Book of Sheba: Overview
The cat has long since left the bag when it comes to 'Book of' imitators. How many developers have made their versions of the classic slot now? Who knows, but the figure is bound to be impressive. It's time to chalk up another in a long list of imitators with iSoftBet's historically themed slot Book of Sheba.
It's not their first time to do so either, that honour goes to Book of Immortals which they populated with Ancient Egyptian deities. Book of Sheba remains set in the ancient past, though new imagery bases the game around the infamous Queen of Sheba.
The Queen of Sheba owes much of her fame to biblical references, with plenty of mystery surrounding the story. We could join in the speculation, but for the sake of a review, let's stick to one aspect of her fame - being ultra-wealthy. The 5-reel, 3-row grid is located in her opulent palace, surrounded by gold pillars, gold pots, and some decorated archways.
Playable from between 10 p/c and £/€10 per spin, the core rules haven't changed much in over a decade. Once again, winners are hit by landing at least 3 or more low pays, or 2 or more high pays on one of the 10 paylines. The theoretical return to player in this game comes in at 96.0%, which is far better than the 95.1% you get in Book of Ra Deluxe from Novomatic, but slightly less than Book of Dead from Play'n GO if you play it on a casino that offers the default setting of 96.21%.
Highly volatile, the symbols themselves are a nod to the past while looking to the future. For example, the 10-A royals have been designed in a similar style to the original Book of Ra font. Not exactly the same, but there is a touch. The high pays are brand new, made up of a gold broach, a gold mask, a lion, and the Queen who resides at the top. Values for five of a kind premiums range from 75 to 500 times the stake, with full grids certainly possible.
Book of Sheba: Features
Free spins are where 'Book of' slots naturally shine and as you may already know, it's all about the Books. The book symbol that appears during the base game has dual roles of wild and scatter. As a wild, it can replace any other symbol to form winning combinations. As a scatter, 3, 4, or 5 payout 2x, 20x, or 200x the total bet respectively, plus awarding 10 free spins.
Before Free Spins begin, a book is flipped open and a special symbol is selected at random. However, players can reject the first symbol in hope to be awarded a more valuable one. However, the second special symbol must be accepted, so it's a gamble.
During free spins, if the special symbol appears as part of a win, it expands to cover the full reel. Magically, these symbols do not need to be adjacent to do so. For example, if a special 10 lands on reels 1, 3, and 5, the symbols will still expand to cover those reels and create a payout.
Interestingly, there's a twist to this particular book slot. A second book wild known as The Golden Book comes into force during free spins, appearing on reels 2, 3, or 4. Whenever it lands, it turns its respective reel into a golden reel. When a reel is gold, it will transform into a special expanding symbol if a win with that chosen symbol is possible. As a wild, the golden book can substitute for any pay symbol whilst also doubling as a scatter like the other book symbol.
Another thing that has made these book slots so popular is the chance of getting one or more retriggers. This is accomplished by landing at least 3 book symbols anywhere on the reels which will then add 10 more spins to your total.
The final feature is the Ultra Bet. Hit the Ultra Bet button to play 50 games for a cost of 50 times the stake. During Ultra Bet spins, stars may appear layered on top of regular symbols to be collected. At the end of the 50 spins, if at least 5 stars have been collected a multiplier prize from x5 to 1,000x the individual bet is awarded. Moreover, with the Ultra Bet activated, the RTP goes up from 96.0% to 96.5%.
Book of Sheba: Verdict
Well, it's another 'Book of' slot, what else is there to say really? If you've played one, you have kind of played them all, to an extent. There are usually one or two tweaks to set them apart, and Book of Sheba has a few to give players something to check out. For the most part, they work pretty well too in setting Book of Sheba somewhat apart from the rest of the Book bunch.
First is the Ultra Bet option that debuted in iSoftBet's football-themed slot Hot Shots 2. The peculiar thing about this feature is that it doesn't cost any extra to activate than 50 regular spins, yet it provides an additional chance to win. On the other hand, since players are locked to 50 spins it does help the developer make more predictable calculations in the mathematical model.
If you are going to be powering through 50 spins anyway, activating it could be of some benefit since there's a chance to pocket up to 1,000x in extra winnings. The bonus game can still be triggered when the Ultra Bet is in motion, so it's a win-win really.
Although not a new feature, the ability to reject the first special symbol offered is a welcomed addition. Better is the gold book, and gold reels, which can come in handy in expanding all 5 reels. Do so using the Queen, and wins of 5,000 times the stake are possible on a single spin.
All the new elements don't exactly cover up the fact Book of Sheba is at heart, an attempt to cash in on a hugely popular slot format. However, the new bits are quite good and make Book of Sheba an interesting proposal for 'Book of' fans, or those looking for massive single spin opportunities in an exotic setting.
Classic ‘Book of’ gameplay is trundled out once again in iSoftBet’s Book of Sheba slot, with a few new additions bolted on which might be enough to impress fans of the format.