Santa's Great Gifts: Slot Overview
2022 was a fruitful year for Christmas slots, and at the time of reviewing Santa's Great Gifts from Pragmatic Play, it was still only October. Suffice it to say a measure of Christmas slot fatigue had set in, and the bag of snappy seasonal-related quips was fast dwindling. So, instead of trying to conjure up a clever intro, let's take a moment to push back any fatigue, take a deep breath, clear the mind, and launch into Santa's Great Gifts to see what it can do.
The first thing to acknowledge is that while Santa's Great Gifts is not a direct clone as such, it follows a blueprint laid down by Pragmatic Play's mythologically minded slot Gates of Olympus, as well as something like Sweet Bonanza. Much of the gameplay is similar, if not the same, with the greatest change being a tier system incorporated into its free spins bonus round. Naturally, the sound and visuals are completely different as well. Or are they? We do get a patriarch figure standing on the right-hand side of the grid, as before. This time though, it's Santa rather than Zeus, and he's placed in a wintery scene of snow, gifts and trees. Tip in the seasonal soundtrack, and there's no denying Santa's Great Gifts feels very Christmassy.
Santa's Great Gifts is played on a 6-columned game grid, each column holding 6 symbols. There are no paylines or ways. Instead, wins are created when at least 8 matching symbols land anywhere on the board. Highly volatile, the game's return to player value is clearly noted in the game rules, where the highest default value is 96.25%, changing to 96.23% when activating the Ante Bet. Regular bets can be placed from 20 p/c to $/€100 per spin, but factor in an extra 25% when using the Ante Bet. The benefit of doing so is the chance of triggering free spins is doubled.
On to the symbols which have gotten into the spirit of the season. This includes the low pays, which are four Christmas decorations with diamonds, clubs, hearts, and spades on them, while high pays are hot drinks, candy canes, tree biscuits, gingerbread men, and snow globes. Landing 12-30 of a kind pays 2-8x the bet for the low pays or 10 to 50 times the stake for the highs. No wilds appear in Santa's Great Gifts at any time.
Santa's Great Gifts: Slot Features
Being an offshoot but not a straight clone means Santa's Great Gifts has a few commonalities with previous slots, with a few ruffles around the edges. Mostly it's pretty close where the list of extras includes a Tumble feature, multiplier symbols, free spins with various levels, and a Bonus Buy.
The Tumble feature removes winning symbols from the reels, and then lets new or remaining symbols drop down to fill the empty positions. Tumbling continues until no more winning combs are created as a result of symbols dropping. Wins are added during a tumble sequence and are awarded when it stops.
Green, blue, purple, and red gift boxes are multiplier symbols. They are present on every reel in the base and bonus game. When a multiplier symbol hits, it has a random value of x2 to x100. When a tumble sequence finishes, the values of all multiplier symbols in view are added together and applied to the total spin win.
Hitting 4, 5, or 6 scatter symbols awards players with 10, 15, or 20 free spins while paying 3x, 5x, or 100x the bet, respectively. Free spins start at level 1, and when multiplier symbols land, they are collected by a meter. At set points, the bonus round levels up and at each level, only certain multiplier values may appear on the multiplier symbols.
- Level 1 – multiplier symbols can have values of x2 to x100.
- Level 2 – starts when 6 multiplier symbols have been collected. Multiplier values can be from x8 to x100.
- Level 3 – starts when another 4 multiplier symbols have been collected. Multiplier values can be from x15 to x100.
- Level 4 – starts when another 4 multiplier symbols have been collected. Multiplier values can be from x50 to x100.
Level four is as high as it goes. Lastly, landing 3 or more scatters during the round awards +5 additional free spins.
Where possible, players may make use of the Ante Bet or bonus buy option. Activating the Ante bet increases the stake by 25%, doubling the chance of triggering free spins. When buying free spins, there are four options. Free spins starting at level 1, level 2, level 3, or level 4 cost 100x, 200x, 300x, or 400x the bet, respectively.
Santa's Great Gifts: Slot Verdict
It's tough to think of many, or even any, other scatter-paying Christmas slots, so kudos to Pragmatic Play for spotting a gap in the market and filling it with an option. Not a bad option either, if this style of play suits. Santa's Great Gifts certainly piles on the Xmas atmos, cramming the screen with a large set of traditional imagery, as well as one or two items which don't always make it into a Christmas slot. As far as picking a game that matches the season, Santa's Great Gifts provides as much warmth as most of its competitors, being both satisfying to the eyes and eyes in its egg nog by the fire on a snowy winter's day brand of atmosphere.
As for the action, games like Gates of Olympus and Sweet Bonanza paved the way for this style of scatter-paying action, which Santa's Great Gifts has dutifully followed. The paying-anywhere system goes hand in hand with tumble wins in delivering moments of cascading entertainment. Throw in a sizeable multiplier or two, and Santa's Great Gifts is capable of creating just as much excitement as its template slot. There's a question mark over the tier system used in free spins. Not so much when it is triggered naturally, but the price difference between buying the entry-level tier and the top one is significant; but it's completely optional, so players are free to pick 'n mix how they see fit. Just like Gate of Olympus, Santa's Great Gifts comes with a win cap of 5,000x the bet to prevent the gifts from becoming too great, presumably.
Santa's Great Gifts didn't feel quite as enticing as Gates of Olympus from a purely gaming standpoint. Its multipliers max out at x100 compared to x500 in the other game, and the way the persistent win multiplier could be built in Gates of Olympus was arguably more thrilling than the tier system used here. But, from a thematic perspective, for players looking for a scatter pays slot with a strong pedigree, then Santa's Great Gifts is a decent contender.
For players in the mood for a Santa-themed scatter pays slot, Santa’s Great Gifts is a solid goto.