Aztec Bonanza (Pragmatic Play): Overview
You can see why developers are tempted to keep revisiting the Aztec theme. The art, architecture, and ruins provide designers with a ton of great inspiration to incorporate into their game. Not to mention the mystery that surrounds it. It’s a shame Pragmatic couldn’t have used more of it with Aztec Bonanza. While the background art recreates the ancient civilisation quite well, the game area, the part that players spend the most time looking at, is wildly out of place. Join us as we don shades and spin Pragmatic’s latest exotically themed slot.
As the title signifies, Aztec Bonanza takes players on a trip through the ancient and mysterious culture of the Aztecs. That is, if they’d survived to the present day and developed a fixation with neon. The setup is quite an unusual one, although not unseen before, and begins with symbols arranged in a diamond-like shape - there are 5 reels, with rows in a 2-4-6-4-2 pattern. On each corner of the grid are blockers which are removed at certain points and can open up the grid. Obviously, this seriously affects win ways which can go as high as 7,776 when the full 5x6 grid is in play. To get started, players are able to manipulate the bet level from 1-10, and the coin value from 0.01 – 0.50. These options provide total stakes from 30 p/c up to £/€150 per spin.
When it comes to the rest of the numbers, Aztec Bonanza proudly displays a substantial top prize on the intro screen. Pragmatic’s volatility meter is also on display and at 3.5/5 bolts suggests a medium setting which is a bit lower than they have tended to go recently. The default RTP, meanwhile, is comfortably on the respectable side with a solid rating of 96.53% although this can be lower depending on where you play the game.
The neon nightmare is most pronouncedly expressed with the paytable which is rife with random glowing symbols. On the low side are bright clubs, hearts, and spades – yet no diamonds for some reason. Triangles and squares make up the mid-table, followed by a moon, a blue gem, and a green orb thing as the three premiums. The green orb is worth the most at 2.5 times the stake. There are low values across the board due to the inclusion of a cascade win system known as the Tumble mechanic. Wins are formed by 3 or more adjacent matching symbols on any row. When a winning combination appears on the reels, the symbols part of the winning combination are removed to allow new symbols to fall into the gaps. This can result in chain reactions of wins which not only crank up the payouts but also ties into the features below.
Aztec Bonanza (Pragmatic Play): Features
As alluded to, the Tumble feature works hand in hand with the Symbol Unlocking feature. Every 2 tumbles remove one of the blocked corners of the reels. This brings more symbols and win ways into the game, increasing the chances of landing more combinations. Also, whenever one of the corner blockers is removed, it triggers one of the bonus features.
When the top left corner is unlocked, Mystery Symbols are added to the reels. The gold, the green-eyed statue is the mystery symbol and all change into matching random pay symbols. Uncovering the top right corner transforms up to three low-value symbols on the board with high-value ones. If the blockers are removed from the bottom left corner, reels 1 and 2 kind of combine, and big 2x2 expanded symbols can land. Lastly, when the bottom right corner is uncovered, the same thing happens to reels 4 and 5. That is, they sort of combine to allow Big 2x2 Symbols as well.
When the blockers on all four corners are removed, and no more tumble are possible, then the game triggers the Free Spins feature. The Free Spins round uses the full 5x6 grid for its whole duration - 5 free spins are awarded, and every single spin has one of the modifiers randomly applied to it – Mystery Symbols, Symbol Transform, or Giant Symbols. The rules for these modifiers are the same as explained in the previous paragraph. The Free Spins round cannot be retriggered.
Aztec Bonanza (Pragmatic Play): Verdict
When booting up the game for the first time, we were intrigued by the setup and full of hope due to the juicy winning potential advertised on the splash screen. It didn't take too long, however, for the magic to disappear out the window as the gameplay quickly started to wear thin. First of all, Pragmatic Play has decided to go for the same generic look and feel as Yggdrasil did with their Aztec themed slot Temple Stacks. Literally no effort has gone into making the symbols stand out and even after an hour of playing we couldn't really tell them apart by value. In other words, it gets boring after a while.
This issue isn't helped by the fact that some of the features are flat out ridiculous. Take the symbol transformation feature for example. Most of the time its useless and all it does is to annoy the player as it skips the second reel (which prevents symbols from forming winning combinations) whilst insisting on going through with the full animation while you sit there waiting like a fool. Moreover, the free spins feature, if you leave out the fact that it's the part of the game that holds all the potential, is actually less interesting than the base game.
Its saving grace, of course, is that huge potential dangled before players on the intro screen. Up to 19,000 times the stake is a mighty tempting lure to be sure. How many spins it took to hit that amount during simulations would be an interesting stat, especially since Pragmatic are known to over-exaggerate the winning potential. For now, even that significant potential isn’t enough to induce a return to this luminous patch of South America.
To surmise, Aztec Bonanza has set the standard for this type of slot relatively low. The good thing for fans of the genre is that there are bound to be new alternatives popping up soon enough.
Game title: Aztec Bonanza
● Reels: 5
● Rows: 2 - 6
● Paylines: 384 - 7,776
● RTP: 95.78%
● Max Payout: 19,000x
● Volatility: M (3.5/5)
● Bets: 0.30 - 150
● Features: Tumble Mechanic, Mystery Symbols, Giant Symbols, Symbol Transformation, Free Spins
● Release Date: March 5, 2020