Born in 1254, Marco Polo is one of the most famous of all explorers. A native of Venice, Polo made his name as a merchant and a writer as well as an explorer, the details of which he documented in one of his most famous books, Livre des merveilles du monde (Book of the Marvels of the World, also known more simplistically as The Travels of Marco Polo).
Polo was one of the very first Europeans to travel to the Far East, documenting the size and scale of China and its capital, Peking as well as visiting a number of Asian cities and countries. His writings proved to be the inspiration for a certain Christopher Columbus, centuries later, who then embarked on their own travels around the world.
Polo's influence stretched beyond bringing the Far East to the attention of Europeans, he was one of the foremost cartographer's of his generation and his maps even included maps of the Kamchatka Peninsular, the Bering Straits and Alaska, which was centuries before Columbus made his first visit to the Americas in 1492.
Polo dies in 1309 after a short illness although his legacy lived on well beyond his years. Now he is the subject of a brand new slot from Red Rake Gaming. Eponymously named, the Marco Polo slot features 5 reels and 30 fixed pay lines in play with spins starting at 0.30 per spin but you can increase that up to 30.00 per spin if you prefer.
Is this slot a fitting legacy to Polo's lifetime's work and achievement? Let's take a closer look and find out.
Where can I play the Marco Polo slot?
If you are looking to play the brand new Marco Polo slot (released on the 25th April), then the place to head to enjoy this and a host of other games from Red Rake Gaming, is the ever-popular Spartan Slots site.
Perfectly suited for desktop or mobile players, Spartan Slots offers its customers one of the best value starter bonus deals available online today. Simply for registering, you will receive 25 Free Spins, no deposit required, which you can play on a wide choice of games at the casino.
Then when you have enjoyed your Free Spins, you can then make a deposit and with your initial deposit into your account you will receive a whopping 200% Matched Deposit Bonus, which will treble the amount of money you have available to play with on the site. Furthermore, you will also qualify for additional bonuses when you make further deposits into your account and there is $50 available for every friend that you successfully refer to the site.
It is fair to say that Red Rake Gaming have paid a lot of attention to detail with the Marco Polo slot as when you load the game up, the graphics and sound are superb, especially when viewed on higher definition screen. The backdrop for the slot is so good and of such a high quality that it almost looks like a photograph. The reels are superimposed over this with the main controls of the slot at the foot of the reels.
The animations when you spin the reels are smooth and the sound is tastefully done and is not obtrusive or in your face, as well as being suitable for the theme of the slot. Red Rake Gaming have set a very high standard in terms of presentation for this game and it is one that is a real feast for the eyes of the gamer.
What's on the reels?
If I have one grumble about the Marco Polo slot then for me it is in terms of the choice of symbols that the game uses, focusing on the lower value symbols. While the playing card lows are now used almost ubiquitously on any new slot for lower value wins, there are some games where it should be easy to replace them with some different options and I think this game, with all the different items that could have been used from the Far East or 13th Century Venice, is one such example.
The lows range from 9 through to the Ace and offer a range of wins starting from 1/6 of your wager up to around 3.3x your wager. However, wins can come across multiple lines on any spin, so the value of a win can increase as a result.
There are just four higher value symbols on the reels and these are a fan, a book, a time piece and a Chinese coin, which is the highest value symbol in the game. Wins start at 0.5x your stake up to 33.3x your stake. All symbols offer pays when three are landed across the first three reels, though the Chinese coin symbol offers a very small win for just two symbols landing. Symbols can be stacked on the reels, which does offer you a chance at a multiple line win.
Alongside the standard symbols, there are two other symbols on the reels, a Wild and a Scatter symbol and these unlock the main bonus features of the game.
Marco Polo is the Wild symbol and a rather rugged and handsome looking man he is (and not really similar to what Polo actually looked like). He appears on the middle three reels and can be stacked on the reels, able to turn an entire reel Wild for a spin. He serves as a substitute for all symbols, even including the Scatter and when he is part of a win, he will also ensure that you receive a 2x multiplier on the standard win.
Free Spins features
The Yin and Yang symbol is the Scatter symbol and this too can be Stacked on the reels. Unlike standard Scatters, you need to land the Yin and Yang symbol (or a Marco Polo Wild) on one of the 30 pay liens on the slot to unlock the Free Spins bonus game and however many symbols you land on the line will determine how many Free Spins you receive.
Land Three Scatters and you receive 12 Free Spins, four will see you receive 15 Free Spins while land the maximum five and that becomes 20 Free Spins.
If you play through your Free Spins, then you can re-trigger the bonus from within the round itself which is always a positive and furthermore, any wins you land during the Free Spins bonus will come with a 2x multiplier attached as standard.
However, even if you trigger Free Spins, you may not elect to play through them thanks to the other bonus feature of the slot.
Other bonus features
The other bonus feature on the Marco Polo slot comes immediately after you have triggered one of the three different Free Spins bonus games as outlined above. Before your Free Spins start, you are given a choice, you can either accept an Instant Cash Win of an unstated amount, or you can elect to play through your Free Spins.
The gamble here is that your Instant Cash Win could be worth more than your Free Spins bonus, whereas you could earn more in Free Spins, the choice is yours. Obviously, the more Free Spins you trigger, then the greater the potential value of your Instant Cash Win could be. It is worth remembering though that while you can re-trigger Free Spins, you can't re-trigger another Instant Cash win.
Best feature of the Marco Polo slot
While the attention to detail and the graphics are superb on the Marco Polo slot, I'm happy to report that this game is not just a case of style over substance. The base game itself is generally good and while it isn't the most rewarding slot with some pays very small, you can win some sizeable amounts, especially in the bonus features. The Free Spins makes this game worthwhile and in truth, I think it is better to play Free Spins than accept the Instant Win as you do feel that you are at least getting some real value for money.
What does the Marco Polo slot lack?
For me the biggest thing I think the Marco Polo slot lacks is a sizeable jackpot prize to try and win. While a jackpot of 33.3x your wager is great, it isn't in the league of some of the slots that the Marco Polo slot will be attempting to compete with. That said, you can win that prize on multiple lines (although when this occurs, it is usually only two or three lines triggered), so you don't tend to hit on many more lines to increase the size of a win.
The Marco Polo slot is a real feast for the eyes and Red Rake Gaming should be commended for producing such a beautiful looking slot. The game-play is medium volatility, edging towards high at times, but you win frequently enough to keep things in the mid-range. A lack of really sizable jackpot does mean that this game may not have the instant appeal of some other similar slots, but the way it uses its bonus features is a change from the norm and as a result, despite that low jackpot prize, I still feel Marco Polo will attract many punters to give the game a shot. I will certainly be playing it again.
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