Given the popularity of the Jack and the Beanstalk game, you could forgive NetEnt for cloning it and making a full nursery rhyme themed set of slot games. At first glance, given its 5x3 reel structure and 20 pay-lines, that would what the new Red Riding Hood slot appears to be. Venture further along the path and it becomes apparent this is actually an entirely new game with a whole new set of mechanics and features.
There’s been a trend recently, especially with games like Guns N Roses and Motorhead, for NetEnt to absolutely pack their games with a whole different bunch of bonus features. For some slot game manufacturers this presents a problem, it can leave the base game sparse to allow for the big wins on the features. NetEnt struggle less with this than some providers by virtue of their huge RTP levels. This gives them more scope as a developer to return money to players and thus they don’t have to lower the pay-outs so much to compensate, though the high RTP probably pleases the casinos less than the players!
Will this cute fairy tale theme prove as exciting as some of the wilder video slots in the NetEnt range? Or will the big bad wolf threaten to shut the action down? It’s time for a first play on the new mobile optimised slot to see if there really is a happy ever after!
One of the first things you will notice on the Red Riding Hood slot is the unique backdrop. Whilst NetEnt have plenty of character ‘hosted’ slots, Gonzo’s Quest and Steamtower Steam Tower being the most popular, this one is unique. Instead of a fixed backdrop, the hilltop and cloud background of Red Riding Hood is constantly rotating, stopping only on a winning spin, whilst the Red Riding Hood character strolls alongside the reels. It’s very clever, though it can give you a little inertia at first whilst you get used to it.
It goes without saying that it’s a beautiful game, NetEnt don’t make bad looking slots. The graphics are of a high enough standard to pass for a high end video game or even a CGI movie. It’s good to see them keep setting the bar for this as it forces the other game manufacturers to keep up. Whilst the quality is good, they did miss the theme a little bit in our opinion in terms of the actual pay icons.
You might expect a wolf, grandma and a few other bits and pieces from the old fairy tale worked into the paytable, all are absent and instead there’s some fairly generic fairy-tale symbols. On a further miss-step, there are far too many low paying playing cards on here as well. We know that NetEnt can do better than that, though the game play and some of the more unique animations do compensate.
The lines on the game are fixed, so your strategy mostly revolves around bankroll management. You will need some restraint too, as unlike the lower limits seen in some recent slots, NetEnt have gone back to a bet range of 0.20 to 200.00 credits for this game. With a variance level expected to be on the high side for the full release, this fairy tale could quickly become a nightmare without some self-control!
Of course, the sheer number and weight of the bonus features also indicates that NetEnt plan for some players to live happily ever after. There’s three random ‘fairy’ features in the base game alone which can trigger on any spin with no scatter. These are listed as Fairy Magic Spin, Fairy Surprise and Fairy Wild Spin. The magic spin essentially transforms an entire reel into one symbol, increasing your chances of a 4 or 5 symbol combination. It’s the least exciting of the features and thus, the most common. It starts to get more exciting with the surprise game, this only occurs after a losing spin and it randomly selects one medium pay icon to transform all the low pay playing cards. This continues until a win is hit so it’s a guaranteed spin pay off. Last up is the wild spin, which as the name suggests, revolves around wilds. In this case it’s the sticky wilds which come into play, with 3 or 4 landing on the middle reels. As two or more wilds anywhere in the game triggers a sticky wild reel re-spin, you will get one of those even if the initial wilds don’t grant you a win.
In addition to the random features, there’s also three specific bonus features triggered by the treasure chest scatters. One is an instant credit win of x15 your current bet, simple enough. Oddly, the spins round isn’t the big draw, it does give you 10 spins with sticky wild re-spins and a re-trigger, but it isn’t quite as interesting as the ‘Beware the Wolf’ bonus. This is very reminiscent of the rainbow road to riches from the famous Rainbow Riches slot. There’s a pathway for Little Red Riding Hood to skip along, with various awards of multipliers and coins on offer on the way to Grandma’s cottage. It’s harder to trigger than the other rounds and, even if you do there is no guarantee how far up the garden path you will make it!
NetEnt have packed this game with features and, as usual, there’s some new animation and sound tricks in play to keep entertainment high. The theme is benign and will have a broad appeal though, perhaps they could have integrated it a touch better. With a high level of variance and some big wins available we don’t think that will hurt the games popularity one little bit, it may not be the biggest title NetEnt release this year but already it’s a lot more exciting from a play perspective than the Jimi Hendrix slot.