John Hunter and the Aztec Treasure (Pragmatic Play): Overview
Just like in the music or video game industry, slot developers take inspiration from each other, pushing them to create something wholly unique. But as the industry is becoming increasingly crowded, the line between inspiration and theft seems to be getting a whole lot thinner. Cloning is not a new phenomenon, of course. There's a long history of such mischievous behaviour in the iGaming industry and it's hard to find a single studio that doesn't have at least one clone, or near clone, in their portfolio.
Seeing how incredibly popular the Megaways engine has become, it was just a matter of time before Big Time Gaming would have to start fending off pirates. Up until mid-2019, competing providers who wished to offer their players the excitement of Megaways had done so by acquiring a license from Big Time Gaming. However, having released the Bonanza lookalike Perfect Gems, and gotten away with it, Play'n GO might very well have opened the floodgates and inspired other less scrupulous providers to follow in their path. The game we're going to review today is an example of this.
In this 5-reel creation from Pragmatic Play, Rich Wilde wannabe John Hunter makes a comeback in a new adventure in search of Aztec treasures. Initially titled "Book of Mystery", the title was later changed to John Hunter and the Aztec Treasure for reasons unbeknown to us. Basically, what you get here is a marriage between the Megaways game engine and William Interactive's famous Montezuma slot. Available across all devices from 20 cents to 100€/£ per spin, each reel can randomly produce between 2 and 6 symbols to give you up to 7,776 ways to win when fully expanded. In John Hunter and the Aztec Treasure, it all comes down to the free spins round where a multiplier of up to 10x can boost your wins.
Visually, it doesn't stand out too much from other Aztec themed slots on the market which there is an abundance of. Set in the Mesoamerican rainforest, there's the usual temple in the background accompanied by a couple of stone torches flanking the reels. It's not poorly designed in any way, but it suffers from the usual generic feel of many other Pragmatic slots. On the reels you'll see A, K, Q and J lower-value royals alongside torches, hats and bullwhips, toucan birds, snakes, and panthers. John Hunter is the star, of course, and represents the highest paying symbol, giving you 4 times your stake for 5 on a full payline. The golden totem mask is the wild and appears stacked on the three middle reels only.
John Hunter and the Aztec Treasure (Pragmatic Play): Features
The early version of the game used a book scatter. This was later changed to the Aztec shield that you see in the final version. Land 3 of these and you'll trigger the Free Spins feature where the bonus wheel will decide the number of free spins to play - 3, 4 or 5 scatters will give you between 5-25, 10-25, and 15-25 free spins respectively.
Once in, a random multiplier of 2x, 3x, 5x, 7x, or 10x will apply to each spin just as is the case in Montezuma and Play'n Go:s clone Legacy of Egypt. Moreover, 2 or more scatter symbols in view will give you extra free spins decided by the wheel. Now, the multiplier value that was active when the feature was re-triggered will apply to all your extra spins. Once the extra spins have been played, the multiplier becomes unlocked again and the feature goes back to standard mode to play the remaining free spins.
John Hunter and the Aztec Treasure (Pragmatic Play): Verdict
As already stated, John Hunter and the Aztec Treasure incorporates Pragmatic's version of the Megaways game engine and mixes it with Montezuma. There's really not much finesse to it and Pragmatic makes no attempt to disguise it as something else. As usually is the case with this provider, the bonuses are relatively hard to trigger and the game is quite unforgiving.
Having played around 20-30 bonuses, we could barely land a 100x win. This, of course, is an extremely small sample, although we can't help but feel that something seems a bit "off" mathematically. For a game that can produce over 7000 ways to win, it appears to have an awful lot of trouble connecting matching symbols. Moreover, unlike Megaways slots, this game does not tell you the total win ways on each spin, but we really couldn't care less as the whole game is muted by its bland gameplay. Although the 9000x potential does make it worth a try, John Hunter and the Aztec Treasure ultimately lacks the quality of the games it attempts to piggyback.
John Hunter and the Aztec Treasure makes no attempt to disguise what it really is.