Thunderstruck Wild Lightning: Slot Overview
You don't need us to tell you how popular Norse mythology is amongst players and studios alike. Like a rite of passage, most designers have a crack at it sooner or later with varying degrees of success. One that struck an almighty nerve was Microgaming's smash hit Thunderstruck 2. Released seven years after the original, Thunderstruck 2 rests amongst a venerated pantheon of classic slots that still entertains players today. For the game's eleventh anniversary, Microgaming has tapped partner Stormcraft Studios to create a follow-up. The third instalment is Thunderstruck Wild Lightning, so with sizeable shoes to fill, let's see how it fares.
Graphically, well, 11 years have passed, so Thunderstruck Wild Lightning is a much crisper looking game, chock full of animations of Thor doing various heroic activities. He is the only deity in the game, too, you'll notice, as Odin, Loki, and the Valkyrie have been axed. The action occurs over a 5x5, 40-payline game grid, where landing three or more of a kind is the chief goal. Stormcraft certainly had a bit of fun with the soundtrack. Clicking the playlist button beneath the reels allows players to select five tracks, from ambient to passionate rock. Also, exploring different realms in free spins mixes the music up further, creating a Marvel-like Thor world to settle into.
Stakes in Thunderstruck Wild Lightning range from 20 p/c to £/€16, available on any device. Highly volatile, wins hit at a rate of around 1 in 4 to 5 spins, or 22.92%, while RTP sits comfortably at 96.1%. There is a stack of features on offer, including two types of bonuses and a collection feature, all of which triggered surprisingly often during the review. Outside the main jackpot, however, potential might not be as impressive as fans were hoping for.
As mentioned, the other Gods have been dropped from the paytable, leaving 5 World Stones as the premium symbols, worth payouts of 5 to 25 times the stake for five of a kind. Backing them are runic carved 9-A card symbols worth 2x to 3x the bet.
Thunderstruck Wild Lightning: Slot Features
Thunderstruck Wild Lightning is a real feature-fest, so steady your gourd and let's dive in. First out is the Thor wild, which appears on any reel. When Thor wild symbols land in the base game, they come with a multiplier of x2 or x5 attached. This multiplier wild feature can even land stacked on any spin. Land 3, 4, or 5 Thors across a payline to collect a payout of 2x, 10x, or 200x your stake.
Be on the lookout for flaming orb symbols. Landing anywhere, these are called Thunderball Symbols - 6 or more in view at once trigger the Link&Win feature. The triggering Thunderball symbols are held, and 3 respins awarded. If new Thunderballs hit, they are also held, and spins reset. Above the active grid you'll see 4 locked rows. Landing 15, 20, 25, or 30 Thunderball Symbols opens up rows 5, 6, 7, or 8, respectively. The round continues until respins end, or all positions are filled. Then, the values on each Thunderball symbol are awarded.
Alongside regular Thunderball symbols are special blue, green, and yellow Thunderballs. Land these during the Link&Win to collect Mini, Minor, or Major Jackpots. If every single position is filled with Thunderballs, the Mega Jackpot is won. The values of each, from low to high, are 25x, 50x 150x, and 15,000x the bet.
And still there is more. Land 3, 4, or 5 Mjolnir hammer scatters to collect a coin win of 3, 20, or 200x the bet, plus trigger free spins. There are 5 varieties of free spins; the first4 are unlocked in sequential order, the last is available when enough hammer pairs have been collected:
- The first is Jotunheim free spins, the world of the giants, which awards 15 free spins where wins with wilds are multiplied by x2, x3, or x5. This one is available from the start, can retrigger up to 30 free spins, and has a max win of 2,000x the bet.
- After 5 triggers, Vanaheim free spins are unlocked. This one begins with 12 free spins, and wild wins now get a 2x, 4x, or 6x multiplier. Free spins can retrigger for 24 spins, and max payouts are 2,125x.
- Land of the elves, Alfheim free spins are available after 10 free spin triggers. Here you get 9 free spins, retriggerable up to 18. The wild win increases to x3, x5, or x8, for max wins of 3,250x the bet.
- Nidavellir free spins comes with 6 spins, retriggerable up to 12. Multipliers now come in x5, x8, or x12 size, and you can win up to 3,500x the bet. Trigger free spins 15 times to enter this realm.
- Next, is Svartalfheim free spins. This is one spin with a guaranteed Wildstorm feature. Wildstorm can turn up to 5 reels wild. To activate this feature, you will need to collect 20 pairs of scatters in the base game. Then, when free spins next trigger, you can select Svartalfheim instead of one of the other realms. Wins of up to 8,000x the bet are possible from this single spin.
And lastly, the Wild Lightning feature. This is active during the four first free spins rounds when a wild symbol lands on one of the three middle reels– Svartalfheim is exempt from this. Doing so triggers the Wild Lightning feature, which highlights the position the symbol landed on. If a wild Thor lands in a highlighted position, it expands to fill all positions of the reel.
Thunderstruck Wild Lightning: Slot Verdict
Stormcraft must have put a considerable amount of thought into making Thunderstruck Wild Lightning. There was probably a lot of pressure on them, following up on such a beloved game. There is much to like about Thunderstruck Wild Lightning, yet a few questions arise as well. For one, why now? After eleven years of marriage, the traditional gift is something made of steel. Mjolnir's made of steel, and Thor's got those washboard abs, is that the connection? Who knows, whatever the reason, eleven years have passed, but Thunderstruck Wild Lightning doesn't roar out of Valhalla to immediately excite like its predecessor did.
Thunderstruck Wild Lightning is a bit like a previous Stormcraft game called Fire Forge, with the jackpots and several free spins options - though it offers around one third the potential. One positive is the adventurous way players visit new realms in free spins to be treated to different backgrounds and soundtracks each time. It's a shame the first four options have the sort of modest max win figures that don't stand up to much of the competition. Still, the Wild Lightning feature is a good one, where scoring a few full-stack Thor multipliers can lead to nice collects. Potentially, Svartalfheim is the stand out where you get to hold on to your hat for the one moon shot spin. What you really don't want to see when free spins conclude is facepalm Thor – this means you won nothing.
Despite being the place where the biggest money can be won, the Link&Win feature feels superfluous. It's a basic hold-and-win game that looks like a round of pachinko and fails to tie in with the whole Thor theme as well as free spin realms do. Instead of getting Thor to wave his arms around crafting the Link&Win grid, it might have been better to scrap the whole thing to boost free spins instead.
However, Thunderstruck Wild Lightning is entertaining as a standalone Thor game. It's got loads of the big man doing big man things like bringing the lightning or swinging hammers, a stack of features, not to mention a decent set of numbers. The soundtrack is a standout too and combines with the superhero vibe to create an enjoyably heavy, saving the universe atmosphere.
So, as a hard-hitting Thor game Thunderstruck Wild Lightning is pretty good, yet, as a follow up to Thunderstruck 2, it does ever so slightly miss the mark. Microgaming, or partners, could have really capitalised on the continued goodwill players have shown the older slot and made an absolute classic. Instead, Thunderstruck Wild Lightning ends up being a perfectly competent game, with a bunch of great touches, but not quite the iconic slot it might have been.
Though well designed, Thunderstruck Wild Lightning could have been so much more considering it is the successors to the quintessential Norse themed game.