The Grand Galore: Overview
Swedish developer ELK Studios goes large in more ways than one in their glamourous slot, The Grand Galore. Actually, they don’t just go large; they go ‘grand’ as they put it in the game blurb. From expanding reels to a ridiculous number of win ways, to a higher than usual potential from this developer, if it’s big numbers you’re after, then The Grand Galore has got them. As to the rest – gameplay, looks, etc, then the verdict isn’t so easily cut and dry. Let’s take a look.
ELK prepares players to be dazzled by majestic riches, in an exclusive show, or something like that. Except not really, because The Grand Galore is far from the eyeball massage you usually receive from this developer. Typically their slots come dripping in atmosphere, in large part produced by nicely designed graphics. The Grand Galore not so much. A laid back housey soundtrack goes some way to making up for it. Yet even the music gets repetitive as well when combined with the lack of eye candy. Overall, yes there is glitz, but it feels paper-thin.
Booting up to a default set up of 6-reel and 4,096 ways to win, The Grand Galore can be played on any device by choosing bets from 20 p/c to £/€100 per spin. Then again, for those who like to try new things, there’s’ always ELK’s four pre-programmed betting strategies to experiment with. More conventional is a bang on average RTP of 96% and high volatility, officially rated 8/10 by the ELK mathematicians. As to hit frequency, players can expect a hit every five spins or so, or 22.9%, which is surprisingly high when you consider respins occur on every win.
Getting a win requires landing three or more matching symbols left to right from the first reel. Winning symbols may land in any row, giving players 4,096 ways to win in the default 6×4 format. You ain’t seen nothing, as the saying goes, because win ways go all sorts of mental due to The Grand Galore’s features.
There are nine regular pay symbols to line up wins with – four lows, four mids, and a premium. You don’t need to prepare to be dazzled, but you do for the poor symbol values. Landing six of the low pay J-A royals returns 0.30 to 0.40x, while the mid pay gems aren’t much better at 0.50 to 0.90 times the stake for six of a kind.
The only one that provides any sort of relief is the golden cat premium, which looks a little like the lion statue outside the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas strip. Six of these on a line will net you 5x the bet. Last up is the golden ‘W’ wild, which substitutes for any symbol except the bonus. A payline of all wilds pays at the same rate as the premium symbol.
The Grand Galore: Features
The Grand Galore’s main purpose is presenting the massively expanding win ways/reels mechanic ELK Studios has conjured up. Players experience what it can do via a variety of respin functions, along with a triggered round of free spins.
Following a win, an extra row is added in a random position to the respective reels. Next, the newly added symbol positions and the winning symbols respin for another chance. Reel expansion and respins continue as long as new winners continue to appear. There is a limit, of course, reels can reach 10 rows in height at the most. A win way counter runs along the top of the reels maxing out at 1,000,000 if all reels are 10 positions high.
Players also get Stacked Respins. Here, whenever two or more respinning rows connect on the same reel, they display the same symbol. Players may also get Synched Respins. This is when 2 to 5 adjacent reels are selected at random to respin in sync and stop on the same symbol.
Keep an eye out for the sparkling diamond symbol which serves as the bonus scatter – 3, 4, 5 or 6 in view award 10, 15, 20, or 25 free spins respectively. Free spins are also able to be retriggered during the feature in the same manner. Every five wins during free spins triggers the Grand Synched Respins on an increasing number of reels from 2 up to a maximum of 5. Also, reels 4, 5, and 6 are expanded consecutively up to 10 rows in height.
The Grand Galore: Verdict
It appears we are in the midst of a reel expansion renaissance at the moment. Several developers have used the device recently to make their game stand out. The one nearest to The Grand Galore is possibly Spartacus Megaways. Both crack the million ways to win, and both use outsized reels to do so. It works in The Grand Galore, but there are trade-offs when playing these types of games.
In The Grand Galore, one trade-off is that for a lot of the time, the gaming gets a tad bit tedious. It doesn’t help that there isn’t much personality helping you through the downtimes. For another, symbol values are small, meaning plenty of pipsqueak wins as you wait for the game to take off. It can do, and respins after every win is appreciated. Not only does it balance out the low values, but helps stretch bankrolls which The Grand Galore has no qualms slapping around.
It’s a shame ELK doesn’t publish their frequency to free spins rating like they used to. For the record, free spins triggered after around 200 regular spins, which isn’t bad. But The Grand Galore can be a tough cookie. The expanding reels/respins combined with the high volatility means things can go drastically either way, for better or for worse. On the better side, The Grand Galore is one of ELK’s higher-paying slots, where wins of up to 10,000 times the stake are possible. It kind of had to be high, though. You couldn’t design a game with a million win ways and get the 2,500-5,000x you get in most other ELK titles.
All told, The Grand Galore is better suited to players into the expanding row concept. It’s fun for a while, but if massive reels and win ways aren’t your thing, it gets a dull quite quickly. However, rewards are there for lucky players who can put up with a potentially severe bankroll battering before finding decent returns.