Katmandu Gold: Slot Overview
It might be a small step for adventurer Kane, but ELK's fifth instalement in their Gold series is a giant leap for the studio, and the first from them to offer a bonus buy option. Some go cautious when they try a new feature for the first time. Others just shut their eyes and leap into the unknown with reckless abandon. Possibly taking inspiration from Nolimit City, what it means is a two option bonus buy approach. It's not just a massive buy-in that makes Katmandu Gold stand out. It also offers some sweet features, a gorgeous location, and the highest potential found in a Gold slot so far.
Before the grammar police come out to batter the title, 'Katmandu' is a legitimate way of spelling Kathmandu; it's just an older English version. It refers to the capital city of Nepal, located at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains. It's here our hero Kane has come to find solace. The poor chap is exhausted from his globetrotting ways in search of hidden gold and has come to the mountain kingdom to find inner peace. Kane being Kane, always falling backwards into success, has stumbled on ancient rumours of temple gold. Hopefully, he's not planning on ripping off artefacts from a local shrine.
So far, ELK has done a fantastic job of setting games in the Gold Series in unusual locations, and Katmandu Gold is no exception. The familiar 6-reel, 4,096 win ways action area is flanked by two Buddhist inspired pillars, while an exotic temple can be seen in the far distance backlit by a low hanging Himalayan sun. You don't actually see the temple until the bonus game is triggered. Until then it lies hidden by a massive Oriental door. Like other slots in the range, the view dynamically zooms in and out as rows are added or removed from the stack. ELK is to be commended for creating a unique scene which melds perfectly with the audio to make a solid impact.
Available on any device, Katmandu can be played from 20 p/c to £/€100 per spin. Complementing the attractive visuals is an equally pleasing set of statistics. Three RTP levels are produced depending on whether the bonus buy is activated. It starts on a default rating of 96.2%, rising to 96.3% for the entry-level feature buy, and 96.4% during the Buy Super Bonus. ELK has raised the roof on the potential, as much to silence the critics as anything else, while the volatility of 7 out of 10 is high, though not savagely so. Keeping the action ticking along are about as many features as there are chakras, on top of a hit frequency of 22.4%.
At the start of each drop winning combinations are formed when three or more matching symbols land left to right. There is quite a few of them too, starting on J-A as the lows, earth, air, fire, water, as the mids, with turtles, tigers, dragons, and Kane as the high pays. Values for six premiums range from 2 to 4 times the stake. The wild rounds this section off, substituting for anything except the bonus or the Ice Climber symbol.
Katmandu Gold: Slot Features
One great thing about the Gold Series is you always get something new, not to mention exciting when it comes to features. They aren't always a home run, but ELK puts in the effort each time, and it shows. In Katmandu Gold, players benefit from Avalanches, Big Symbols, Ice Climbers, Expanding Wins, Multiplier Free Drops, and of course, the brand new Buy Feature.
Avalanches are at the core of it all, triggering after every win and removing the winning symbols in order to allow new ones drop for another chance to win. An extra row is also added to the grid, up to a maximum height of 8. Avalanches continue as long as wins keep landing.
As seen in previous instalments, ELK loves Big Symbols, and have included them here as well. Big Symbols are pretty much just what you suspect - super, mega, and epic symbols of 2x2, 3x3, or 4x4 size that may appear on any symbol drop.
Keep an eye out for the Yin & Yang looking symbol known as the Ice Climber. If 2 land, the Ice Climber feature is triggered. All symbols above the Ice Climbers are replaced with wilds or high pay symbols, while any empty positions beneath them turn wild. If the Ice Climber is triggered on the 8th row, then an extra row is added, taking win ways up to 531,441.
Pay symbols or wilds may land with a gold arrow attached above, below, or both. This is the Expanding Win Symbol. When these symbols are used in a win, they expand in the direction of the arrow, replacing all symbols in their path.
The main event is free drops, triggered when 3 or more bonus symbols appear on screen during a drop sequence. The number awarded is 10, 15, 20, or 25 drops when 3, 4, 5, or 6 bonus symbols are in view. Free drops can be retriggered too. The bonus game is a little different from Gold games of the past. This one comes with a win multiplier that starts at x1. Each time a bonus symbol marked with an 'X' lands, the multiplier increases by +1.
Finally we have the bonus buy, where there are two options. The first is a typical 100x the bet outlay to buy 3-6 bonus symbols on the next drop. Then there is the Buy Super Bonus, which also gets you 3-6 bonus symbols, but where the win multiplier starts on 10x. This one doesn't come cheap though. You're looking at 500x the bet to activate the Super Buy Bonus.
Katmandu Gold: Slot Verdict
Judging by Katmandu Gold it appears there is a ton of gas left in the Gold Series. Not only has the team found an interesting new location to take players, they've designed some great features to pair with it. Katmandu Gold certainly adds a new dimension to the series, ending up being the best one so far.
Crucially, Katmandu Gold does what the Gold Series is renowned for, namely piling on rows and win ways when consecutive combos roll in. Getting to the eighth row always produces a little rush, plus having a ninth one tucked away to blow up should you make it so far is an additional thrill. The game is full of little details like that which pop from nowhere to pull a bunch of wins in such as Big Symbols or Expanding Win Symbols. There can be runs of dead spins, but there is always the anticipation that just around the corner, is the drop to change everything.
It's the win multiplier in free spins which is going to lead players to the best of what Katmandu Gold has to offer. In numerical terms, the best works out to be 10,000x the stake – the highest in the range to date. Some may rue the decision not to use the safety level mechanism, yet the inclusion of a multiplier more than makes up for it. This leads to possibly the most controversial aspect of the game, the new ELK Bonus Buy feature. Forking out 100x for free spins is pretty standard, but 500 for the Super version? Sure the multiplier starts on 10x, and the first time we triggered it 6 bonus symbols landed for the full 25 drops. Still, its hefty price tag puts it almost in Deadwood territory and really needs to be handled with care.
In a nutshell, ELK has taken most of what made the previous four Gold games great, added some new features, improved the audiovisual experience, and upped the potential to produce a hugely playable game. In almost every respect this is the biggest one from the highly successful range. Katmandu Gold radically heightens the anticipation for what ELK will possibly do in the sixth instalment. The key question being, where on earth will we find Kane next?
ELK Studios lifts the Gold Series to new heights by combining excellent features with a fantastic theme, greatly freeing up potential in the process.