Bonus Features on Video Slots
One of the biggest draw cards of video slot machines is the additional bonus games. Not only do they give you a whole new way to win but they can be very entertaining. Considering that playing slots should always be fun this can really give you even more value for money.
While there are thousands of different slot games there are really only a handful of different bonus types. In this article we outline the most common and explain what happens when you hit the feature.
Types of Bonus Games
The first thing we can do is separate the feature types into "On the Reels" and "Off the Reels". As the names suggest, the first type of bonuses occur on the normal five spinning reels while the second group occur on a separate bonus screen or even a different part of the machine.
The Most Common Features
- Free Spins
- Hold and Spin
- Wheel of Fortune
- Pick a Box
- Wild Multipliers
- Symbol Cascade Features
- Expanding Wild Symbols
- Symbol Slide
- Pick until Pop
- Random Instant Win
Reel Based Features
The most common reel based bonus game found on video slots is the free spin bonus. We estimate that over 80% of all video slot machine have a free game feature. In general you need to hit a certain amount of scatters to win a set amount of free spins.
In most cases wins on the bonus are multiplied by a win multiplier of between 2 and 6 although higher and lower multipliers can also be found. Examples of games with free spins include IGT's Cleopatra and Aristocrat's Super Bucks III.
Hold and Spin
Another type of free spin bonus is the "Hold and Spin" style. On these games you hit a certain combination and those reels are held while the other reels re-spin. Quite often the re-spin is a second chance at another type of bonus or a shot at a bigger jackpot.
The Hold and Spin feature has seen a huge rise in popularity with Aristocrat's Lightning Link™ games where you trigger the feature with six special symbols. You can win a Mini Bonus, a Minor Bonus and a Major Jackpot with the symbols and a whole screen of symbols awards the Grand Jackpot.
Of course free spins are not the only type of reel based bonus. There are other types such as wild multipliers, randomly changing symbols, cascade features where wins are removed and further symbols fall into their place, expanding wilds where the wild symbol expands to cover the entire reel it is on and slide features where one symbol moves across the reels.
Non Reel Based Features
As soon as you get off the reels the amount of different styles of bonus games becomes only limit by the game designers imaginations. Having said that, there are still only really a few different principals.
Pick a Box
One of the most popular is the "Pick a Box" style bonus game where you are presented with a series of choices and you have to select items to win. The "Pick a Box" bonus comes in many different variations.
For example on games such as WMS Gaming's Jackpot Party you get to pick boxes until you pick the Pooper symbol. This is sometimes referred to as a "Pick until Pop" game where you get to keep picking items until you uncover the bonus ending symbol.
Other styles include multi leveled games where picking the correct item gives you a shot at the next level of prizes and in some cases even a progressive jackpot such as on IGT's Million Dollar Pyramid.
Wheel Based Bonuses
The Wheel of Fortune category is also very popular among players. With these bonus games you hit a certain combination to activate a wheel bonus. The wheel spins and you are awarded a prize depending where it stops.
There are quite a few different types of wheel bonuses with the most famous being the original Wheel of Fortune Video Slot from IGT.
Some of the newer games have more than one bonus and in some cases actually have a reel based bonus that is won on a non reel based game feature. For example you might have a pick a box feature where you can win free spins or extra wild symbols. Or you might have a free spin feature that has random pick a box bonuses as part of the wins. We're seeing more and more slots with these combination bonuses.