You can't beat an old classic! Here's 5 of Microgaming's most venerable slots
There's a reason that goes way beyond nostalgia that explains people's love for things from the past. Whether it is the style of a certain period in time, such as the Victorian or Art Deco period, classic older cars, or simply an older period property, there is something innate within us that sees these things as desirable and beautiful.
Of course, when you transpose that from everyday life and onto the Internet, the time scales need to adjust accordingly. In the digital realm, which is barely a couple of decades old, anything released last week can be seen as old news. Anything released a year ago can be miles out of date and as for five years ago, well those things are positively archaic.
Yet, as with real life, it would be wrong to dismiss some of the older things we can find on the Internet as they can still provide us with entertainment. This is particularly the case in the online slot industry where new games continue to push the boundaries of what is possible within a slot game, and older games slowly get dropped down people's play lists and eventually forgotten about altogether.
So with that in mind, I am going to bring you details on five games from the early days of Microgaming. These games come from the time when the company was barely a few years old and its slots offerings were considerably more simplistic than the games that they release nowadays. Some even stem, dare I say it, from the final years of the 20th century.
So let's take a step back in time to when slot games first started to proliferate on the Internet and have a look at these Microgaming classics that even predate games like Mega Moolah by a good few years.
January 1998 - Martian Money
One of the very first Microgaming slots, released along with two others back in January 1998, was the enjoyable and potentially lucrative 3-reel slot (as most of these older games are) Martian Money.
Featuring a group of three-eyed, slime green Martians as the Wild symbol in the game, and a selection of red, orange and purple planets, plus an obligatory rocket, the slot saw you able to select the value of your coin and the number of coins you wanted to bet on a single line (from one up to five).
The reels had five pay lines in play but the reels were set so that they could land off-set, which meant that you could land either two symbols on the reel, or one, but this meant that you would have blank spaces on the reel, which of course meant that you would not receive a payout on that line.
The jackpot prize for the slot was 5,000 coins and this was paid out when you landed the three Wild Martian symbols running diagonally from the bottom left corner of the reels to the top right corner.
This style of slot would go on to become the staple format for many early Microgaming releases, with three reels, five pay lines and just a few symbols on the reels. However, they would also prove to be hugely popular and provide the foundation for the company's success.
June 1999 - Genie's Gems
18 months after the release of Martian Money came one of the most important slots in Microgaming's history, although at the time nobody fully realised how important the Genie's Gems slot would prove to be. It is a slot you may not have come across, but it is hugely important because it was the first slot that broke the mould of 3-reel slots from Microgaming as Genie's Gems introduced two additional reels into the mix; the first Microgaming five reel slot.
The game was loosely based on the Aladdin story and featured a magic lamp, a magic carpet, a genie and some far flung palaces from ancient Persia amongst the symbols, along with the playing card low symbols from 10 through to the queen. The bet size was set at 1.00 per line and you could bet on up to five pay lines on each spin.
The Genie's Gems slot also featured a bigger than usual cash prize of 10,000 coins for five genies on any of the five pay lines, again an innovation as previously the highest prize was only available on the last pay line of the three reel slot.
It seems strange to think that this slot is the forefather of all of Microgaming's five reel slots that are now commonplace and provided you are happy at betting that amount of money per spin, it is still a fun slot to play, albeit it plays a little more slowly than its more modern counterparts.
September 1999 - Jurassic Jackpot
Before Microgaming became one of the biggest names in slot gaming development and before it became the norm for companies to look to film, TV and other media as inspiration for slot games, Jurassic Jackpot was arguably Microgaming's first unofficial stab at making a slot game that was designed for slot players and movie fans.
Although not an official release, the style of the Jurassic Jackpot slot makes it clear that it was inspired by the famous Jurassic Park series of films that were popular at the time and which remain so today.
This 3-reel slot boasted a Wild symbol in the form of the dinosaur against the orange background which guaranteed a win and which also paid out a multiplier of either 2x or 4x the standard win, depending on how many of the Wild symbols landed.
This game also featured one of the first moving backdrops for any slot, with a flying dinosaur moving across the top of the screen.
It is fitting to think that a few years later, Microgaming would acquire the license to produce slots based on the films for real and leave us agape at the quality of slots like Jurassic Park and Jurassic World.
October 1999 - Fruit Slots
It seems strange to think of retro slots being around in 1999 as this is the period for many people where they first began to play games, but there is no doubt that Microgaming were ahead of their time when they developed what I feel is the first real retro slot in their catalogue, Fruit Slots.
As the name suggests, this is a game that is a recreation of a classic fruit machine. The lowest value symbols are the famous Cherries, and just two cherries on the reels would award you a win. Other fruits included lemons, oranges, plums and melons and there were also three different Bar symbols, a single, double and treble.
You could wager up to 3.00 per game on this single pay line slot, with a minimum value spin of 1.00. The game however also offered a bonus symbol in all the five fruit together in a single symbol. This offered an instant win if you landed one of 5 coins per coin you wagered. However, if you landed all three on the winning line, that win value would soar to 2,500 coins.
With retro slot gaming now being a huge industry, it seems strange to think the first retro online slot from Microgaming was released almost 20 years ago, but that is the truth and it remains a hugely enjoyable and simple slot to play today, especially for novice slot players.
April 2000 - 3-Reel Lots A Loot
If you want to trace the birth of the Mega Moolah slot, or indeed all of Microgaming's high quality progressive jackpot games, back to a single point then that would be the very first of the company's progressive jackpot slots, which was the 3-reel version of the Lots A Loot slot, which is still available to play today.
Bets started at 2.50 per spin and the slot offered a mix of single, double and treble Bar symbols, lucky sevens and the Lots A Loot symbol on the reel. The Lots A Loot symbol being Wild ane able to substitute for the other two symbols to create winning lines.
There were five lines in play on the slot with the minimum bet of 0.50 per line, hence the maximum bet of 2.50. You had to bet that to win the progressive jackpot as this was only triggered if you landed the three Lots A Loot Wild symbols on the fifth pay line.
Land the same three Wild symbols on any of the other four pay lines and you could win from 1000 coins up to 2,500 coins, but the progressive jackpot was often much larger than this amount.
There's now a five-reel version of the Lots A Loot slot you can play alongside the three-reel version and both offer access to the same progressive jackpot prize.
It is really interesting to go back in time and see the development of slot games from Microgaming in its formative years and it is a testament to the game's quality, that they still stand up to play in the modern day and are as often as enjoyable as any modern slot.
Byline: This article was published by Mega Moolah expert Henry. Media and other enquiries.