5 Lions Megaways: Slot Overview
Since 5 Lions Megaways is the fourth instalment in the series, a question arose as to why developer Pragmatic Play is pushing the number 5 specifically? After a bit of digging, it appears the number 5, or wǔ, in Chinese numerology is an auspicious number associated with both the five elements (fire, water, wood, metal, earth) and the Chinese Emperor. The entrance to the Forbidden City, for instance, had five arches. So it appears the game is a nod to Chinese culture by celebrating the number 5. That, or cynical players might presume it was a ploy to drive the game up casino listings.
However it's cut, 5 Lions is back, and after the original, a Gold version, plus a Dance version, it was high time for a Megaways makeover. On license from Big Time Gaming, Megaways brings a 6-reel grid with it, landing up to 7 symbols on the outer two reels and up to 8 on the middle four –a setup that can create up to 200,704 ways to win. If you've played 5 Lions Dance, or 5 Lions Gold, or any of the dozens of similar games, you'll be familiar with the look and feel. It includes a quite tasteful wavy blue pattern background, loads of gold trim, classic animals on the reels, and a zithery soundtrack. In moments, players will either be slinking back to enjoy the virtual trip East or dashing to the virtual airport to get the heck out of there.
With the exception of 5 Lions Dance, which is the greatest anomaly in the series, all have been highly volatile games, and 5 Lions Megaways is no different. Rated 5 out of 5, volatility is as high as it gets, while default RTP is 96.5%. If the bonus buy option is not available, other assistance is on hand via an Ante Bet feature. Regular stakes range from 20 p/c to £/€125 per spin - increasing by 25% with the Ante Bet activated. Doing so doubles the chances of triggering free spins.
Pragmatic Play has basically copied and pasted the sprites from 5 Lions Gold to pad out the paytable. That means flowy brush-stroked 10 to A card icons as the low pays, then turtles, fish, frogs, phoenixes and dragons as the premiums. Premium combinations six symbols in length are worth a payout of 2.5 to 25 times the stake. One more dragon makes its way onto the wild tile, landing on reels 2, 3, 4, or 5. It has no value of its own but substitutes all symbols except the Yin & Yang scatter.
5 Lions Megaways: Slot Features
For players who liked the previous 5 Lions games, there's a good chance it's because the bonus rounds had a bunch of free spins/multiplier combinations to choose from. The good news is they are all back, augmented with the power of Megaways and tumble wins.
First, the tumble feature does the task of removing winning symbols from the reels when they hit and replacing them with new symbols. Consecutive wins are possible on any single spin, only coming to an end when no wins line-up. Also, if a winning combination in the base game includes a wild symbol, the wild multiplier increases the value by a factor of x2 to x40.
Now for the 5 Lions' claim to fame - its bevvy of free spins. Triggering them occurs when 3, 4, 5, or 6 Yin & Yang symbols are in view, paying a win worth 3, 5, 25, or 100 times the stake. Next, players choose the bonus game configuration best matching their risk/reward tolerance:
- 25 free spins with x2, x3, or x5 wild multipliers.
- 20 free spins with x3, x5, or x8 wild multipliers.
- 15 free spins with x5, x8, or x10 wild multipliers.
- 13 free spins with x8, x10, or x15 wild multipliers.
- 10 free spins with x10, x15, or x30 wild multipliers.
- 6 free spins with x15, x30, or x40 wild multipliers.
- A mystery option that randomly combines free spins with one of the multiplier options.
When wins occur in free spins, including a wild symbol; the wild randomly takes one of the three possible values from the list of multipliers. Landing 3 scatters at once retriggers the feature with the same number of free spins as were originally chosen.
Can't wait to get your hands on those big wild multipliers? Players can instantly do so by paying 100x the stake for the required number of scatters to and on the next spin.
5 Lions Megaways: Slot Verdict
Like many Asian slots receiving a Megaways upgrade, Pragmatic Play has kept the changes to a minimum. Instead of going design wild, they've kept the bits that made the original popular and sexed it up via Megaways' inherent pulling power. Such is the case in 5 Lions Megaways. Pragmatic Play mercifully hasn't tinkered with the line-up of free spins options which were the selling point of the original. It's easy to imagine cautious gamblers falling for the 25 spins, with weakest multipliers, while slots Evel Knievels dive straight into the 6 spin choice to chase the 40x multiplier. Others will agonise over the one setup that could possibly work best for them.
It might make it easier to choose knowing the RTP remains the same no matter which one picked, as does the max win. Surprisingly, 5 Lions Megaways is capable of smaller payouts than the Gold version, up to 5,000x the bet at most, a disappointing number for a Megaways game. A more realistic figure, perhaps, but for players looking for massive potential, then 5 Lions Megaways simply won't cut it when there are so many bigger games to choose from.
5 Lions fans should be happy enough with the Megaways upgrade, though. Pragmatic Play hasn't done anything to upset them or, for that matter, anything to attract a new crowd. The game does its 5 Lions thing, the long list of free spin options are there; it's just a shame potential was reduced in the process.
The 5 Lions series gets the Megaways treatment with predictable results, though potential is left wanting.