Vampire Senpai: Overview
Developer Quickspin is the creative talent behind this interesting mash-up of ideas. Vampires we know, but Senpai? That required a little digging to clarify before diving in, and this is where things got a little confusing. On the one hand is the more traditional definition – that of a teacher. Thanks to some Manga influence though, Senpai can also mean someone whose attention you are trying to get, either romantically or platonically. So when it comes to vampires, which definition to choose? Well, we’re leaning towards a teacher, but there is plenty of room for player preference should they so choose.
Fortunately, we have Quickspin themselves to help clear the air. Vampire Senpai is inspired by ‘Jiangshi’, undead creatures that appear in Chinese folklore to absorb people’s life force. If there is one culture that places a lot of emphasis on the afterlife, it is Chinese. Luckily for any squeamish players, Vampire Senpai has been done in a cartoon style that brings to mind Garbage Pail Kids or Zombie Zity. The result is quite cheerful, which is what Quickspin aimed for, packing in the lightheaded moments to soften the darker theme.
What that means for players is a cast of friendly faces, and some nifty animations populating the 5 by 5 game grid. The grid is set, where else, within a red-painted pagoda with a golden sloping tiled roof, and lanterns swaying in the breeze. The pagoda is located in a mystical Chinese garden, at dusk, right before the sun sets, allowing vampires freedom to roam the earth. The soundtrack is one of those soothing Asian numbers that remains at a relaxed level, no matter the game mode – base or bonus. Very Zen.
Get started by hitting the up or down arrows until you are happy with the stake, which varies from 10 p/c up to £/€100 per spin, then it is game on. A bit more housekeeping before vampires swarm in by taking a closer look at the math model. Quickspin has gone for a medium+ volatility, slapping a 3.5 out of 5 rating on it. As to RTP, few will complain about the game’s 96.19% return rate or the larger than normal potential.
To hit a winner, simply land three or more matching symbols on one of the 40 paylines to receive a reward. Vampire Senpai is a little light on regular symbols, just seven are used, though they are bulked up by a number of wilds of varying abilities.
On the low pay side are J-A royals, in a brushstroke font common to Asian themed slots. Next is what Quickspin called the mediums – three humanoid characters, all worth the same from 1 to 10 times the stake. There is a green matron type, a red female, and a purple chap. The high payers are the special symbols, the three wilds which are worth 1x – 20 times the stake in the base game, or up to 40 times the stake during free spins.
Vampire Senpai: Features
Vampire Senpai’s features are heavy on wilds and transformative powers. For one, when a Vampire Wild symbol lands on the reels, it bites any adjacent human symbols, transforming them into Turned Wild symbols. This can set off a chain reaction as these freshly made Turned Wilds, in turn, transform any human symbols adjacent to them into Turned Wild symbols. This conversion process continues as long as there are surrounding medium symbols to transform.
The golden bell symbol is the scatter which unlocks the Reanimated Free Spins. Land 3, 4, or 5 scatters to be rewarded with 7, 9 or 12 free spins respectively. During Reanimated Free Spins, whenever a Vampire Wild lands, it acts as it was described in the previous paragraph. Vampire Wilds also have the added benefit of sticking in position for the full duration of the feature. On each new spin, Vampire Wilds leap to a new position to conduct its transformation abilities.
Also, on any free spin, it is possible for 3-9 Talisman Wild symbols to appear on reels 1 to 4. Talisman Wilds substitute for regular pay symbols, but it is also sticky, so they remain in the feature until free spins are gone. The last piece of good news, every Vampire Wild or Talisman wild that lands awards one extra free spin.
Vampire Senpai: Verdict
Quickspin has done a decent job here in a slot that ticks most of the right boxes. Yes, Vampire Senpai is Asian themed, but far from being a cliché. The game reveals a different facet of Asian culture than we usually see, which makes a refreshing change.
Players get a darker side of the culture, but the way it’s been presented completely tempers what could have a little creepy, and the cartoon visuals mesh perfectly with all the popping transformative fun going on. In that regard, Vampire Senpai also reminiscent of Quickspin grid slots like Wild Cauldron thanks to all of those cutie pie characters populating the game.
The icing on the cake from a gamblers standpoint is potential weighing in at 8,800 times the bet. An impressive total to be sure, though when browsing the big win forums, there aren't exactly volumes of hits to admire that are close to the advertised max wins.
Now to the downsides. The 5x5, 40-payline setup is not the most exciting and makes little sense. It's not a grid slot, so it doesn't really benefit from such a large game area - on the contrary. There's also something about Vampire Senpai that makes it come across as somewhat generic. It could be the Asian theme, after all, but a large game area populated mostly by low pays just looks incredibly dull.
Some might find Vampire Senpai too simplistic, perhaps, and the base game is not exactly intoxicating. Thankfully, it comes with a free spins feature that sort of makes up for its weaknesses. Chains of transforming wilds can get their fangs in and be pretty infectious. Add in Vampire Senpai’s good-time vibe, unusual subject matter, plus decent potential, and you’ve got a nicely playable slot to crack.
The most glaring omission in Vampire Senpai is some genuine enthusiasm.