Created in 1974 by writer Gerry Conway and artists John Romita, Sr. and Ross Andru, the Punisher is a fictional antihero who appears in Marvel Comics. The series follows the exploits of a vigilante, G-Man Frank Castle, who takes it upon himself to distribute punishment to those responsible for the murder of his wife and family. As a master of master of martial arts and stealth tactics, he wages a one-man war against criminals in New York.
A virtually ignored movie version of “The Punisher” was made in Australian in 1989 with Dolph Lundgren in the lead role. In 2004, Lionsgate and Marvel Enterprises brought the vigilante character back to the big screen in a full-length motion picture featuring Thomas Jane as “The Punisher.” Thanks to a licensing agreement signed in 2005, Cryptologic was able to turn the hit into a five-reel, nine-payline slot game by the same name.
When “Punisher: War Zone” was released by Lionsgate as the movie sequel in 2008, Ray Stevenson took the top billing. The film was followed up by Playtech’s own five-reel, 20-payline slot game under the new title, albeit with a cast of character symbols that are only very loosely reflective of the acting cast.
Punisher: War Zone slots pay handsomely when three or more Nines through Aces are matched on active paylines. They pay even more for combinations of three types of hand guns, a hoodlum carrying an axe or a thug wielding a knife. Frank “Punisher” Castle symbols stacked on all reels are wild and substitute for any symbol except the “Punisher Scatter” and the “Collective Bonus” Skull symbols.
Credit denominations range from €0.01 to €1, with 1 to 10 credits bet per line up to 20 paylines in total. The maximum bet is 200 credits or €200 in total. The credit value can be adjusted by using the pop-up menu below the first reel. Clicking “Spin” will start the game, and clicking “Stop” halts the reels. Winnings can be seen in the “Win” counter below reel five. The current balance appears in the lower left corner of the screen. Using Auto Start allows up to 99 repeat bets.
The top line payout is 10,000X the line wager for five Castle-Punisher symbols aligned on an active payline. Other payouts vary from 5X to 2,500X. Scatter bonuses of 1X, 5X, 50X or 250X the total bet are awarded when 2, 3, 4 or 5 Punisher Scatter symbols appear anywhere on the screen.
During regular play, Skull symbols that appear on any reel drop a Skull to the bottom of that reel. The number of Skulls beneath the reels remains the same even when exiting or reentering the normal play mode. When four Skull symbols appear under a reel, the Collective Bonus is triggered, paying 4X the total amount bet and also activating five free spins with all wins doubled.
During the free games mode, a Skull appearing on any reel automatically awards five extra games, so although the initial number of free spins is small, they can accumulate quickly and endlessly. Also, thanks to the 2X multiplier, the highest payout in the free games mode is an incredible 4,000,000 coins, awarded for an entire screen full of wild symbols.
Like Playtech’s other Marvel Hero games, the Punisher: War Zone slots are connected to the Marvel Multi-Level Mystery Progressive Jackpot, which is paid out completely at random. The network’s four tiers of jackpots—Power, Extra Power, Super Power and Ultimate Power—start at €50, €500, €5,000 and €100,000, respectively. Payouts of more than €500,000 have been reported.