There seems to be a real interest in Mexican-themed slots at the current moment in time. There have been several released over the last six months or so that have all been based on different aspects of Mexican culture. The latest to hit casinos is the Chilli Heat slot from Pragmatic Play and it is self-evident from the name of the slot what it is about.
In essence, this is a slot that is just generally themed on Mexico. All the higher value symbols on the reels are based on some aspect of Mexican life or culture, the music has a rather Mexican feel given that it sounds like a Mariachi band. It may be somewhat stereotypical, but it actually works rather well.
This is a medium to higher variance slot game that does rely on triggering the bonus features to land the bigger value wins (and the three available jackpots) but when you do, the rewards can be handsome and well worth the wait. Let's take a closer look now at the Chilli Heat slot and what it has to offer.
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The presentation of the Chilli Heat slot is somewhat simplistic. Pragmatic Play have a reputation for developing rather classy looking slots, but this one is somewhat more simple than their usual offering. It's set in what appears to be a Mexican street with Cacti growing and Chilli's hanging to dry.
In the center of the screen are the five reels, with the main controls of the slot located at the foot of the reels. Spins start at just $0.25 per spin but you can ramp up the action to $125 per spin. The three different jackpots, Grande, Major and Mini are all displayed at the top of the reels next to the title of the slot.
The music for the slot is very nicely done with a Mexican-styled soundtrack playing as you spin the reels, with different music starting when you trigger some of the key wins and bonus features of the game.
All in all, the presentation is simple but effective and it makes the Chilli Heat slot very simple to follow and understand.
What's on the reels?
In Chilli Heat, the symbols on the reels change depending what part of the slot you are playing, but for the base game, there are a total of eight standard symbols on the reels. The lower value symbols are the playing card symbols from the Jack through to the Ace and these pay out anywhere from 5% to 200% of your total bet. That's not a huge return to be honest but it is somewhat typical of base game pays in a Pragmatic Play slot.
The higher value symbols are the Shot Glass, the Tabasco Sauce bottle and Chilli, the Chihuahua Dog and the Mariachi musician. Here you can win from 5% to 800% of your total bet, which again isn't a huge amount especially when you consider that the vast majority of wins in the base game tend to be the smaller amounts.
What does happen though is when you unlock the two bonus features of the slot, then the reels change to different sets for each bonus. There are also a number of other symbols on the reels each of which pertains to one of the main bonuses of the slot as we will explore below.
The Wild symbol in the game is the Chilli Heat logo which can be used to substitute for any of the standard symbols in the game outlined above. This can of course help you land better value winning lines, or additional winning lines.
There's no separate pays for landing Wilds across the reels on a pay-line which is a bit disappointing to be truthful. However, one positive is that the Chilli Heat Wild is Stacked on the reels and when you land these Wilds stacked in bunches across the reels, you can trigger some of the biggest possible wins in the base game across multiple pay lines on a single spin.
Free Spins features
The Free Spins bonus is triggered when you land three of the cheery sun scatter symbols. I do quite like the fact that the sun is sporting a rather large mustache which gives the symbol a rather comical appearance.
The Scatter only appears on the middle three reels and you need to land three of them on the reels in order to trigger the free spins bonus with a total of 8 free spins. You also get a 1x your bet pay-out for landing the three scatters.
During Free Spins all of the playing card lower value symbols are removed from the reels leaving just the higher value symbols, the Wild, the Scatter Sun and the Money Bag symbol on the reels. We'll explain more about the Money Bag symbol in the section below.
During the bonus game, if you land three more of the Scatter symbols, you trigger eight additional free spins and there is no limit on the number of times that you can land the bonus.
Other bonus features
There is one additional symbol on the reel we have not mentioned yet and that is the Money Bag symbol. These symbols also contain a cash amount (which is randomly ascribed to them on each spin, or is either the Mini or Major Jackpot values).
These symbols don't pay out in the usual way across the reels, but if you can hit six or more of the symbols anywhere across the reels, then you trigger the Money Respin feature. When this occurs, all other symbols on the reels are removed and you are just left with blank spaces and the Money Respin symbols on the reels.
On each re-spin you spin the reels that have not got a Money Bag symbol on them already. If you add another bag to those you have already landed, then you get to keep that bag and the number of re-spins is reset back to three. You play through your re-spins until you either run out of re-spins or fill the entire reel set with the money bag symbols.
If you do this, then you win the Grande Jackpot of $10,000. If not then the totals of all the money bags you have collected are added together and this is your cash prize from the bonus round. This bonus in particular can be particularly lucrative.
Best feature of the Chilli Heat slot
Without doubt, the best feature of the Chilli Heat slot are its two bonus features. Free Spins tends to offer significantly higher pays than the base game but the wins in this bonus tend to be more consistent. However, you can get much bigger wins in the Money Respin feature, but this is a more volatile bonus and the wins can range from a small amount, up to a considerably larger sum, even the top jackpot prize if you are very lucky.
What does the Chilli Heat slot lack?
I think the main down side of the Chilli Heat slot is the lack of excitement in general in the base game. The pays are so low on most of the wins in the base game that it can prove to be an expensive slot to play and nothing too exciting happens in the base game, apart from the occasional big win triggered by the stacked wild symbols on the reels. This unfortunately makes the base game something you just have to play through in order to get to the more lucrative bonus games, rather than being an aspect of the slot you enjoy playing.
Chilli Heat may be a generic Mexican-themed slot but it has plenty of positives. It's presented well, the soundtrack is cheeky and cheerful and the bonus features on the slot can pay out some fantastic value wins up to and including the $10,000 Grande Jackpot. However, the base game that precedes it does let the game down somewhat as it is a rather expensive game to play with most of the lower value wins paying out just a fraction of your initial bet. Hit the bonuses and you'll love this slot, but if you play when the game is playing tighter and the bonus features are not being triggered as often, it can prove to be an expensive slot to play.
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