In broad terms, three reel slots tend to be the simpler forms of slots, whereas 5-reel games or those that consist of more reels, tend to be the games that have more complex win patterns, bonuses, features and the like.
However, occasionally there comes along the slot that attempts to rewrite the rule book as far as that is concerned and Betsoft's latest offering Jumbo Joker does just that.
Most slots when you load them up, it is clearly apparent how everything works even if you have not played the game before. With Jumbo Joker you are presented with two similar three reel slots, each with five pay-lines, but you only play the bottom one initially. It is all rather confusing at first glance but the good news is that after a few spins (or after reading a helpful review, such as this one) things do start to become a lot clearer.
What you have here is a slot game that has been designed to feature many retro-styled symbols in a 3-reel format, but which then gives that a little twist and turns it into a slot game that is actually as complex as some five reel games.
Let's take a closer look at the slot and find out how the two sets of reels interact and what it means for you as the player.
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When the Jumbo Joker slot loads up you are presented with a somewhat unfamiliar look. What you have is two sets of reels, an upper reel set and a lower reel set. Both are 3x3 reels with 5 pay-lines available in each and each contains the same symbols, although it is notable that the upper reel set offers greater value pay outs.
The look and styling of the slots is somewhat retro with the fruits on the reels and the bright lights and reel sounds accompanying you as you spin. However, when you hit spin, only the bottom reel spins initially, so how does the top reel work?
The answer is simple, you spin the bottom reel to land a win and when you land a win, the coins you win are transferred onto the higher paying top reel. You can then elect to collect your win, or spin the top reel (for 20 coins per spin) up to a maximum of 15 times in order to try and improve the value of your prize. You can stop spinning and take your money at any point and it is this which means that the variance level of the slot can be very different depending on how It plays and the decisions the player makes.
A key choice is deciding whether you want to play one coin (and one pay line) or ten coins (and play all five pay lines with two coins). Playing the ten coin option does offer you a chance to spin the Jumbo Joker top reel on any win, whereas with one coin, smaller value wins of 10 coins are not enough to earn a chance as you need 20 coins to access the other reels.
The game sounds more complicated than it actually is when you play and once you have decided your coin size and whether you want to wager one or ten coins and you understand how the reels are linked, then the slot is relatively easy to understand.
What's on the reels?
Each of the two reel sets contains very similar symbols although they are not the same with their being a couple more symbols on the upper reel set than the lower.
The lower reel set comprises of cherries, lemons, melons, bells, a treasure chest (which is the highest paying symbol offering a 2000-coin win) and clowns (which offer wins of between 20 and 400 coins).
The upper reel set contains all these symbols but also a few more symbols such as oranges, grapes and the Lucky 7 symbol. These add one lower, medium and higher value prize to the upper reels but as there are more symbols on these reels, it is harder to hit wins on it as a result. There is no treasure chest symbol on the upper reel.
Symbols can be stacked on the reels, which is helpful when playing multiple pay-lines. The reel set currently being played is highlighted with the other dark as the game switches between the reels. The sound effects are somewhat rudimentary with simple slot sounds accompanying you as you play.
The slot doesn't have a Wild symbol on either reel set which is something of an oversight as it would have given the game added appeal.
Free Spins features
The slot does not feature any free spins feature. Instead you use your winnings from the bottom reel (provided it is valued at 20 coins or more) to access spins on the higher value upper reel.
Other bonus features
The main bonus feature of the slot is the upper slot. Your winnings go into the Jumbo Meter and you then spin the slot a maximum of 15 times for 20 coins per spin of your winnings. You can, at any point, stop this round by clicking the green Collect button at the bottom of the screen.
During playing the upper slot, you can access bigger value wins. For example, a Cherry win on the lower reels when playing 10 pay-lines is 20 coins in value. However, on the upper reel, it is 200 coins in value (with 10 pay-lines in play). Any upper reel wins are added to the Jumbo Meter so you can either use that cash for more spins (up to 15 each trigger), or collect it if you decide to do so.
Most symbols offer a fixed pay out on both reel sets but the Clown symbol is slightly different. When you land three of these on a pay line then you trigger a win on the lower reels of between 20 and 400 coins (with 10 coins wagered) or 10 to 200 coins (with 1 coin wagered). On the upper reels these wins increase to 100 to 2000 coins.
With 10 pay lines in play on the upper reel, you can also win the 2,000-coin jackpot by landing three of the Lucky 7 symbols across the reel, while there are two other pay outs of 1,000 coins of above (three bells and three melons).
Best feature of the Jumbo Joker slot
Without doubt the best feature of the Jumbo Joker slot is the fact that it has a somewhat unique design and the way the two sets of reels interact with each other is cleverly done. I also like the fact that players do not have to play the upper reel set if they do not want to. This gives the game a differing variance level as if you just play the bottom reels and collect each of your wins, rather than playing the top, then this is a lower variance game than using your winnings on the top reel.
However, if you prefer more volatile gaming with a chance of bigger wins, then using your coins you win on the bottom reel to play through spins on the top does make more sense. What is nice is that the player is always given the choice to do this and can also quit playing the top reel set at any time by hitting collect.
What does the Jumbo Joker slot lack?
Although I was impressed with the cleverness of the Jumbo Joker slot design, there are a few startling omissions from the slot which I felt impacted its appeal for me. The first is the lack of Wild symbol on the reels, if not on the top reel set then certainly on the bottom reels. I felt a lack of Wilds detracted from the slot and offered you fewer chances of a win. Even with the Wilds not being stacked and being single symbols, it would have been a good addition to the game.
The other big missing item is a lack of free spins. All spins on this slot cost you, whether it is a stake, or winnings that you have achieved and a lack of free spins does mean that this slot isn't going to appeal to slots fans who target the vast number of games that do have free spins as part of their make-up.
Jumbo-Joker is a retro-looking slot that has been designed to be a modern new take on old-style slot gaming. Betsoft deserve credit for having the guts to offer something very different with the 3-reel format and in the main, it works very well, even if at first it can appear initially confusing. However if you are a slots fan looking for Wild symbols and Free Spins as a bare minimum to play, then you are going to be disappointed with what the slot has to offer.
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