Aztec Wilds: Overview
Fans of Aztec themed slots are having a great year. There has been a good number released so far, and we now have Iron Dog Studios wading into the fray with their latest offering. What is it about the Aztecs that make them such fertile grounds for slot developers? It is probably the exotic imagery and the legends of gold that motivated European explorers and players alike. Whatever it is, the Aztec themed slots production line powers on. Let’s see how Iron Dog’s latest effort measures up to the competition.
The first impression of Aztec Wilds is a game that hasn’t run with the theme like some of its competitors have. Yes, it looks exotic and jungle-y, but we could be anywhere – South America, Tahiti, even South East Asia. The game uses 50 coins per spin, so stakes start at 50 c/p and go up to £/€100 a pop. Pick a level and hit play to get the 5-reel, 4-row grid tumbling in Gonzo’s Quest fashion. The mechanics that drive the game includes an above-average RTP of 96.2% with medium volatility, and 1,024 win ways. As long as the same symbols land on consecutive reels from the first one on, they form a winning combination.
The low pay symbols are 9 – A icons covered in a tribal decoration. Mid-level symbols are red, green and blue masks, and the high pay symbols are 3 different golden icons. The top diamond-shaped symbol is worth the most at 8 times the stake for five of a kind. Not hugely valuable, but symbol values are typically low on tumble reel powered games. This is especially the case when a certain number of tumbles unlock the bonus round.
Aztec Wilds: Features
As the title suggests, wilds feature heavily in the game. The golden wild is the standard one which substitutes for other pay symbols and is removed from the grid when part of winning combinations. The multi-coloured wild is Sticky and only lands on reel three. It remains on the grid when part of winning combinations, and tumbles down if winners form beneath it. The big gold ‘W’ is an Expanding Wild which can land on reels 2 through to 5. When it does, it expands to take over a full reel.
Wilds are helpful, but the key to big wins depends on getting consecutive tumbles. As you would expect with the tumble feature, winning combinations are removed to make space for new symbols to fall into and potentially create consecutive wins. A meter sits next to the reels and fills as wins tally up. Land at least four consecutive combos in a row to unlock the bonus round like so:
- 4 wins in a row result in 14 free spins.
- 5 wins in a row result in 16 free spins.
- 6 wins in a row results in 16 free spins and a x3 starting multiplier.
- 7 wins in a row result in 20 free spins and a x3 starting multiplier.
- 8 wins in a row result in 20 free spins and a x6 starting multiplier.
During the free spins round, each tumble increases the multiplier by x1 and applies it to the current spin win. No sticky wild or expanding wilds appear during the free spins round.
Aztec Wilds: Verdict
Aztec Wilds is an okay game that feels like it hasn’t reached its full potential. For one, the theme is underutilised. If you replace the word Aztec in the tile with something like Tahiti you wouldn’t notice the difference. Yes, some of that stonework and the gold symbols have an Aztec touch, but it feels underdone. The three face mask symbols look like they are on loan direct from ELK’s Tahiti Gold.
Perhaps this sounds like nit-picking over small details. But there have been so many Aztec themed slots released this year that developers need to do something special to stand out from the bunch. We don’t quite get that with Aztec Wilds, neither in look, or gameplay. Players into the Aztec thing will feel short-changed by the lack of imagination used with the theme. Think of the inventive use of symbology and colour used in Phoenix Reborn for example. That one might not have been a classic but it sticks in the memory with its full reel flaming Phoenix’s. There is nothing overly memorable about Aztec Wilds. Almost every element has been seen somewhere else.
What happens if we put all that aside and concentrate on Aztec Wilds as a standalone game? It fares slightly better. One saving grace is the attractive 6000 times the stake potential which will get players spinning. And the way tumble wins unlock free spins when four or more occur can be very tantalising. For example, when three cascades occur nerves pop as you cross your fingers for that elusive fourth win to fall. But still, we’ve seen that concept before as well. It is okay for slots to imitate other slots, to an extent. It isn’t unusual and is the most sincere form of flattery. Yet, if the slot in question is missing at least one major original aspect it runs the risk of falling flat.
In contrast, Iron Dog’s previous release Pirate Kingdom Megaways used a well-worn theme as well. It didn’t have super amazing graphics, but it delivered gameplay that cut through all that to make it a solid entertainer. We’ve seen Iron Dog pull off compelling slots action, just don’t expect to find it with Aztec Wilds. If you are interested in this theme you might want to give the new Aztec Gold Megaways slot a crack instead.