Hidden Gems: Surprisingly Good Online Pokies
You have undoubtedly heard of online pokies such as Chain Reactors, South Park and Rainbow Riches. These are the big name games, created by the big name companies. However, as there are thousands of pokies out there, sometimes the best ones are the ones that few people know about. These are the pokies you will stumble upon almost by chance, the pokies that you might not think a lot of, but as soon as you play them you become hooked.
In this article we’ll focus on those pokies, picking out some of the best games that haven’t received the praise or notoriety that the deserve.
This is a soccer-themed pokie that is available on just a few casinos, usually with a tweak or two to make it look like an exclusive to a particular casino. This game was released around the time of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and it has remained in the shadows ever since, but it is a fantastic little pokie.
There are a few wild reels in this pokie that ensure big wins if you manage to line them up. There is also a fantastic bonus round, and one that appears much more frequently than other bonus rounds in other games. The bonus round is triggered randomly and you’ll know when it is coming, because the screen dims and the music changes.
At this point, one of two things will happen. Either a soccer boot will be thrown at the center reel or a soccer boot or can of spray paint will be thrown at the 5th reel. If it is the former, nothing else happens and the game continues with no wins paid. If it is the latter, then the other 4 reels will have something thrown at them as well, with some reels getting more than one item thrown at them. Every time it is a soccer boot then nothing happens, but for every can of spray paint that is thrown, a wild symbol will be created where it lands.
If you get 5 or more of these, which is fairly common, then you will have a very rewarding line of wilds running through the game. We don’t need to tell you just how profitable this can be, particularly if you already have some wild symbols or reels.
Released by WMS Gaming, this slot is based on The Wizard of Oz film. All characters from the film make an appearance here and the four main characters each have their own bonus symbol and line, with Dorothy appearing on line 1, the Scarecrow on line 2, and so on. If you get two of these and then land a bonus symbol on the final reel, then you will trigger the bonus round.
That’s not all though, because there are three bonus symbols to get, triggering three different bonus rounds. Also, each individual character symbol has its own benefits when you enter the bonus rounds.
The rounds include the Wicked Witch round, which is a “pick-me” round, whereby you choose from an array of hidden objects and try to find monetary values, with the round ending when you choose the witch; a free spins round, with the character symbols allowing you to get everything from additional free spins, to a wild reel and a multiplier; and a simple Snowglobe round, which typically returns between 5x and 20x your stake.
What’s more, if you only land one character symbol and a bonus symbol, then the remaining reels will re-spin, allowing you another chance to trigger the bonus. There is also a random feature known as a “What’s Happening?” feature. This can occur at anytime and can turn between 1 and 4 reels wild. If only 1 reel turns wild, then a multiplier of either 2x or 5x will also land.
The pokies that introduce something new are the ones that deserve our attention the most. After all, this industry is not going to advance if developers keep making the same old games. Gold Strike is one of the games that changes base game play just a little, making the game a whole lot better in the process.
Gold Strike is set in the gold rush period, with bonus rounds based around mining for gold. It is the base game where the action is though because every time you score a line in Gold Strike, that line is locked in place and the rest of the lines and symbols spin again. In fact, it keeps spinning until there are no more lines to lock in place. This means getting a 100% win is much more common on this game than it is on any other.
As for the bonus round, you need to get 6 dynamite symbols anywhere on the board to trigger it. This sounds like a lot and is twice what is usually required. However, when you factor in the re-spins, which occur as soon as you get just three of these symbols, then it is fairly common to enter the bonus round. In the bonus round you are faced with 6 tin cans and asked to choose one, returning between 3x your stake and 20x your stake, depending on how many dynamite symbols you triggered to get there. What’s more, there is a hidden symbol behind one of the cans and if you choose this then you enter another round, one that involves a map. If you choose rightly on this map, then you will be faced with three mines which return a lot of money when you pick one.
The treasure map stage is difficult to get beyond, because your chances of choosing right are slim, but the rewards are big if you make it past this point so it is worth it. Out of 40+ visits to the first bonus round, and 5 or 6 visits to the treasure map stage, we have personally only been to the final round once, and when we did we ended up choosing the smallest option when faced with returns ranging from 50x to 200x.
This looked like it would be a huge game when it was first released. It offered something a little different and had a lot of money spent on getting it out there, but it seemed that within a couple of weeks of its launch everyone had just forgotten about it. This is strange, because Western Belles is a great game. Of course, it is not without its flaws, but the same can be said for most pokies.
The main lure of Western Belles is that you can trigger a wild reel to be there for every spin that you make. This is unusual to say the least, but the benefits are not as great as you would think. This is partly because there are five reels and therefore a fairly decent chance the wild reel will land on the 3rd, 4th or 5th reel and be completely useless in most cases. The game also pays a lot less for standard wins than many other games do, which means that even if you stack the symbols up and get full lines, you’re not going to get a huge return. Most importantly, perhaps, Western Belles only triggers this feature if you stake a certain amount, and this amount may be out of reach for many small stake players.
All of that aside though, this is a great game. It has a fantastic bonus round and that, in combination with the wild reel, makes for a very generous game. Yes it is frustrating at times to get what look like big wins only to find out they are nothing of the sort, and this might be part of the reason why Western Belles struggled to get a foothold in the pokies community. But it definitely deserves considerably more attention than it gets.
The X Factor
Whilst we are not big fans of the show (although the auditions are amusing) we love the X Factor pokie. This is partly helped by the fact that when we first played it we won big. Still, that is not the only thing that has endeared us to this game, as it is also a very slick and attractive pokie, and one that comes with a few cool bonus rounds and features.
The X Factor pokie is also a jackpot pokie in many online casinos, and whilst the jackpot rarely goes beyond $100,000, it’s still a sizable amount to have as an extra. If you are put-off by progressive jackpots because they tend to offer fewer “smaller” wins than most other pokies, than don’t be. The X Factor pokie has a high payout percentage and we have encountered no such issues during the many hours we have spent playing this game. In fact, it is one of the few games that we have played extensively and would still be in a very nice profit if we calculated our total earnings and losses.