‘The greatest casino game ever’, ‘A masterpiece of slot design’… these are just some of the phrases used to describe NetEnt’s stellar 2012 release. One casino manager who I spoke to about Starburst’s performance did mention that if every game released generated as much gross win in its lifetime as Starburst does in 3 months, there would be a lot of millionaire game developers out there. I’m also pretty sure that 9 out of every 10 casinos you would visit would either offer Starburst as their primary player acquisition game front of house or offer some big bonuses on the game even today. Those sorts of references demand a Return to Player review.
First things first, Starburst is a simple game. It doesn’t have multiple deep bonuses, it doesn’t have a free spins feature, it doesn’t have a variety of line wilds. Starburst features some of the most simplistic feature design you’ll see in modern day casino which is surprising given its continued success even today. When providers like Yggdrasil, Blueprint, Inspired et al are working towards multiple bonuses (see Inspired’s Centurion for a good recent example), games like Starburst remind you that maybe, just maybe, there is brilliance in that simplicity.
Starburst is a 5 x 3, 10 payline ‘any ways’ slot game, which means that the win lines work from left or right of the game board. The 10 win lines are oddly selected as my belief would be you’d want lines that represent adjacent wins (like a 243 game) to make things easier for the first time player; A few times I had reel drops that ‘looked’ like they should have been wins. The main reservation I have with ‘any ways’ games is that you can not build anticipation as easily on one side of the board. You follow left to right looking for 3OAK or 4OAK and then just wait for the right side of the window to finish before reviewing the results.
Equally the opening single page tutorial isn’t overly descriptive and if you didn’t know the game, you would not be starting a spin with full understanding of the game mechanics. These however are small niggles and the symbol design manages to overcome these problems; plus Starburst typically comes hand-in-hand with freespin bonus offers which at least means most players who find themselves in the game wont struggle to make sense of it. The base game feels nice. It’s quick, snappy and uncomplicated in that there are no line features other than the main bonus game. This makes it accessible and any slot players.