Stack 'Em: Slot Overview
Hacksaw Gaming brings back one of their earlier heroes Canny the Can, for a follow-up slot titled Stack 'Em, the sequel to Stick' Em, which was Hacksaw's transition from producing scratch cards to designing full-blown slots. Its simple design, charming characters, and deceptively fiendish features proved to be a successful formula the studio has replicated in a chain of playable slots since. Stack 'Em, then, is a neat barometer to measure how far Hacksaw has travelled. Fans have no need to worry about a studio trying to redefine itself. Stack 'Em has all of the minimal yet intricate design we've come to expect in a Hacksaw release.
Graphically, one of the biggest shifts is the symbols adorning the 5x6 game grid. Gone are the basic tiles of the original to be replaced by a bunch of symbols that allude to an interest in esoterica. Canny is there, bobbing up and down to the right of the screen. He's joined by Mona the Mouse on the left, also bopping away like early animated Mickey Mouse, providing a nice link back to Stick 'Em's 1930s feel. The piano-led swing band is back, too, jazzing up the proceedings, turning up the tempo during the bonus round. If it gets too much, you can mute the track to concentrate on the popping sounds of symbols landing and wins hitting.
While not a Pocketz Series game as such, Stack 'Em is playable on any device where stakes from 20 p/c to £/€100 per spin are possible. Highly volatile, Stack 'Em is a temperamental beast, lurching from bae status to worst enemy effortlessly. The first session saw just two hits in the first 50 spins, while the second session triggered two free spin rounds in roughly the same amount of time. Expecting the unexpected is one way to approach Stack 'Em, which has larger rewards for lucky players than Stick 'Em possessed. The theoretical return to player value is 96.2%, whether you pay for free spins or not.
The paytable is made up of an eclectic group of symbols. From low to high, we get A, G, E, R, T, a leaf, a dead or sleeping bird, a skull, a snake, and a thumbs up. If there is some hidden meaning we are missing here, please let us know. As to values, a cluster consisting of 25+ matching symbols is worth 25 to 200 times the stake. There's a wild tile as well, landing all over the place, substituting for all symbols except the free spins symbol.
Stack 'Em: Slot Features
Stack 'Em uses a cluster pays system where 5 or more matching symbols connecting vertically or horizontally create a win. When this occurs in the base game, all non-winning symbols are removed, and the clusters drop to the bottom of the grid. New symbols drop in, and if more winning symbols are added, the process repeats. At the same time, the number of winning symbols on each reel creates an equal value multiplier, displayed at the bottom – up to 6x per reel. Wins are increased by the total of the multipliers (up to x30), which are cleared between paid spins.
Running alongside the stacking winning symbols mechanic in the base game is a round of free spins. One way to access them is by organically landing at least 3 scatter symbols to trigger the feature. You initially get 5 free spins, displayed as hearts above the reels. Whenever a cluster hits in free spins, the win multiplier above the reels is increased by the number of winning symbols. So a cluster of 10 symbols will increase the multiplier by +10, for example. Also, 2 new symbols come into play during free spins:
- 'X' symbol - If winning clusters connect with the 'X', their prize value is multiplied by the current multiplier value.
- Question mark icon - It either adds 2-5 lives, adds 1-50 to the multiplier, or multiplies the multiplier by 2, 3, 4, or 5.
If you're not in the mood to wait around for free spins symbols to drop of their own accord, you can use the bonus buy option. Forking out 129x the bet will give you instant access to the bonus round.
Stack 'Em: Slot Verdict
Stack 'Em is an interesting way of tracking the progress Hacksaw has made since Stick 'Em was released. Back then, who knew what the scratch card guys were going to produce when it came to slots? They quickly made their mark, firing off games that were both individual and highly playable. They've also been increasingly volatile, big win betting machines, despite their diminutive stature. Such is the case with Stack 'Em, which is exactly what we've come to expect from Hacksaw - cute on the outside, surprisingly lethal on the inside.
Stack 'Em is another example of Hacksaw Gaming's skill at creating relatively simple features that are as devious as they can be effective. Free spins can be a real roller coaster. One minute you've accrued a massive multiplier… with absolutely nothing connecting to apply it to. The next moment, an 'X' lands right where it is needed to blow a mediocre win into something outstanding.
Five free spins aren't much, and while they can be elongated by winning extra hearts, they often end up as short, sharp bursts of intensity. It is a little irritating to win extra hearts when you don't need them, which happens more often than you might think. Still, it's better to have them and not need them than the other way around. Players are sure to accept any help they can get as they spin for payouts of up to 10,000 times the stake – around five times the amount available in Stick 'Em.
Add everything up, and Stack 'Em is classic Hacksaw Gaming, ideal for players who like to chase big wins and can put up with a cute yet capricious game that can just as easily turn nasty.
Hacksaw Gaming sticks to what they do best – disguise cunning features and a take-no-prisoners math model beneath a warm, inviting outer shell.