All Star Knockout (Northern Lights Gaming): Overview
The last time we crossed paths with Northern Lights Gaming was via the slot Rocky’s Gold. There were a number of fun mining themed slots in 2019; sadly, said slot was not one of them. This time around the Swedish/Mancunian developer has ditched the pickaxes in favour of some good old fashioned retro slots action. All Star Knockout is a new fruit-themed slot from Northern Lights Gaming produced and developed in collaboration with the Yggdrasil Masters Program. The name is no random pick out of a hat – it describes what the game is all about. That means collecting stars to trigger bonus features. You don’t need us to tell you that fruit slots are a dime a dozen, but hopefully, All Star Knockout is a tad more fun to play than Rocky’s Gold was. Ugh.
Visually, All Star Knockout is basic and in keeping with the theme, but the animations have a decent flow to them. Behind the reels is a simple blue background with a white, explosion type effect. The soundtrack sticks with tradition, and we get a jazzy, 70s inspired, adult movie styled track that is popular with this type of slot. So far the only surprise is the unusual boxes of symbols and stars next to the reels. This is the collection area called the Award Board and plays a key role in the features which we will cover shortly.
Northern Lights has expanded the traditional 3x3 format by incorporating 5 reels and 4 rows on which you need to land combos of 3 or more of a kind on any of the 20 fixed paylines. The 8 regular pay symbols that populate the game are classic slot symbols all the way - we get lemons, plums, oranges, cherries, a blue 7, a white 7, and a red 7. The one exception is the game’s logo which is the most lucrative symbol at 5 times the stake for a line of five. To keep things simpler, we have to assume, Northern Lights has chosen to exclude wilds from the game.
The user interface sticks with the retro vibe and bets are controlled by clicking the +/- buttons. There is a large range of betting options available which start at 20 p/c per spin and go up to £/€400. Behind the scenes, the game’s math model throws up an RTP rating of 96.09%. That’s fine, but the low volatility of the math model may be somewhat of a bummer if you're a hardcore gamer despite having quite a decent potential on board. It does mean that wins come around fairly often, however, as do the features, which is a little surprising due to the way they work.
All Star Knockout (Northern Lights Gaming): Features
There are two main features to cover here – the Random Bonus, and the All Star Knockout Bonus. After a losing spin, the game can activate the Random Bonus which awards up to 3 win spins. Win spins are free spins that are guaranteed to pay something. They will literally keep spinning again and again until a combination lands.
As the name suggests, the aim of the game is to use stars to knock out symbols. Whenever a star symbol lands, it's collected and placed randomly next to one of the pay symbols in the Award Board. When a symbol has collected 5 stars next to it, then the All Star Knockout Bonus is triggered and 5 free spins are awarded. Free spins have a multiplier ranging from x2, x3, x4, or x5 applied to every win during the round. This multiplier is randomly selected.
Stars continue to show up on the reels during free spins. It's possible to collect five stars next to another symbol which adds 2 more free spins to the tally. Where it gets interesting, is that each time a symbol collects five stars, it is completely removed from the reels. This can work to your advantage if lower value symbols are removed, but it can kind of go against you if the higher value symbols are removed.
One final point about the collection system. If you change bet levels mid-way through a session, then the star collections start from scratch. Your progress is saved though, so if you return to the previous bet level then you continue the game where it was left off. Also, the game offers players the chance to short cut to the free spins round. There isn’t a buy option as such, but players can hit Gamble to spin a needle to try their luck. The cost of doing so depends on the bet level and the number of stars that have been collected up till that point.
All Star Knockout (Northern Lights Gaming): Verdict
With its basic graphics and overdone theme, it can be quick to write off another average looking fruit slot. But, hear us out; All Star Knockout has a few decent things going for it. Maybe because expectations weren’t exactly sky-high, they were easier to exceed. It did take a while to warm to All Star Knockout due to the generic overdone nature of the theme, but it has a few tricks that might appeal to fans of the genre.
First, the way that stars are collected means that it's possible to build up a stash next to several symbols at once. The game can trigger free spins from one of the symbols; then two things can happen. Either more symbols get 5 stars which removes them from the reels and expands the bonus round. Or, you can trigger one bonus game quite quickly after the previous one is finished. No guarantees of course, but it can happen. The second trick is that All Star Knockout has quite a decent potential of 4,500 times the stake up for grabs. Getting anywhere near that is going to require an insane amount of star collecting, but technically it's possible.
Overall, All Star Knockout is a more coherent experience than Rocky’s Gold was for sure. It might not be super exciting, but it has its place. Retro fans up for a fruity themed slot with a few extras bolted on and decent potential might be up for a spin or two.
Can't get enough of games with 'Knockout' in the title? Have a look at Knockout Diamonds from rivaling developer ELK Studios.
Considering how incredibly dull some of the modern takes on the fruit slot theme are, All Star Knockout could have been a lot worse.