Realtime Gaming have produced a number of historical or mythological Asian themed slots in recent times and the San Guo Zheng Ba slot is the latest in that line. Released in May 2018, the translation of the slot is the Three Kingdom Wars, when a trio of generals tried to claim supremacy as the power of the High Emperor slowly dwindled away.
The events that inspired this story took place a long time ago, between the Han Dynasty and the Jin Dynasty, starting in 220 AD and lasting until 280 AD. It was the downfall of the Han Dynasty and the accession of a new emperor, who dismayed the generals, that led to the Wei, Shu and Wu kingdoms engaging in a long power-struggle for control over the country.
Strangely enough, despite many years of battle, none of the three warring factions defeated the others, and then all three were defeated by the Jin Dynasty, who declared victory in 280 AD and they then ruled China until 420 AD.
I always find slots relating to actual historic events somewhat more interesting than fantasy slots as you can do a little research and find out what inspired the slot. So the question is, have Realtime Gaming taken these basic elements and molded them into a slot game worthy of a few spins? Let's take a closer look and find out.
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The presentation of the San Guo Zheng Ba slot is very nicely done. The backdrop is a mountainous setting, with a temple located on the right-hand side of the screen. Soldiers are stationed at the bottom and the backdrop has an almost ethereal feel to it. The reels are located bang in the middle of the screen and you have the usual 5x3 reel set up, but in this game, all reels spin in unison, which is a little unusual compared to most standard slots.
The soundtrack is also very fitting as it is based on oriental music and rather than being too warlike and staccato, it is actually rather relaxing and melodic to listen too. This is certainly a slot where you don't need to hit the mute button to stop the sound from annoying you.
The main controls for the slot are located at the foot of the reels and you can select the number of lines and the size of the bet on each line you want to play. There's also an auto play feature if you prefer to play that way. All in all, the San Guo Zheng Ba slot looks and sounds superb.
What's on the reels?
The good news is that Realtime Gaming have done away with the usual playing card symbols and all the symbols on the reels pertain to the famous story that inspired the slot. The lower value symbols are all the different trinkets associated with soldiers of the era including helmets, maces and shields and these offer pays of 5 coins up to 80 coins.
There are five higher value symbols on the reels too and these are all based on characters from historical records. The two lower value symbols of the five offer pays between 8 coins and 300 coins whereas the higher value offer pays of between 5 coins up to 888 coins, although this trio of symbols also offer smaller value pays for landing just two of the symbols on one of the lines in play.
Graphically, the symbols have been. Very nicely done and they are easy to distinguish from each other while you are playing along. There are two more symbols on the reels, the Wild and Scatter and these each relate to some of the key features of the slot.
The Wild symbol is the fearsome looking creature that most closely resembles a hybrid dragon and lion. During the base game, this symbol only appears on the third reel but when you land it there, the Wild will expand to cover the reel in full, giving you the chance of landing multiple line wins from the spin.
The number of Wilds on the reels increases during the Free Spins bonus round as will be explained below.
Free Spins features
To trigger the Free Spins feature you need to land three of the Emperor Scatter symbols anywhere across the reels. If you land three, four or five of these symbols you'll first trigger a win of either 2x, 3x and 50x your total bet (depending on how many Scatters you land on the reels) and after that pay out, you will then trigger your free spins bonus.
You receive 5 free spins regardless of how many Scatters landed, but for the duration of those free spins, you will have additional Expanding Wild symbols placed on the second, fourth and fifth reel, alongside those already on the third. During Free Spins, you can earn a cash prize by landing just two Scatters and any wins that have a Wild as part of the win will be subject to a 2x multiplier.
If you manage to land three or more Scatters during free spins, then you will re-trigger the bonus, but not until the God Spin Free Games bonus has been played through. This bonus is played once you have played through your initial 5 Free Spins. You can re-trigger free spins a maximum of five times.
Other bonus features
The number of Scatters you land in the Free Spins section of the game determines what upgrades you will be receive in the God Spin Free Games bonus. In this bonus, in addition to receiving upgrades including turning entire reels Wild, increased value multipliers and Scatter wins paying 5x the standard amount, you also receive three spins in this bonus feature.
As you play through your God Spins with the upgrade in place, you can also trigger additional God Spins by landing any single Scatter on the reels during your three spins. Every Scatter landed awards you one additional God Spin.
Best feature of the San Guo Zheng Ba slot
There's certainly lots to enjoy on the San Guo Zheng Bao slot. The game is nicely presented, sounds fantastic and plays very nicely. The base game can be tricky to play, you do need sensible bankroll management to get the best of it, but when you trigger the Free Spins bonus and the subsequent God Spins, the game does take on an extra edge and you can win some serious cash, especially if you can get lucky with your upgrade and spins in the God Spin Free Games round.
What does the San Guo Zheng Ba slot lack?
I think the main issue with the San Guo Zheng Ba slot is that the base game can get a little tedious at times as you can go for a good while without triggering a win, and considerably longer before you trigger the bonus feature. That does tend to make the game a little dull to play. I feel the addition of a randomly triggered bonus feature in the base game, or even just the occasional multiplier win especially on the lower value wins, would have given the game added appeal.
This is a very nicely presented slot from Realtime Gaming and San Guo Zheng Ba is a worthy addition to their extensive range of oriental-themed slots. The game looks and sounds superb and the game play is typical of a medium variance slot. The win values though are small for the most part and that can get a little annoying at times and prove to be a tad costly when playing. However good size wins are possible in the Free Spins and God Spin bonus features and that does help your bank balance improve.
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