Banana Odyssey (Microgaming): Overview
Officially announced and showcased during the all-important London iGaming conference earlier this year, Banana Odyssey was hyped as one of Microgaming's upcoming flagship titles. Overall, the Microgaming stand was as depressing as ever, and with big money spent on trying to build hype for its line of ridiculously weak games, it became painfully clear that the company had learned nothing from its past mistakes.
Reviewing slots from Microgaming and its partnering studios is usually as tedious as it is playing them, but booting up Banana Odyssey actually proved to be an awe-inspiring moment. As it turns out, this is one of the best looking online slots we've seen this year, and it's got an excellent soundtrack and rhythm supporting the superb design. Being a slot machine, however, there's another dimension to take into consideration other than what you see on the surface. After all, it's your money on the line.
Produced by Slingshot Studios and powered by the Microgaming Quickfire platform, Banana Odyssey is slot that centres around two astronaut chimps, Buck and Chip, that have been sent on an intergalactic journey to Banana planet where the sweet yellow fruit grows in abundance. As you're likely already aware of, primates in space is not all fiction. In 1948, Albert, a rhesus macaque, became the first primate astronaut when, carried by a V2 rocket, he rode to over 63 km above earth's surface. Unfortunately, Albert never made it back alive as he died of suffocation. Since then, many more primates have been sent into space, the last one as late as 2013, when Iran launched two Rhesus macaques into space and safely returned them.
The setup of the slot is quite standard with its 5-reel, 10-payline reel set and 96.31% RTP. It comes with an expanding wild re-spin feature that can turn the whole reel set wild in the main game, and a free spins game with sticky wild reels. You can join the two astro-chimps on their odyssey on all devices, including iOS and Android, from 10 cents to 400€ per spin.
Visually, Banana Odyssey is undoubtedly a pretty experience through which Slingshot Studios designers get to show off their impressive skills. Floating through space and with an excellent funky soundtrack playing, symbols on the reels include the usual lower value A, K, Q and J card suits. You'll also see more lucrative zap guns, Astro Nuts as well as the two Astro-chimps, Buck and Chip. The latter two are the most rewarding, giving you 10 times your stake for a combination of 5. Winning combinations can be formed from both directions, left to right and right to left, which essentially doubles your chances.
Banana Odyssey (Microgaming): Features
The Banana planet represents the wild symbol, which only appears on the three middle reels. When it hits, the Expanding Wilds feature is activated, leading the wild to expand to fully cover the reel. Moreover, while held in place, a re-spin is then played. If yet another wild hits, the same cycle repeats. At most, you can get three fully stacked wild reels as a result of the Expanding Wilds feature in the main game.
You get more of the same in the Free Spins feature which comes into play when you land three scatter symbols on reels 2, 3 and 4. With 10 free spins awarded, any wild symbol that appears in view will expand here as well. Not only that, it will also remain locked in place throughout the feature round. Unfortunately, it's not possible to retrigger the free spins game.
Banana Odyssey (Microgaming): Verdict
Banana Odyssey is an exceptional looking slot, but slick graphics cannot cover up shockingly low payouts. The popularity of simple retro slots like Book of Ra is making it perfectly clear that the visual appearance of a slot machine is of secondary importance. If we want to play video games, we'll play video games. It's the thrill of winning big that motivates most gamblers.
In Banana Odyssey, even a 10x win is celebrated as a "big win", which says it all really. Even more disturbing is that the game has a max win of around 400 times your stake. It makes one question if Microgaming and its partners have joined Buck and Chip to live on Banana planet. Banana Odyssey could have been a great slot if the mathematical designers knew what they were doing, but as it stands, this game is all hype and no bite.
Banana Odyssey wastes its great promise with truly insulting payouts.