Spartacus Megaways: Overview
One of the granddaddies of slots development, WMS, gets all swords and sandals in their Roman-themed slot Spartacus Megaways. WMS/SG Digital has used their Megaways license to power a follow up of their land-based classic Spartacus: Gladiator of Rome. The original slot was a complicated affair involving a dual 5x4 + 5x12 setup. The newer Megaways version simplifies the grid while multiplying win ways by 10,000 and whacking on a couple of new features.
Spartacus is a name that appears regularly in pop culture. No wonder too since he is said to have been schooled in the gladiatorial arts, then led a slave uprising which crushed the Roman army in several battles along the peninsula. Always portrayed in a romanticised epic-style in films or tv shows, the theme gets a similar treatment in Spartacus Megaways.
Set in a columned area, the game uses a lot of thick red curtains which creates a theatre-like feel. The grid consists of 6 main reels and a horizontal 4 position reel. Bonus reels are usually located above the main grid, but here WMS breaks with tradition to run along the bottom.
Complementing the gameplay is a stirring backing track, adding to the theatrical quality. It sounds like the soundtrack to one of those biblical/mythology films that came out in the 70s and gets rolled out each Christmas or Easter. Imagine Ben Hur, or a Franco Zeffirelli film, or one of those stop motion Harryhausen's classics. The electric guitar soloing over the top may ruin it for you, or, make it even more epic? Player’s choice.
On each spin a different number of symbols land - anywhere from 2 to 10 on the main reels. Factor in the bonus reel and the game is capable of producing up to 1 million win ways. In other words, far more than the 117,649 you usually get in a Megaways powered slot. It might seem like a unique number, but we've seen it before in 1 Million Megaways BC.
Playable from 20 p/c to £/€20 per spin, Spartacus Megaways offers a solid RTP of 96.32% which is above average, and more than the original, so there are no complaints there. Volatility isn't quite the same as being thrown to the lions, but it still leans towards the higher side of things.
The paytable is made up of 12 symbols, split into low and high groupings. The lows are Roman-fonted 9-A royals, followed by axes, swords, helmets, tigers, gladiators, and the game's logo. Values are a little on the low side, probably to offset the possibility of having 1 million Megaways on screen. Rewards top out at 25x for six logos, dropping down to 7.5x for the gladiator as a comparison.
In an unusual twist, the wild appears only on the main 6 reels, and not on the bottom reel. The wild is not worth anything on its own, but substitutes for all symbols except the Amphitheatre bonus symbol.
Spartacus Megaways: Features
Spartacus Megaways comes with several features, such as cascades during all phases of the game, a curtain dynamic, plus a round of free spins.
Landing a winning combination of three or more matching symbols triggers the cascade feature. This mechanic explodes winning symbols from the reels so new ones can fall into the gaps - a process that can create chains of consecutive combinations from a single spin and continue to roll as long as new winners land. Each win that occurs also raises a win multiplier by +1 with no set limit on how high it can go.
On every spin, a random number of reel positions are covered by red curtains. When a win occurs in the base game, it removes the curtain from one position on a random reel. This expands the win ways and opens the grid up to increase the chances of additional cascades occurring.
To unlock free spins you will need 4 or more Amphitheatre symbols in view. A wheel then rotates, awarding between 6 - 16 free spins as well as a certain curtain configuration. The triggered number of curtains is static for the duration of the feature, thus cannot be decreased by wins like in the base game. This is great if you get a low number of curtains, or even zero, yet not so great if you are stuck with a significant portion of the reels covered.
During the free spins round, every wild that lands expands to cover the full reel – including any curtain covered position. Moreover, 3 or more visible scatters re-awards the same amount of free spins that originally triggered the feature. Curtain patterns remain the same for retriggers.
Spartacus Megaways: Verdict
Anyone who played Spartacus: Gladiator of Rome and thought, man, this thing would rock if it had a million ways to win; will pretty much be in slots heaven. You'd hardly call either straight forward gaming, so fans of the first may well be in for a treat. In many ways, while Megaways has streamlined the grid(s), WMS has stayed true to the overblown nature of the original.
Does the experiment work? Kind of. The increased number of win ways works better than say the double grid system found in Beetlejuice Megaways which ended up more clunky than innovative. The ludicrous number of win ways does create a level of intrigue.
It has to be said the curtain thing is a bit weird though. Fair enough, it gives you something to aim for during the base game and clearing positions with cascades makes sense. However, having an immovable set of curtains during free spins is a double-edged gladius. It is fine if you get a low amount, not so great if you are stuck with a significant portion of the reels covered for the full duration of the feature. If you are unlucky enough to get a lot of locked curtains, then free spins are more limited than the base game in many ways.
No one can predict the future, but it doesn't feel like Spartacus Megaways will be the hit Spartacus: Gladiator of Rome was. It's not devoid of a certain charm - fans of the physical slot may get a kick out of the familiar old world visuals for one. Having a million Megaways in action is an interesting concept too, it's just a shame there are so many darn curtains hindering the possibilities.
A million Megaways is a lot, but Spartacus Megaways uses a few tricks to prevent the game reaching its full potential most of the time.