What have been the best Microgaming slot releases each year - Part Two
Welcome to the second part of our article looking at Microgaming's extensive back catalogue if games, taking a chronological look at each year from 1998, through to 2018 and revealing what our pick is for the top game is each year out of all of the Microgaming releases for that period.
In the first article, we discovered what Microgaming's first few slot releases were, we also then looked at how they developed their first five-reel games and then in 2000 came the very first progressive jackpot games, all of which are still playable today at a wide range of Microgaming casinos. That led us up to the first licensed Microgaming slot (Lara Croft Tomb Raider) and the release in 2006 of the daddy of them all, the Mega Moolah progressive slot.
In this second part of the article, we are going to pick up where we left off with releases from 2008 on wards. 2008 was the year that Lehman Brothers collapsed ushering in new era of "helicopter money" - the repercussions of which are being felt very hard today.
It was also a year which saw mobile gaming start to gain a foothold in the market and it was a period when Microgaming released another very strong selection of slot and casino games for its burgeoning fan base.
2008 - Top Release - Break Da Bank Again
Other 2008 releases - Premier Blackjack Hi Lo, Premier Blackjack High Streak, Polar Bash, Mark of Medusa, Little Chief Big Cash, VIP Lounge, Shiver Me Feathers, Mardi Gras Fever, K9 Capers, Happy New Year, Tomb Raider Secret of the Sword, Rainbows End, Robin Hood Feathers of Fortune, Double O Cash, Celtic Crown, Sure Win, Quest for Beer, Cashapillar, Alley Cats, Lucky Shot, Bomber Girls, Days of the Tsar, Jolly Jester, The Adventures of the Galactic Gopher, Stash of the Titans, Sir Winsalot, First Past the Post, Spikes Nite Out, Multi Hand Perfect Pairs European Blackjack Gold Series, Jonny Specter, Bowling Bonanza, Star Appeal, Lucky News Network, Sunset Showdown, Reel Baron, Myslot, Deck the Halls.
There was a lot of strong games released in 2008 including the Tomb Raider sequel, Secret of the Sword, which is another Microgaming classic. Other top games that are still playable today include the festive Deck The Halls, Sure Win, Alley Cats and Stash of the Titans. However, there is no doubt that the top slot this year was the sequel Break Da Bank Again, a game which has proven to have immense appeal over the years and which remains, even ten years later, one of the most popular slots played each month for Microgaming.
2009 - Top Release - Mega Moolah 5-Reel Drive / Summertime
Other 2009 releases - Polar Pioneers, Liquid Gold, Burning Desire, Bearly Fishing, Premier Roulette, The Rat Pack, Kings and Queens, Fighting Fish, Beach Babes, Triple Pocket Hold'em Poker Gold Series, Great Galaxy Grab, Stunt Pilot, Mayan Princess, Lucky Eggsplorer, Your Lucky Day, Fearless Frederick, Monster Meteors, Centre Court, Flight Zone, Ji Lo 13 European Blackjack Gold Series, Dance of the Masai, Summer Holiday, Sterling Silver, Pedal Power, Fortune Finder, Three Wheeler, Wealth Spa, Silver Fang, Get Rocked, Scoop the Cash, Lumber Cats, Multi Hand Hold'em High Gold Series, Wooly World, Pure Platinum, King Fu Monkey goes to Chinatown, Alaskan Fishing, Kings of Cash, Scrooge, Joker 8000, Tribal Treasure, Buffet Bonanza, Three Card Rummy Gold Series.
It was another busy year for releases in 2009 for Microgaming, top games included Burning Desire, Centre Court, Summer Holiday, Three Wheeler and Silver Fang. Two games that were close to the title of best slot were the Alaskan Fishing and Kings of Cash slots, both of which still enjoy plenty of support today, however the decision to increase the number of machines available to win the Mega Moolah jackpot on, by releasing Mega Moolah versions of classic games 5-Reel Drive and Summertime, make these two games the joint top slots of the year for me and indeed, it wasn't too long after their release that the first Mega Moolah winner was landed playing the 5-Reel Drive version of the game.
