The Net Entertainment game Mythic Maiden came to mind when I loaded up Betsoft's latest offering, The Magic Shoppe. This new slot has that same mysterious feel, with a mystical feel to it. I rather like slots that offer this over the more cutesy style games, so I was keen to see what was on offer.
So what did I find when I went for a nose around The Magic Shoppe slot? Was this one shop filled with goodies, or was it bereft of items that would attract your interest? Let's take a closer look at the game and find out for ourselves.
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I'm not quite sure where the setting is for the Magic Shoppe, you would assume it would be a shop of some kind and while there is what appears to be a Window above a door visible in the background, the rest of the shop looks more like a magic workshop, but a somewhat darker one than your usual child's magician offering.
That with the atmospheric sound effects, you can't really call it a musical background to be fair as it is more an assortment of weird noises and sounds really does give the slot an unsettling edge and I think it works superbly in terms of presentation. Though when you spin the reels, the music does tend to kick in and is a little lighter and more cheery.
All the major controls are located at the foot of the reels including the Coin Selection buttons, the Bet Per Line buttons as well as the usual Max Bet, Spin and Auto Play options.
What's on the reels?
There are a nice mixture of symbols on the reels and they start with the lower value symbols, which are the playing card low symbols from 10 through to Ace. These offer wins of between 5 coins for three 10s on a pay line to 150 coins for five aces on a pay line. Unlike other slots these symbols have been designed to look like playing cards and it works very well.
The high value icons on the reels include, in order from lowest to highest value, the magicians hat, the silver coin, two throwing knives, a pair of handcuffs and the highest value icon is the glowing blue skull which has a jackpot of 1,000 coins.
What is nice is that as a medium variance slot, you do have periods when you don't win that often or if you do, you only hit lower value wins, but then you can trigger a bigger win using some of the many different bonus features of the slot. It is these which really help bring the slot to life and which also add an extra dimension to the base game.
Perhaps the most unusual feature of The Magic Shoppe slot is how it uses Wild symbols. There are no Wild symbols on the reels on standard spins but instead Wilds are triggered when you land three or more of the Magic Wand symbols anywhere on the reels.
When this occurs, not only do all the Magic Wand symbols turn Wild, but any of the two different scatter symbols (which we will explore in more detail below) that have landed on the reels also turn Wild. This means that when you trigger the Wilds on the Magic Shoppe slot, which isn't as often as on other games, you tend to trigger much bigger value wins.
The upshot of this is that it does make hitting more frequent lower value wins in the base game more difficult due to the lack of Wilds, but when you do hit the Wilds you have the potential to land a much bigger win and over time, I think that potentially offers better value for the player than having more but less value Wild wins.
Free Spins Features
In addition to the Wild symbols there are two different Scatter symbols in the game which you need to land three of across the reels in order to trigger one of the two available free spins bonus rounds. These are known as the Sun and Moon Free Spins.
The Sun Free Spins are triggered by landing three or more of the Sun Free Spins Red Colored boxes, which are closed with chains and a padlock. The number of these boxes you land on a spin will decide how many free spins you get, land three and you get three free spins, land four and you get six and land five and you get the maximum 12 free spins.
During Free Spins every spin you have is guaranteed either to be a winner, or to trigger an additional feature (which in turn will guarantee you a win). Furthermore, you can re-trigger free spins if you manage to land three or more of the scatter symbols on one of your free spins.
The Moon Free Spins are triggered in exactly the same way but this time you need to land three of the blue locked boxes to trigger the bonus. Once you do then the number of spins awarded and the fact you are guaranteed a cash prize or an additional feature to be triggered is the same.
The Magic Wand Wilds are active in free spins and when activated here can land you some of the bigger wins available on the slot.
Other Bonus Features
Other than the features outlined above, the Magic Shoppe slot doesn't have any other features to activate during the game, but there is a Double Up game which you can play when you have landed any standard win in the base game.
To use this feature, first you must land a base game win and then when the Double Up button lights up click on it. You can elect to gamble all your winnings, or half on the spin of a coin. Guess heads or tails on the spin and if you guess correctly, you double the amount of money you wagered. Guess incorrectly and you lose your money. You can double up your winnings as many times as you wish, or you can click Collect to take any winnings and bank them.
Best Feature of the The Magic Shoppe slot
While I think the way the Magic Shoppe slot is presented is striking and certainly captures the imagination, I think the best feature of the slot is the Wild bonus. Sure, it does lead to more spins in the base game and it does mean you don't win as often in the base game, but when you do trigger the Wild bonus feature, you can land some massive wins.
This is true in the base game but especially in Free Spins when some really big wins are possible if you can trigger multiple Wilds across the reels, or better still on a single pay line.
What does the The Magic Shoppe slot lack?
The main issue I have with the Magic Shoppe slot is that it can be somewhat frustrating to activate the main bonus features in the slot and as a result, you need patience and a decent bankroll to really see the best of the game.
I think it is unfair that you can land three scatter symbols on the reels, but because they are not the same color, you do not trigger a bonus. Because of this what looks like a good feature of the slot (potentially two free spins rounds) is actually more of a hindrance because you will hit three scatters often but they will more often than not be a mix of the two different types, hence you get no reward.
I feel that is a little punitive to players, as is not having a Wild symbol on the reels in standard play, although this is mitigated somewhat by the much higher than usual Wild wins you do land when you do eventually trigger the Wild bonus.
The Magic Shoppe is a beautiful slot to play and enjoy and it has some clever features, but unfortunately thee features can be a real nightmare to try and hit frequently enough to make the slot worth playing in the longer term. The fact that scatters are not interchangeable makes what appears to be a positive about the slot into a negative as it is much harder to trigger free spins as a result.
The Wild feature is a good addition but again, there's a downside to that as you don't get as many wins in the base game as a result. It all feels a bit of a trade off to be honest, as if Betsoft are giving to the players with one hand, but taking away something with the other.
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