter symbol that doesn’t trigger any sort of bonus game, Cash Splash remains popular especially with online bingo players looking to pass the time between bingo sessions.

Thunderstruck – Five Reel Video Slots – Microgaming

Microgaming once again hit the jackpot in the early 2000s with this now classic video slots game. Based on Norse mythology, the game comprises three reels and just 9 pay-lines. The original version doesn’t include quick-spin or auto-play options, nor is there a bonus round. What makes the game stand out though is the free spins game which can be retriggered multiple times. And despite the rather dated the simple, well-paced game-play still stands up well to modern online slots. That’s some going, especially when you consider the ingenuity behind our next entrant.

Gonzo’s Quest – Five Reel Slot – Netent

Gonzo’s Quest was released back in 2011 by then Swedish upstarts Netent. The company has grown considerably since then to become of the biggest casino game developers in the world. Their ground-breaking slot, Gonzo’s Quest introduced the Avalanche Reels mechanic in which winning symbols were removed from the reels to be replaced with ones above. Of medium variance, the game boasts polished visuals and an assortment of swanky reel animations that, at the time, stretched the capabilities of most devices. And yet, the game doesn’t include any bonus features to speak of. But the Avalanche Reels feature as well as a host of lucrative multipliers goes a long way in compensating.

Starburst – Five Reel Video Slots – Netent

There’s just no getting away from the fact that Starburst is one of the classic online slots. One would have thought that with just 10 pay-lines and a single bonus feature (the wild reel), that Netent’s cosmic caper would have be consigned to the scrap-heap of history some time ago. But it continues to be popular with both new and experienced players, mainly because it’s cheap to play and pays-out regularly. It’s also another prime example of how simplicity can rake in the bucks for slot game developers. As testament to the game’s seemingly boundless appeal, it continues to be included in the welcome promotions of many online casinos.

Mega Moolah – Five Reel Progressive Slot – Microgaming

Microgaming took the progressive jackpot concept to a whole new level with this illustrious slot game. There’s nothing terribly novel about linked jackpots – they were first used with bricks and mortar video slots in Las Vegas in the 1980s. However, the scope and scale of the prizes was quite limited. Mega Moolah changed all that by pooling jackpots across an international network of bingo and casino websites. As a result, it remains the highest-paying progressive slot of all time – more than $80 million has been paid out so far by this life-changing game. And while the enormous prizes tend to steal the headlines, the core game includes plenty of engaging features such as a potentially-lucrative free spins bonus game and a decent number of pay-lines (25).

Avalon II – Five Reel Slot – Microgaming

Avalon II exemplifies recent trends in online video slots development. Eschewing the simplicity of games such as Starburst, its creators included no less than eight different bonus games. They also advanced the ‘gamification’ or ‘adventure’ concept tentatively explored in some of the early video slot machines. Players are required to advance across a multi-level bonus map inspired by Lord of the Rings as well as Game of Thrones by landing various special symbols. The feature-laden game-play includes wilds, extra wilds, trailing wilds, rolling reels and three free spin rounds. While there’s plenty for the average gamer to take in, the enormous $120,000 jackpot certainly helps sharpens concentration levels.

Rainbow Riches – Five Reel Slot – Barcrest

Developed by one of the old guard, Rainbow Riches ranks as one of the most popular slots ever created. As well as enjoying a loyal following in pubs and land-based casinos, the web-based version continues to attract online. The smooth, well-rendered visuals and simple interface go some way in explaining its appeal. However, it’s the three bonus features that set this game apart from other cutesy slot games. Each of them can generate wins of up to 500 times your stake. Interestingly though, you’re likely to win more frequently via the more traditional base game which owes a great deal to the classic slots of yesteryear. The irony!

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