2010 - Top Release - Thunderstruck II
Other 2010 releases - Hellboy, Robot Butler, World Cup Mania, Winter Gold, Love Potion, Hot Air, Cashoccino, Triple Action Hold'em Gold Series, Sugar Mama, Magic Multiplier, Lady in Red, Queen of the Jungle, Voila!, Multi Hand High Speed Poker, Multi Player No Worries, The Argyle Open, Lion's Pride, Dragon Lady, Tiger's Eye, Steinfest, Monsters in the Closet, Santa's Wild Ride, Royal Feast, Caribbean Draw Poker
There may have been fewer releases in 2010 from Microgaming but what games were released were of an exceptionally high standard. The likes of Lions Pride, Dragon Lady, Tiger's Eye, Santa's Wild Ride and Sugar Mama were all great releases and the Hellboy slot was one of the most striking games visually and was packed to the brim with some fabulous cartoon-inspired features. However, nothing came close to Thunderstruck II, with it's huge, multi-million coin jackpot available to be won and a selection of four different bonus games to play through on the slot. Thunderstruck may have been a cracker when it was first released, but it's sequel remains, to many, the greatest ever Microgaming non-progressive slot.
2011 - Top Release - Immortal Romance
Other 2011 releases - Retro Reels Diamond Glitz, Private Eye, Monkey King, Hot Ink, Multi Wheel Roulette Gold Series, Planet Exotica, Ruby of the Nile, Retro Reels Extreme Heat, Eagles Wings, Party Island, Asian Beauty, Crocopolis, Sterling Silver 3D, Gold Factor, Sonic 7s, Riviera Riches, Reel Play Poker Jacks or Better, Mount Olympus Revengs of Medusa, Money Mad Monkey, Baccarat Gold Series, Robin Hood Feathers of Fortune, Hells Grannies, Alaxe in Zombieland, Jekyll and Hyde
Another good year for Microgaming saw some cracking games released including Party Island, Asian Beauty, Hot Ink and Riviera Riches. However, buoyed by the success of Thunderstruck II, Microgaming went back to that same blueprint to produce the Immortal Romance slot which has a similar structure to Thunderstruck II but which boasted even greater coin value jackpot prizes. The question is, would fans tire of the same slot design in a new game design, the answer to that was an unequivocal no.
2012 - Top Release - Battlestar Galactica
Other 2012 releases - The Grand Journey, Victorian Villain, Lemuria, Atomic 8s, King Arthur, Steam Punk Heroes, Nuclear 9s, Multi Player Roulette, Tiger Vs Bear, Shoot!, Around the World, Untamed Bengal Tiger, Magic Boxes, Untamed Giant Panda, White Buffalo, Lucky Rabbits Loot, Magic Charms, House of Dragons, Anastasia, Untamed Wolf Pack, Mugshot Madness, The Joy of Six, Phantom Cash, The Twisted Circus, Baccarat Gold Series, 6 Deck Atlantic City Blackjack, Breakway, Western Frontier, Galacticons.
There were some fabulous releases in 2012 as Microgaming maintained its position as one of the leading slots and casino game developers in the world. White Buffalo, Untamed Giant Panda, Phantom Cash and the Twisted Circus were highlights, while the Shoot! slot certainly appealed to the growing number of football fans trying their hands at slots. However, the Battlestar Galactica slot, with its different game modes and exciting Sci-Fi feel was a perfect combination of beautiful presentation and fantastic bonus features to make it this year's top game.
2013 - Top Release - Girls with Guns Jungle Heat
Other 2013 releases - The Finer Reels of Life, Sovereign of the Seven Seas, Jason and the Golden Fleece, Bridezilla, Starlight Kiss, Piggy Fortunes, Tiger Moon, Bust the Bank, Mystic Dreams, Arctic Agents, Playboy, In It to Win It, Wild Catch, Dolphin Quest, Secret Santa, Paradise Found, Lucky Leprechaun's Loot.
I suppose it had to happen that Microgaming would have a quieter year than past years and perhaps 2013 was that year. Some decent games were released, notably Mystic Dreams, Jason and the Golden Fleece, Playboy and Dolphin Quest, but it was the Girl with Guns Jungle Heat game which really caught the attention of slot gamers this year, a fact which spawned a sequel in 2014.
2014 - Top Release - Terminator 2 Online Slot
Other 2014 releases - Lucky Koi, Avalon II, Scary Friends, Untamed Crowned Eagle, Girls with Guns Frozen Dawn, High Society, Football Star, Cool Wolf, Robo Jack, Fish Party, Jurassic Park, So Much Candy, So Much Sushi, So Many Monsters, Red Hot Devil.
By 2014, Microgaming had started to release fewer games per year but the quality of these releases were growing and that is perfectly evident here with a number of fantastic games including Fish Party, Jurassic Park, So Much Sushi, So Much Candy and So Many Monsters. Avalon II is a brilliant slot that perhaps in another year would have won the crown, but for me, the brilliant presentation and superb bonus features of the Terminator 2 slot make this the game of the year.
