Thunderstruck II: Overview
Stacked with gods, features, and potential, Thunderstruck II from Microgaming remains one of the benchmark Norse mythology slots and a true pioneer. The original Thunderstruck appeared in the mid-noughties and proved hugely popular with gamers. The announcement of its sequel created a firestorm of interest when revealed at the London iGaming conference in 2010 - a game that went on to become one of the most popular slots ever released. It might not look cutting edge to younger gamers perhaps, but the slot hasn’t aged too badly at all. The cinematic quality still shines, so it’s not hard to imagine the impact it made when it first launched. The Norse gods never looked so good when Thunderstruck II hit the scene, and in many ways, they rarely have since.
Thunderstruck II utilises a classic Microgaming reel format which, at the time of its release, was groundbreaking. With 5 reels, 3 rows, and 243 ways to win, all players need to do is land three or more matching symbols consecutively from left to right on any row to win. That might sound common now, but having so many win ways was revolutionary at the time and a key reason for Thunderstruck II’s appeal. So were its graphics, which might not be overly apparent at first with just a bit of thematic trim surrounding the reels. But the in-game animations, not to mention the powerful score pounding eardrums, create a strong sensorial impression that makes playing a treat.
Taking on the mightiest inhabitants of Valhalla means setting bets from 30 p/c per spin up to £/€15. Along with the ground-breaking gameplay, players get a pretty generous RTP rating of 96.65% coupled with a volatility setting that, contrary to popular belief, is actually classed as low. Wins land more frequently on the smaller side, but Thunderstruck II is certainly capable of sizeable payouts as we will see.
Cracking those wins requires lining up symbols and there are 12 regular and several special ones to cover. They start with 9-A royals presented in a strong stone format, followed by a ship, the Bifrost to Valhalla, a Valkyrie, Loki, Odin, and Thor. Values range from 1.67 times the stake for five ‘9s’ up to 16.67 times the stake for five Thor symbols. The Logo Wild is super handy as it substitutes for any other pay symbol and also doubles the value of any combination it is a part of. The Logo is also a highly lucrative symbol in its own right with a combo of five worth 33.33 times the stake.
Thunderstruck II: Features
With more features than Thor's collection of hammers there is a lot to get through. Some take time to earn, while others can appear at any moment. One in the latter category is the Wildstorm feature which can appear on any base game spin.
Storms and lightning isn’t usually a desirable weather forecast, but around here it is one of the best things that can happen. During the Wildstorm feature, Thor leaps onto the grid to electrify the game by turning up to 5 reels completely wild. This can be surprisingly profitable, especially since all reels turning wild is worth a surprising 8,100 times the stake right there.
Just as adrenaline-charged is the Great Hall of Spins feature which comes in four varieties with different rewards and modifiers. They start with Valkyrie free spins and are unlocked in sequential order as players trigger the bonus rounds. The key is the Mjolnir scatter symbols as 3 or more trigger the bonus feature with the following on offer:
- Valkyrie is available from the first bonus game trigger and awards 10 free spins where all wins are multiplied by x5. Valkyrie free spins can be retriggered.
- Loki is available from the fifth bonus trigger and comes with 15 free spins and the Wild Magic Feature. Here, when the Wild Magic symbol appears on reel 3, it randomly transforms other symbols into more Wild Magic symbols. During the bonus game 2, 3, 4, or 5 bonus symbols retrigger 1, 2, 3 or 4 free spins respectively.
- Odin is available from the tenth trigger of the bonus and awards 20 free spins with the Wild Raven feature. Two ravens hang out above the reels and occasionally descend to turn symbols into 2x or 3x multipliers. If both ravens land then they can award an x6 multiplier.
- Thor is available from the 15th trigger of the bonus game and brings 25 free spins with the Rolling Reels feature. Rolling Reels remove winning combinations from the grid to let new symbols drop into the gaps for more winning chances on a single free spin. Also, a win multiplier increases after the first win to x2, x3, x4, and x5 with each consecutive Rolling Reel win. This multiplier is reset back to x1 for the next new free spin.
One final sweetener with the Mjolnir scatter symbol is that 2, 3, 4, or 5 in view are worth a payout of 1x, 2x, 20x, or 200x the stake - from any position.
Thunderstruck II: Verdict
Even on paper it’s not hard to see why Thunderstruck II is one of the most popular online slots ever. It isn’t just a significant improvement over the original; it is one of those games that redefined what slots were capable of. It was an instant hit that still boasts a dedicated fan base of old and new players.
Microgaming smashed the ball out of the park with Thunderstruck II, and there are several reasons for its success. First is the sensory impact of the visuals, animations, sound effects, and the overall cinematic quality. Sure, it is a tad dated now perhaps, but then again, not so much. Thunderstruck II is still a great looking slot that competes well against modern, younger upstarts.
Secondly, and even more critically, is the gameplay. Microgaming hit another home run when they developed the 243 win ways mechanic and Thunderstruck II is one of the first to take full advantage of what it offers. Then there are the features which can be equal parts fun and profit. For one, the Wildstorm keeps the base game alive with tremendous potential that can strike at any moment.
Add in the way bonus games are earned expands the game’s shelf life and makes sticking with Thunderstruck II a rewarding experience. So which bonus game is best? As always, this comes down to personal preference as each one has something uniquely exciting to offer.
There are some classic slots you fire up out of curiosity to see how they fit in with the evolution of gaming. Thunderstruck II commands respect in this regard, but it is also a game that remains as relevant and fun to play as ever. There might be as many Norse mythology slots as there are giants in Jotunheim, but Thunderstruck II still holds its own with the best of them.
Microgaming set the Norse mythology theme bar so high with Thunderstruck II, few have since matched it.