What are the best slot features?
Slot games have come a long, long way since the very first basic game developed by Sittman and Pitt, back in 1891 and the Liberty Bell slot machine that was built by Charles Fey in 1895.
These early machines were very basic mechanised machines. The Sittman and Pitt machine used a system of drums to display cards with the player winning tokens by landing poker hands playing the slot. These tokens could then be used at the bar to purchase drinks and cigars.
In 1895, Charles Fey moved that idea on by developing a machine which used reels and just five symbols. One of the symbols was the Liberty Bell and it was this that gave the slot its name and for many purists, Liberty Bell is the founding of the modern slot.
It's strange to think that for many years after this, Fey's design was simply replicated in many other slot games and it wasn't until the latter periods of the 20th century and the advent of electronics and the computer chip, that slot games started to offer more features than simply spinning mechanical reels.
Early features included items such as the ability to hold one or more symbols for a spin, while you spun the other non-selected reels. This was followed by the 'nudge' option, which allowed you to move a reel upwards or downwards a stated number of times to try and land a win (this would late become automated using the Auto Nudge button).
It was with the development of the Internet and online slot games that slot development really moved into the 21st century. Companies like Microgaming, producer of the world record-busting Mega Moolah slot, began to produce games which pushed the boundaries of slot gaming back further and they are still doing that to this very day.
So, what are the features on the more modern slot games that are the ones that get players most excited? In this article, we take a look at the best features of the modern slot games you can play today from Microgaming in terms of how popular they are with players.
- Wild Symbol
Perhaps the most commonly used bonus feature on a new slot is the Wild symbol. Typically this is a symbol which can serve two purposes. On some slots it is the highest paying symbol on the reels (such as the Mega Moolah slot), and it also serves as a symbol which can be used as any of the other standard symbols on the reels.
As a result of this ability to replace any other symbol, the Wild is key to landing some of the bigger value wins in the base game and especially in some of the Free Spins games.
This is a simple feature on a slot game, but it is without doubt one of the most common and lucrative for players, offering them the chance of some of the more sizeable wins on the slot in the base game and also during most Free Spins rounds.
Games to try with Wild Symbols - Plenty to choose from here, but try the Hot Ink slot.
- Free Spins
Many Microgaming slots offer Free Spins as part of their package and typically these are awarded when a player lands three or more Scatter symbols anywhere across the reels (although the triggering mechanism may be different for some slot games). When a player lands Free Spins, the reel set used may also change and other bonus features, such as multipliers or stacked symbols, or different types of Wilds on the reels, can also be triggered depending on the game.
The Free Spins bonus is great for players for two key reasons, firstly they offer a stated number of spins for which the player does not have to pay a stake and secondly, usually these bonuses offer the player a chance at winning a larger amount of money than they would in the base game.
Free Spins have become almost a necessity in the modern online slot industry, with almost all games now offering them as part of their package.
Multipliers are simply bonuses that are applied to a cash win on a slot game and which can increase the value of the win by a stated multiple. Most often the multiple's are relatively small in size, such as 2x or 3x the standard amount, but on some slots, multipliers can go much higher and offer the player the chance of a sizeable win.
How multipliers are used does vary from game to game. In some games, they are bonuses that need to be unlocked or selected, in others they are applied automatically to wins that players land using a Wild symbol, or in the Free Spins bonus round. Some games offer a Multiplier Trail, which can be increased during the game so that when the player lands a win, the size of the multiplier applied to the win can increase in value over time.
- Progressive Jackpot
Some of Microgaming's slots have a large jackpot available that is funded from every spin on the game, separate to the standard payouts. This is a progressive jackpot and it can grow in size over time and with each spin played on the game, until one lucky player lands the right combination in order to trigger the prize.
The most famous progressive jackpot game is Mega Moolah, which holds the world record for the largest ever progressive jackpot prize paid out online, with an €18.9 million win confirmed in September 2018. However, the company also offers a number of other progressive slot games, as well as a number of progressive Video Poker, Draw Poker and Roulette games.
- Stacked Symbols / Wilds
One of my personal favourite features on a modern slot which can reward the player with some outstanding value wins in the base game and Free Spins is when symbols are stacked on the reels. In some games symbols will be stacked just two symbols high, but it is better when you have stacks of symbols that can cover the entire reel.
In some games, symbols can be 'super-stacked' which means that a symbol will have many symbols stacked on top of one another, offering you a much greater chance of turning one or more reels all to the same symbol. Of course, when this happens, this can lead to a bigger value win as you trigger wins across multiple pay lines.
In some games, Wild symbols can also be stacked on the reels and these offer an opportunity for even greater value wins, especially when you can land multiple stacks across the reels on the same spin.
In later games, such as Halloween, large stacks of the same symbol can be combined into what are called Jumbo Symbols, which is where one very large symbol appears across numerous spaces on 2 or 3 reels or more, completely covering the reels and offering players a chance of a very big win.
- Rolling Reels
One of the more unusual features in a Microgaming slot of recent times has been the Rolling Reels feature, although it is known by any number of names depending on the games you play (including Avalanche Reels, Cascading Reels and more).
In essence, all these bonuses are the same in that when in play, the symbols that form part of a winning line on the reels will disappear from the screen once they have paid out. Other symbols then drop down into the spaces created and these symbols can then create additional winning lines.
This feature is often used with a Trail feature, which will see the multiplier applied to the win increase in value with the greater number of additional Rolling Reels wins you land in succession. The good news for the player is that these additional wins all count as being from the same spin, so you could trigger, two, three, four or more winning lines using the Rolling Reels feature, all from a single spin.
Games to play with Rolling Reels (or similar) - Football Star and Breakaway.
- Bonus Cash Awards / Games
Once relatively prevalent, there are now a smaller number of slot games being developed that have a dedicated bonus round where you can win a cash prize. Usually this comes in the form of a selection game, where a player selects from a number of items to receive either a single cash prize, or a number of cash prizes until they select the icon which hides the symbol to end the bonus round.
On some slots, cash awards can be landed by hitting bonus symbols on the reels, which are slightly different to scatter symbols and the cash reward may be immediately following the spin, or may trigger a bonus game, where the player plays the game in order to release the bonus.
In general, the pays on these games tend to be smaller and more volatile than you land on a Free Spins bonus, which is possibly why they are perhaps not quite so popular with slots players.
Games to play with Bonus features/Cash Awards - Bridesmaids.
What is interesting is that as Microgaming continues to diversify its output, with new partnerships with other studios, it is going to be interesting to see over the next few years how the main bonus features of Microgaming slots changes and whether these most popular features remain so, or whether new features will eventually usurp them in terms of popularity.
Where to play the best Microgaming slots?
Simply go to the Country page to see if you can play from your location/country. Enter your country, or find your country name in the list, and click it. This will then check and show you whether you can play Mega Moolah (this applies to all Microgaming games, not just Mega Moolah). Links are provided to the licenced and regulated Mega Moolah casinos when available.
Byline: This article was published by Mega Moolah expert Henry. Media and other enquiries.