Long Pao (NetEnt): Overview
You have to hand it to NetEnt, they are nothing if not determined. Having set their sights on the Asian gaming scene, they seem to be pulling out all the stops to dominate this lucrative segment of the market. One shortcut to dominance appears to be trawling their back catalogue in search of slots they can give an Asian makeover. We saw that recently with East Sea Dragon King. Now we have Long Pao to contend with. Keen slots fans will quickly deduce that this is a crossover from an older NetEnt title called Jack Hammer. Both slots share the same cartoonish quality, similar stats, and an identical Sticky Win system.
Long Pao's theme is a far cry from the gritty world of the private eye, however. The name Long Pao means Dragon Robes in Chinese and was a particular item of clothing used in ancient court rituals of the Qing Dynasty. The robes were embroidered front to back with dragons, which all Asian slot fans know is an auspicious symbol. These robes were passed down from Emperor to Emperor in a tradition whose origins remain somewhat obscured. Now we have them served up in a slot.
That concludes the history lesson for today, now back to the game. Medium variance and played on a 5-reel, 25-payline reel set, you should expect to see the usual royal symbols spinning on the reels alongside swords and four members of the royal Chinese family. The Emperor is the most rewarding, giving you 40 times your stake for a 5 of a kind combination. Oddly, NetEnt decided to go for European-looking characters in spite of them obviously being of Chinese nobility. Possibly a calculated market decision, but strange nonetheless. In any case, a wild is also on hand to link more winners together. It's the pink Chinese characters symbol that we are guessing says 'Long Pao'. It can also be used during the Sticky Win respins as you will see.
Players choose coin values from 0.01 to 1 and bet levels. We used bet level 1 to describe the symbol values, but it can be increased to 10. This provides total stake values of 25 c/p up to £/€250 per spin. A good range of options there that will suit most players and returns a top prize of around 3,000 times your stake. Emperors often had a reputation for ruthlessness, but Long Pao comes with quite a generous RTP of 96.96%, just shy of the 97% we got with Jack Hammer.
Going off the numbers, there isn't a whole lot to get excited about. Where the game shines for Asian slot players is in its cartoon look and feel. It has a Manga style quality to it which, if anything, is one of the biggest stand out attributes. Fans will enjoy it, but for quite how long is a pertinent question. It is unlikely that the extras will do much to extend the games shelf-life either.
Long Pao (NetEnt): Features
The most exciting part of Long Pao is the Sticky Win feature. Winning combinations are formed when 3 or more of the same symbol land on a payline. When they do, they lock into place while the rest of the symbols spin again. If more of the same symbols land on a payline, they lock into place, and another respin occurs. This process continues until no more symbols land, or the grid is covered in winning symbols. Another great thing is that other kinds of symbols can also lock into place too. For example, you can have 3 royal values, and 3 Emperors locked at the same time. The Sticky Win feature provides the biggest thrills in the game by far as the respins add more and more of the required symbols.
The final feature is Free Spins which are triggered by the Dragon fronted scatter symbol. When three land it works with the Sticky Win feature and at least 5 are needed to activate the bonus round with 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9-15 of them giving you 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 free spins respectively. Not only are free spins set in motion but any win is also subject to a 3x multiplier.
Long Pao (NetEnt): Verdict
Has NetEnt done enough to attract Asian gamblers with Long Pao? Perhaps. It has the looks, symbols, and Oriental vibe that should appeal to most fans of the theme, and hopefully for NetEnt, the growing Asian market itself. Whether it will or not remains to be seen.
In a broader sense, Long Pao finds itself in the 'fast food' category of slots. It is able to provide quick thrills, and the Sticky Win feature is a solid draw when it goes your way, and there is the tantalizing allure of up to 30 free spins. However, if you stick around long enough to trigger the free spins, there isn't much leftover afterwards to hold your interest. It's done, you've seen Long Pao do its thing, and it's time to move on
Plenty of slots wind up in this scenario, so it isn't that Long Pao is a dud, it just isn't a game that will capture many imaginations. Maybe a higher top prize would do better to draw in a larger crowd. As it is, Long Pao sits in a niche which it has carved out all itself, and one in which NetEnt hopes to find enough punters to sign up to. So was the reskinning of Jack Hammer ultimately worth it? Sure, why not, just don’t expect miracles and you could enjoy yourself. And if not, hey at least we got an interesting history lesson.
NetEnt continue their foray into the Asian market by giving an older slot a makeover – this is Long Pao.