MonkeyPop: Slot Overview
The PopWins freight train rumbles on into double digits with the release of MonkeyPop from maker AvatarUX. Technically, the mechanic hit this milestone already if we include licensed efforts from Stakelogic. But, from a purely Avatar UX standpoint, MonkeyPop is the tenth time they've rolled out its reels and ways expansion capabilities. Like science's doughnut-shaped universe, they've kind of gone full circle and ended up where they started. What we mean is that like the first PopWins slot PopRocks, MonkeyPop has been dressed up in an Asian theme, albeit one very different than before.
In fact, MonkeyPop's appearance is rather unique. It looks like AvatarUX's graphics team has been sharpening their watercolour skills for this one. The result is very easy on the eyes and very different from anything the studio has done before. PopRocks was Asian in a sort of Big Trouble in Little China kind of way, as if triggering the right feature would dump David Lo Pan on the reels to do a bit of sorcery. This one is presented in a sort of Great Wave of Kanagawa style with a French flair.
Okay, enough gushing about the visuals, time to check what lies under the hood. First off, know that MonkeyPop is not the most highly strung, butt-kicking, big win slot in the range. AvatarUX has set volatility to high while crafting a game with a return value of 96.33%. Potential isn't bad at all, but compared to its PopWins siblings, MonkeyPop is a bit of a minnow. Still, there's more to life than trying to climb the largest mountain, and any device can be used to get the poppin' happening, where bets of 20 p/c to £/€100 per spin can be locked in.
Common in PopWins slots is their ability to build reels, and their use of ways pays. In MonkeyPop, players get both, starting on a 5-reel, 3-row panel, which actually pays both ways – left to right and right to left. On the lower side of the paytable are 10-A card ranks written calligraphically and worth 0.5 to 0.6x the bet for five of a kind. Next, the high pays are five monkey symbols, paying out 1-2.5x the bet for a five of a kind hit. Wilds can help with this, as they substitute any symbols except the bonus.
MonkeyPop: Slot Features
PopWins is the key feature which leads into or is included in just about every other extra in MonkeyPop. How it works is when a winning way lands, the respective symbols are removed from the grid and replaced with two new symbols. Obviously, this enlarges the reels and increases ways to win. It is possible to increase reels to seven symbols high, and if all reels are at this size, then there are 33,614 ways to win (including the pay both ways mechanic). PopWins continues to function until no new win lands; then the grid returns to its normal size.
Base Game Unlock
When all reels reach 7 rows high in the base game, a random number of low pay symbols are removed from the reels, and 2 free spins are awarded. Free spins start with a multiplier of x1, x2, or x3, which increases by +1 or +2 on each spin.
Free Spins Bonus Game
When 3 or more bonus symbols are in view at the end of a base game spin, the free spins bonus is triggered. Before it starts, players enter a Reward Reel screen. From this screen, four rewards are randomly drawn, such as:
- Starting free spins – 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10.
- Starting ways – 486, 2,048, or 6,250.
- Starting multiplier – x1, x2, x3, x4, or x5.
- Multiplier growth - +1, +2, +3, +4, or +5.
Free spins benefit from an ever-growing multiplier, and the reels do not reset between spins but drop to the lowest reel's height. When all reels hit 7 symbols high, +2 free spins are awarded, and a random number of low pay symbols are removed for the remainder of the round. MonkeyPop's minor claim to fame is as the first game in the portfolio to offer a scatter collection feature. Bonus symbols landing in free spins are collected. When 3 have been collected, one of the high pay symbols is upgraded to a gilded version, which multiplies its value by x5. If a gilded symbol is selected again, it gets upgraded to an x10 version.
Triggering the bonus game naturally occurs once every 410 spins, so some players might want to quicken the process. If the bonus buy is there, players can buy them instead. There are three options called the Buy Bonus, the Buy Bonus Plus, and the Buy Bonus Max, costing 100x, 250x, or 500x the bet, respectively.
MonkeyPop: Slot Verdict
Asian culture is synonymous with concepts like harmony and balance, yin and yang, and MonkeyPop feels about as close to these ideals as an online slot can really get. AvatarUX has taken a new path with the graphics, and MonkeyPop's unique look does a great job of grabbing your attention. It's a lot more subtle than many online slot trips East can be, which often overflow with so many sycees, dragons, and dynastic décor you feel like you're puffing up in an old-time opium den. MonkeyPop is more subtle than that, and all the better for it.
Putting the theme aside for a moment, the gameplay in MonkeyPop isn't so singular. After ten PopWins-powered games, we've pretty much got the drill down pat. Not to say, MonkeyPop isn't fun to play. The popping symbols feature is exciting when the reels are expanding, and you get a few free spins with multipliers as a reward when all five reels hit 7 cells high.
MonkeyPop is the one to go for if hunting for the biggest payouts possible is your number one criterion. MonkeyPop's max win figure of 197,500 the bet is about the highest in the range. However, it does lack the all-or-nothing pre-feature gambling option that some players might prefer to get their kicks. In spite of the theoretical potential, MonkeyPop is a lower-key experience all around for PopWins, and requires a fair share of patience to sit through what can be a large number of base game spins before triggering the bonus.
Once the warm visual glow has worn off a notch or two, don't expect to be as wowed by MonkeyPop's gameplay which is fairly regular PopWins stuff. However, MonkeyPop was a satisfying slot to test run, and would probably be a pleasant entry point for players new to the AvatarUX scene.
MonkeyPop is undoubtedly one of the more visually striking games in the PopWins range, though, in terms of gameplay, it offers few surprises.