Thunderkick’s Birds on a Wire doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. You won’t find, in-depth sub games, you won’t be watching intricate, highly detailed video intros and you certainly won’t be confused by a plethora of different options, but, for this game, that as a good thing. It loads quickly, plays simply and is a perfect, whimsical slot – ideal for that quick, no-nonsense session that we all want from time to time.
Birds on a Wire is a fairly standard 17 line, three row, five reel cascading game. As the name may suggest the play focuses on a range of bizarre-looking, brightly coloured 3D birds that fly down to land onto three telephone wires (the rows). Yes, they fly down – no spinning reels here. The birds fly in, you win, or not, and the whole screen scrolls along to the next vacant section of telephone line, where a different combination of critters land. A unique take on the standard ‘static’ slots that is refreshingly fun.
If your birds land in a winning sequence, they are zapped, in a traditional – jerking skeleton – cartoon style, by untold thousands of watts of electricity and disappear in a flurry of feathers. The above symbols then cascade down and more birds (symbols) join at the top to potentially create more winning combinations that are augmented by the aforementioned ‘high voltage’ multipliers. When I first read the synopsis of the games I was concerned that the non-traditional ‘spin’ would not allow a player to see the pay line build as the reels stop, traditional referred to “symbol chasing”.
The reality is that Thunderkick have still managed to achieve this [symbol chasing] with a fantastic colour palette that actually allows the player to see the dropping symbols a lot earlier than a traditional 5x 3 slot.
There are two specific ‘symbols’ that can affect your play: An ultra-fat bird that plays as ‘wild’ – meaning it will automatically represent any other symbol to help you make a winning combination, and a mysterious cardboard box with a pair of malevolent, feline eyes. Get three of these boxes (in any position) and you’ve hit the free spin bonus.
The game’s uniqueness comes in the presentation and visual fidelity rather than the bonus features. A wild card symbol and a free spins bonus are all you’ll find on this slot. However, in some ways, the lack of bonuses and mini games adds to the overall simplistic effect.. Like all of this game, the bonus is very simple – Get those three cardboard box symbols, in any order, and you’ve just gained yourself some free spins. After a short animation – in which a knife and fork wielding cat emerges from one of the boxes and chases the birds to another telegraph pole – you will get a number of free spins – 10 for your initial three boxes, plus additional spins for extra boxes that there may have been. You’ll also be pleased to know that this new pole displays higher paying multipliers, giving you a chance of winning bigger amounts (4x | 8x | 12x | 20x). I received three bonus rounds within my first 250 spins (again, enough times to keep my interest) and received 108 coins with my first 10 free spins and around 33.00 the next time.
Up until now, this game is pretty much just Gonzo’s Quest in masquerade. The maths profile is very similar although the hit rate feels lower as does the cascade pays, which is where they’ve probably taken from the RTP to give the higher multipliers in the bonus. The result is a game that feels more volatile from what I assume would be a greater standard deviation and lower variance across the wins. The other key feature that is added beyond those available in Gonzo’s is the “Inwinity Spin” which spins the final free spin until you hit a win. It’s a nice feature but most of the time doesn’t provide much of a pay, which for a feature, leaves a slight sour taste in the mouth.
Overall, I found this to be a pleasant and simple offering. I didn’t have to think too much, and the fun characters and animations had me chuckling a few times. With its modest return in the most part, it never felt like it was going to pay out big which I think is a problem with the game maths. For me a high volatility game makes up with lack of RTP with more features to keep you entertained whilst waiting for that big hit; Hence why Gonzo’s Quest is such a hit because the features aren’t extensive and the maths profile is softer for it. Birds on a Wire is a good game no doubt, it just slips up a few fundamental parts in the design of the game features and maths design.