Shamrock Holmes Megaways: Slot Overview
There was an air of inevitability when Microgaming announced their acquisition of a Megaways license from Big Time Gaming. The granddaddy of slot development had bravely held out while many of their competitors succumbed to the temptation BTG’s game engine offered. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, as the saying goes, and so here it is, the first Megaways powered slot available on Microgaming's platform, Shamrock Holmes Megaways from partner All41 Studios.
There's no indication as to why Microgaming bestowed the honour on All41, although it's likely all studios in the line-up will get the chance to work their magic in due time. Anyway, Shamrock Holmes Megaways isn't exactly a game that will catch you off guard when you load it up for the firs time. The 6-reel game area with its horizontal reel running along the top is what you've come to expect of any Megaways slot after all. It's also not unusual for developers to play it safe with their first use of the mechanic, going for the standard Bonanza-style gaming.
The scene is a pleasant one though, not so sickly sweet as Irish themed slots can be, capturing more of the mystical side to Gaelic culture. However, a jaunty tune ensures you never lose track of where you are spinning, and on the whole, the game is presented in a pleasing way which is not overly clichéd. Quite what our hero Shamrock Holmes is investigating is a mystery though. Pixie-napping? Let's go with that.
Playable on any device, Shamrock Holmes Megaways comes with bet options ranging from 20 p/c to £/€20 per spin which should cover most gambling budgets. All41 has constructed a solid math model to power the Shamrock action too. The game has a big max win number, matched by medium/high volatility and a solid RTP rating of 96.44%. The hit frequency is high too on 35.34%, so long patches of dead-spins are uncommon.
Winning requires landing 3 or more matching symbols adjacently from the first reel to form a combination. The one exception is the top premium, Shamrock Holmes, who pays out when two of him line up. He's worth 50x the stake for six of a kind, followed by pixies, three-leafed clovers, and flowers as the rest of the high pays, worth 2x - 5x the bet. The remaining low pay symbols are wood-backed 9-A royals forming the bulk of the wins.
The shimmering rainbow 'W' is the wild, appearing on the extra reel only. It lands during the base or bonus game to substitute for all symbols except the scatter and symbols participating in a respin trigger.
Shamrock Holmes Megaways: Slot Features
The magic of Megaways is that the exact number of symbols changes on every spin, producing a different amount of win ways each time. All41 has harnessed this unpredictability into a Respin feature known as Magic Forest Respins, which produces some of the biggest nail-biting moments in the game.
Magic Forest Respins are pretty nifty when they're activated. This happens when a certain mix of scatters and symbols occur in the base game, triggering a respin with a guaranteed number of Megaways:
- 10,000 Megaways requires 3 scatters + the pixie symbol on the extra reel.
- 32,400 Megaways requires 3 scatters + Shamrock Holmes on the extra reel.
- 117,649 Megaways requires 3 scatters + Shamrock Holmes and the pixie on the extra reel.
Central to the action is Microgaming's trademarked Rolling Reels feature which clears winning symbols from the reels and replaces them with new random symbols. Available in all phases of the game, Rolling Reels continues to trigger until no new winning combinations appear.
Shamrock Holmes most effective moments come during free spins with their unlimited win multiplier. To gain access, players need to land at least 4 scatters anywhere on the reels which grants 10 free spins - if there are more than 4 in view, each additional scatter adds 2 more spins. Free spins start with an x2 win multiplier, while each winning combo increments the value by 1 – without limit. Three scatters on the extra reel awards 3 more free spins, while four scatters add an extra 4 spins.
Shamrock Holmes Megaways: Slot Verdict
Interestingly, Microgaming and NetEnt, two titans of slot development, both have their hands on a Megaways license now. It's curious to see the initial stages of war being waged through partner studio proxies. Where Red Tiger fired the first shots by remaking Gonzo's Quest, which is practically slots royalty, All41 went lower key. Still, with such a bulging back catalogue of classics, the gambling community is no doubt waiting with baited breathe as to the next manoeuvre.
All41 Studios has played it pretty safe for the first Megaways slot, but that's not a surprise or a criticism. Many developers approach with caution when playing around with Megaways for the first time. The features revolve around a standard unlimited win multiplier in free spins, so it's not exactly innovative. You can't say there are any major faults, though. Shamrock Holmes runs as smoothly as anything you'll find off the All41 line.
Magic Forest Respins are intriguing. The concept isn't exactly brand new either, but they yield a thrill every time they come into play and are a great consolation when landing three, rather than the four scatters needed to enter the bonus game. Aside from this feature, Shamrock Holmes doesn't do anything overly unmissable. It is, however, a dependable and well-designed Megaways slot that's likely to cater somewhat more to UK punters due to the choice of theme.
The stats are all respectable too, such as an RTP on the higher side of many slots we've seen recently. Then there is potential, which at 28,000 times the bet is a sizeable amount. Don't expect to land the max win anytime soon though. This is rather low-key gaming and not anywhere near as explosive as many other volatile slots are. Just like in Bonanza, you're more likely to hover around your starting balance for half a day than you ever are of landing a 500x+ win.
There are no real surprises here and the shelf-life likely won't be all that long. After all, what we see here has been done countless of times before. Nevertheless, Shamrock Holmes Megaways is a solid slot that gets the job done, and that in itself is a distinctive step forward for All41 Studios.
Shamrock Holmes Megaways provides plenty of solid gaming – just don’t expect it to veer far from what’s already been offered in terms of mechanics and gameplay.