Editor’s note: This review evaluates Johnan Legendarian on its early access state. We plan on revisiting this review should any major changes be made to the game.
Johnan Legendarian: Slot Overview
Based in Armenia, a country you’d probably not automatically associate with slot development, is up and coming studio Peter & Sons. While relatively new, it appears the studio has a refreshingly different take on things. They might not have too many slots in the line-up, yet all have a distinctive cartoony look. While this tendency can be found in the quirky audio-visuals of Johnan Legendarian, the gameplay isn’t quite as original. There are no clues in the title, but yes, we are firing up another slot in the ever-growing ‘Book of’ range. As well as not being Egypt-based though, it’s one possessing a couple of tricks up its sleeve.
Released via Yggdrasil‘s YGS Masters program, Johnan Legendarian is a 5-reel, 10-payline slot presumably named in honour of Conan the Barbarian. It’s definitely who the main character looks like as he appears next to the grid, all abs, square-jaw, and bulging biceps. We get a bit of a side story too. There’s something about heroes, villains, and past events being brought together in a book of Algroth. Johnan’s legend has grown up around defeating mythical creatures, yet the gods foretell a new warrior will surpass him at the battle of Super Free Spins.
Players can find out if they are that warrior on any device where bets from 10 p/c to £/€50 per spin are available. One tick in the pro column for Peter & Sons is their game sheet transparency, so we know what to expect. First is RTP, hovering around average on 96%, while volatility is high. Johnan Legendarian is a game which rewards patience due to the way Super Free Spins trigger, but on the way, a hit frequency of 34.68% keeps things ticking over.
To score a win, low pays need at least three matching symbols, or two or more for premiums. From low to highs, the paytable includes 10-A royals, followed by bow and arrows, swords, a warthog, and a dragon. They aren’t the most valuable you’ll find in a Ra slot where premium values range from 50 to 200x the bet for five of a kind. Conspicuous by his absence, Johnan is completely absent from the paytable.
Johnan Legendarian: Slot Features
Since Johnan continues the legacy started by the otherworldly Ra chap many moons ago, we get special expanding symbols during free spins as standard along with a couple of peripheral features built around this core function.
The dude who looks like a possessed scarecrow is the scatter – 3 on the reels at once means you’ve won 10 free spins. In free spins, one regular pay symbol is randomly selected to act as a special expanding symbol. When these symbols land, if there are enough on the board to create a win, they expand to cover all positions on their respective reel after any regular line wins are paid. Expanded symbols pay from any position and do not need to be adjacent to do so.
Similar to ‘Book of’ spin-offs like Magic Mirror Deluxe II, Book of Ra Magic, and Rise of Merlin, players are awarded an extra expanding symbol whenever the round is retriggered. Technically, it is possible all pay symbols could be expanders if enough retriggers occur. Free spins, however, are reset back to 10 – you don’t get 10 more, key point.
It might be relatively minor, yet one innovation is the scatter collector system you don’t usually see in these sorts of games. How it works is whenever exactly 2 scatters land, they are collected on a meter found below the reels. When 385 pairs have been collected, 10 Super Free Spins are your reward. Despite the ‘super’ in the title, don’t expect a golden ticket here. The difference is that when the feature is retriggered, you get +10 extra free spins, rather than a reset. Otherwise, all rules from regular free spins apply. During testing the progress bar moved by around 4-5% every 100 spins on average. This tallies with the official hit frequency to Super Free Spins of 1 in 2,115.
Johnan Legendarian: Slot Verdict
At a fundamental level, nothing might be new, yet Peter & Sons hasn’t run a straight-out Egypt based copy like a less ambitious studio might have done and which is highly appreciated. It feels like Johnan Legendarian is a good example of what Peter & Sons are all about. The production quality is surprisingly high with excellent sound effects combined with rich, creamy visuals. Peter & Sons clearly have a bunch of competent designers and creatives working behind the scenes to create a vibe which is all their own. They could have done what countless other studios have done and sling a vanilla ‘Book of’ release, contributing nothing to the evolution of gaming. Instead, there is evidence of a studio taking a well-worn format then branching off to do something less clichéd.
There are a couple of points to consider. One, symbols aren’t as valuable as they are in some games from this category, so single spin wins aren’t as high. However, overall potential is more or less in line with this game type being capped at 5,000 times the bet. Aside from numbers, Johnan Legendarian is a nicely playable Ra slot, packing plenty of personality. The team took time to build a cute game world, the look is unusual, and the gameplay fun.
One concern arises over free spins. Resetting them rather than winning a full +10 is a tad annoying even if extra symbols are unlocked. Compared to the similar slots mentioned previously, however, this could be seen as somewhat of a deal-breaker to some. Sure, this changes in Super Free Spins, but they don’t come around often.
Having scored a place in the YGS Masters Program line-up, a wider audience exposure is now more or less ensured for Peter & Sons. Will they carve out a successful niche like fellow studio Avatar UX has done in their PopWins range? After this unusual interpretation of a ‘Book of’ slot, it is interesting to see how Peter & Sons will follow up.
The twists mandatory in a ‘Book of’ style game aren’t completely new, but overall, Johnan Legendarian comes across as a quite an original take on the teeming slot genre.