Once upon a time, slot machines were very simple. You pulled the lever, the three reels spun, and if the symbols you needed happened to line up, the machine spit out some coins. Simple, easy and direct, this was the method used by early online slots games as well.
But as time went on, online casino game manufacturers began to explore just what could be done with virtual slots. Over time, online slots became just as complex as the most advanced video slots found in live casinos – and in some cases, recent games have even exceeded what you’ll find in most brick-and-mortar casinos.
Bonus games can add a lot of variety to the gameplay of a typical slot; instead of just hitting the spin button again and again, they give you an opportunity to win extra money while also getting to play some fun little mini-games. Below, you’ll find a list of different bonus features that are commonly found in online slots, along with some examples of where you might find each of these bonus rounds!
“Pick One” Bonus Games
A “pick one” bonus game describes any simple game that takes place right on the reels. Usually, this game will be triggered by hitting three or more of a certain symbol on the screen, after which the player will be prompted to pick one or more of the symbols, which will award instant prizes to the player.
For example, the Jackpot Piñatas game at Realtime Gaming casinos features a bonus game that is triggered when three dog piñatas appear on the screen. The player is then prompted to pick two of the piñatas, each of which can give the player a prize of up to 200 times their initial wager. These piñatas can also reveal roses that keep the game going. The game also rewards players with free spins – bringing us to our next category of bonus round.
Free Spin Games
Perhaps the most common of all bonus games is the free spin bonus round. These games are fairly simple in concept; you get some free spins on the reels, allowing you to win more money without having to pay for the opportunity. In many cases, these free spins come with additional bonuses, like extra wild symbols on the reels or a multiplier that allows you to win more money per spin.
One great example of a free spin bonus game comes from the RTG game Caesar’s Empire. In this game, hitting both a Caesar coin along with a Coliseum on the 5th reel will trigger ten free spins. During these spins, players will get double the normal winnings, along with additional wild and high value symbols, further increasing their chances at winning. In addition, Caesar symbols can retrigger the bonus, earning you even more free spins!
Second Screen Bonus Rounds
A second screen bonus round is any bonus game that pulls you away from the reels themselves and allows you to play a separate bonus game with new graphics. These games are pretty common in newer slots, as these games make it easy to provide variety in gameplay and a nice break in the action between spins. Often, these second screen bonus rounds allow you the opportunity to win huge prizes, making them something exciting to shoot for during play. They also provide a great way for slots designers to expand on a theme and add a lot of depth to both gameplay and the storyline or aesthetics of a game.
One example comes from The Slotfather, a 3D slot machine from BetSoft. In this game, a second screen bonus is triggered anytime you manage to hit three Slotfather symbols on an active payline. When that occurs, you will instantly be transported to a bonus game where you will have the opportunity to place three of The Slotfather’s signature slot machines into local businesses. After you do so, you’ll be treated to an animated scene where the Slotfather’s gang invites you to dinner and tells you how much money you’ve made through your hard work.
Progressive Bonus Rounds
While many progressive jackpots are now rewarded randomly – meaning that you have the chance to win the prize no matter what the result of your spin is – there are also slot machines that award progressive jackpots as part of a bonus round game. This usually occurs in games where you’re guaranteed to win some sort of a progressive jackpot; the game just determines how much you’ll take home. Given the size of some progressive jackpots, these are often the most lucrative bonus rounds of all!
For instance, The Lord of the Rings slot machine features a progressive jackpot game that allows you to win one of four jackpots. The main prize is the Mithril Progressive Jackpot, which is usually worth several million coins. However, there are also smaller gold, silver, and bronze prizes that offer anywhere from a few dollars to tens of thousands of dollars in prize money. In the game, players get to choose between one of two towers, and then find out which of the available jackpots they’ve been lucky enough to win.
Skill Based Bonus Rounds
One of the latest innovations in bonus rounds is the addition of skill-based games. These are games in which the player’s actions can actually have an impact on how much is won during the bonus round. For instance, the player’s reflexes or speed might be tested, or the player might have to keep track of objects moving on the screen.
While this might sound scary to players who aren’t generally good at computer games, don’t worry too much; the “skill” component in these games is usually very minimal. This doesn’t mean that being more skilled isn’t an advantage, but these games are usually very simple, and even if you can’t get the hang of them at all, you’ll usually still win a pretty large prize just for getting to the bonus round in the first place. At the same time, since you can actually influence these games by your actions, they tend to be more fun and more interactive than typical slots bonus rounds.
While these games are not common yet, one company that has been pushing them in some of their games is Rival Gaming. For instance, their Hole in Won games have a mini-golf bonus round that requires you to actually aim your putts – adding a small degree of skill into a very fun bonus round.