Tahiti Gold (ELK Studios): Review
Rarely has an ELK game generated so much interest and hype as Ecuador Gold. As a testament to its success, there are pages upon pages of big win videos uploaded to Youtube, and although three months have passed since the release, it still maintains a position on our list of the five weekly most read articles. In this fast-paced industry where the attention span of players is about as long-lasting as the memory of a gold fish, that's quite an achievement. It's even more impressive when you consider how small the studio is compared to giants such as NetEnt and Microgaming.
Having seen the numbers, ELK Studios wasted no time planning a sequel. In Tahiti Gold, our striking adventurer Kane arrives in great shape, wearing his Ecuadorian loot like a king - quite literally. With war paint on his face and a gold crown on his head, Kane looks more like a mad conquerer than an explorer now. Aside from Kane having lost his mind, the game doesn't deviate too far from the familiar foundation of Ecuador Gold.
They both utilise the same symbol drop mechanics, and both games are designed using 6 columns with 4 to 8 rows that can allow the paylines to expand from 4096 up to 262,144 ways to win. Moreover, you get the same Mega symbols that can be as large as 4x4 in size as well as an identical RTP of 96.1%. So what's new then? Keep reading and you'll find out.
Just like its predecessor, Tahiti Gold is vibrantly coloured and expressively animated. If it looks better or not can be discussed, but the scenery is undoubtedly more detailed and grandiose. Set in a tropical bay with the reels flanked by totems, you will see lush mountains, turquoise water and a shipwreck in the backdrop.
To set the mood, a tribal style soundtrack is playing in the background. There are quite a lot of symbols to keep track of here, as is expected from a slot with such large number of paylines. On the reels you will see 4 lower-value symbolic shapes carved in wood alongside 4 medium-value symbols represented by lizzards, hammer sharks, turtles and toads. More rewarding still are the 3 totem face masks with the best one giving you 1.80 times your stake for 6 of a kind. The best symbol, of course, is Kane himself - 6 in combination of him will give you 3.50 times your stake. There is also a wild which substitutes for all regular symbols.
Tahiti Gold (ELK Studios): Features
Just like its predecessor, Tahiti Gold utilises the Avalanche game engine. When matching symbols appear in a winning combination, the contributing symbols are removed to leave space for new symbols to drop in from above. If the cycle is repeated with new winning combinations, the rows of the grid increase to give you more paylines. Starting with a default setup of 4 rows and 4,096 ways to win, the grid will increase accordingly:
- 4 rows with 4,096 paylines
- 5 rows with 15,625 paylines
- 6 rows with 46,656 paylines
- 7 rows with 117,649 paylines
- 8 rows with 262,144 paylines
Also carried over from Ecuador Gold are the Big Symbols. Super, mega and epic symbols of size 2x2, 3x3 and 4x4 may drop down in any avalanche and can even crush smaller symbols on its way downwards to trigger consecutive avalanches.
A completely new addition, on the other hand, is the Wild Forge symbol which appears on reels 3, 4, 5 and 6 only. When it lands on the reels, it will lock in place for the current avalanche and fill the positions beneath it with wilds if these are empty.
Another new addition is the Eye of Tiki symbol. When 2 or more of these land on the reels, they'll connect to each other with beams of light, removing all symbols within the area between them while also adding an extras row of symbols at the top.
Finally, there is the bonus symbol which triggers the Free Drops Bonus game. You can land up to 2 of them on each reel - 3, 4, 5, or 6 bonus symbols anywhere on the reels will give you 10, 15, 20 or 25 free drops respectively. Once underway, 3 or more bonus symbols will retrigger the feature.
The scenery changes drastically in the Free Drops Bonus game where day becomes night and where you'll see the symbols glow in eery fluorescent light - possibly as a result of Kane having licked one too many toads. Either way, you start with the safety level set to 4 rows and 4,096 win ways with each winning symbol drop increasing the safety level by 1 row (without ever resetting).
Fully expanded, you will play the bonus on a 6x8 grid comprising 262,144 paylines. In the bonus, you'll also benefit from both the Wild Forge and Eye of Tiki features - the former remaining in place throughout the bonus if it hits.
Tahiti Gold (ELK Studios): Verdict
Twice as much potential as Ecuador Gold (5000x vs 2500x), along with a couple of new features thrown in for some variation, is actually all you need to make this an appealing sequel. You can always argue that ELK Studios has played it a bit too safe, and yes, we did expect something more unique, but given that the potential was the only weakness in Ecuador Gold, ELK did the right thing by cranking up the max win while remaining true to the original. As a result, it's not a completely new offering but more of a refined version, which is alright as long as it doesn't become a lazy habit.
With the new paytable, Tahiti Gold is everything Ecuador Gold should have been in the first place, at least for those players who seek more bite and bark. Outstanding gameplay, entertaining features, and improved potential, all combined in a sleek visual design is a formula that will please fans of Ecuador Gold while also gaining some new ones.
Improved graphics, increased potential, and new fun features leads Tahiti Gold to rise above its successfull predecessor.