CherryPop Deluxe: Slot Overview
Software provider AvatarUX is back popping cherries in a deluxe version of their 2020 release CherryPop. The follow-up is called CherryPop Deluxe and, in some ways, presents a complex puzzle to untangle. Graphically, CherryPop Deluxe is light years away from its non-deluxe predecessor but threatens to come across as a little stagnant, if not regressive, in areas such as features and stats.
CherryPop was a relatively minimalist affair; visually speaking, as AvatarUX used the fruit theme in a classy neon way. CherryPop Deluxe, by contrast, is like being smacked in the face with an Andy Warhol painting. This is flying through some sort of time warp to a groovier, more experimental time, where anything goes. AvatarUX's graphic team has come up with a set of eye-catching Pop art visuals equal to, if not higher, than those which impressed in MonkeyPop. For comparison, one game that had a similar feel was ELK's Dream Diver. Both games celebrate a similar era of free-wheeling self-expression. So far, so deluxe.
Things slow down slightly when examining the more mundane, though no less important things like numbers. The RTP has dropped a notch, now coming in at 95.96% compared to the 96.14% of the original, yet volatility has remained high. Bet limits are the same, at 20 p/c to £/€40 per spin, so the biggest numerical potential has got to be the max win figure.
As before, the action takes place on a game grid which starts each base game spin in a 5-reel, 3-row alignment. Wins are made up of three or more matching symbols in adjacent reels starting from either the left or the right side of the grid. This means 486 ways to win in the beginning, but the grid can grow, so ways to win can as well, thanks to the PopWins mechanic detailed below.
Symbols are up first, where 9-A card royals make up the low pay lot, worth 1.2 to 1.6x the bet for a five of a kind win, followed by grapes, watermelons, oranges, horseshoes, four-leaf clovers, bells, diamonds, and cherries as the high pays. Landing five high pays is worth a payout of 2.5 to 14 times the stake. CherryPop Deluxe does not use wilds nor scatters.
CherryPop Deluxe: Slot Features
Without a scatter symbol, players rely on the PopWins mechanic to trigger the bonus round. How PopWins function is when a winning way hits, the winning symbols are removed and replaced by two new symbols. If this results in another win, the feature triggers again. In the base game, reels can reach 6 symbols high at the most, where 15,552 ways to win are active. If all five reels expand to 6 positions high, free spins are awarded.
Before free spins start, players can choose to gamble them or go straight to the bonus round by accepting the starting level rewards. To gamble, you spin a wheel which will either result in moving to a higher free spins level or losing them all. The possible levels and their rewards are such:
- Starting level awards 5, 6, 7, or 8 free spins where reels start at 6-6-6-6-6, 7-6-6-6-7, 6-7-8-7-6, or 7-7-7-7-7.
- Successful first gamble awards 8, 9, or 10 free spins with reels starting at 6-6-7-6-6, 7-6-7-6-7, 7-7-7-7-7, or 7-8-7-8-7.
- Successful second gamble awards 10, 11, or 12 free spins with starting reels at 6-7-6-7-6, 7-7-7-7-7, 7-8-7-8-7, or 8-8-8-8-8.
There is also a chance the wheel stops on a special golden segment which awards up to 12 free spins on the first gamble and 16 on the second. When free spins are active, reels can now reach 9 rows high where there are 118,098 ways to win. Between free spins, reels reset to the lowest reel height achieved on the previous spin, not to the starting size. Also, in the bonus round, a progressive win multiplier is used. The multiplier starts at x2 and
increases by +1 following PopWins. Should all reels make it 9 rows high, +2 free spins are awarded, the multiplier is increased by +4, and from then on, PopWins increase the multiplier by +4.
To buy your way directly to free spins, there are two options. The regular buy bonus costs 75x the bet, while the Buy Bonus Max costs 300x the bet and awards the higher possible rewards as if winning the second wheel gamble.
CherryPop Deluxe: Slot Verdict
It's hard to believe nearly 2 years passed between this version and the original CherryPop slot. It was the third PopWins game the studio designed and was quite a radical departure from the first two. Radical might be a strange word to use to describe a fruit-themed slot, but PopRocks and WildPops were steeped in a type of Asian influenced fantasy, which at the time seemed to be AvatarUX's self-carved niche. Since then, and a stack of PopWins releases later, AvatarUX has explored all manner of themes while tinkering with maths and features before coming full circle-ish, back to CherryPop Deluxe.
It's interesting; we had to look up the definition of the word 'deluxe' since some of the changes in CherryPop Deluxe aren't what you might first expect. Firstly, potentially is significantly lower than it was the first time around, dropping from a headline-grabbing 56,386x down to a less eye-catching though still respectable 20,000x the bet. RTP has also taken an unfortunate hit. Not the sort of changes you might associate with the word deluxe if you were expecting bigger servings of everything.
On the other hand, bunging 'deluxe' into an internet definition search comes up with 'luxurious, or sumptuous; of a superior kind.' Using this as a guide, then yeah, CherryPop Deluxe might just warrant the label. It looks excellent, mixing a whole swathe of different ideas into one. Rattling a few references off the top of our head includes the 70s, disco, Sesame Street, The Rolling Stones' lips logo, pop art, and comic books – an experimental free for all in other words. The creative juices at AvatarUX have been gushing recently, and the presentation of their games has stepped up. So much so that theme and execution feel like they're leaving feature development behind, and the conjuring up of new gameplay ideas has stalled slightly by comparison. CherryPop Deluxe's gameplay, for example, performs more or less the same way as the first one did nearly two years ago.
To sum up, CherryPop Deluxe is a fantastically presented game and, in many regards, another exciting step in AvatarUX's evolution. Some may question the 'deluxe' tag, though, and fair enough, since RTP and potential have dropped. However, these reductions do not prevent CherryPop Deluxe from being an entertaining feast for the senses.
Statistically, the deluxe label might be questionable, but the level of creativity shown in the thematic overhaul is exciting.