Big Time Gaming is a known entity in online gaming, it doesn’t have a massive portfolio of games but those that it does have, perform, and perform well from all accounts. Their games usually look simple in their design but have subtle grandeur in their execution once you start playing; and like Dragon Born before it, StarQuest is one such game. In fact I think StarQuest and Dragon Born were probably designed in conjunction as they are very similar in terms of design. Both lack any modern immersive bonus games here and focus purely on the base game and the base game modifiers.
StarQuest is a 6 reel, 7-row slot with respinning, multiplying wild columns. That in itself is a lot to take in but after a few spins you start to forget the size of the game window and it just sort of ‘clicks’. StarQuest also offers what Big Time Gaming call Megaways produced from the large game window and bidirectional paylines (you can win left-to-right and right-to-left on combinations starting on the outside reels); Altogether this gives the player up to 117649 different winning combinations! Yes, you read that correctly – 117649 different ways to win. I remember when 20 combination slots first appeared and many players were complaining about how impossible it would be to understand how to win!
In reality, the columns deliver a range of symbol sizes and players’ total potential combinations are displayed across the top of the game. A great design decision was made to not mess with paylines and credits or bets per line, and just aggregate the wager into one single toggle meaning your single ‘bet’ covers you for any number of winning combo opportunities. This is a feature I’ve seen in a few games but one that in my opinion just needs to be standard.
Altogether this gives the player up to 117649 different winning combinations! Yes, you read that correctly – 117649 different ways to win
THE WILD SIDE OF SPACE
The full-column wilds are delivered by means of a retro-looking, redhead space girl who glides onto the screen in her obligatory skin-tight costume and bubble helmet. While she stood there nonchalantly as your respins kick in, I couldn’t help wishing that she would blink occasionally. That girl can sure stare!
Like its contemporaries, Space Quest respins can produce further wilds and watching her shoot up the multipliers is a nice way to see your winnings tally up.
Graphically, the game is great, Big Time Gaming cleverly extend the animated slot background on to the rest of the monitor, giving a ‘full screen’ experience, whilst still keeping the regular dimensions that you would see on most slot games. The symbols themselves are a combination of the regular 9 to Ace images, three unknown, but almost certainly intergalactic, precious gems and a higher paying Space Quest badge that really doesn’t bear any resemblance to any well known, boldly going TV space series at all – Honest Guv’nor!
Our space heroine is well rendered and animated flawlessly when she appears. It may be just me, but I felt a distinct Sigourney Weaver feel about the character – albeit more of a Galaxy Quest feeling than an Alien one, (more’s the pity – Ripley, I love you!) – but I was left feeling a little disappointed that she was not utilised more in some way, or that the game in general had had a little more animation about it. Sure, the speeding stars, comets or space junk that flew across the screen were nice, but I wanted a little more – an intro video or some other inplay movement, perhaps.
SOUNDS IN SPACE!
For the most part, the sounds and music work well. The main theme is suitably cheesy and contained enough electro-popping to keep even the greatest lover of 80s bands like Kraftwerk of Tubeway Army smiling. I found myself replicating the metallic ‘deoo, deoooo’ sounds for many hours afterwards.
As we all know, walking away from any online game with a profit, however big or small, is a sweet feeling, and in this case it was a decent result but it was a chore to see it through.
The Full-Column Wilds came regularly enough, with just over 9% of spins delivering my space themed laser-gun toting space girl. That doesn’t include the occasional extra wilds that dropped in during the wild respins and helped rack up the pennies. I managed 5 Big, Super or Mega wins (1% of play) during the 500 spin RTP Challenge which is where the key value is within the bonus. For the Mega Win I racked up an especially big 108 Euro payout from the €1 bet which highlights the potential bet multiplier on offer..
Whilst ninety minutes of play and a little over fifteen euros profit equates to an hourly income of ten euros per hour, profit is profit, right? And where else could I make fifteen euros whilst munching on jam on toast and still wearing my boxer shorts [that’s a rhetorical question, I hope – Ed]?
|StarQuest Features and Big Wins|
|1 Wild Reel||43|
|>1 Wild Reel||9|
One thing you’ll note is that the number of wild reels is pretty decent for that number of spins BUT the number of instances where you had more than 1 wild reel (which is really where the wins are) are pretty low. If you map out all 500 spins:
…you start to see how volatile this game is. I mean 80% of gameplay is just losing wagers and from thereon 11% is a net win! Meaning around 90% of the game you win nothing, nada, and even worst you don’t even have engaging bonus games to at least take the sting out.
The only niggle I found with the audio was when I won big amounts. For some reason Big Time Gaming have chosen to make the Big, Super and Mega win music a steel band rendition of several well known tunes (think about the intro to ‘Under the Sea’ and you’re part way there).For example, I recognised Nessun Dorma amongst the three or four other familiar, but name-eluding tunes.
These tinny tracks seemed out of places with the fact that I was winning big amounts and I almost regretted hitting those big wins as I knew I’d be imminently hearing another plinky-plunky jingle.
I am not sure of the thinking behind these sounds, but either they failed to impress, or I failed to get the subtle and extremely well hidden joke.
As already mentioned, Space Quest may not offer any complex bonus levels. There is not much of a ‘quest’ theme to the game, so you won’t find yourself collecting alien species, rare minerals or beverages of the pan-galactic kind. It’s a game with rich colours, smooth play and (apart from the steel band) appropriately fun music and sound effects. But man this game is volatile.
Take a look at the RTP Challenge for evidence but be under no illusion this is a game that will beat you up for most of the time but then every now and again give you the best massage of your life in between the beating. Imagine doing 12 rounds with Floyd Mayweather Jnr with the possibility, just the possibility, of a holiday via private jet to the Maldives at the end. Would you take that deal??? What about if you had your hands tied behind your back and Mayweather was using knuckle dusters? What about now? If you’re that sort of masochist with a large bankroll you’ll probably love this game. For most people, I think it’s a bit too spicy.