KokeshiPop: Slot Overview
KokeshiPop is the name given to what is, by our count, the fifteenth PopWins powered slot to roll off the AvatarUX production line. If, like us, you weren't sure what Kokeshi meant, then here's a rundown after doing a bit of online research. Kokeshi are Japanese dolls made out of wood which have been made for kids for over 150 years. One of their defining features is the lack of arms or legs, and have appeared as Nintendo avatars called Miis, as well as in a PlayStation series called LittleBigPlanet. And now, they star in their very own online slot.
Visually, KokeshiPop is a tastefully designed game displaying a subtly satisfying representation of Japanese culture. Well, a side of it, and while KokeshiPop could technically be called an Asian slot, it's not a typical-looking example of the genre. Instead, the game has a delicate origami feel and kind of looks like a mixture of MonkeyPop and Big Bamboo. An expandable game grid takes centre stage, surrounded by a stylised pagoda-like structure in a cartoon rural location. AvatarUX has paid excellent attention to the little details, too, such as symbol animations and the pleasing way winning ways are lit up the second the reels come to a stop.
On the topic of reels, KokeshiPop has 5 of them holding 3 symbols each at the start of every base game spin. At this size, players are equipped with 486 ways to win, as the game pays left to right from the first reel and right to left from the fifth reel – noting that five-of-a-kind wins pay one way only. A medium volatile slot, KokeshiPop has three possible RTP configurations, the highest being 96.1%, whilst it is playable on any device, taking bets of 20 p/c to £/€40 per spin.
Landing matching symbols on at least three adjacent reels starting on either side of the grid creates a winning way, and there are no less than 12 regular pay symbols. The lows are 10-A card ranks, the mediums are amulets (?), swords, and cats, while the three highs and the super high are four colourful characters. Values vary from 1x the bet for the lows, 1.5x for the mediums, 2x for the highs, and 5x for the super high symbol. A waving cat is displayed on the wild symbol, which can substitute for any regular pay symbol. However, wilds only appear during free spins.
KokeshiPop: Slot Features
Central to KokeshiPop is the PopWins mechanic. It works by removing winning symbols from the grid when they hit and replacing each one with two new symbols. In the base game, the reels max out at 6 symbols high, while in free spins, they can reach 7 symbols. PopWins will keep replacing winning symbols with new ones until no new win is formed.
Base Game Multiplier
Should all reels reach 6 symbols high in the base game, a multiplier of x5, x10 or x20 is awarded. The multiplier doubles on each subsequent win from then, though the multiplier resets between spins. When all reels are unlocked, the symbols in the reels fall off the grid and are replaced with a new set.
Landing 3, 4, or 5 scatters in the base game awards 5, 8, or 12 free spins. In free spins, the reels have a default height of 4 symbols high and can grow to 7 high at the most. The reel height is reset between free spins. Free spins also have a win multiplier that starts at x1. Consecutive wins on the same spin double the multiplier. Should all reels reach 7 positions high, a random multiplier of x5, x10, or x20 multiplies the current win multiplier. All symbols are removed from the grid when the reels are unlocked as well and are replaced with new ones, also awarding +2 free spins in the process. It's important to note that the multiplier resets between free spins.
Before free spins begin, players have the option to gamble on a wheel to potentially win up to 12 free spins. Successful gambles award the next highest number of free spins, while unsuccessful gambles take players back to the base game.
Buy Bonus and Ante Bet
If available, clicking the bonus buy button lets players jump straight to the bonus round. The options are 60x the bet for 5 free spins, which can be gambled, or 240x the bet for 12 free spins. Alternatively, players may be able to activate the Ante Bet, which increases the stake by 25%, doubling the chance of triggering free spins.
KokeshiPop: Slot Verdict
There's little doubt AvatarUX has honed its artistic chops as the PopWins range has progressed. Not saying the earlier slots were not lookers or anything like that, but a level of refinement has seeped into its later releases which make them a delight to behold. KokeshiPop continues the trend and is another example of the eye-catching artwork AvatarUX is busily using as it expands its portfolio. Asian-themed slots often feel quite specialised, broadly speaking, but using a unique style like the one used here helps push KokeshiPop closer to the mainstream, opening up the door for more general consumption.
And when consuming KokeshiPop, what can players expect to find? During testing, KokeshiPop came across as one of the 'lighter' PopWins slots in the collection, with a milder math model than they sometimes possess as well as a more modest max win of 10,000x. In action, KokeshiPop didn't strike us as a slot that dramatically evolves the PopWins concept being more of a sideways step, but it does have a few interesting bits that connoisseurs of the mechanic might be intrigued by. One is the multiplier, awarded when maxing reels in the base game, adding what could possibly be the icing on the cake to a solid PopWins sequence. Then there's the doubling of the win multiplier in free spins, as well. At first glance, it seemed like we were getting a Raptor DoubleMax meet PopWins extravaganza, which was quite a proposal. However, it was hard not to feel a teensy bit disappointed over the fact the win multiplier resets between free spins. In saying that, multipliers do multiplier the win multiplier, so juicy values are theoretically possible.
All in all, playing through KokeshiPop was a neatly pleasant audio-visual experience. It's not exactly the apogee of the series, but it might be a good stepping-in point for first-time PopWins players keen to see what the mechanism is all about in a less brutal environment than some of them can be.
KokeshiPop doesn’t thrust the PopWins mechanic into wildly uncharted waters but is pleasantly packaged all the same.