Starburst XXXtreme: Slot Overview
Iconic is one of those words which gets thrown around a lot, but if ever an online slot was deserving of the term, it is NetEnt's classic Starburst. Released in 2013, Starburst remains an immensely popular go-to game for many. It is getting on in years, however, and comes across a little dated, not least due to a general shift towards more volatile, more rewarding games. In a drive to keep the brand relevant perhaps, or to thrill fans who have moved on to bigger slots, NetEnt has gone back to the classic in their 2021 release Starburst XXXtreme, kept a few things to retain a link while tearing out the innards and dropping in a vastly different set of maths.
When it comes to visuals, you can spot the Starburst heritage a mile away as the remake looks very much the same. The cosmic inspired action takes place over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with 9 rather than 10 fixed paylines. Players looking for major innovation will be happy to know, dropping a payline is the least of the changes found in Starburst XXXtreme. Audio visually, there's not much else to note; Starburst XXXtreme displays a travelling at light speed effect behind the reels at certain points, but fans of the first will feel right at home with the XXXtreme version.
Playable from 10 p/c to $/€50 per spin, the math model has been completely revamped as well, with volatility now sitting at the opposite side of the spectrum, rated as 'high'. The pay-both-ways has been axed as well, so winning combinations only hit when at least three identical symbols land from the leftmost reel. If you're playing the game with XXXtreme Spins activated (more on that below), you don't notice this as much since there are constant fireworks going off, but the change is more obviously felt in the default betting mode.
The game returns to familiar territory for the paytable, where the same 7 pay symbols have been used. This means 5 sparkling gems as the lower value symbols, topped by 7s and Bars. These latter two are worth a payout of 20 to 50 times the stake for a five of a kind combo. As before, wilds play a critical role in collecting coins; let's look at those below.
Starburst XXXtreme: Slot Features
NetEnt has removed a bet line and restricted the others to pay in one direction only, so there must be something potent on board to justify the 'XXX' in the title? As it happens, NetEnt has added multipliers to the fray as compensation. That might sound a bit simplistic, but simplicity lies at the heart of the Starburst experience, and the effects can be extraordinary.
First of all though, when booting up the game you will notice there are 2 XXXtreme Spins betting options available:
- One is 1 guaranteed Starburst Wild on each spin, increasing the stake by x10.
- The other is 2 guaranteed Starburst Wilds per spin, powering up the cost to 95x the base bet.
If you're baulking at those numbers, know that it is possible to land just as many wilds on regular spins; they just won't show up as often. Betting strategy affects RTP slightly, where the return value hovers around 96.26-96.45%.
As before, gameplay centers around the Starburst Wilds, which appear on reels 2, 3, or 4. When they land, they expand to cover all positions on their reel and award a respin. Wilds are locked for respins, and if a new one hits, it is also locked while awarding another respin.
The new part is that each Starburst Wild also awards a multiplier of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or x150. If more than one wild lands, the multipliers are added together during a respin sequence, and the value is applied to any bet line wins from the current spin or following respins.
One last extra is the Random Wilds feature. This can be randomly activated after a spin or a respin, adding 1-3 Starburst Wild symbols to the middle three reels.
Starburst XXXtreme: Slot Verdict
Playing the two Starburst games is a real night and day experience. At first, the alterations aren't apparent since NetEnt has left the graphics and the soundtrack more or less intact. There is an upgrade, but the purpose wasn't to reproduce Starburst with modern visuals. It was to make a game which appealed to a completely different breed of gambler altogether, to fire a broadside at critics who might be claiming NetEnt's gone soft. In these regards, NetEnt has definitely met its goals. It's like the team took the old four-banger out of Lada then dropped in the sort of engine Koenigsegg would be envious of. It is possible to cruise as before and enjoy the starlit background when betting at regular levels, but XXXtreme Spins are a game-changer, drastically heightening the tension on every single spin – they are pricey, however, so beware.
Starburst XXXtreme doesn't just provide outsized betting options for players who like to go large. The addition of multipliers which some readers astutely predicted provides a wholly different experience. If Starburst Wild respins were fun before, knowing that a total multiplier of up to 450x is possible adds a completely new dimension. It's not just increased thrills either, potential has blasted through the roof, reaching insanely stratospheric heights. NetEnt has slapped on a win cap of 200,000x the bet – technically possible with a combination of max multipliers, stacked Bars, and respins.
Triple 'X' has certain connotations, and they might not be the most appropriate letters for a game title, but at least it's not a case of false advertising. Starburst XXXtreme is indeed extreme in many respects. While the spirit of the original remains, this one is for a totally different gambling temperament than the gentle, low volatile, 'stepping into online slots for the first time' of the original. Exploring everything Starburst XXXtreme has to offer doesn't come cheap, but for players after a challenge, they've got a new way of tackling an old favourite.
Starburst XXXtreme adds extra punch, putting it mildly, to the already iconic gameplay, making it a worthy successor to the original.