We like it when games try new things. It doesn’t always work out, we’ll admit. And it can be a risk to try things, put your money and resources into making a slot, only to see it fail to achieve what you wanted. But innovation is fantastic when it does work. A lot of player favourite titles are specifically favourites because they were different from anything else on the market. Starburst and Gonzo’s Quest are the two most prominent examples of this, still actively played today and have spawned numerous clones as their feature set and gameplay are now part of the industry. So when Microgaming came forward with Sidewinder, we were more than happy to give it a try. And we’re all too pleased that we did, because this title has been a rather pleasant surprise that we found enjoying oh so very much.
How to PlayThe visuals aren’t that fabulous. They look great, and they’re very elegant, but they’re little more than a side show to the main course. You have a solid, royal purple background, and the reels have a dull, dark grey colour. The reels above and below the main reels, however, have small blue and green arrows travelling to the right, indicating they’re not common place reels. The user interface is the same regardless of whether you play on desktop or PC. Once again, it’s elegant, trimmed down, allowing you to easily access all the options without getting in your way. The main course, of course, is gameplay and the special feature. You play in a 3x5x5x5x3 playing field, out of which only the middle three are used for regular gameplay. The three extra slots at the top and bottom are reserved for Wilds, which can, in turn, only appear when a specific Wild symbol appears on the middle three reels, which activates the upper reel, the lower reel, or both of them. This expands the amount of active paylines and your chances of winning, as a result.
Betting Options and PayoutYou can bet between $0.10 up to $100 per spin, which is a wide range that should please casual gamblers and high rollers alike. The title’s high variance, however, may turn off the casual playerbase, as it can take a while to reach the jackpots, which may usually be out of reach of their wallets. For those who can last through the dry spells, however, the jackpot windfall is quite greater than medium volatility titles to make up for things. The RTP for Sidewinder is 96.02%, which is above average for video slots.
Symbols and Extra FeaturesThe game’s symbols go for a more retro feel, with HD visuals backing them up. You have golden stars, purple spades, red hearts, blue clovers, and orange diamonds, as well as bars, four leaf clovers, silver horseshoes, golden bells and lucky sevens. The main feature of this title is the Sidewinder Wilds. Regular Wilds come in yellow, but Sidewinder Wilds are a mixture of green and blue, which either point upwards or downwards. Depending on where Wild points, that extra reel will activate, allowing any Wilds within it to also count towards the winning lines, expanding the active ways to win. You also have a regular free spins feature, activated when three or four Scatters land at the same time. It rewards 6 or 10 free spins, respectively. During free spins, both horizontal bonus reels are activate the entire time, and if Wild appears in the same position in both the upper and lower bonus reel, the reels in between are covered with Wilds, as well. If additional Scatter lands, an extra free spin is rewarded.
Our VerdictWhile we doubt Sidewinder will be a smashing hit like some other experimental titles, it’s proven to be quite an enjoyable feature to toy around with. We hope Microgaming implement it further in other titles – we’d quite like to see something more done with it.
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