East Sea Dragon King (NetEnt): Overview
About a year ago, NetEnt released Berryburst Max, a 5x3 slot that uses Cluster Pays and bright, fruity symbols. If you swap the theme from fruit to Asian and move the slot beneath the sea, you have nailed East Sea Dragon King to a tee. Not a complaint, many developers switch the skins on their popular games and release them under a different guise. Only mentioning it because if you did or didn't like Berryburst Max, then your opinion will probably be the same with East Sea Dragon King.
The East Sea Dragon King exists in Chinese culture and goes by the name of Au Guang. Less well known in the West, this aquatic deity was said to have wreaked havoc on the world inflicting it with storms, droughts, and myriad other catastrophes. In other words, this is one deity you do not want to make mad. Fortunately for players, Au Guang is the wild and is only ever responsible for positive things when he shows up.
This slot continues the marine theme by placing its 5 reels and 3 rows beneath the sea where the spinning takes place. There are no paylines as such since NetEnt has employed their Cluster Pays system. As long as five or more of the same symbols connect vertically or horizontally anywhere on the grid, then you have a winner - 15 of a kind at the most. Winning is a little tough due to the games high volatility, but it carries an RTP rating of 96.23%, which is fair. Setting a wager level may be slightly confusing for newcomers. First players must choose a bet level from 1 – 10, and coin value from 0.01 to 2. Basically, spins start at 0.10 c/p and go as high as £/€200 per spin.
Let's take a look at the prizes on offer using a bet level set to 1 for simplicity's sake. All symbols are brand new and theme-specific, which is always refreshing. The top dog is the jade sculpture worth 3x-1000x, and in descending order are the fortune cookies (2x-500x), scroll and pearl (1.5x-250x), and the gold, silver, and bronze coins worth 1x-100x each. They aren't too bad actually, but you'll need help from the expanding wilds to hit the big wins as you will see.
East Sea Dragon King can be played on most devices but to get the most out of it try a tablet or desktop/laptop. The symbols look tiny on a mobile device, and the game loses what impact it has on a smaller screen format.
East Sea Dragon King (NetEnt): Features
Interestingly for NetEnt, there isn't a whole lot going on in the extras department. This is one area where the game would have benefited from some more thought and input. We get a wild which can expand and a respin feature.
- The wild appears during the base game and during the respins. It can substitute for any other symbol, and if it lands during the base game it transforms into an expanding wild.
- The expanding wild takes over an entire reel and triggers a respin while staying locked in place. If any more wilds land on the respin they trigger another respin. This is the game's most exciting phase yet it passes all too quickly, and it's back to normal.
Yes you are playing a NetEnt title, and that's all we get in the way of extras. If you are familiar with Berryburst Max, then this will come as no surprise, but if you are used to (and prefer) a more elaborate slot then East Sea Dragon King feels like it is missing an extra or two. After all, we are dealing with a sea god here, something that really opened up the game and expanded the Dragon King's character would have been a welcome addition to the repetitive gameplay.
The game is very volatile and usually involves a lot of dead spins. In turn, however, there is potential for wins of up to 6,000 times your stake which is not bad. Statistically, wins of over 2,500x occurs only once every 1 million spins. It might not sound very uplifting, but you should keep in mind that all players playing the game contribute to the spin cycle.
East Sea Dragon King (NetEnt): Verdict
East Sea Dragon King is another strategic release from NetEnt looking to further expand their market in Asia. This is done simply by giving some of their old games a makeover, which is not very exciting for those already familiar with these games. Despite giving developers, some leeway East Sea Dragon King still feels a little flat. The slot gets repetitive quickly and does nothing extraordinary to hold your interest.
NetEnt's cluster pays system is great, but even that can't save a slot like East Sea Dragon King. A year can be an eternity in the entertainment industry, but Berryburst Max feels fresh and new in comparison. If you didn't know better, you would think it was the follow up to East Sea Dragon King. The soundtrack was epic, and the ripe fruit symbols looked like they were about to burst. In contrast, the graphics used on East Sea Dragon King, especially the symbols, are, well, not up to NetEnt's high standard. What it is really lacking is some x-factor, a unique or compelling feature that makes you want to keep hitting the spin button. This is NetEnt after all, a company with one of the best hit-packed back catalogues you will find in the business.
So why play East Sea Dragon King? NetEnt fanatics or fans of Asian themed slots might find something to keep them going for a while, especially if you're into high high risk slots with a chance for high rewards. If you are not in either of these camps then it is unlikely you will find your slot fix here. Bigger audio, visuals, and thrills can be found elsewhere.
East Sea Dragon King is still technically a solid video slot, but at this point it almost feels obsolete.