Pop: Slot Overview
Pop is the third slot in Aussie developer Big Time Gaming's range of 4-reel slots. The series kicked off with a bang when Donuts was released in 2018 to a warm reception. Chocolates was up next, and while it offered a similar style of gaming, not to mention bigger wins, it failed to connect as strongly with those that dug Donuts. Failing to live up to the hype might be why BTG has taken a break from using sweeties to go with something else equally cute, though far less hazardous for your teeth – balloons.
Perhaps it's their association with younger folk why the humble balloon doesn't show up in the iGaming world too much. Crazy Tooth had an interesting crack with them in The Incredible Balloon Machine. It's safe to say Pop is a much more conventional game as it actually feels like a slot being played utilising a 4x4 grid, providing 256 ways to win.
The setting has shifted from the crisp alpine air in Chocolates to the warm salty breezes of the Pacific Ocean. To narrow the location down further, Big Time Gaming has selected the famous Santa Monica pier to house the Pop slot. In the background, a lit Ferris wheel slowly rotates as the sun sets, and just to the left, a Donuts stand, linking Pop back to BTG's original hit. Sonically, the game doesn't much other than jam a low key electronic number that sounds like a stock backing track on a cheap keyboard alongside an assortment of familiar bleeps. In all, a pleasantly innocuous-looking game, which belies quite how lethal it is.
Poppin' takes place on any device, where stakes may be set from 10 p/c per spin all the way up to £/€20. One thing uniting all three games in the 4x4 range so far is their highly volatile math models. Unlocking Donuts' bonus game wasn't always the easiest so players should brace themselves for Pop as well. As per usual when it comes to Big Time Gaming, RTP is quite high too, so there should be no complaints about the 96.54% configuration.
As for the paytable 9-Ace tiles make up the low pays, while green, blue, red and purple balloons are the highs. Single line wins aren't huge, with premiums awarding you 0.8 to 2 times your stake for 4 of a kind combinations. The final point here is that low value royals only pay out in combinations 4 symbols in length while premiums only require 3 matching symbols to form a winning combo.
Pop: Slot Features
If you're partial to motion sickness, be prepared for Pop's unique spin mechanism. As low pay symbols spin downwards, high pay balloons and wilds float upwards, landing in the gaps between royals. Okay, so it won't exactly induce wooziness, but it might come across as a little disorientating at first.
Reactions occur when wins hit on the reels. Symbols part of the winning combination pop from the board, and only balloons float upwards to fill the spaces. Reactions continue to roll over until no new combinations appear.
The rainbow wilds do more than substitute for every symbol except the scatter, though they do that as well. In the base game, wilds may also reveal a multiplier of up to 4x. Wins are boosted by the multiplier value of each wild involved in a win.
Gold coins with the BTG logo on them are the scatter - 3 or more on the reels award 12 free spins. In free spins, each of the 16 positions has a multiplier which persists through the bonus round and may increment throughout the round. One or more of the positions that held triggering scatters start their multiplier on x2, x3, or x4. All other positions start at 1x. Now, every time a win made up of balloons or wilds hits on an initial spin, 1 or more of the winning positions' multipliers is increased randomly by 1, 2, or 3.
Landing 3 or more scatters during the feature awards +3 free spins, as well as increase all multipliers by 1 position. The amount that the multiplier increases by also improves by one for every retrigger.
Pop: Slot Verdict
Let’s start by saying Pop is a satisfying step in the evolution of BTG's 4-reel line up, though it's more of a step sideways rather than a leap forward. Mathematically, Pop certainly delivers, and its features take the gaming in a slightly new direction compared to the two that come before. It is a little unclear whether it does enough to create the same impact as Donuts; our money is leaning towards not so likely. But it's a fine game nonetheless which has no trouble of entertaining, exasperating, and eventually doling out big wins when luck is running hot.
Pop is all about its premiums symbols, and royals end up being a real liability a lot of the time. Usually, they're hanging around getting in the way of balloon wins. The good thing about them is when royal wins are removed, only balloon premiums can fill the gaps. This aspect of the reaction system is handy enough in the base game, but really useful in the bonus game since it increases the chances of linking up more balloons with more multipliers.
On the whole, the multiplier system wasn't quite as exciting as building a pre-free spin multiplier by landing golden donuts. Still, it is a thrill when a bunch of multipliers are repeatedly working with waves of balloon reactions to build a decent win. In the base game, payouts up to 14,407x are possible, while potential mushrooms to 66,960 times your stake in free spins, making it the highest paying slot in the range, just beating Chocolates. Just how achievable that potential is remains to be seen as all previous releases seem to have failed to live up to their stated max potential.
You would assume players who liked Donuts will enjoy the zero-calorie delights of Pop as well. However, the same could be said about Chocolates, which received a more lukewarm reception than many expected. It wasn't because there was anything wrong with it. Chocolates just didn't click in the same way Donuts did. Some games do, some don't, so will Pop? It's got the volatility, the big potential, and a nice presentation, so the right ingredients are there. Whether it pops with the gambling crowd or slowly deflates over time like a discarded old balloon will be interesting to see.
Die-hard fans of Big Time Gaming’s 4×4 series and newcomers alike will find a lot to like in Pop, even if it doesn’t necessarily drive the franchise forward.