When we first heard that the worlds of cowboys and aliens were colliding, it was in 2011, with the release of the eponymous and much-maligned Jon Favreau movie. Say what you want about that flick, but it had a bold concept – just like this video slot. Spread over 5 reels, and featuring 9 paylines, the Western-themed Playtech title is a bonafide blockbuster.
While there’s no place on the reels for Daniel Craig or Harrison Ford, both of whom starred in the movie, this low-variance game is a visual delight, characterised by kooky cartoonised symbols and a backdrop that is an ode to the story’s graphic novel origins. Of course, cowboys and aliens can beat the bejesus out of each other for all gamers care: the question is, will you emerge from the battle financially unscathed? Or better still, with your pockets full?
As stated, the game is wonderful to look at. This certainly helps if you’re going to be sitting down and playing the pokie at length. The last thing you want is for your enjoyment of a game to be based solely on whether you’re winning!
The main grid features five reels and three rows. The cartoonised symbols are colourfully illustrated, with a good mix of cowboys, aliens, chaplains, playing card icons and bonus symbols. The backdrop itself is of a ruined western town, its timber buildings crumbling – presumably in the wake of an attack by little green men!
The game is exceptionally easy to get to grips with. Along the bottom of the screen, you’ll find buttons for Info, AutoPlay and Spin. There’s also plus and minus buttons, which will help you configure your line bet. The paylines are fixed at 9, but you can opt to stake between 0.01 and 100 credits for each line. AutoPlay, meanwhile, can be set to 10, 25, 50 or even 99 spins.
One thing’s for sure, the aliens aren’t coming to this town to swig lager in the local saloon. They wanna destroy the cowboys and the cowboys wanna destroy them. Because we’re on the side of the cowboys, the highest-paying character symbols are earthlings. Hence Zeke and Verity pay more than the ghoulish green alien. The best-paying symbol is the spaceship wild, though: it pays 10,000 for five and can replace all other symbols in the game except for three: the Alien Attack bonus, the Alien Weapon gun and the Cowboys & Alien scatter.
Cowboys & Aliens boasts no less than three unique bonus features. The first is the Alien Weapon feature, which activates when the gun symbol appears on the first reel. When it shows up, the triangle on the gun spins randomly, picking a number from one to four. The number determines how many random symbols are shot at; these will then transform into wilds. Essentially this means you can get up to four wild symbols for a re-spin.
The Alien Attack Bonus is another nifty one. It triggers when you land the Bonus symbol on reels one and five. Those pesky aliens will attack in three waves; all you need to do is choose which alien to try and kill. A split screen appears with three characters, Verity, Zeke and Indian Warrior, each with his own ammunition but a contrasting hit accuracy. Zeke is packing a pistol with six bullets and high accuracy; Verity a whip with 20 shots and low accuracy; and the Indian Warrior a dozen arrows with medium accuracy. Every confirmed kill will reward you with a cash prize, a 2x multiplier or extra ammo.
The bonus ends when your ammo has run out, or all the aliens have been exterminated. If you do manage to assassinate all the aliens, you’ll be rewarded with an extra cash price. If you have ammunition left over, you’ll be rewarded for that also.
Lastly, there’s a Free Games feature. This is triggered by landing three or more Cowboys & Aliens scatters anywhere on the reels. You’ll be gifted eight free spins and comic strip wilds. Every spin features a highlighted rectangle, which appears on the reels. When the reels stop spinning, the highlighted rectangle acts as wild. The subsequent spin will have a rectangle covering a different area acting as wild, and this will continue until the final spin.
Cowboys & Aliens is a highly entertaining casino game,impressive from both visual and practical standpoints. We found the Alien Attack Bonus feature to be particularly enjoyable. Give it a go: you might just make a killing.