Gonzo's Gold: Slot Overview
If there is one conquistador who needs little introduction is the morion hatted explorer Gonzo. This cheerful chap burst on the scene in 2013 in Gonzo's Quest, one of the finest combinations of features, charm, and playability NetEnt has ever produced and is still popular to this very day. It is dated, of course, as most eight-year-old games on any platform are. However, a Megaways reboot in 2020 by Red Tiger was like a modernising adrenal shot right in the heart of the franchise which was also followed up by a live casino game titled Gonzo's Treasure Hunt. Now we have Gonzo's Gold from NetEnt themselves, which breaks with tradition. Gonzo's Gold is a cluster pays slot, without a cascade/reaction mechanic, that climaxes in a symbol expansion feature during free spins.
Gonzo's Gold is also the least personable game in the series too. Gonzo especially is conspicuous by his absence. He shows up on the 5x5 game grid as its most valuable symbol, yet there is no comedic performance on the side of the grid where you would find him in the past. The whole background is pretty empty, really, depicting a misty stone complex, all more or less the same colour palette with nothing interesting to report back on. It's the sort of find an archaeologist might dread since there are no objets d'art to lift for the local museum. That or someone else beat them to it and cleaned the place out. As a strong counterpoint, the soundtrack is pretty good. Well, the base game music is subdued, though decent win effects and count-ups are nice. Getting to free spins is where the chanting kicks in and adds some life to the experience.
Gonzo's Gold may be played on tablets, mobile devices, or desktops and provides a wide range of stakes from 10 p/c to £/€200 per spin. It's not as volatile as you might think, the math model garnering a medium rating. Winning clusters are formed when three premium or four low pay symbols land adjacent to each other, vertically or horizontally. 10 to ace card ranks are the lower value symbols, while the high pays are three mask icons and Gonzo as the top paying symbol. When landing clusters of 20 matching symbols or more, things start to get interesting, maxing out at 750 to 5,000 times the stake for a full grid of 25 premium symbols. Interestingly, Gonzo's Gold makes do without wild symbols or cascading pay systems.
Gonzo's Gold: Slot Features
The best chance of striking gold in the game is when at least 3 temple scatter symbols land to trigger the bonus round. Landing 3, 4, or 5 of them in the base game awards 10 free spins plus a payout of 2, 20, or 200 times the bet.
Before free spins start, players pick 1 of 9 question mark symbols - this reveals the rounds' special expanding symbol. Whenever 2 or more adjacent expanding symbols land, they expand to cover an entire row or reel. After the symbols expand, an additional cluster win is awarded for the cluster of expanded symbols.
Temple scatters remain on the reels throughout the bonus round and landing 3 or more awards an additional +10 free spins along with a payout as mentioned above.
Gonzo's Gold: Slot Verdict
Like Play'n GO's Dr Toonz slot, players are sure to fire up Gonzo's Gold because, hey, it's Gonzo, right? Yet, without the word 'Gonzo' in the title, it would be easy to scroll past Gonzo's Gold in a line-up. The rest of the game, for the most part, doesn't live up to expectations or do the series justice. It was always a bit of a risk turning Gonzo into a cluster pays slot, so NetEnt deserves a few cool points for being brave. The removal of the cascading win system, which features so large in previous Gonzo slots, is either brave or a misstep, though. Without cascades, it does feel a bit wrong. So does, pushing Gonzo so far into the background as to be almost non-existent. Like we said, without the name (and the familiar face on the top premium), it would be hard to differentiate this as a Gonzo slot from the mass of other Aztec themed games. The idea here was likely to turn classic 'book of' style gaming into a cluster pays slot.
The base game is far from a hotbed of activity most of the time due to the lack of modifying features, meaning it plays out like a totally average cluster paying slot. The positive news is Gonzo's Gold was far from being a soul-crushing grind, as free spins usually triggered quite often. Like stumbling on the fountain of youth, Gonzo's Gold finds life in its bonus game, in part due to the excellent sound effects. The bass-heavy chanting beat shakes you from the main game slumber, and player input is needed to choose the expanding symbol.
Like a 'Book of' slot, high or low-value symbols have their pros and cons here. Sorry to state the obvious, yet lows land more often but pay less, while the premiums are rare but are worth more should they cluster up. Filling screens with any of the high pays would be a sweet result, none more so than Gonzo, who pays out 5,000x the bet for a full 25 symbols cluster. A unicorn event, perhaps, though even smaller clusters aren't bad when several rows or reels get covered by the expander.
While trying not to sound like one of those people that demands the moon on a stick, we were hoping for more from Gonzo's Gold. It performed okay, though it is basic, both in form and function. Redeeming qualities include free spins that trigger fairly frequently and a neat expanding symbol feature. Yet, it just doesn't feel very Gonzo-y, and after putting the game through its paces, there is markedly less replayability compared to previous releases.
What Gonzo’s Gold does it does ok, but ultimately it fails to capitalize on its strengths.