Beetlejuice Megaways: Overview
Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice… Say that out loud at your peril because if you do, there is a chance that actor Michael Keaton will show up looking like a sun-starved European in the middle of winter, lashed in a ton of eyeshadow. We are of course talking about the 1988 cult classic film Beetlejuice which has been given the online slots treatment by developer Barcrest. This is not the first time that Beetlejuice has starred in a slot, but it is the first non-physical version.
If you are a fan of the movie you might be forgiven for thinking ‘really, they got Barcrest to do the crossover?’ Fortunately, the slot gets a helping hand from a Megaways license to help flesh out the gameplay. And interestingly, the tweaks Barcrest has made to the engine aren’t completely dire. The Maitlands came to regret calling Beetlejuice into their lives, so how does the slot version fare?
Beetlejuice is a bit of an old movie, so if you haven’t seen it here is a quick catch up. Basically, it depicts a recently deceased couple (the Maitlands) who enlist the help of Beetlejuice to remove some unwanted newcomers from their house. Hilarity ensues in a movie that is more camp than horror, with more than a little eccentricity dashed in. It’s worth checking out if you want a bit of humour tinged weirdness in your life. Here’s the trailer in case you want to see what it’s all about:
Being a Megaways game, Beetlejuice Megaways is somewhat unconventional with 5 reels as opposed to the more common 6 reel setup. At the core of the gameplay is a reel expansion mechanic that unlocks additional paylines. By default you’ll see that the top half of the reels are covered and inactive. Now, if a win occurs, then the cover is removed and the full grid can be used. Initially, each reel can hold between 2-6 symbols, and when uncovered that increases to between 4-12 symbols. This boosts Megaways too, and when the full grid is active, then there can be as many as 248,832 win ways in play. Winning combinations also trigger the cascade feature. Here, winning symbols are removed to let new ones drop into the gaps, which can result in multiple winners from one spin.
Say Beetlejuice’s name three times or just select a bet to get the action started. Stakes start at 0.10 c/p or can be moved up as high as 500 €/£ per spin – much higher than you usually get with Megaways. On the technical side, volatility comes in the medium to high spectrum, though the game proved to pay out quite frequently during testing. Overall, RTP is far from being an undead nightmare either on 96%, which is pretty much bang on average.
Crack up open the Beetlejuice Megaways paytable to reveal a mix of 10-A royals and 5 character symbols from the film. We don’t get all of the characters, the two leads played by Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin are conspicuous with their absence. Perhaps their fee would have blown the budget sideways? We do get Winona Rider though, who looked really young in that film. That was before she transitioned into 90s slacker pin-up for the alternative crowd and dabbled in some casual shoplifting.
Either way, Winona is one of the premium symbols along with the head shrinker, Miss Argentina, Serpent Beetlejuice, and of course Beetlejuice himself as the most valuable tile. Value is a relative term, and symbol payouts across the board are quite low. For example, 5 Beetlejuice symbols are worth a modest 5 times the stake. Beetlejuice is the only symbol that pays out with 2 of a kind, while the rest of the symbols need at least 3 to trigger a payout. Assisting players is a wild which substitutes for any of the regular pay symbols.
Beetlejuice Megaways: Features
Beetlejuice the movie might have been eccentrically original, but the slot version offers a bunch of standard Megaways features. First up is the Mystery Ghost Symbol which can land anywhere during the base game or free spins. When in view, all Ghosts transform into matching symbols which can be anything except the wild or the scatter.
The scatter symbol resembles a movie ticket stub with the word Beetlejuice printed on it twice. When 3, 4, or 5 of these symbols land in view, they award 8, 12, or 16 Free Spins respectively. A couple of things pop up during the bonus round. For one, the background image changes. More importantly, a win multiplier is injected into the game. This multiplier starts at x1 and increases by +1 after each cascade with no limit to how high it can go. Moreover, scatters remain in the bonus game too, and 3, 4, or 5 of them award an additional 4, 6, or 8 free spins respectively.
Beetlejuice Megaways: Verdict
Like a lot of branded slots, Beetlejuice Megaways’ appeal relies heavily on its subject matter. The game is okay, but mystery symbols and free spins with a progressive multiplier is pretty standard fare for a Megaways game. The most unusual aspect is the 5 reel, expandable row arrangement. This setup has its ups and downs, but it is nice to see Barcrest doing something different with the Megaways formula. One nice result is that rather lengthy cascades weren’t uncommon and were improved by the expanded row feature. There is no official word on hit rate, but during testing, the win frequency was quite high. That could have a lot to do with luck of course, but there did seem to be a lower than expected number of dead spins.
There are a couple of trade-offs to be aware of though. One is that win values aren’t phenomenal when limited to 5 rather than 6 of a kind. Quite often, a run of consecutive cascades occurred, building some sweet anticipation, only to find the overall total didn’t quite live up to the dream. The second trade-off is that landing 3 scatters can take a serious amount of time and patience. There is a scene in the movie when Beetlejuice is sitting in a waiting room that is currently serving customer number 4. He looks at his ticket and sees he is number 9,998,383,750,000 in the queue. His expression of exasperation is not far off the mark.
But you know what, this actually feels more like nit-picking instead of confessing to feelings of personal violation that often arise after playing a Barcrest title. Beetlejuice Megaways the slot makes a lot more sense if you’ve seen the film, and it’s far from being a great Megaways title, but it isn’t too bad either.