2015 - Top Release - Game of Thrones Slot
Other 2015 releases - Golden Era, Cricket Star, Lucky Leprechaun, Rabbit in the Hat, Loaded, Dragon's Myth, Big Chef, Pistoleras, Hound Hotel, Kitty Cabana, Hot as Hades, Chain Mail, Bridesmaids, American Roulette Gold Series, Rugby Star, Lucky Zodiac, Titans of the Sun Theia, Titans of the Sun Hyperion, Basketball Star, Bullseye, Star Dust, Serenity.
2015 was another year of top quality releases, with the underrated Bullseye slot a perfect throwback to lovers of Sunday afternoon TV quiz shows, Basketball Star was another in the sports themed slots, along with Rugby Star, while the film tie in Bridesmaids was an unabashed hit and featured some brilliant bonus features. However, there is no doubt that the most eagerly awaited game of the year was Game of Thrones, which allows you to play either 243-ways or 15 lines and which features four superb bonus features, named after four of the great houses of Westeros. Without doubt Game of Thrones is not just one of the best slots of 2015, but it is one of the best slots Microgaming have ever made.
2016 - Top Release - Lost Vegas
Other 2016 releases - Wild Orient, Dragon Dance, Bikini Party, Sun Tide, Kung Fu Cash, Win Sum Dim Sum, 3 Empires, Pretty Kitty, Ninja Magic, Reel Spinner, Electric Diva, Karaoke Party, Frozen Diamonds, Jungle Jim El Dorado.
While 2016 was not a massive year in terms of the number of slots released, there was a number of top-quality games released during the year. Jungle Jim El Dorado was probably the most exciting release of the year in terms of expectation, but the likes of Win Sum Dim Sum, Pretty Kitty and Bikini Party all were excellent games in their own right. However, the last release of the year, Lost Vegas, which featured the opportunity to play as Zombies or as the Survivors with different bonus features available for each, combined with genuinely spooky graphics and soundtrack was just about the best slot of the year for me.
2017 - Top Release - The Phantom of the Opera
Other 2017 releases - Life of Riches, Huangdi the Yellow Emperor, Secret Romance, Fruit Vs Candy, Classic 243, Pollen Party, Emperor of the Sea, The Heat is On, Golden Princess, Mega Money Multiplier, Cool Buck, Lucky Twins, Fortune Girl, Forbidden Throne, Candy Dreams, Goldwyn's Fairies, Beautiful Bones, Jurassic World, Sugar Parade, Six Acrobats, 108 Heroes, Castle Builder II, Oink Country Love, Gnome Wood, 108 Heroes Multiplier Fortunes, Monster Wheels, Halloween, Lucky Links, King Tusk, Highlander.
There's no doubt that there were some absolutely corking releases in 2018 from Microgaming. Castle Builder II build on the original quest aspect of the game with some fabulous new features, Goldwyn's Fairies was as fun to play as it was beautiful to look at. 108 Heroes and Huangdi the Yellow Emperor were two excellent additions to the growing number of Asian themed slots and Pollen Party was a cheerful slot. However, for sheer theatrical excellence and a number of fantastic bonus features, not to mention a superb soundtrack taken straight from the film, the Phantom of the Opera slot just about shades it for me this year.
2018 - Top Release (so far) - Sidewinder
Other 2018 releases (so far) - Deco Diamonds, Lucky Little Gods, Playboy Gold, Dream Date, Diamond Empire, Temple of Tut, Poke The Guy, Amazing Aztecs, Wild Scarabs, Robin of Sherwood, Exotic Cats, Romanov Riches, Lucha Legends, Reel Talent.
So far this year, most of Microgaming's top releases have been part of their partnerships with other software development companies with the likes of Rainbrew, Cash of Kingdoms, Fortunium and Wicked Tales Dark Red all good examples of that. These newer games, plus the amusing Poke the Guy game, boast a number of different new features, the Sidewinder slot is perhaps the most innovative and top release so far this year with two sideways scrolling reels alongside the usual set up, offering an innovative way to activate the bonuses and win a large cash prize.
Looking back over Microgaming's back catalogue their impressive list of games each year, in some years churning out one classic game after another, is a reminder of just how strong the company is in terms of addressing the needs of the slot and casino gaming community. With new partnerships promising a raft of new games and features, the first games of which we have seen in 2017 and 2018, it looks like the future is even more rosy for the Isle of Man-based slots giants.
Byline: This article was published by Mega Moolah expert Henry. Media and other enquiries.