Santa vs Rudolf slot (NetEnt): Overview
Be it Easter, Halloween, or Christmas - the holidays are a great excuse for developers to cash in on their old games by giving them a simple makeover and market them as something new. In fact, NetEnt has never released one single original Christmas slot despite boasting a whole bunch of them in their portfolio. For example, their 2016 contribution, Secrets of Christmas, is a reskin of Secrets of the Stones. And last years offering, Jingle Spin, was originally released as Egg-O-Matic. Under normal circumstances, cloning does not fare well with the casino community, but if anyone can pull it off, it's NetEnt. As a matter of fact, Santa vs Rudolf is so well executed that you might just forgive its lazy premise.
Brought to you by Swedish powerhouse provider NetEnt, Santa vs Rudolf is the studio's 2019 Christmas contribution. Utilising 5 reels, 3 rows, and 20 fixed paylines, the game pays both ways and benefits from walking wilds with re-spins as well as a free spins game that can lead to one of two encore bonuses. Medium to high variance and with a solid 96.35% RTP, you can Ho Ho Ho yourself to the North Pole using your computer or mobile devices and commence spinning the reels from 0.20 to €/£10 per spin.
We have to say, it's impressive to see how much narrative and personality the developers have managed to fit into this video slot. Already stressed out from the high workload as he prepares to deliver presents around the globe, Santa now also has to deal with Rudolf's disorderly behavior. Not particularly interested in getting work done, Rudolf instead decides to play around and hide Santa's hat. This, of course, infuriates Santa who ends up getting into a brawl with Rudolf as they collide on the reels. It's all put together superbly and presented to the player using a combination of colourful cartoon style visuals and phenomenal music. It's almost impossible not to fall head over heels.
On the reels you will see the usual 10 to A lower value royals styled to look like candy cane sweets. More rewarding are the wish-lists, reindeer snowglobes, Rudolf's collars, presents, and Santa's famous sleigh. The latter is the most lucrative, giving you 25 times your stake for five across a full payline. There are two wild symbols included as well, each represented by Santa and Rudolf. The Rudolf wild may appear on reel 1 on any spin and shift one position to the right before each re-spin until falling out of view. The same goes for Santa, but the other way around as he drops in on reel 5.
Santa vs Rudolf slot (NetEnt): Features
The Free Spins trigger mechanism here is quite interesting and a bit unconventional. If Santa and his rebellious reindeer Rudolf appear on the same row, they will clash and get into a brawl to indicate the the free spin feature has been activated. Starting with 10 spins, you can extend the feature the same way it was triggered which can bring you up to a maximum of 30 free spins. The wilds appear far more frequently during the bonus, and whenever the two belligerents collide, another 4 spins are added to your total. Furthermore, with the walking wild re-spin feature in play here as well, the free spins round can take quite a while to complete.
At the top of the screen you'll see two meters - one for Santa (red) and one for Rudolf the menace (green). The meters correspond to the wilds that appear in view during the round. Each time a Santa or Rudolf wild completes its journey on the reels, it will boost its corresponding meter by 1. Now, if you manage to fill all 8 spaces on one of the meters before the feature comes to an end, you'll activate its corresponding encore bonus. This is what you can look forward to:
- Santa's Gifts - This one is the less attractive of the two encore bonuses. Basically, what you get is a bonus pick feature split up in three sets in which you get to pick items that will reveal a cash prize, a multiplier increase or Santa's hat to indicate the end of the picking round. A multiplier of up to 4x can be applied to your total cash win.
- Rudolf Spins - The Rudolf Spins feature is the key to winning big in this slot. Here, you will receive 3 spins with 5 Rudolf wilds randomly added to the reels for each of the spins.
Santa vs Rudolf slot (NetEnt): Verdict
Since they're likely to receive little play-time during off-season, it's really not all that surprising to see developers clone old games for their Christmas specials. Granted, it probably wouldn't warrant the cost of going all in to creating an original. In this particular case, NetEnt has found new use for one of their earliest branded slots The Invisible Man (2014) which has received a Christmas makeover in Santa vs Rudolf.
Of the three Christmas slots we've reviewed so far, the other ones being Xmas Magic (Play'n GO) and Festive Indulgence (Microgaming), this one is by far the most entertaining to play. The whole production, from start to finish, is phenomenal, and NetEnt has done an outstanding job of making it feel fresh and original in spite of being a clone. There is no doubt in our minds that NetEnt has managed to come up with another Christmas classic the same way they did with Secrets of Christmas.
As we've come to expect from Christmas themed slots, you can expect rather gentle volatility here (you don't want to completely kill your customers Christmas spirit after all). This is the sort of slot you can spend an hour on and still be left with the same balance you had when you started. It's not super generous in terms of potential and the only way of winning big really, is to get to the Rudolf Spins. Even so, the maximum win is only around 1,000 times your stake we reckon, although we've never seen anyone win even half of that during all the years that The Invisible Man has been around.
To conclude, if you're out to land big wins, go for the other two offerings from Play'n GO and Microgaming previously mentioned. If you just want to get in some good Christmas mood and have some fun, Santa vs Rudolf is the better alternative.
Santa vs Rudolf (NetEnt)
● Reels: 5
● Rows: 3
● Paylines: 20
● RTP: 96.35%
● Hit Freq: 29%
● Max Payout: 1,000x
● Volatility: M/H
● Bets: 0.20 - 100 EUR
● Features: Walking Wilds, Re-Spins, 2 Bonus Features, Pick and Click Bonus Game
● Release Date: October 28, 2019
Bigwinboard Rating - 81%