Zulu Gold: Slot Overview
After braving the icy Himalayan winds of Katmandu, our man Kane is back in another exotic adventure. Slightly older, this time he finds himself in Africa amidst the Zulu people. With a population of around 11 million, the Zulu people are the largest nation in South Africa, which were united by the legendary Shaka and his exceptional military prowess. Once again, ELK Studios has chosen a topic you rarely come across while playing slots and made it a playground for players to try their luck. Zulu Gold is drenched in a bunch of great features from Avalanches, several wild types, big symbols, Zulu Stacks, and free drops, plus progressive multipliers that integrate seamlessly to produce some stunning moments.
ELK clearly missed the memo on how these games are meant to be designed. Technically an African themed slot, ELK has presented it in a unique way, delving into Zulu culture rather than jamming a set of reels in the middle of a dusty savannah like most do. One thing that keeps with the Gold tradition is the 6-reel game grid, providing 4,096 ways to win. Though, if you’ve played one of these games before, you’ll know reel expansion shenanigans aren’t far away. Around the grid lie shields, weapons, decorated pillars, and a wooden throne visible behind the grid when symbols drop, as if in the palace of some high ranking chief. An epic traditional soundtrack backs up the action, which is so well made it should win the Grammy of slots if there ever was one.
Tripping to KwaZulu-Natal is possible on any device, where players may set bets ranging from 20 p/c to £/€100 per spin. It’s a highly volatile game too, where a feast of features are on hand to blow the grid open at any moment and string together some really nice long win sequences. The RTP, on the other hand, isn’t quite so amazing on 95.0% and possibly the only real letdown of the game, though it’s nothing to start a war over.
Payouts are made up of three to six matching symbols, landing in any row, left to right from the first column. All have been used to further the theme, starting with 4 rock paintings as the low pays and 4 more colourful designs as the mids. Moving on to the premium symbols, buffalo, rhinos, elephants, and Kane have been used, pulling in wins of 2 to 5 times the stake for six of a kind combinations
There are several wild types to be found in Zulu Gold, all substitute for any of the pay symbols. One is a regular wild; another type is the Charged Wild, which has extra lives. It stays on the board, consuming lives only when it contributes to a win. The third is the Wild Walker that moves and leaves a trail of wild symbols behind. Wild Walkers are persistent between Avalanches – these are explained next.
Zulu Gold: Slot Features
As well as the aforementioned Avalanche feature, Zulu Gold comes with Big Symbols, Zulu Stacks, Multiplier Free Drops, and several bonus buy options from the X-iter menu.
As an effect of the Avalanche mechanic, all symbols in a winning combination explode to make space for remaining symbols to drop – then another row is added. Avalanches continue as long as new winning combinations appear, with the grid maxing at 8 rows in height, where 262,144 ways to win are active.
Low, mid, or high-value symbols, as well as wilds, exist in 4 sizes – 1×1, Super 2×2, Mega 3×3, or Epic 4×4. All big symbols count as the number of 1×1 tiles making them up. If there is a space below a big symbol, it is filled with instances of the same type. When Big Symbols drop, they smash everything out of their way, except similar-sized symbols, wilds, or bonus symbols.
A Zulu Stack is a stack of 2-4 identical pay symbols that can drop at any time, potentially adding additional rows of symbols.
Landing 3 or more scatter symbols triggers the Multiplier Free Drops feature, which can be retriggered. The number of drops you get is 10, 15, 20, or 25, when 3, 4, 5, or 6 scatter symbols are in view. Several nifty things happen in free drops. One is the introduction of a progressive win multiplier. When 3 or more multiplier symbols are in view, their values are activated and added to the progressive. Additional multiplier symbols on the same free drop reactivate all multiplier symbols in view and sum them again. Unactivated multiplier symbols remain sticky between free drops, but inactive ones drop out between free spins.
The safety level feature makes a return in Zulu Gold too. Following a payout in free drops the safety level increases by +1 – up to 8 rows high. Free drops always reach the height of the safety level.
One final feature is the X-citer selection of options, of which there are 5:
- 5x the bet gets you 1 spin guaranteed to win something.
- 25x the bet is for 3 drops with Zulu Stacks on each.
- 100x the bet buys a guaranteed bonus entry.
- 250x the bet buys you 3 drops with Wild Walkers on each one.
- 500x the bet is the Super Bonus cost where multiplier symbols are persistent – they never fall off the grid so can repeatedly be reused.
Zulu Gold: Slot Verdict
Kane might have reached a peak during Katmandu Gold, but Zulu Gold is every bit as good, if not better. As always, the game’s theme was an inspired choice, and ELK has put it to splendid use. Kane often trips to parts of the world uncommon in online slots, and the land of the Zulu people is one of them. It could have been a complete cultural nightmare, yet ELK has highlighted just the right elements while holding back on others. As far as African themed slots go, there are none out there like this. It breathes culture and class.
The gameplay builds on goodwill instilled by the theme too, and Zulu Gold has a fantastic way of blending features together to squeeze the most out of them. Modifiers, multipliers, or Walking Wilds have a knack of dropping in to push the current phase to the next level. One case in point was the three Wild Walker drops option from the X-citer, which went on to trigger then retrigger free spins on the second drop, pulling in multipliers that took in age to complete. Each element built on the other to produce a highly satisfying 2,000x+ win.
Naturally, Zulu Gold won’t always go your way, yet when it does, it is outstanding. Another example is the 500x Super Bonus. This is definitely not for everyone, but the way multiplier symbols pile up and may be reused again and again when new multiplier symbols land can create magical moments at later stages of the round. Hitting Zulu Gold’s win cap means walking off with a 10,000 times the bet prize.
Previous Gold games generally came with an excellent collection of individual features, and Zulu Gold does as well. However, this time it excels at bringing them together in a more collective manner, evidencing the ongoing evolution of the series and ELK’s design talents. An aesthetic delight, Zulu Gold plays exceptionally well, so if you have even a passing interest in anything related to Kane or Zulu culture, this is well worth a go.
ELK consolidates all of the best parts of the Gold series while expanding and tightening them to create possibly the best one so far.