Games Related to Santa's Village
Barely has December begun and we are already getting our first look at one of the new Christmas-themed slots for the new season that has just been released. It's from Habanero and it is called Santa's Village.
Now to me, Santa's Village should be full of elves making lots of Christmas presents and it should be situated at the North Pole. While the eponymous village in our slot is certainly not short of a bit of snow (and animated snow falls throughout the introduction of the slot), it doesn't look to me like it is located absolute north.
Still, it Is coming up to Christmas so we will give Habanero a bit of creative license with the title, especially if the slot delivers when it comes to all the other key elements. It certainly looks the part and with a cheery Jazz-inspired version of Jingle Bells playing as you spin the reels, you can't help to be enthused with festive spirit.
Let's take a closer look at how the slot looks and performs.
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It's fair to say that Habanero have really got into the festive spirit when designing the Santa's Village slot. The introduction to the slot could have been taken from any animated cartoon about Christmas, such is the quality of the design and graphics. This is further enhanced when the slot starts and we venture into a rather comfortable house which is festooned with decorations of all kinds celebrating the season.
It all looks beautiful and it is accompanied with a Jazz-themed version of Jingle Bells which, if you like the song you will love. Personally, I found it not to my taste (although I did review this in early December and that may change as you move towards Christmas) so the mute button did come in handy there.
One thing to note is that this slot doesn't have standard pay lines. Instead you can win by landing three or more symbols in succession across the reels, but you can win anywhere on the reels with three symbols in a line. That's slightly different to normal and it does take a little while to get your head around, especially if you are used to more standardized paying lines.
What's on the reels?
On the reels are a number of lower, mid value and higher value symbols, as well as the usual Wild symbol. The lower value symbols are the four playing card lows which offer pays of 5 coins for three in a row, up to 250 coins for five aces in a row.
The medium value prizes are the Christmas decorations with the Candy Canes, Candles, Baubles and Christmas Stockings offering pays of 10 coins for three coins on a line up to a maximum of 1,000 coins for five stockings across the reels in a row.
Higher value symbols are the wretch, the reindeer and Santa himself. These offer pays from 15 coins up to 5,000 coins with significantly higher pays for every four or five symbol line you manage to land on a spin than for each three-symbol line.
There is just one other symbol on the reel and that is the Christmas present symbol and that is the in game Wild symbol which we will explore in more detail below.
As we noted above, the Christmas present symbol is the Wild and you can use this to substitute for any of the low, medium or higher value symbols outlined above to create winning lines. The Wild symbol also is potentially the highest paying symbol in the game. If you can land five Wilds on a single line across the reels then you will trigger the standard game jackpot of 7,500 coins.
Free Spins features
There are three bonus features on the Santa's Village slot and these are accessed from the Map Feature, which is a unique way of triggering any Free Spins bonus. During the base game, each time you land a win featuring one of the Santa symbols, you will trigger the Map Feature and for each Santa symbol that is part of that win, Santa will move around the village following the dots. For each Santa landed as part of the win, Santa will move one corresponding dot around the village.
If he lands on a small dot, then the feature ends and no bonuses are triggered, however if he lands on a large dot then he triggers one of the three bonus games to play. Santa's movements around the village are random and cannot be controlled by the player.
The first bonus you can trigger is Santa Free Games which offers you 12 Free Spins and in this bonus, Santa is a Wild symbol and can substitute for all other symbols, but does not offer a pay out himself. He is guaranteed to appear once on the reels in every spin but can appear more, but he will not appear on adjacent reels.
When Santa helps form a winning combination, he will expand to cover the entire reel. You can re-trigger this bonus feature from within the game.
The second bonus game is Sleigh Free Games and once again you receive 12 Free Spins but this time there are 2-4 additional Wild Christmas present symbols on the reels and these will be dropped onto the reels at random before the reels stop spinning hopefully triggering additional wins. This feature however cannot be re-triggered.
The third and final bonus game is the Sticky Re-Spins game which sees you receive 12 Free Spins and during these games, any time you land a winning combination, you trigger two Sticky Re-Spins. Which means the winning combinations stay put on the reels while the other reels spin. If you can add to your winning combination, you trigger more Sticky Re-spins, but once you spin and do not add to it, then you move onto the next free spin. This feature cannot be re-triggered.
Other bonus features
The other key bonus feature of the Santa's Village slot is that it comes with three different progressive jackpots, a Minor, Major and Grand Jackpot which grow in value from smaller to larger. There is no way to trigger these jackpots on the reels, they are simply awarded at random to certain lucky players who are playing the game.
Best feature of the Santa's Village slot
My favorite aspect of the Santa's Village slot alongside the fabulous presentation is the different Free Spins games and how you access them through the Map Feature. This is a really clever way to access the bonus games and it ties in superbly with Santa delivering his presents around the village (and it is at this point, that the name of the slot really starts to make sense!). It can be frustrating waiting for Santa to land on a larger spot, but when you trigger the bonus you do get a sense of achievement and the bonus games can pay out some sizeable wins.
What does the Santa's Village slot lack?
The one thing I would have liked to have seen added to the Santa's Village slot would have been a small base game feature to help things along when you are playing through some lower value wins to try and trigger the bonus. A multiplier on a Wild win for example would help, although no doubt the game's designers will point out that the three Progressive Jackpot games can be won on any spin and thus that is some kind of bonus feature in play. It just doesn't feel though that you are ever close to winning those features.
I really liked the Santa's Village slot. It was presented beautifully and while the music wasn't my thing, I think playing it with the sound going on the 23rd or 24th December will be infinitely more enjoyable than doing it considerably earlier in the month. The Free Games are a good mix of bonus features and the Feature Map to trigger them adds a real extra dimension to the slot and cleverly explains the title of the game. This is a joy to play and will certainly be one of my top festive slots to play over the holiday season.
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