Fire Stampede: Slot Overview
Software providers Pragmatic Play and Wild Streak Gaming are the creative minds behind the flaming bison-themed online slot Fire Stampede. If you haven't played the earlier release, Firebird Spirit, then Fire Stampede might come across as a hotbed of innovation, built on an original set of features focused on the Connect & Collect mechanic. However, whilst not exactly a dot-for-dot reskin, Fire Stampede is essentially Firebird Spirit, except players get to stare at buffaloes and prairies when betting rather than a chesty lady in an Aztec setting.
Experienced slot enthusiasts are no doubt well acquainted with North American situated games of the buffalo variety by now, seeing as it is one of the darling themes for a wide number of casino game makers. Rarely do you see the buffalo in them on fire like you do in Fire Stampede, though. Here, a rampaging bison, all aflame, takes up much of the left side of the screen, backgrounded by rocky hills, desert, and the like, while the active gaming area sits to the right. The view may change depending on what device you use, of course. It's the same layout used in Firebird Spirit, which includes the displaying of three prize values, climaxing in the 4,000x the bet Grand prize.
To take part in or dodge the stampede, gamblers can wager 20 c to $/€240 on each paid game round. Behind the scenes is a 5 out of 5 rated, highly volatile math model producing a default RTP value of 96%, or 96.1%, when buying the feature. The game grid is interesting. It contains 6 reels, though the rightmost reel is covered in special prize symbols only, and reel 3 has special symbols on the top and bottom positions. This means regular symbols land in a 5-5-3-5-5 formation, where there are 1,875 ways to win.
Regular symbols include 9 to A card ranks, worth 0.5 to 1 times the bet for a 5-of-a-kind result, as well as cacti, an eagle, gold, and a bison, paying 1.25 to 5 times the bet for a 5 matching symbol hit. Wilds appear on all reels in the base game and in free spins, substituting for all symbols except the Connect & Collect.
Fire Stampede: Slot Features
Connect & Collect symbols appear on any non-special position on reels 1 to 5. When these symbols land from left to right from the leftmost reel, connected either horizontally or vertically until the chain of symbols reaches one of the special positions on reel 3 or 6, then the respective prize from the reached special position is awarded. In the base game and free spins, the special positions on reel 3 and/or 6 may contain the following symbols:
- Respins - only available on reel 3. When hit, it triggers a respin round with 5 respins. During the round, all Connect & Collect symbols from the triggering spin remain in place, and all other positions on reels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 respin. Any Connect & Collect symbols that hit on a respin also remain in place til there are no more respins left. After the round, the game awards any connections.
- Money Value - when reached by a connection chain, a prize value of 2x to 800x the bet is paid.
- Add Wilds - when reached by a connection chain, wild symbols are added to random positions on reels 2, 3, 4, or 5.
- Free Spins - when reached by a connection chain after all other awards are paid out, 7, 10, 15, 20, or 25 free spins are awarded plus a payout of 2x the bet.
- Minor, Major and Grand Awards - when reached, the Minor, Major, or Grand award pays 25x, 200x, or 4,000x the bet, respectively.
The scatter symbol appears on all reels. The free spins round is triggered by reaching a free spins symbol with the Connect & Collects or landing 3, 4, or 5 scatter symbols, which awards 7, 10, or 15 free spins, respectively. The total amount of applicable free spins awarded is added together. In free spins, the Connect & Collect feature is available and acts the same way as in the base game. When a connection chain reaches free spins symbols in the round, more free spins are awarded equal to the number on the symbol reached.
Random Grand Award
At random, at the end of any base game spin, the Grand award can be won.
Buy Free Spins
Players can buy the free spins round for 100x the bet. When buying free spins, the triggering spin is guaranteed to hit enough Connect & Collect symbols to form a chain that reaches the special positions on reel 3 and at least one of the positions on reel 6. For the triggering spin, reel 6 only contains free spins symbols.
Fire Stampede: Slot Verdict
After playing Fire Stampede, the reaction was similar to what was mentioned in the intro paragraph. That is, if you haven't seen this before in Firebird Spirit, then the Connect & Collect idea in Fire Stampede might feel rather innovative. As it stands, since most of the gaming ideas here were used in Firebird Spirit and have remained largely unchanged on their second rollout, the novelty factor was dialled significantly down to an almost unimpressed level - compounded by the theme. Okay, this buffalo is flaming, and flames are big in slots, but really, more bison? Perhaps if the Pragmatic Play and Wild Streak Gaming duo hadn't come up with something so unoriginal for the front end, the features wouldn't have felt so unoriginal, as well, maybe.
Another impression is the gratitude for having special symbols on the top and bottom positions of reel 3. This is where Connect & Collect symbols often ended up bumping into, and the respins feature is a good addition, too, since it provides a chance of connecting sticky Connect & Collects with special symbols on the rightmost reel. Although, even 5 respins of locking Connect & Collect symbols is no guarantee they will connect all the way across the grid. Free spins aren't hugely desirable either since nothing new officially happens there to sweeten them up, other than the fact they're free. Also, in free spins, you miss out on the possible Random Grand Award. A bit of an odd feature that. 'Hey, hope you enjoyed that spin, btw here, take this 4,000x win, just cos.' Slightly more can technically be won in Fire Stampede as the pay table lists a win cap of 4,275x the bet.
Letting the Connect & Collect mechanic see the light of day again wasn't the worst thing ever, but since it functioned pretty much the same as before, interest quickly slid off a cliff. The common theme didn't really help much, either, despite the incorporation of flames.
Fire Stampede’s recycled gameplay might not have felt quite so tired if they hadn’t been matched with such a worn out theme.