Following our post that taught you all about the world of Wild symbols, we thought it would also be useful for the uninitiated to get to know some of the most popular types of bonus rounds that appear in slot games. Bonus games have become a staple of video slots, with developers keen to grab a player's interest. They offer a fun respite to the monotonous clicking, but can also be a very lucrative part of the game. However, if you're new to slots it can be slightly overwhelming to be inundated with bells and whistles, never mind confusing! We're running through the most commonly awarded bonus games and features to hopefully give you some insight into what to expect.
Extra Spins bonus rounds are the most common to occur in a slot game, and these are usually triggered by symbols called Scatters. Scatter symbols are found throughout the base game and usually, it takes collecting three or more symbols to trigger the round. As the name suggests, scatter symbols don't need to fall on a payline to create a combination as they can be ‘scattered' across the reels.
Once activated, the extra spins round will give you a certain number of spins, and these will usually play out at the same stake amount and number of pay line as you were playing before the round begun. The number of spins awarded varies from game to game, and normally the more scatters you collect on the base game affects this.
Many slots also award a multiplier value on their extra spins rounds, boosting the value of a winning combination. Extra spins rounds can also often be re-triggered, which occurs when another set of scatter symbols are found during the bonus round.
Whilst extra spins rounds hardly seem complicated, a Pick Me bonus round is arguably even easier. Usually, like other bonus rounds, a Pick Me bonus can be triggered by creating a combination of bonus symbols. These games may also be randomly awarded.
Once activated, a player will simply be asked to select a certain square or object, in the hope that it will uncover a multiplier or prize. Sometimes players will only be able to click one location, whereas in some games you may be able to carry on choosing locations. In this type of round, players will be able to pick a number of locations until they uncover a game over symbol of some sort. Winnings from these games are usually accumulated, be that multipliers or coins, and awarded as a sum at the end of the round.
A good example of a Pick Me bonus can be found in Nektan's Troll's Tale. Three troll symbols will activate the round and after that you'll be presented with a 5×5 grid where you pick one symbol per row. Under each symbol is a multiplier on your original bet, or a soldier. A solider will, unfortunately, end the bonus round.
Another common bonus round feature is the opportunity to spin a wheel. It's popularity in video slots is probably due to it's simplicity, as it requires literally no skill at all. Like the Pick Me bonus round, this type of bonus is mainly triggered by collecting bonus symbols.After the round is activated, the player needs only to spin the wheel and see where it lands. Wheel segments can often include multipliers, instant cash or spins.
Unsurprisingly, some of the best games that feature this type of bonus round are the Wheel of Fortune slot series by IGT. In The Wheel of Fortune On Tour you can spin a full size wheel, like straight out of the TV show, whilst in Wheel of Fortune Triple Extreme you get to spin mini wheels in-game.
These bonus rounds work in similar ways to those listed above, but combine elements to create a bigger bonus game. Journey bonuses, or map bonuses, are those where you are required to spin a wheel or roll a dice to progress on a map or sequence. Once you've spun, you'll move forward a certain amount of spaces, unlocking bonuses or multipliers as you go. The round ends when you hit a collect square or a ‘game over' symbol. It's a bit like the classic snakes and ladders game.
As we've mentioned already, software developers are constantly inventing new features to ensure their slot becomes popular. Bonus rounds are the perfect place for innovation as they don't require a lot of chance to the actual design of the slot, rather they just add new things. We're seeing more and more slots be jam packed with different bonus, some including all the rounds we've featured in one game. However, where can bonus rounds go from here?
It seems that slots developers are now focusing on quality over quantity. Whilst some slots still include a plethora of bonus features, the popularity of slots like Starburst, which have remained relatively simple, are making developers question what players really want from their games. At the end of the day, we play slots because we want to win so the more lucrative the bonus round, the more it will appeal.
In a variety of recent games, including Witch Pickings by NYX and Barcrest's Rainbow Riches Pick n Mix, bonus rounds have become tailored to a player's needs. Games like this allow you to customize the type of reward you wish to see in the bonus rounds, be that multipliers, extra spins or extra possible pay-lines. We love the idea of taking bonus rounds into our own hands, and we're sure we'll be seeing more self-determination from slot games in the future.