Remember the days of ‘home computing’? Those were the days when Ataris Amigas and Commodore 64s were all the rage, we felt somewhat closer to our computers and we’d happily spend five or six minutes loading the most basic of games. Well, intentionally or not, Robo Jack from Microgaming is just like that, but without the long-winded loading times. From the first few seconds of the cheesy, old style, repetitive background music to the simple – five reels spinning – interface, I knew I was going to enjoy this game.
Robo Jack successfully creates a nostalgic feel of old style 80s or early 90s gaming without compromising either game-play or the feel of a present day slot. If you want to visually down sample the graphics and remove the fancy animation, MGS also provides an option to load a ‘simple’ version of the slot which is a standard feature across most MGS Quickfire games for low end devices BUT actually works like a feature here. I was quite happy playing in simple mode for the truest 16bit experience.
Robo Jack is a simple five reel slot with a robot theme. Like most Microgaming games these days it’s also a 243 any ways slot- which sees to be the stable template that MGS’s game designers start from at the moment. Why? I have absolutely no idea, and I’m yet to see evidence that 243 anyways slots are the most successful but perhaps MGS know something that you and I don’t. Robo Jack is a clean looking game, the animations are crisp and the design, music and effects all work well together. It is somewhat let down by the standard, system looking window pop ups for the options and stats. I was surprised that they didn’t incorporate dedicated screens, as they have done with the pay tables.
I recently criticised NetEnt’s titles for having a boring and dull looking frame UI and for that I am sorry as MGS (Or Quickfire’s wrapper technology) UI is truly terrible by even those standards.
Still borrowing from the “slot design 101” template, this MGS offering has 9 line symbols including a line wild. In this instance, a large blue and gold ‘Robo Jack’ square acts as a wild symbol, enabling you to sometimes complete winning lines. But the free spins game, is where it really gets interesting. A scatter symbol, which looks like a cross between a safe and some kind of industrial conveyor-belt, but helpfully has the word ‘Scatter’ written across the bottom, pops up from time to time. get two of these and you’ll in some coins, but get three or more of them and you will activate the ‘Free Spins Bonus’.
It’s in the bonus spins section when the robots come to life, quite literally. You’re taken to a part of the building where five different robots are house. One is randomly activated, and it can act as a multiplier for all winnings during your free spins. If you wish, you can reject this robot for another randomly selected alternative (I did). You may get a better or worse modification – I assume, as even though I’ve not done the maths behind the bonus, I would expect that the theoretical RTP from the bonus is wide ranging depending on the modification applied. All in all there are 5 modifications to get, or gamble upon. Whatever you get, these cute little 3D robots will hover around your screen augmenting your winnings. The free spins bonus felt well paced, and I think I was in the 90-120 spins windows before I managed to trigger the bonus. In between I also received some big wins from 4 and 5OAK lines, which was perfect to keep me engaged.
Microgaming’s Robo Jack also allows for retriggering of the free spins. That’s right, get three or more Scatter symbols in your free spins, and you’ll get – no surprise – free spins. If you have the pink robot enabled you will also get a retrigger with the scatter symbols. Meaning the free spins bonus can actually end up quite a long affair [ED – which is good].
The tone of the review would make you think I don’t like the game, truth is, I actually do. Perhaps because I started the review picking on the bad, which seems to focus around Quickfire’s wrapper tech, but there is really very little in the gameplay to criticise. The bonus is fun and the wins are well paced out. The strategy/gamble selection at the start is a fantastic feature and makes me wonder why it’s not used more in other slots given that even if you end up re-selecting a modification you deem worse, the fact is, the bad feeling is wiped out with the bonus payouts, and you’re just left with a “what could have been” feeling. Which, in slot design, is priceless…literally.