Mayan Eagle: Overview
Microgaming partner All41Studios is the mastermind behind the Central American driven slot Mayan Eagle. The theme might not be new, but the game is the first to use the in-house designed Nobleways mechanic. Sounds pretty, well, noble, but in effect, it's not the most innovative device you'll come across - nor the most sophisticated.
It plays well with the other features though, Rolling Reels in particular, but don't expect to be dazzled on the whole. On that note, buckle up for a trek through the steamy Yucatan Peninsula for some Mayan infused gaming.
Step Pyramids, temples, and carvings great players once the game loads. It's a classic Mesoamerican view, and quite a nice looking one indeed. Not so pleasing to the eyes is the 6 reel, 5 row game area, unfortunately. There is something a little off about the symbols. Somehow they manage to be just a little too bright, yet dull at the same time. Anyway, no biggie once they get going. Rhythmical drumming completes the picture, which welds to the gameplay after a while, in a throbbingly repetitive way.
Players set stakes by hitting the coin icon where options from 20 p/c per to £/€20 are located. Hold on to your hats because volatility has been rated as not just high, but 'Very High'. Testing could find nothing to refute this claim. RTP is decent at 96.43%, but what helps keep things ticking along is a rather high hit frequency of 37.6%. On the other end of the spectrum is the free spins frequency of 1 in 434 spins which roughly puts it in the same league as Bonanza. Encountering a dry spell can be a killer.
Mayan Eagle's centrepiece is the trademarked Nobleways mechanic. In essence, Nobleways is 15,625 fixed win ways over the game's 6 reels. It is a lot of win ways to have in play at once, though maybe not quite a slot revolution. Still, the high number of win ways combined with Microgaming's Rolling Reels can be a potent mix.
There is nothing complicated about winning on the Nobleways system. Three or more symbols, left to right, create a winning combination – just two or more in the case of the golden mask. Matching symbols may sit in any row, hence the high number of win ways. Landing a win triggers the Rolling Reels feature which clears those symbols off the grid. New ones fall into the spaces causing a chain of hits one after the other. When no new wins appear the sequence is over and the total prize paid.
The symbols involved are split into low pay 9-A royals, and four high pays. Classic Mayan masks make up the premiums, coloured green, blue, red, and gold, returning 2x to 50 times the stake for six of a kind. The wild symbols slots in here nicely, appearing on reels 2 to 5 only, to substitute for any of the regular pay symbols.
Mayan Eagle: Features
As well as Nobleways and Rolling Reels, players get Mystery Symbols plus Free Spins to make use of. Mystery Symbols can turn up on any spin, either base or free. They only land on the initial spin, never through a subsequent Rolling Reel. All Mystery Symbols in view change to reveal the same matching symbol. They arrive in groups of eight or more, morphing into anything except the wild or the scatter.
The most profitable part of the game is the free spins - 12 are awarded when four M-A-Y-A scatters land in view simultaneously. Should any more scatters be present, then they add +2 free spins each. During free spins, players benefit from a progressive win multiplier, starting at x2 and increasing by +1 on every Rolling Reel. The multiplier does not reset between spins but continues ever upwards with no set limit. Should another 4 scatters land in view during the round, then 12 more free spins are added to the total.
Mayan Eagle: Verdict
Well, no one said slashing through deep bush would be a walk in the park. The earlier explorers or conquerors, if you prefer to call them, didn't have it easy, and neither do players. Catching Mayan Eagle on a down patch is like having the jungle hack you with the machete. What kills it is the free spins frequency - 1 in 434 is no joke and is demoralising enough on paper. In practice, it felt like a full revolution of the Mayan Calendar had passed before free spins finally eventuated. An approach like that might work with a complex slot like Bonanza, not as well here.
Strangely, the bankroll remained more or less neutral throughout, helped by the high hit rate and the features. Not just Rolling Reels, but Mystery Symbols popped up often enough to keep the interest level somewhat high. If we weren't conducting a review though, it would have been easy to give up after the first 500 spins lead to a whole bunch of tail chasing. The game makes no bones about being very highly volatile, so if patience is one of your virtues, then rewards are there. Specifically, potential of up to 13,000 times the stake, if you do crack it.
However, after playing through free spins once or twice and receiving modest rewards, it is unbelievably tough to stay motivated for the base game again. It's hard not to doubt your tenacity when faced with jogging on the spot for another aeon of regular spins.
The new-fangled Nobleways mechanic doesn't really offer anything new. The 15,625 fixed win ways is a lot, but it has popped up in the past. With mystery symbols and all, it's obvious they went for a sort of Blueprint Megaways approach here, and so it comes off as a bit of a knock-off. It's not nearly as sophisticated, refined, or compelling to play though.
Mayan Eagle has its moments, there is no denying that, but they can be achingly few and far between. Potential is there, as is some intriguing gameplay via the blend of Nobleways and Rolling Reels. All up, it’s perhaps better suited to wannabe Hernández de Córdobas who enjoy exploring this part of the world.
Game title: Mayan Eagle Nobleways
Reels: 6 | Rows: 5 | Paylines: 15,625 RTP: 96.32% | Hit Freq: 37.6% | Max Win: 13,000x Volatility: Very High | Min/Max Bet: 0.20/20 Release Date: July 7, 2020