Every now and then, there comes along a slot that has a name that no matter how hard you try, you cannot quite link to the actual slot game itself initially.
Lucky Zodiac from Microgaming is a perfect example of this somewhat confusing state of affairs.
Now the name Lucky Zodiac to me conjures up images of the 12 signs of the Zodiac, mystical energy and the whimsy of chance. That is a perfectly reasonable, and some would say, attractive theme for a slot.
Yet when you finally load up the Lucky Zodiac slot into your mobile or browser, then you are met with the somewhat unusual sight of water lilies, Chinese vases, fans, lanterns and other ephemera to do with the Far East.
So where does the Lucky Zodiac come into it? Well after digging a little further, it is all linked to the in game Scatter symbol, which in this case is a Sheep.
I say Sheep and not Aries the Ram because in Lucky Zodiac, the symbol that acts as the biggest winning high symbol is related not to the western signs of the zodiac, but instead to the Chinese Zodiac and the current Chinese year is the year of the Sheep.
Better still, in a few weeks on the 8th February 2016, the symbol on the slot will change from a Sheep into a Monkey as 2017, signals the Year of the Monkey. That, dear reader is how the Lucky Zodiac slot gets its name.
After that somewhat distracting piece of detective work, let's now take a closer look at how the Lucky Zodiac slot actually performs as a game.
The slot itself is typical 5x3 reels and on Lucky Zodiac the player can select up to 20 paylines to be in operation on each spin. The background of the slot is a rather pleasant Dark green colour and you can see all 20 paylines highlighted around the edges of reels one and five.
On the reels are the usual and somewhat dull playing card lows, although these have been brightened up somewhat with some eastern-themed adornments to bring them in line with the feel of the slot. The highs are the aforementioned Chinese-themed symbols, including the symbol for the current Chinese year.
The symbols are bright and decorative and have been beautifully realised as you would come to expect from a modern video slot, but they don't really grab your attention in the way symbols on other slots tend to do.
There are two other symbols on the slots that players need to keep a close eye on and the first of these is the Lucky Zodiac symbol itself which acts as the in game Wild. When landed on a payline it can substitute for any high or low symbol in order to help the player achieve a winning payline. Multiple wilds can lead to bigger wins.
The other key symbol of note on the slot is the Scatter symbol and on Lucky Zodiac this is represented by the firecracker and when you land these across the reels, you will see a nice animation of the firecracker in action.
Land three or more of the firecracker symbol across the reels and you receive 12 free spins and on each spin in this round, a multiplier will be randomly applied to any wins of between 1x and 7x the amount won.
You are also helped out by the fact that this is the round where that Zodiac symbol starts to pay out some luck your way as in this round, the Zodiac symbol acts as another in-game wild, meaning there's more chance of landing a wild across the reels and thus earning a payout.
You can even re-trigger free spins during the free spins round by landing three or more scatters across the wheels on a free spin.
At any point in the game when you achieve a win, you can elect to use the Gamble feature. This gives you the chance to play a simple card guessing game. Guess the colour of the card drawn to double your win, guess the suit to quadruple your win.
Lucky Zodiac is a game that is initially confusing when viewed with the title and while it isn't as spectacular as some of the slots you can play today, it does have some engaging features and the free spins round certainly can see players earn a decent payout.
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