Opal Fruits (Big Time Gaming): Review
Having been greeted with a rather lukewarm response by the gambling community, Holy Diver was soon followed up by the significantly less intricate and more explosive game The Final Countdown. What's about to go down next is a story yet to be told, although Opal Fruits has all the ingredients to bring every fan of classic Big Time Gaming together, while at the same time winning new ones over.
Nik, the CEO of Big Time Gaming, is a man personally and deeply involved in every new project the studio takes on, a passion that shines through when you sit down to have a talk with him about his games. This is a man that lives and breaths slots and that has no greater wish than for players to be swept off their feet by his creations. As we've been told by Nik himself, he spent much of his young life in the arcades playing Defender, a shoot 'em up video game developed by WMS, skipping school to battle galactic aliens. As a consequence, what you get in Opal Fruits is not just a thrilling slot, but also a throwback to Nik's childhood and a time less complicated.
The first thing you will notice about Opal Fruits is indeed the 1980s retro feel. However, there are also many clever puns and tributes for you to decipher. For example, the title itself is a witty wordplay on the classic UK candy Starburst which used to go by the name Opal Fruits, a chewy sweet young Nik used to eat while playing his favourite games.
Despite the apparent similarities to Bonanza, as you will experience once you start playing, it does not feature the Megaways game engine. Instead, what you get here is a unique concept trademarked as Triple Reaction and which utilises 2 extra reels, as opposed to 1 that is otherwise typical of Big Time Gaming, positioned above and below reels 2, 3, 4 and 5. In combination with the 6 reels, 3 rows, 5,625 ways to win, the reel design becomes quite dense, in effect giving you a 3-5-5-5-5-3 formation.
Like Bonanza, Opal Fruits comes with a reaction feature, a type of gameplay where winning symbols are blasted away and replaced by new symbols, continuing until no new winning combinations appear on the reels.
Opal Fruits may not be a feature-heavy slot, but packs massive punch nonetheless. Here, you'll benefit from x3 Multiplier Wilds in the base game that can help you rack up some serious wins. Spell F-R-E-E, and you'll trigger the Free Spins feature that offers an unlimited multiplier along with an entirely new way of re-triggering the bonus. You can play it from as little as 10 cents per spin up to 20€/£.
Visually, it makes use of a similar colour palette as NetEnt's Starburst, something that, with the wordplay in mind, was likely done with intent. The soundtrack has a distinct 80s vibe to it and actually make use of original samples from Williams Electronics Robotron and Defender SFX. The overall look and feel of the game is otherwise quite typical of Big Time Gaming who's decided to play it a bit safe in this aspect.
Hurtling through space in true Defender fashion, on the reels you'll see the 9 to A royal values, joined by a quartet of gemstone-style fruits represented by pears, plums, watermelons and grapes, the latter two switched as the top payer since, "you can’t really push purple Melons", as Nik put it. Either way, the grapes, should you land 6 of a kind, will give you 50 times your stake.
You also get two different types of wild symbols, both of which appear in the extra reels only:
- Regular wild - appears in the base game as well as in the Free Spins feature and performs the usual substituting duties
- x3 Multiplier wild - appears in the base game only. The x3 wilds multiply each other on different columns, and although the odds are astronomical, this can effectively result in 6*6*6*6* x50 combinations, plus a few thousand depending on what else hits.
Opal Fruits (Big Time Gaming): Features
Aside from the multiplier wilds keeping you on your toes in the base game, you also get a Free Spins game which is played when you land the 4 scatter symbols needed to spell the word FREE. Starting with 10 spin and a x1 multiplier, it's all about building the multiplier here with each reaction increasing the multiplier by 1.
Now, every time the multiplier meter reaches a multiple of 10 (x10, x20, x30, etc), the feature is retriggered and 5 extra spins are added to your total. Furthermore, triggering the Free Spins with an extra scatter will give the win multiplier a x5 boost as opposed to adding 5 extra spins. Every additional scatter thereafter will provide you with a x10 boost!
Opal Fruits (Big Time Gaming): Verdict
What Big Time Gaming aspired to accomplish here, they triumphantly succeeded in doing. The end product is a simple, fast-paced, explosive and mindless slot that, along with staggering potential and with a large dose of nostalgia thrown in, sends a strong signal to remind people of who the true alphas of innovative game design are. In our conversations that we struck up with Nik about the game, he told us; "We could of overcomplicated it, but we just wanted a pure, unmistakable game that you feel genuinely entertained by".
The basic nature of Opal Fruits is in no way off-putting. On the contrary, it's precisely what we've been waiting for without actually knowing it. As such, it is a much-needed break from the more feature-heavy offerings that we've been fed as of late while at the same time delivering adrenaline-fueled action in its purest form.
Opal Fruits is a satisfying mix of nostalgia and tense gameplay wrapped up in a slick presentation.