Maya U Max: Slot Overview
Launched in 2020, Gong Gaming Technologies is a Bulgaria and Malta-based studio that has partnered with Microgaming to release around a dozen slots to date. Thematically, the studio has spread themselves around trying anything from buffalo to Norse to Mexican Day of the Dead. Pretty standard stuff. However, Gong isn't content to just stand on the shoulders of those who came before it. Maya U Max, for example, uses a fairly simple yet distinctive game mechanic to squeeze extra symbols onto reels to build up ways to win. Mix in retriggerable free spins and a hefty max win, and you've got the makings of a potentially interesting project.
Interest withers slightly when the game loads, as the view is almost entirely taken up by the game's 5-reel, 3-row grid. There is a bit of space up top displaying the current number of win ways, starting at 243, while the middle three reels have bunches of mini symbols above them. Mini symbols sit there until U Max symbols hit on the grid – more on this shortly. Mobile users in portrait mode get a more interesting view of a fiery cave background, though the symbols do get pretty teeny in that view, so there is a trade-off. The clue to the game's theme is in the name, so players are treated to a few minor Mayan touches, but Gong hasn't gone wild and crazy with it. The focus is almost entirely on symbols and getting them to interact with the U Max feature.
Numerically, Maya U Max generates respectable figures across the board, where there are no major highlights or concerns. The math model runs on medium-high volatility while generating an RTP value of 95.69%. Wins occur around one-third of the time due to a hit rate of 29.14%. Any device is suitable for the U Max action, where stakes from 20 p/c to £/€100 per spin are possible.
The symbols used in Maya U Max are bright, if not a little plain. On the lower side of the paytable are 9-A card royals, coloured in a Maya design to make them a bit more personable. These are worth a payout of 1.25 to 2 times the stake for a line of five. Rewards increase to 3-10 times the stake when hitting five of a kind premium combinations, which consist of purple, blue, green, red, and yellow gems. Rounding off this section is a clearly labelled 'Wild' tile, which possesses no value of its own but substitutes anything except the U Max or scatter symbol.
Maya U Max: Slot Features
U Max is the core feature around here, available in the base game and during free spins. In the base game, it is active on reels 2-4 only. If a U Max tile lands on these middle three reels, the 4 mini symbols hovering above the grid are added to its position. Up to 3 U Max symbols can land on a reel meaning 12 pay symbols or wilds will be added in. In the base game, it is possible to have the grid set up in a 3-12-12-12-3 formation, where 15,552 ways to win are active.
One more symbol graces Maya's reels; this is the golden mask scatter symbol. Landing 5 scatters anywhere on the reels triggers 5 free spins. Every free spins symbol to land after the initial 5 awards +1 free spin each, up to a maximum of 36.
During free spins, U Max symbols may now appear on all 5 reels instead of just the middle three. Should the grid be pushed to its 12-12-12-12-12 limit, 248,832 ways are activated. It won't be a common occurrence, though, since it means 15 U Max symbols have landed on a spin. Drawing out the bonus round is possible by landing free spins symbols which award +1 extra free spin - without limit.
Maya U Max: Slot Verdict
In Maya U Max, Gong hasn't used the game as an excuse for some huge world-building or theme exploration. This isn't necessarily a show stopper, provided the gameplay does enough to draw your attention away from the fact there isn't much else to take in. To its credit, Maya U Max does a fairly good job of doing so. The action is pacey, and the new U Max feature creates some exciting moments when matching symbols are crammed into enough positions to generate a decent win.
That's pretty much all there is to Maya U Max, so if you aren't completely sold on the concept, then it can get stale after a while since there's nothing else going on. Maya U Max comes across as a sort of pub version of Big Time Gaming's Megaclusters system, though it is different enough to be labelled unique. One minor niggle is when a win connects, all symbols shimmy, so at first, you think you've got way more wins going on than there actually is. Okay, first world problems, but it's especially noticeable since symbols completely dominate the screen.
With so many possible ways to win, it's good to know there is a decent max win figure backing up the whole shebang. A lesser amount might have cheapened the feature's huge number of win ways, so no one's going to complain about payouts of up to 20,000 times the bet. Such a number is sure to help gain Maya U Max, and by extension Gong, extra air time.
Will Maya U Max prove to be Gong's breakthrough release? Likely not, but there are actually some positives about the game, plus it's hard to knock an up and comer too hard if they are trying to be different. For players who like a holistic gaming experience, Maya might feel a little empty, yet for those keen on trying a different dynamic reels mechanic, it's certainly got that.
For players who like a holistic gaming experience, Maya U Max might feel a little empty, yet for those keen on trying a different dynamic reels mechanic, it’s certainly got that.