Bandits Thunder Link: Slot Overview
If you can’t beat em, join em seems to be the driving thought process behind Stakelogic’s Wild Western-themed game Bandits Thunder Link. Here the title is about the most imaginative thing going for it. While some developers take inspiration from one game at a time, Stakelogic decided to hit two birds with one stone by rolling together elements of two juggernauts of the Western genre - NetEnt’s Dead or Alive 2 and Relax Gaming’s Money Train 2. Trying to cover everything often leads to being spread thin; let’s see if Bandits Thunder Link avoids this fate.
It starts well, where we find a 5x3, 10-payline game grid located in a dusty frontier town, with a train smoking away at a platform to the side. Apologies for getting all health & safety, but those tracks do look dangerously close to the town’s buildings. Surely, no one wants to be banking their gold and get covered in clouds of soot at the same time? Alright, we get it, Stakelogic went for mood over realism, and a surprisingly groovy Western soundtrack completes the picture.
Available on any device, Bandits Thunder Link offers stakes ranging from 10 p/c to £/€10 per spin. It’s a pretty high-powered beast too, offering a large win 50,000x cap to go with its highly volatile math model. Not a lot goes on during the base game due to an absence of modifiers, though full line wins aren’t bad. Skipping the main game is possible should the bonus buy be available where you're playing. However, there is no mention of whether doing so affects the game’s RTP, which has a value of 95.6%.
Making use of 10 paylines, wins hit when 3 or more identical symbols land adjacently from the leftmost reel. One exception is the gold bars symbol which pays out on 2 of a kind, followed by sheriff badges, pistols, hats, and horseshoes as the premium symbols. These are worth 50 to 150 times your stake for 5 of a kind. The rest are 10 to A card royals making up the low pays. The last symbol, for now, are the wilds, landing on all reels to replace regular symbols. These ones payout 0.5, 5, 50, or 250x the bet for 2, 3, 4, or 5 on a line.
Bandits Thunder Link: Slot Features
The cowboy corpse scatter symbol is your ticket to the bonus round where 3 different games await - you choose which one you wish to play. It is kind of cheating that Stakelogic based each of them on hugely popular features from other studios. As well as opening up the bonus games, scatters pay 2, 5, 25, or 500 times your bet when 2, 3, 4, or 5 land.
The first game up is Wild Wild Wins. This one comes with 12 free spins where every wild turns sticky, and every winning combination has its value multiplied by x2. If a scatter symbol lands during this round, +5 free spins are added, though this can only happen once.
Next is Wild Bonanza which also starts with 12 free spins and uses sticky wilds. The difference is that 2 or 3 wilds on the same reel become x2 or x3 wild multipliers, instead of a general x2 multiplier.
Lastly, we get a Money Train 2 style feature for Thunder Link - starting with 3 spins. When a symbol lands, spins are reset to 3 again. These symbols could be bet multipliers or one of the following modifiers:
- Lock symbols add another reel, up to 6 at the most.
- Revolver symbols add their bet multiplier to all visible symbols.
- Money hats collect all bet multiplier in view and add them to itself.
- Dynamite adds its multiplier to all other visible symbols.
- Safes will collect the multipliers of all visible symbols and adds them to itself during the whole feature.
Gunslingers who want to skip the small talk and get right to the shootout can do so via the bonus buy feature. It costs 100x your bet to land, triggering scatters on the next spin.
Bandits Thunder Link’s got everything else a rootin’-tootin’ Western slot needs, so why not bung a gamble feature on there as well? This one is the standard face-down card drill, where guessing the right colour or suit doubles or quadruples your winnings, or loses it all when you guess wrong.
Bandits Thunder Link: Slot Verdict
If you haven’t played Dead or Alive 2 for a while, Bandits Thunder Link reignites the love affair with sticky wilds. Providing enough of them land during the feature, of course. When they do, it’s like robbing the stagecoach. Being able to choose between several features is always fun too. You can live dangerously by selecting the Wild Bonanza or go for the safer yet less heroic Wild Wild Wins option. Or ditch them both to go for the Money Train 2 option. Big wins are possible in any bonus round, offering max wins of up to 50,000 times your stake.
There’s no doubting the thrills or winning opportunities here, yet there is a nagging feeling this has all been done better elsewhere. Some excellent results were achieved during test runs, but Bandits Thunder Link reinforces the fact you just can’t beat the original. Its sticky wild bonus games don’t have the thick anything-goes atmosphere of DoA2. Nor does the Thunder Link feature hold a candle to Money Train 2 – despite the count up animation being a dead ringer. Bandits Thunder Link is an entertaining game; it’s just you might feel you are missing out by playing this one since the ‘real things’ are a few clicks away.
Bandits Thunder Link is a bit like some cowboy hitting town after a few days of rustling cattle with a stash of hard-earned gold in their pocket. Then going upstairs at the saloon only to find their favourite has the night off, so they have to settle for one of the backups. But hey, backups get the job done too, and so does Bandits Thunder Link, though it’s hard not to when emulating some of the best in the industry.
It doesn’t quite match the thrills of the games it imitates, but Bandits Thunder Link is still technically capable of exciting Western gaming.