ELK Studios is certainly not a bad provider, but we are yet to see a game that has really been able to challenge the top providers. With ELK, it sort of feels as if we're waiting for something to happen that is not happening, and just like some of the other providers they have become a bit stuck in their way of creating slots. The element of surprise is not really there.
The latest line of games - Wild Seas, Kaiju and Lake's Five are all decent games, but nothing that will win any awards. In fact, the game Kaiju turned out to be a scatter teasing son of a...
Birthday is a 5-reel, 4-row slot with 178 fixed paylines. It is playable on all devices from €0.10 to €50 and features guest character's known from other ELK titles, such as the bull from Wild Toro (he's a sleezy looking bartender now apparently), the hot lady captain from Wild Seas, Electric Sam and the Blooper dudes.
The layout itself is in typical ELK style, so those who know the games will feel at home right away. The soundtrack is what really stands out here with it's funky, R&B type of style! It's simply genious and certain to get stuck in your head. Another cool thing is how they have programmed for random celebrity birthday announcements to pop up.
The symbols used in this game are not exactly traditional and there are actually only 6 regular symbols compared to most other 5-reel slots which usually makes use of at least 8. There are 3 low value symbols represented by red heart shaped balloons, green balloons and blue balloons.
The 3 premium symbols are made out of birthday logos, roses and drinks, with the Birthday symbol being worth 15x across a line of 5 symbols. Birthday includes 3 different wilds - 1 regular (Birthday cake) and the other 2 only present in the Happy Spins feature and Free Spins bonus game.
Happy Spins are five different types of randomly triggered respins. The doorbell announces the start of every Happy Spins feature, and generates excitement about who the next guest will be and what particular feature he or she brings along.
Spin until a given number of wins
The Camel gifts a respin that continues until a given number of wins (3 to 5) is achieved.
Spin until 5 of a kind
Mr Lake's respin gift continues until a win with 5 of a kind is achieved on a payline.
Electric Sam gifts a respin that continues as long as additional instances of a preselected symbol appear. The selected symbols get electrified and stay sticky throughout the respin.
Spin until a given win
The sneaky Matador selects a symbol and gifts a respin that continues until a win with the selected symbol is achieved.
Spin until a Big Win
Anne Bonny, the notorious pirate from Wild Seas, hands over a valuable respin gift that continues until a Big Win (15 x bet or higher) is achieved.
Free Spins are triggered in a bit of an unusual way. Whenever Maggie, a cheerful little girl with a balloon, turns up to ring the doorbell, 10 free spins are awarded. She can also retrigger within the free spins generating a long chain of free spins and numerous of chances to win.
What makes the free spins bonus game stand out from the main game are the two additional wilds:
The Soundtech may place up to three Sticky Wilds anywhere on the reels. All the wilds stay sticky during the remaining respins or free spins.
The Soundtech Blooper hands out up to three Waiking Wilds anywhere on the reels. The Walking Wild move leftwards one reel for every spin until they leave the screen to the left.
These wilds can also turn up in the randomly triggered Happy Spins feature.
Birthday is quite high variance (7 out of 10 on ELK's volatility scale) with a max win potential of 5,000x, which is not bad at all and certainly makes it worth trying a few spins on. The game has a 96.3% RTP which is standard today and expected.
It's not a game that stands out in any particular ways and it's certainly not a jaw dropping experience. With ELK you kind of know what you're going to get by now and this is no different. That doesn't mean it's bad, but it would have been fun to see them try something more out of the box.
With that said, the Happy Spins feature keeps the game interesting in the main game which otherwise doesn't have much going for it. 5000x sounds nice and all, but it would require some sick hits that you are not likely to see of course, so expect 500-1000x on the best of days.
Ironically for a party slot, Birthday! is exceedingly dull.