Slot machines work in this way essentially; every spin creates anticipation and gives you hope that you will land big matching symbol combinations. However, winning doesn’t last very long usually, as on most games, immediately after each spin the reels are reset for the next one and all your promising symbols are lost. What if there was a way of keeping your icons on the reels for another couple of spins?
One recent feature which does this is called the Walking Wild, wherein only the most valuable symbols (the wilds) stay on the reels. This function not only allows the substitute symbols to stay on the reels, but allows them to move or shift across the screen before your very eyes as you sit back and watch your winnings pile up.
Walking Wilds Explained
In most typical online slots, Wilds are ‘swap’ symbols which replace other icons to help the lucky slot player complete paylines. They can be static, expand to fill a whole reel, or appear ‘Stacked’ on top of one another. They may also have a multiplier attached to bump up any wins. This particular wild feature is unusual as it awards players free spins whenever there are substitute symbols on the reels. Generally, games that have this special bonus will start off by playing out regular spins as per normal, matching symbols across the reels and collecting prizes if you do.
The ‘reel’ party starts when a wild appears somewhere on the screen. After receiving your prize, the wild will move one position, to the left or the right, awarding you a free spin. This process is repeated as the wild continues to ‘walk’ across your screen in the same direction. After the wild falls from sight, you will be given your last spin before returning to normal play. These wilds are multi-directional, allowing them to even move both ways. Also, if more substitutes appear during the bonus round, you’ll keep receiving free spins until these special icons fall off the reels.
Pros and Cons
This element definitely puts a different spin on the game, literally. The appearance of these wilds generates excitement and anticipation. However, it has its negatives too in the eyes of some players.
The most blatant positive is that whenever a wild makes an appearance on the reels, you know you’re in for a potentially big win. On the other hand, being such a powerful icon in this system, they are extremely rare, unlike standard wilds on most machines which appear all the time. The reason for them being so uncommon is that too many free spins of this sort would bankrupt any casino!
To sum up, they are both elusive and rare, rarer than the normal Wild symbol. However, this doesn’t take anything away from the game as it’s these surprise appearances which make the game worth playing.
Where to Play
For the moment, it is NetEnt who have best made use of this feature, or at least the most famous with the notoriously high variance Jack and the Beanstalk slot game. The second which springs to mind is from NetEnt’s more ‘rest of world’ focused rival BetSoft who have a very similar game in both theme and mechanics with their Pinocchio slot. For players in the US and other locations where NetEnt isn’t yet available this creates a very solid alternative though it’s much lower volatility in comparison.
The better of the two games for gamblers is the original NetEnt title. Jack and the Beanstalk is a five reel 20 line fairy tale themed slot involving a naughty boy, an angry giant and a golden goose. The amazing visuals disguise the fact that it’s one of NetEnt’s hottest and most dangerous slots. In this game, the walking wild feature is triggered when the ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ logo comes up on the reels. It will fill in for any winning combination, and then move to the left and trigger free spins. You’ll watch the logo move until it disappears off the screen, enjoying as many free spins as possible along the way! In addition to this, these Walking Wild wins also have a 3x multiplier attached and the wilds can increase in size to produce stacked walking wilds if you collect enough special symbols before they vanish.
Essentially, with a Walking Wild you never have to pay for a spin. They are a great way of getting free spins without hitting three Scatters on the reels, making them very interesting features. The combination spin which feels like never-ending spins of big prizes is extremely enticing, especially with the potential of yet another wild to hit the reels and thus extend your bonus round. Even in practice mode the game is exciting! If you haven’t yet tried one of these games, I highly recommend that you do so.