Within the gaming industry, Eastern Europe has always been synonymous with software. For as long as anyone can remember, countries such as Romania, Bulgaria and Estonia have produced more than their fair share of software houses, companies whose small development teams have crafted some of the most innovative slots and table games.
While the quality can vary greatly – for every great Eastern European company there’s a run-of-the-mill one whose graphics are stuck in the 80s – the region still retains its reputation for excellence within the iGaming sector. Mega Jack are a typical success story.
The company was founded in 1999 in Bulgaria. Back then, it operated under the name of Casino Technology. The slots that Mega Jack developed under its previous moniker found their way into the Eastern European market. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, many businesses who had hitherto dealt exclusively within this sector, including former communist countries across European Europe, suddenly found the market wide open. Now they were free to sell their wares to the world and Mega Jack lost no time in going about this.
The slots that Mega Jack developed in the early days were a mixture of original titles as well as games that were thinly disguised copies of existing slots developed by Western European companies. This practice is extremely common within Eastern Europe and is one that remains to this day. It may seem derivative, but it provides a means for players to experience games in their language and currency – games that the original developers hadn’t seen fit to bring to their part of the world.
After mastering slots, it was natural that Mega Jack would turn their talents to other facets of the booming gaming industry and this they did with gusto. Starting in 2001, the company began to produce, distribute and service casino games and equipment, having been awarded a licence to do so. This included arcade games and cabinet-based slots, automatic and semi-automatic roulette and other casino systems.
Games such as Champagne Party, Aztec Gold and Slot-o-Pol helped Mega Jack gain a foothold in this market and to make a name for itself in land-based casinos, bars and betting shop.
While the bonuses and features to be found in Mega Jack’s slots is eclectic and entertaining, it is arguably what’s underneath the hood that matters. The algorithms controlling the Bulgarian company’s games has earned high praise for working consistently and for delivering a high RTP of over 96%.
While Mega Jack makes a number of games that are designed for high stakes play, it’s also developed titles that can be played for free or for low stakes. Today, Mega Jack’s games enjoy a pretty even split between land-based casinos and web-based casinos. Whether playing them at a bricks and mortar casino or online from the comfort of your home, expect the same gaming experience, graphics, sound and features.
There are a number of ways in which Mega Jack games stand out from the fierce competition that is ever present on the web and indeed in all facets of the gaming sector. For one thing, the firm devises some truly unusual themes. Eastern European developers have a knack for conjuring wacky, woo-woo and out-there themes that simply wouldn’t occur to Western developers.
For sheer originality, this Bulgarian development company scores highly. The themes are varied and the stories are engaging, including uncelebrated historical tales of derring-do and fairytales that deserve a wider audience, even if they are recounted purely through the medium of 5-reel slots.
There are other reasons why Mega Jack games warrant a closer look of course. The graphics are intriguing for one thing and the interface itself is simply laid-out, enabling players to get to grips with the game at the first attempt. Quality sound effects give added atmosphere and realism to the games in some cases (less so in others), while the aforementioned RTP of 96.5% keeps players happy.
All of the slots that Mega Jack produce have some sort of bonus system built in to keep things fresh and break up the monotony of spinning reels. From the perspective of vendors, Mega Jack software is attractive because it is secure, with secure servers hosting the games complemented by payment systems that are reliable and locked down to prevent unauthorised access.
The best way to get a feel for Mega Jack games of course is to give them a spin – or watch a video of them in action at least. Champagne Party is one of the games the company is best known for. It’s an old-skool slot, one that bleeps and chirps like an 8-bit computer game as the action unfolds on screen. Fruity symbols are the order of the day, with a procession of pineapples, lemons, melons and other tropical fruits surfacing along with superyachts and the ubiquitous champagne bottle.
Activate the bonus feature and you’ll be taken to a card game that pits you against the dealer. First the dealer’s card is displayed. Then it’s up to you to pick from a selection of 4. If your card beats the dealer’s, you win. The game is extremely basic in execution, and the graphics are as low-fi as the sound. That said, for no-frills fun, Champagne Party does everything you could reasonably ask of it.
Aztec Gold is another slot which Mega Jack are well known for, and it’s another game that has its pros and cons. The cons include extremely basic sound that’s ‘enhanced’ with a panpipe effect of some sort, presumably in tribute to the game’s South American theme. The game symbols are interesting alright, though graphically they resemble something out of a 1980s school textbook.
Match the Aztec pyramids, frogs, tomatoes, big cats and ceremonial headdresses and look out for the magician bonus that will activate the bonus game.
Another slot that Mega Jack have put their name to is Slot-o-Pol. In design and function, this one resembles Champagne Party. Symbols include cherries, melons and pineapples once again. There’s even the same superyacht. The game does feature some proprietary symbols however such as dice. Activate the bonus feature and you’ll be taken through to a board game. Roll the dice to determine the square you land on and learn your fate.
With its extremely simple animations, comprising little more than flashing lights, Slot-o-Pol is a game that may have passed muster at the tail end of the 90s but is unlikely to win any converts today. It does have one thing in its favour however: a second bonus game, this one featuring a spinning El Dorado wheel of fortune.
Mega Jack may once have blazed a trail in the Eastern European gaming sector but it’s since been left behind by newer and slicker operations. The fact that it creates localised products for the Russian and nearby markets counts in its favour however and may ensure that Mega Jack continues to operate for the foreseeable. The company’s games aren’t the coolest, but there’s still something oddly likeable about them.
If you’re eager to experience a Mega Jack slot, you’ll find them available at a number of web-based casinos with free play options available. Just don’t forget to mute the sound.