Calavera Crush: Slot Overview
Calavera Crush from Swedish software provider Yggdrasil Gaming is one of those games you might have to bust out a dictionary for to understand the title. After loitering around Wikipedia, we discovered that a Calavera is a representation of a human skull, which might sound like a downer at first, but is actually quite the opposite because Calaveras can be made out of sugar and are used in the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations. We could go deeper into what is a fascinating tradition, but since time is of the essence, let's salsa our way into the world of Calavera Crush, where features include a scatter pay mechanic, avalanches, a progressive win multiplier, free spins, gambles, and bonus buys.
Slots even remotely connected with the Day of the Dead tend to be bright, colourful, boisterous celebrations. Calavera Crush is sort of those things but is one of the more laid-back examples. The soundtrack, for one, is rather loungey, though the Mariachi section has its livelier moments. Calavera Crush's visuals, too, lean towards restrained rather than extravagant. The neon on dark rows of skull symbols effect is vaguely reminiscent of Thunderkick's Esqueleto Explosivo 2 experience, but again, is somewhat chilled.
Calavera Crush is played on a 6-column, 5-row game panel, creating wins when at least 8 matching symbols are in view anywhere on the grid. Wins in the base and bonus game trigger an avalanche feature, which removes winning tiles from the reels, letting symbols drop down to fill the empty spaces. Consecutive avalanches continue like this until no new win is created.
According to the stats, wins occur at a frequency of 41%, feeding into a maximum RTP of 96% - dropping to 94%, 90.5%, or 86%, depending on market and settings. A highly volatile game, Calavera Crush can be played on any device and accepts bets of 20 p/c to £/€100 per spin. Or players may be able to activate the Golden Bet, increasing the stake by 25% while doubling the chance of triggering free spins.
Calavera Crush… Candy Crush – coincidence? Maybe, maybe not, but anyway, candy features large on the paytable where we find triangle lollipops, cupcakes, round lollipops, doughnuts, wrapped candy, and something dripped in cream as the six low pay symbols, while four Calaveras are the high pays. Landing 8 of a kind pays 0.15-10x the bet, while 12+ sized wins are worth 2-100x the stake. The wild symbols play a central role in the game. After winning symbols have been removed, a wild symbol randomly appears in one of the empty spaces. Wilds can substitute for any pay symbol, and each wild appearing on the grid increases the win multiplier by +1, +2, or +3. In the base game, the win multiplier resets between paid spins.
Calavera Crush: Slot Features
As well as avalanches adding wilds and progressive multipliers, Calavera Crush has a free spins bonus round, triggered when at least 4 scatter symbols land in the base game. Getting 4, 5, or 6 scatters awards 8, 12, or 18 free spins, respectively. Landing 4 or more scatters in the free spins round awards an additional +4 free spins.
Once triggered, players can collect their free spins or gamble them in an attempt to win more. Successful gambles add additional free spins, up to 18, while unsuccessful gambles lose the entire lot. Now, the main rules in free spins are more or less the same as they are in the base game, except the win multiplier does not reset between free spins, and it can increment by up to +10 instead of the normal +1-3. Lastly, if possible, players can buy a normal 4, 5, or 6 scatter triggered bonus round for 100x the bet or guarantee a six-scatter trigger for 400x the bet.
Calavera Crush: Slot Verdict
Sugary skulls might not be to everyone's tastes, and neither by extension will Calavera Crush. There's good stuff going on here, but overall, it doesn't feel like a game Yggdrasil rammed its heart and soul into. In fact, a sneaky suspicion formed that Yggdrasil didn't put its top team onto Calavera Crush, as there's something a bit bodgy, a bit lacklustre about it, despite the fireworks and cheerful tunes. The features and gameplay are alright; they're are actually quite interesting for a scatter pays game. Instead, the slot has a slightly clunky feel and lacks the high degree of polish we've come to expect from a top-tier designer like Yggdrasil. Compare Calavera Crush to say, Of Sabers and Monsters WildFight, which came out around the same time to see the difference in production levels, for example.
Hiding beneath the so-so visuals is a somewhat average game, though players keen on a scatter pays slot might be interested in the positives Calavera Crush has to offer. This includes things like added wilds (which don't always appear in scatter pays game), avalanches, and progressive multipliers – in both the base game and in free spins. The heat gets the chance to be dialled up further in free spins since the multiplier can increase at a faster rate; plus, it does not reset, and results during test runs weren't bad. Cracking open the metaphorical pinata at this celebration results in a coin shower up to the value of 5,000x the bet.
In summation, Yggdrasil has pushed the scatter pays concept in a relatively new direction and having wild symbols increase a win multiplier on each avalanche is a bold move. With a bit of extra spit and polish, maybe some catchier visuals, Calavera Crush might have scored even higher on the enjoyment meter. As it is, Calavera Crush isn't one of Yggdrasil's most accomplished releases, but there are festive times to be had here in the right hands.
Calavera Crush isn’t the free for all, balloon-popping shindig it could have been, but the gameplay provides a firework or two.