Pirate Kingdom Megaways (Iron Dog Studio): Overview
Apologies in advance, but it’s time to dust off the trusty pirate thesaurus and reel off a few clichés. We have Iron Dog Studio to thank for this swashbuckling opportunity in their first slot to use the Megaways engine on license from Big Time Gaming. Pirate themed slots are a dime a dozen, as are Megaways driven games. So what has the amalgamation of these two popular elements produced?
First impressions are tepid. The graphics are not bad at all, with the 6 reel setup placed against a suitably ‘piratey’ looking background of a sunset over the high seas. Symbols have a distinct, chunky old school look, yet their peculiar charm does grow on you to an extent. Megaways lends its famously large numbers to the proceedings with up to 7 symbols on each reel providing between 64 and 117,649 win ways. Players also get a cascade feature where winning combinations are removed and replaced by fresh symbols causing multiple wins to tumble together from one spin.
Moving on to the paytable, at the lower end we get a bunch of pirate font 10 – A card royals. These are followed by a wheel, chest, male pirate, female pirate, and a grizzled captain worth 25 times the stake for a combination of six on a payline. Wagers can be set as low as 20 c/p per spin or as high as £/€25. As usual with Megaways games, players rely heavily on the cascading wins to get better returns on low-value symbols.
An above-average RTP rating of 96.20% helps, and although the volatility is high the hit frequency allows for consistent wins. Pirates aren’t exactly famous for their even temper. So it is slightly ironic that Pirate Kingdom Megaways comes with volatility set to medium. Like the rest of the slot, it feels like Iron Dog Studio has taken a cautious approach to their first Megaways slot.
Pirate Kingdom Megaways (Iron Dog Studio): Features
There are two different wilds in the game. The first is a standard wild that appears on rows 2-6 and substitutes for any of the regular symbols. The second does everything the standard wild does, but also has a x2 Multiplier attached. Up to 3 can be used at once to provide a x8 multiplier.
As great as the two wilds are, it’s the bonus game where the full potential is found. We are talking about the Free Spins, and there are two ways of triggering them. The first and most preferred way is due to good fortune. Whenever a winning combination lands, an anchor appears in the box above the reels. Get 4 anchors from consecutive tumbles and you are rewarded with 8 free spins. If more wins continue to tumble from that spin, each one is worth an additional 2 free spins up to a maximum of 14.
During the bonus game, wins continue to produce anchors. When four anchors appear from tumbles then 2 additional free spins are added. Players also get 2 spins for each tumble win after that – with no cap on how many can be added. What really makes the free spins round both lucrative and highly desirable is the inclusion of a increasing win multiplier which starts at x1. This unlimited multiplier is where the game hits its stride and starts to make sense.
Known as the Locked Reel feature, if 7 symbols appear on a reel, that reel is locked at 7 symbols high for the remainder of the free spins. Whenever one is locked it also adds 1x to the multiplier whether a winner landed or not. The game generously launches a re-spin if a reel lock occurs on what would have been the final free spin.
The progressive multiplier is also raised by 1x with each winning tumble. The great thing is that it doesn’t drop back to x1 on new spins, but can only go up. There is technically no limit to how high it can climb, so when it’s on a good roll it can get quite exciting.
The second way players can unlock free spins is to opt for the Bonus Buy feature. This can be pricey, but players are given the opportunity to tweak the settings and pay a lower amount for less free spins:
- 130x the stake gets 10 free spins and 1 locked reel, or 90x to forgo the locked reel.
- 80x the stake gets 8 free spins and 1 locked reel, or 50x to forgo the locked reel.
- 40x the stake gets 6 free spins and 1 locked reel, or 30x to forgo the locked reel.
Pirate Kingdom Megaways (Iron Dog Studio): Verdict
Pirate Kingdom Megaways is a pleasingly staid entry into the busy Megaways world. As we’ve seen in the past, developers often try not to be too innovative with their initial attempt using this game engine, and that is the case here as well. Iron Dog Studio has certainly got the basics right, which is crucial, but not a whole lot more than that.
However, there are a couple of attractive exceptions. The reel lock feature during free spins in combination with the unlimited progressive multiplier are actually quite good and make the game worth checking out. Iron Dog Studio has clearly recognised that these features could be powerful a draw and have cleverly added the buy-in feature to tempt players. Is it better to patiently spin away or pay for the shortcut? As always, these buy-ins can go either way. However, the game has a respectable top payout of 40,000 times the stake, so you are going to need the help of as many multipliers as possible.
Iron Dog Studio appears to be playing the long game with this release. It is a satisfactory slot that won’t alienate players with too much innovation, but nor will it win any awards for daring to be different. After Iron Dog’s cautious first experiment with Megaways, it will be interesting to see where they go next with it.
Another Megaways debut title worth checking out if you’re into these kinds of slots is Iron Dog’s second use of Megaways called Megaways Jack or Black Gold Megaways from Stakelogic which uses a more traditional Megaways layout.