It seems slightly odd to review the Snowmania slot as we approach the middle of the summer, but sometimes when you are reviewing slots, you'll get one passed your way that is somewhat out of season. The cheery-chappy snowman that advertises the Realtime Gaming Snowmania slot though will need to be careful as he could end up a puddle of water in this heat.
However, I'm not here to judge the theme of the slot, or how well it relates to what particular time of year in the Northern Hemisphere when the entire Southern Hemisphere is in fact experiencing winter. So I'll report on the slot as it stands on its own and give you a brief rundown of the main aspects of the game and then a more detailed review of the slot machine underneath.
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The presentation of the slot is entirely festive and if you enjoy playing Christmas themed slots, whether it is around the festive season or at any other time of the year, then you'll not be disappointed with the look and feel of the Snowmania slot. It's a very snowy themed slot (as you may have guessed from the name) with a rather portly and relentlessly cheerful snowman perched to the side of the reels as you play.
Speaking of reels, on Snowmania these are not technically reels as they don't spin. Instead what you have is what Realtime Gaming have called a "block cascade" set up. This means that symbols fall into the empty spaces from above and that is how the 15 different symbols create the 5x3 matrix for the slot. It's called Rolling Reels, Avalanche Reels or Cascading Reels in other games that operate with this feature (Gonzo's Quest being a popular example).
Consecutive wins on the Block Cascade will trigger an increase in the Ice Cold Multiplier at the top of the screen which can award you bigger prizes for wins triggered by falling symbols.
All the main controls of the slot are at the foot of it including the Auto-play and Spin features (held by a rather startled looking penguin) as well as the bet controller and the win display. There's no coins and lines to worry about here, simply pick your bet level from 0.20 to 5.00 and hit the spin button.
Snowmania is a slot designed to get you in the festive spirit with its presentation and it certainly does that, however it is a slot that is best played from the end of November on wards as I think only Will Ferrell's Christmas-obsessed character Elf could happily play this slot every day of the year.
What's on the reels?
The symbols on the reels are all to do with a Christmas theme and offer a range of prizes. Thankfully there's no playing card lows which would somewhat ruin the festive feelings, so instead you have a range of different Christmas-themed symbols paying out low sums to high sums.
These include Holly and berries, a gingerbread man, a Carrot (presumably for a snowman's nose), a bell, a Christmas Cracker, a Christmas stocking filled with presents, a Santa Hat and a present.
The symbol are decorated so that it appears that each is encased in its own little block of ice, which helps them stack neatly on top of each other and demarcates the reels more easily. All in all, the presentation of the slot and the symbols is excellent and beautifully done.
There is one Wild feature on the Snowmania slot and this is the Ice Wild. This appears on the middle three reels only during the base game and it can be used to replace any of the high or lower value symbols to create a winning payline, but it cannot be used as an additional scatter symbol.
Your chances of landing a winning payline are significantly increased if you can land more than one Wild on the reels on a spin and of course, if you do win, then you trigger the Block Cascade feature which offers you the chance of further wins from that spin and an increasing multiplier too.
Free Spins Features
Like most Free Spins bonus rounds, the way to trigger Free Spins is to land three of the scatter symbols on the reels on a single spin. When you do you earn the Free Spin bonus round, which will award you 10 free spins.
After you win on your first successful free spin, you will trigger a 3x multiplier, then a second win triggers a 6x multiplier and a third win triggers the maximum possible 15x multiplier. Hit this with the biggest paying five-symbol win in the game and that is how you can trigger the sizeable jackpot prize.
Free Spins can be re-triggered by landing three or more of the scatter symbols any number of times during the free spins bonus round, though after the initial award, any successful trigger only initiates a further 5 free spins, although this can be done an unlimited number of times.
Other Bonus Features
Other than the bonuses outlined above, there are no additional bonus features on the slot. However you can use the Ice Cool Multiplier Meter to keep track of how big your multiplier is growing with each successive win you trigger from a single spin.
Best Feature of the Snowmania slot
Do you know, I think the best feature of the Snowmania slot isn't the Block Cascade feature, or the free spins bonus round, or even the Wild symbol, I think it is the festive feeling that the slot promotes as you play. As strange as it sounds, even though I reviewed this slot in July, pretty much as far departed from Christmas as you could get, I was feeling somewhat festive by the end of it and wondering where to dangle my fairy lights in the new office.
Out of the main features, I think the Block Cascade design of the slot is its greatest strength as not only does it trigger some big multiplier wins in the base game, but it is the only way you stand a chance at cracking that big potential jackpot. It's not likely admittedly but the fact that one win can trigger several more, at increasing multipliers, is certainly appealing.
What does the Snowmania slot lack?
Of course, the fact that this is a seasonal slot will mean that some casinos may not even offer the game for large parts of the year, so it can be rather difficult to locate this Realtime Gaming slot at your favorite casinos in July (I know, I tried several!).
Other than that, if the Snowmania slot lacks anything then it is perhaps a progressive jackpot. Many other Realtime Gaming games that share this structure (though not perhaps the Cascading Symbols feature) all have a progressive jackpot which could be randomly awarded. That would have been a nice addition here and been a real Christmas gift to any player lucky enough to trigger it.
Snowmania is a fun, Christmas themed slot and it makes no apologies for that fact, nor should it. It is a game that features an unusual reel set up with its Block Cascade feature, but that actually is one of the highlights of the game and leads to decent multiplier wins in the base game and also during free spins.
The two bonus features are somewhat standard fare, but the fact you can re-trigger free spins indefinitely is a nice touch, but only landing five on a second trigger on wards does seem a little harsh as to be honest, it is not that easy to re-trigger free spins when you hit ten, let alone five.
This is a slot best enjoyed in the festive season when I think it is a real winner. However out of season, if you can ignore or cope with the Christmas theme, then I still think it offers a solid, enjoyable few spin.
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