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Serengeti Kings

Travel to the endless plains on the African continent on the slot from NetEnt. Serengeti Kings will take you on a journey through one of the most revered wildlife refugees on this planet which is famous for its annual mass migrations of zebras, wildebeests and gazelles. Two predators are at the focus of the gameplay each with its own symbol collection feature. Wild substitutions, a Free Spins round and three feature buy options round off your visit to what the Massai called “Endless Plains”.

Slot Details

Serengeti Kings is a video slot with five reels, four rows and 26 fixed pay lines. Wins are awarded for three to five matching symbols on a line from left to right only. You can roam the plains on desktop or mobile from 0.10 to 100 credits per spin. The game has medium volatility with a default RTP of 96.2% Buying the lowest feature will result in an RTP of 96.10% while the two others will boost it to 96.70%.

The visuals are what you can expect from a savannah-themed slot. Lush greenery and scattered Acacia trees surround a waterhole while distant rock formations contrast the blue skies. The scenery is dynamic and changes between day and night time based on which predator spins are active (more to that in a moment). Not missing are of course the fire colours at sunrise and sundown. A typical African soundtrack is the main audio which is garnished with wildlife sounds and intermittently interrupted by predator roars when they land on the reels.

The pay symbols start at the low end with the card royals from 10 through to A, awarding a disappointingly low 1x your bet for a single five of a kind. They are followed by a mongoose family, zebras, giraffes and hyenas on the medium level. Hit five on a line to win 2x t0 3x your stake.

The lion and the panther are the top payers among the regular symbols, yielding 5x your bet when five land across the reels. A sunrise icon marked with the word itself is the wild symbol substituting for all others bar scatters. A single five of a kind will pay 50x your stake. A half-sun, half-moon globe acts as the scatter on this slot.

Serengeti Kings Slot Features

Doing the first spins on Serengeti Kings and reading the game rules gave me the feeling that NetEnt was on a mission to create something unique but failed halfway through the process. While the visuals and audio arrangement impresses, the gameplay is convoluted and rather tedious. Well, as usual, we’ll take you on a step-by-step journey through the extras and features NetEnt has prepared to allow you to make up your own opinion about it.

At the core of the action are the panther and the lion. They will be the main deciders on whether your reel safari will end in delight or disappointment. The gameplay is divided into Lion Spins and Panther Spins, each lasting for 12 consecutive spins. You will always start with the former and any Lion or Panther symbols will be collected in its own counter on the side of the game window. The default setting for each bet size is three Lion symbols and zero Panther symbols. The counters are bet sensitive, however, all balances are stored until you return to the same bet size.

Keep an eye on the small display on top of the counter as it is showing the current progress towards the 12th spin. Then on the 12th Lion Spin, all collected Lion symbols are placed in random positions on the reels. After that, the scenery is changing to the Panther Spins and the process is repeated. Four outcomes are possible when the random symbol distribution is done:

  • Lion or Panther is placed on a regular symbol: The symbol turns in to a Lion or Panther, based on which spins are active.
  • Lion is placed on Panther or vice versa: A wild symbol is created
  • Lion is placed on top of Lion or Wild: A x1 multiplier is added to the symbol on each occasion. The wild symbol prevails.
  • Panther is placed on top of Panther or Wild: A x1 multiplier is added to the symbol on each occasion. The wild symbol prevails.

The win evaluation is done once the dust has settled. As shown in the example above, it can end with no win. Now, should they end up on a pay line and have multipliers than all are added and the respective win then multiplied by the total. The base multiplier is always x1 and any on a marked symbol are then added to that. For example, having a Lion symbol marked with x2 and x3 will result in: x1 + x2 + x3 = x6 multiplier. However, only the winning combo itself benefits from the multiplier and not all wins from the round.

Still reading? Then get ready for the main act. Hitting three or more scatters anywhere on the reels in one spin will trigger 12 Free Spins, which cannot be retriggered. The feature is played based on how many scatters land on the triggering spin.

  • 3 scatters: The round starts with no lion or panther symbols in the counters
  • 4 scatters: The number of lion and panther symbols on the counter is transferred to the round
  • 5 scatters: The same as with four scatters plus five symbols added to each counter.

The feature than plays the first 11 free spins as normal with all Lion and Panther symbols being again added to the counter and any potential wins accumulated. On the final free spin all Lion and Panther symbols are then added to random positions on the reels and the same modifiers applied if they land on top of each other or on a wild symbol. By now, it becomes clear why having as many collected symbols as possible is the aim of the game as it provides more chances to create wilds and add multipliers. In the sample above we had a total of 25 collected symbols.

The last part is actually a first for NetEnt, the infamous Bonus Buy feature. They offer three options where you can spend a single amount to get direct access to the free spins. That is unless you are in the UK or any other country where feature buys are prohibited. The required amount for the latter two options is dynamic as it is based on how many Lion and Panther symbols are currently on the counters. The more you have, the more lucrative the feature could turn out and thus the higher the price will be. At some point in our test runs, we have seen amounts surpassing 1,000x bet for the third option which is absolutely atrocious and nowhere in line with responsible gambling.

The default cost per feature is as displayed in the picture above. Option one corresponds to a 3-scatter trigger and costs 58.7x bet. You will start the 12 free spins with no Lion or Panther symbols in the counter. The second is the same as a 4-scatter trigger where the current numbers in the counters are transferred to the free spins. The cost increases to 84.3x bet. Finally, the third option is akin to a 5-scatter trigger where five Lion and five Panther symbols are added to the transferred balance counters. You will need to fork out an amount equal to 243.9x your bet to purchase this option.

Final Verdict

Not sure that I can warm up to this NetEnt creation and add it to my favourites list. After test playing it for over three hours, the balance was just a few bucks lower than at the start, which indicates that it has at best medium volatility. The payouts from normal gameplay are mediocre to say the least as the entire focus is on the final spins of each Lion or Panther sequence. Now that is not something inherently negative but the symbol distribution ended a little too often in a no-win result, which after a while starts to become frustrating.

The overall win potential is hard to judge as we haven’t had the full game sheet yet but I would venture to say that it is not higher than 2,500x bet in the free spins round. Even that looked highly improbable as you would need several wild lines at the end of free spins, each with high multipliers, which, if we are honest, is not something that will happen easily.

A true disappointment it the Free Spins Buy feature, which is usually a well-liked option in the casino community. The way NetEnt configured it is, however, bordering “crazytown” territory. Who in his right mind will dish out 1,000 times their base bet to buy a feature. It is against anything that promotes responsible gambling and it remains to be seen how players and more importantly regulators will react to it.

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