Lucky Neko: Gigablox: Overview
Swedish developer Yggdrasil Gaming reveals the second of their two hot new features in the Asian themed slot Lucky Neko Gigablox. The other, Splitz, offered tiles that could literally split into several symbols to squeeze more out of individual paylines. This one, Gigablox, takes the opposite, not so subtle, approach of using oversized symbols to pull in more paylines. Before delving into the game, let’s do a little wordplay with the title. Who, or what is a Neko?
The literal translation of the word Neko is ‘cat’. Usually, it refers to the waving feline statues you see in Asia, particularly in Japan, where the figurines are supposed to bring their owners luck. It is Japan where Lucky Neko Gigablox is set, evidenced by the cute Japanese voice-overs that crop up now and then and the well-arranged look of the game.
The other giveaway is the abundance of Daruma dolls on the paytable and reels. These round, hollow dolls are also traditionally found in Japan and modelled after the founder of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma. As you can tell, plenty of thought has gone into planning Lucky Neko, which has turned out to be quite a cultural feast indeed.
It’s also evident that a lot of thought went into developing the game because it looks a real treat. The symbols appear in the base game on a 6 reel, 4 row grid, with everything neatly packed in like a stapled box of sushi. The reels are located in a quaint shop full of Japanese objet d’art that shakes as the massive Daruma symbols rumble through. A peaceful traditional Asian tune tinkles away behind the sound effects and the effect is relaxing, harmonious even. Perhaps Yggdrasil Gaming pulled in a Feng Shui expert to arrange things just so?
During the base game, there are 40 paylines in play on which winners of three or more matching symbols can land. Bets start at the low roller friendly sum of 8 p/c per spin and can be raised to £/€100 for those with larger requirements. Yggdrasil is helpful as ever when it comes to numbers which start with a solid RTP of 96.4%. The hit frequency, on the other hand, is a little lower than usual on 15.45%, though volatility heads in the opposite direction with a medium/high setting.
So no issues behind the scenes. In front of them, players get 8 regular pay symbols to contend with. Half are card suit icons - spades, clubs, hearts and diamonds that have been designed like miniature screens. The high pays are the Darumas mentioned above and come in four different colours – purple, green, yellow and pink. The pink one offers the best value at 8x the stake for 6 of a kind, down to 10x for the purple Daruma. The final symbol in this section is the golden wild which can substitute for any pay symbol to form a winning combination. From here it is on to the reel shaking features.
Lucky Neko: Gigablox: Features
Since Lucky Neko is the debut outing for Yggdrasil’s new Gigablox feature, it makes sense to start there. It is vaguely similar to Splitz in that it involves multiple symbols in one. How it works is that at least one set of synced reels appears on every spin to create big blocks of symbols. On synced reels, Gigablox can land in 2x2, 3x3, or 4x4 sizes, and there can be more than one synced reel on each spin.
The next feature transforms almost every part of the game. This is a round of Free Spins which is triggered when at least 5 scatter symbols land in view anywhere on the reels. The actual amount of scatters in view equals the number of free spins that are awarded. The game undergoes quite a change during free spins with the number of rows doubling to 8 and paylines increasing to 85.
Another change is that Gigablox symbols get bigger and can land in 5x5 or 6x6 size, bringing more symbols to the table. Lastly, before free spins begin, one pay symbol is randomly selected to become the special Blessed Symbol. During free spins, the Blessed Symbol’s payout value is increased by x5, making the high paying pink Daruma worth 40x the stake for six.
Lucky Neko: Gigablox: Verdict
So how did the first run with new Gigablox feature go? Well, it’s not quite a paradigm shift and we've seen Yggdrasil experiment with mega symbols in the past in their outstanding release Gem Rocks, but it is fun all the same. Compared to the more intricate Splitz mechanic, Gigablox is a bit more effective, simple and straightforward which is always nice.
When a freaking enormous block drops out of nowhere to smother the grid, it’s a sweet moment. And if that happens to be the Blessed Symbol with the x5 multiplier, the adrenal gland receives a solid kick. Keep in mind too that wilds and scatters are available in Gigablox form. Solid wins can happen and as to potential, Yggdrasil Gaming state wins of up to 6,953 times your stake are possible. Not a princely sum perhaps, but respectable figure to be sure.
All up, Yggdrasil Gaming deserves bonus points for creating a uniquely refined Asian slot. The appearance is gorgeous, as you expect from this particular developer, and the wee shop setting is warm and cosy. The theme has been put to excellent use and the appearance of Darumas is a nice change. After playing Lucky Neko you kind of feel like you have experienced something new, seen a different side to the Far East. Lucky Neko goes to show that you can develop a fun, lucrative slot set in Asia without a dragon or Caishen in sight.
Lucky Neko Gigablox is charming, Soothing, and absolutely stunning, yet the theme might be a deal-breaker for some.