Thanks to the technology which has made online gaming possible, slot machines have gone a long way from simple one-armed bandits with a single win opportunity offered by lining up identical symbols. These days we’re seeing more and more engaging free-play options which increase the amusement value and come with a variety of different mechanisms, often multiple ones combined in a single bonus round for a more rewarding experience.
The most common bonus round comes in the form of spins financed by the house instead of the player. They’re almost always activated by a specific symbol combination and often give player the option to re-trigger the feature and benefit from additional free games. It’s also not rare to find that any wins achieved while spinning for free come with a multiplier or extras such as additional Wild icons, Wild reels etc. Realtime Gaming is known to be particularly generous in this regard, as they’ve once more demonstrated in one of their latest releases, Fantasy Mission Force. Dynamite Free Games initially offer 7 Free Spins and a x3 multiplier, with an unlimited supply of Bickford Fuses continuously adding more games on the house. Playtech’s Great Blue treats you to a Sea Shells Bonus with free games which can be re-triggered infinitely, and a similar deal is offered by Playtech’s Battle of the Gods. The latter makes an unlimited number of Free Spins available in Gods mode which plays until a specific symbol combo switches the game to Titans mode and puts a cap on free games. Get Zeus to appear on the middle reel and you’ll return among the gods, once again getting to spin for eternity.
Another type of bonus round, usually activated by Scatters, provides a selection of objects to click on and as the result win cash prizes. BetSoft uses this mechanism quite frequently to offer an engaging gameplay in 3D slots such as After Night Falls. Icons depicting criminals launch 5 Rooms Click Me feature which allows you to choose apartments the crook will break into for instant rewards. Three grannies will trigger another pick & click affair with a chance to play detective and look for clues; each one you find, pays instant cash. Bloodsuckers II from NetEnt feature the Hidden Treasure Bonus Game in which you’re offered to pick among coffins to reveal either instant win, a key symbol, Scatter or the demon. While the latter ends the bonus round, Scatters are collected to potentially launch free spins, and keys allow you to advance to the next level and in the end claim the top reward of 1,000 coins. In Hugo from Play ‘n GO, one has to enter ae gold mine and select doors leading to the treasure chamber while evading Don Croco.
Several slot developers have given us 2-in-1 propositions which incorporate mini arcade games, some of which will require a fair amount of skill to be able to claim the biggest rewards. Cosmic Quest slot series from Rival comes with bonus rounds which prompt you to shoot at asteroids or fly a spaceship through a cavern to reach the landing platform. The more asteroids you manage to destroy, and the further you manage to take the ship without crashing, the larger is the prize. Viking Fire by Lightning Box will have you firing cannons and sinking ships to reveal extra Wilds and win more free games, while in Merry Money from Barcrest one gets to fire arrows to win spins bonus or entry into the Hall of Plenty. Having gained access to the latter, you’ll be choosing doors and collecting Robin Hood’s treasures until the sheriff awakes and summons his guards. Car Chase Bonus, featured in Cops ‘n Robbers by Play ‘n GO, plays free games and asks you to occasionally get involved by selecting the direction in which to move to avoid roadblocks; should you manage to escape from the police, the total free games win will be doubled.
Choosing a popular action-packed movie as inspiration frequently presents a challenge, since making a slot game as exciting as the original film is not at all easy. Microgaming have done a great job with Tomb Raider: Secret of the Sword and its Global Adventure Bonus activated by landing passports on each of the five reels independently. Once that’s been achieved, you’ll be selecting locations in which to search for hidden sword segments while dodging booby traps, with the ultimate goal being to find all segments and collect the respective top award. Whospunit from BetSoft leads you through a thrilling murder mystery and offers limited time for clue collection. The ones you find will help you move through 3 levels by revealing the weapon, murder location and the culprit, after which you can grab hold of the evidence and interrogate your suspect. Playtech’s Daring Dave and the Eye of Ra features a bonus round with 3 levels, first prompting you to find 3 Eye of Ra symbols each worth a cash prize, then spin the wheel to light up three of the same, and finally pick the right pedestal out of 3 offered. The good thing is that, failing to do all that in a single attempt doesn’t mean all your good work will be lost; progress is saved and you can pick up where you left off in the next go.
It’s not uncommon for a slot to use Wheel of Fortune mechanism for choosing which of the features the player gets to benefit from. The one offered in NetEnt’s Guns ’n’ Roses will randomly award Encore Free Spins with stacked Wilds, multi-level Crowd Pleaser Bonus Game, or instant wins. In Hong Kong Tower by Elk Studios, the Wheels of the Sky Bonus Game comes with 3 reels which pay cash rewards. Leveling up will allow you to reach the largest one, and accumulated lives are crucial to keep you going when an empty section of the wheel has been hit. Other slots, like the mega-popular Mega Moolah, use bonus wheels as means of access to multi-million progressive jackpots.