Lucky Panda

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The trend in slot games has always been toward more opportunities to win. From the original 3-reel, single payline format, slots quickly adopted multiple paylines. Then came additional reels and even more winning patterns, followed by the addition of scatter payouts and secondary bonus games.

Among the latest entries into this race for variety is Playtech’s new Lucky Panda slot game for online casinos. Introduced in April 2012, it features five reels with four positions on each of them and up to 1,024 ways to win—the so-called “All Ways 1024” feature. In fact, there are so many combinations possible for winning that they can hardly be referred to as pay “lines” anymore.

Lucky Panda has an Oriental theme. The matrix of 20 reel positions appears nestled within a stand of bamboo, where birds can be heard singing happily in the background. The player can select a credit denomination from €0.20 up to €500.00 by using the +/- toggles beneath the second reel.

Instead of choosing a number of paylines to play, the number of “Ways” to win is designated, from 64 at the low end with just 12 reel positions in play to the full 1,024 involving all 20 reel positions. The minimum possible wager per spin is €2.40, while the maximum is theoretically a whopping €36,000, although in principle most casinos set the limit at €500 per spin.

Basic symbols on the reels include cards, Nines through Aces, which pay from 12X to 100X when three or more match in a winning combination. Higher awards are paid for catching three or more Monkeys, Tigers, Snakes or Red Pandas, paying from 50X to 4000X. On the middle three reels, the Lucky Panda Logo is wild. It substitutes for all symbols except the Giant Panda scatter.

Catching 3, 4 or 5 Giant Panda scatters pays a total wager multiplier of 4X, 20X or 100X, respectively. It will also trigger the Free Games Bonus worth 15 free spins with all payouts doubled. The 15 free spins can also be retriggered by catching at least three more Giant Panda scatters simultaneously. The bonus ends when no more free spins are available or the maximum 210 free spins have been played.

One very special aspect of Lucky Panda is a new feature called “Second Chance Scatter.” During the main slot game only, if exactly two Giant Panda scatter symbols appear on the reels, the spin will pay any winning combinations before the reels containing the scatter symbols freeze and the other three reels respin. Any additional winnings from the respin are added to the initial total, and if another scatter appears, the Free Games Bonus will be activated.

Players will appreciate the extra care that has gone into the graphics and audio in Lucky Panda. All of the winning symbols animate, accompanied by appropriate sounds. The Monkey hoots, the Tiger growls and the Snake hisses. The Giant Panda munches on bamboo leaves, and colourful butterflies burst forth from a marsh when the Wild Logo in part of a payout.

On the down side, Playtech chose to leave out Autoplay and any second screen bonuses in this slot game. Unless one is playing the maximum 1,024 ways to win, some of the reel positions are deactivated and go “dark” and the amount wagered per spin in reduced automatically. On the other hand, if the Giant Panda appears on a dark position, it still counts toward the Second Chance Scatter and the Free Games Bonus, so some players may choose to wager less than “Bet Max” and take their chances.

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