Slot machines have come a long way since the end of the 19th century when Charles Fey’s Liberty Bell first allowed players to win cash by spinning matching reels; we’ve had over one hundred years of development offline and some two decades of progress online but the basic nature of slots hasn’t changed that much.
The idea is of course to line up matching symbols in winning combinations and there are plenty of online and offline slots which still stick to that basic premise. Three reel slots are still popular with a certain demographic and there’s an attractive simplicity about the gameplay which makes their popularity understandable.
However there is also a growing section of slot machine fans who require a little more excitement from their gaming time and the introduction of bonus features was an obvious step forward in this direction. UK fruit machines have had extra features for as long as they’ve been in existence; the majority of prize money is won via these extra games rather than just matching the symbols and it hasn’t taken long for online slot machines to see some value in using this model.
Of course video slots make it relatively easy to integrate bonus features into the gameplay and most five reel slots will now chuck in a bonus game or two; like fruit machines, plenty of money can be won during these features as an array of wild symbols and multipliers come into play.
Bonus features are generally triggered by landing three or more ‘scatter’ symbols anywhere on the screen or another designated symbol on the paylines you’ve selected. Sometimes the bonus game might just be a certain number of free spins but often you will whisked to another screen where a money-spinning game awaits you. Rapunzel by Quickspin Gaming is a prime example of an entertaining bonus game – you win free spins but during the free spins round the idea is to climb Rapunzel’s tower to rescue the princess by landing certain symbols.
That’s just one example of a decent bonus game but most new slot offerings tend to offer something in that direction. Bonus features are now a necessary addition to attract and retain a new and younger demographic to the world of online slots.