Sweet Bonanza Xmas (Pragmatic Play): Overview
The original Sweet Bonanza was a something of an oddity when it was first released by Pragmatic Play earlier this year. It featured an unusual set of rules, some of the sickliest sweet symbols and gameplay around, not to mention a hefty top prize. It must have served the studio well because we now have a festive version titled Sweet Bonanza Xmas to contend with. In some ways, it's tricky to review because since it's identical to the original in everything but a handful of graphics. Suffice to say; whatever your opinion of the first was, it will be the same with the follow-up. Unless you are mad for Christmas, in that case, you'll love it! For the sake of an objective review, it might be best to treat this one as a one-off game in isolation as much as possible. If you haven't been to the dentist for a while, you might need a check-up after playing too much Sweet Bonanza Xmas.
There is one change that greets you when the game loads - a banging Christmas tune that jangles away in the background. The look has slightly altered as well. Gone is the magical candy land background to be replaced by a real winter wonderland of snow, snowmen, and decorations. The grid has stayed the same, as have the symbols. There are 9 base game symbols. Five fruit - bananas, grapes, watermelons, plums, and apples sit at the low side. On the high side are four candies - blue, green, purple, and red.
The game makes use of its 6 column, 5 row set up in an unconventional way. Instead of spinning reels, the whole grid falls into place at the start of each spin. There are no paylines as such either. Instead, the sheer numbers of symbols in view determine whether or not winners will payout. The minimum number of base game symbols needed is 8, while 12+ of the red heart candy will pay out 50 times the stake. The RTP rating falls between 96.48% and 96.51% depending on whether the Ante Bet feature is engaged. Total bet levels range from 20 p/c up to £/€125 at the most and the medium volatility provides a steady fall of wins, typically low in value, until the features kick in.
Sweet Bonanza Xmas (Pragmatic Play): Features
At the core of the action is the Tumble feature. Each collection of winning symbols is removed from the grid to allow more symbols to fall and, hopefully, lead to a cluster of consecutive wins from one spin. A super popular feature at the moment.
Free Spins are on offer and require at least 4 swirly lollipop scatters to trigger them. The bonus round starts with 10 free spins, but 3 or more scatters will add 5 more to the remaining tally. During free spins, the multiplier symbol comes into play. When it lands, it stays on screen while wins tumble, and at the end, any multipliers in view will be added up and applied to the winning total. The multiplier values start at x2 and can go as high as x100. The scatter also pays out 3x, 5x, and 100x when 3, 4, or 5 land in view on the grid.
For those not willing to wait for the bonus to drop, there is an option to buy direct access to it. To do so will cost 100 times the wager, but it means that at least 4 scatters will land on the next spin. The button on the left beneath the reels provides this ability. The game also has an Ante Bet feature. Players can choose to pay 25% more for each spin to give them double the chance of landing scatters. It is worth considering as the most lucrative wins are going to occur during the bonus game. If the Ante Bet is activated, then players are unable to pay the 100x to trigger the bonus game.
Sweet Bonanza Xmas (Pragmatic Play): Verdict
When dealing with such a straight forward clone there is an evitable feeling of "been there done that before." Virtually everything has remained the same aside from the background visuals and music. Even the buy feature and Ante bet have been retained. It does have an ever so slightly different vibe due to the Xmas theme, but essentially you are playing the same game.
So, why the re-release? Obviously, there is a rush to cash in on the Christmas spirit. You could argue that Christmas has been almost completely turned over to consumerism anyway, so what's one more cynical milking of the season? Funnily enough, in some ways, it's easier to overlook the fact Sweet Bonanza Xmas is such an unashamedly blatant clone because it doesn't hide the fact at all. Like a Christmas buffet, just take want you want and leave the rest.
There is one key stat that fans of the original Sweet Bonanza will be gagging to know - the top prize. Yes, we can confirm that it has remained the same. Tis' the season to be jolly and all that, and a potential of over 21,100 times the stake would go a fair way to producing some jollity. A high figure to be sure, but what are the chances of it happening? No one is disputing the claim, but there is a dearth of evidence online of massive wins coming from the original Sweet Bonanza. Christmas is a time for miracles though as they say.
If the first one was too saccharine sweet for your tastes, then don't even consider loading up the Xmas version. It is exactly the same game as Sweet Bonanza with a bit of snow and candy canes tossed in. Yes this is a quick and easy way of cashing in on the festive season, but whatever, if you are in the mood for some Christmas gaming with some high potential it could be worth a crack.
Apart from a few cosmetic tweaks, nothing has changed since the original version, including that sweet potential.