Big Bounty Bill (Kalamba Games): Overview
Back in 2002 a series from Joss Whedon called Firefly graced the small screen. It placed the Wild West in outer space, and followed a small-time smuggler called Mal Reynolds and his ragtag crew as they tried to save the galaxy. Despite being canned after just one season, or because of it, the series spawned a cult following who demanded to see more. The studio caved in to a certain degree by releasing a movie which tied up all the loose ends. That brief interlude brings us to today’s review of Big Bounty Bill from Kalamba Games. If ever there was a slot version of Firefly, this is it. Like the series, it uses a futuristic Wild West theme that manages to be both old and new school at the same time.
First impressions are pleasing, with a suitably dusty old town on the frontier as the game’s setting. The scene is capped off by a pair of moons in the top right corner and a brutalist structure in the distance. It’s tastefully done, and you know you’re not in Kansas anymore without needing to be overwhelmed by alienness. You will also notice the game grid which starts out at 5x4 but has 3 extra rows covered by blocking tiles. The base game starts with 1,024 win ways, which increases dramatically when those blocked rows are uncovered. Kalamba fans will clock the similar grid styling and dynamics used on Doctor Electro, and while this is no clone, the two share some similar features we will get to shortly.
Stakes come in unusual denominations, starting at 30 p/c and going as high as £/€300 per spin. Kalamba’s slot catalogue has a wide range of RTP ratings, both good and bad. In this case, Big Bounty Bill sits on the higher side of the spread at 97.33% up to 97.87% when the Hyperbonus has been maxed out. Like many games from Kalamba, the volatility is on the higher side, and you will need plenty of help from the features to make headway with it.
Symbol values on their own are low and need as much boost from expanded reels and win ways as possible. 9 - A start off the paytable, followed by a horse and a bull. Next up are the character symbols, and we don’t get much info on these chaps except that they are all villains. First is the female villain, then the male villain with gun, lastly the male villain with cigar who must be Bill and is worth 3.3 times the stake for 5 of a kind. That doesn’t sound like much, but satisfying amounts are possible when the rows are expanded. With a solid hit rate of 27%, the card royals need three of a kind to payout while the picture symbols only need two. A wild exists, but it doesn’t show up too often. It can land anywhere and substitutes for anything except the Expansion Symbol and the Bonus Symbol.
Big Bounty Bill (Kalamba Games): Features
Several features augment Big Bounty Bill’s gameplay. Expansion Symbols are the ticket for opening up the game’s real potential. When they land, they shoot one of the blocker tiles above. The first, second and third row of blocker tiles can be shot 1, 2, and 4 times respectively. During the base game, this makes a hole in the specific tile when the appropriate number of hits has been made. Then, if 3, 4, or 5, Expansion symbols land on one spin, 3, 5, and 7 Hyperspins are awarded. During Hyperspins, any blockers that had holes in them are removed to activate the positions beneath them. Expansion Symbols continue to fall and whenever they clear a new blocker tile an extra Hyperspin is added. In this way, the grid can be expanded to its maximum size of 5x7, and 16,807 win ways.
The bonus symbol has a spooky-looking dude on it that must be the sheriff. When 3 land, they trigger 2 times the stake and 8 Free Spins. These free spins play out exactly as Hyperspins do, including shooting blocker tiles to reveal more spaces and adding an extra spin for each one removed.
Finally, players can hit the blue button next to the reels to buy the Hyperbonus. This is a way of triggering Hyperspins by side stepping the need for 3 or more Expansion Symbols to land. Players have the choice of activating 8, 15, 20, or 25 spins for 45x, 107x, 164x, and 229x the stake.
Big Bounty Bill (Kalamba Games): Verdict
Big Bounty Bill is quite an average slot and most of the positive aspects are on the superficial side. The look and theme is relatively unique, and it's hard to think of a slot that it directly compares to. Some of the features are similar to Doctor Electro such as the Expansion Symbols, Hyperspins, and the Hyperbonus, but the two are very different slots on the whole.
One part that is often criticized by players within the casino community when it comes to Kalamba is the way they set up their bonus buy options. The RTP may be exceptionally high when in use, but at a cost of 229 times the stake, that's just over the top in our opinion (in Machina Megaways the cost is 337x!).
One oddity that cropped up is the way that winning combinations land. During testing, the most common symbol combination, oddly, was the Male Villain Cigar. You can’t complain too much since he is the most lucrative. Yet, having said that, he isn’t worth a whole lot in small numbers so don’t expect the game to rain down big regular bounties. When the blocking tiles are removed, and the reels open up, then he (and others) can appear in far greater quantities for better returns. The overall potential of the game isn’t bad, at up to 5,000 times the stake, though technically, with all win ways in action that amount could have been a lot larger.
The graphics are above average, and its steampunk, futuristic, Wild West vibe is rather distinctive. With its high RTP, decent hit rate and payout capability, it has the potential for a solid gaming session. On the whole, however, Big Bounty Bill is a rather disappointing slot.
The developers have done a good job in the areas of sound and graphics, but beneath all the gleam and glimmer lies a mediocre mathematical model and bland gameplay.