It's hard to say for sure when the grid slot trend started or what inspired it, but the Candy Crush revolution most likely had something to do with it. Whatever the case, grid slots offer a fresh alternative to the classic 3 or 5 reel setups many players are accustomed to. There is no one size fits all definition of grid slots. But, in general, they typically offer a large game area where symbols tumble down to form winners in clusters rather than on a payline.
The humble grid has proven to be extremely versatile, and barely a week goes by without seeing one packing a new innovative feature or mechanic to entertain the gaming community. If you are new to the scene, or an old hand who has so far resisted a ‘new-fangled’ way to play but are curious, read on as we demystify the exciting world of grid slots.
The origins of grid slots
Like so much else in the slots world, the origins of grid slots are a little murky. The ambiguity makes it tough to pinpoint exactly when the newer type of gaming began. However, we can thank Swedish developer NetEnt for introducing a couple of precursors. These appeared in the form of cluster pays in Aloha! Cluster Pays, and the Avalanche feature which powered Gonzo’s Quest. Both of these elements are crucial most grid slots. Unlike superheroes, the origin story is less interesting than the fact grid slots are here, and there is a ton of great ones to choose from. There are several good reasons why you would want to as well - from complex setups, to deeply developed themes, with insane gameplay and potential.
How do grid slots work?
The first thing you’ll notice about a grid slot is the unorthodox arrangement. The terms ‘columns and rows’ are often used to in relation to grid slots since they rarely spin like a normal set of reels. They are often larger than a traditional slot with sizes of up to 8x8, or beyond, common. Each time the play button is hit, a group of symbols fall into a grid that uses cluster pays systems to form winners.
A grid slot more than likely uses this system to group winners instead of paylines. An example could be when a group of 5 or more matching symbols touch, horizontally or vertically, then you’ve got a winner on your hands. Depending on the specific slot in question, clusters can reach up to 25 symbols (or more) on the higher end of the rewards spectrum.
When a winning cluster forms then the game can start to work its magic. Winning clusters typically trigger a cascade/reaction style feature which removes the winning symbols from the grid, allowing new ones to fall into the empty positions. Additional clusters may then be hit, and these cascade features can cause serious numbers of consecutive wins on a single tumble. Clusters keep piling up until no new winners appear, then the next tumble can begin.
What makes cascading mechanics even better is that each developer adds something unique to enhance what they are capable of. These extras are handy because a lot of the time smaller cluster wins won’t be worth a whole lot. To tip the balance, developers deck their games with extensive features which can lead to a range of positive outcomes. Amongst other things, this could be a freight train of consecutive wins creating wilds, increasing progressive multipliers, or triggering free spins.
Which developers create grid slots?
The grid slot format has proven irresistible for developers, and many have leapt on the bandwagon with varying results. Play’n GO is one developer who has been around since the beginning of the movement, and pumped out a bunch of favourites since then. The cutesy aliens of Reactoonz are a perennial crowd-pleaser, as is Finn and the Swirly Spin from NetEnt. Push Gaming’s Jammin Jars is another that shook the genre up with its 8x8 grid, not to mention 20,000x potential. If its multipliers you’re after, Pragmatic Play’s Sweet Bonanza offers up to x100 to go with its massive potential payouts. Note too, that developers continue to redefine what is possible with grid slots as evidenced by the fiendishly good Star Clusters by Big Time Gaming.
What makes a great grid slot?
Ultimately, like any game, the best grid slot is the one suits you best. The good news is the category has matured like a fine wine and includes a huge range of themes, math models, and rewards to choose from. You will be able to find highly volatile, high reward grid slots that cascade endlessly when they’re on fire, alongside gentler, less brutal games, and everything in between. We have listed an extensive array of great options here to try. There is a veritable feast to choose from, so check the reviews below, have a demo, and you’ll be tumbling away in no time.