Casino slots are essentially made up of two elements, the symbols and reels. While it's true that the vast array of online slots is incredibly diverse in terms of themes, graphics, animations and sounds, it's all about landing symbols on the reels in the various combinations needed to win prizes.
There is a lot to be said about the role of reels in video slots today, with reel innovations such as cascading reels, cluster payouts, 243 ways, and Megaways designed specifically to increase the number of ways you can form potentially winning combinations, but let's go to it and focus on symbols in this blog. If the reels represent the slot, the symbols are the key to unleashing the recreational power of today's online casino slots. Let's take a closer look at the standard, wild, scatter and bonus symbols.
Standard symbols are the basis of all online slot machines. Think of them as the workhorses of the game. Other symbols have special functions that add value and fun to the game, but the basic task of forming patterns along paylines falls to standard symbols. You will see them land randomly on the first spin of a particular slot. Their appearance obviously depends on the theme of the game you are playing. Some slots have the same symbols as classic slots, as the first land-based casino slots were called, cherries, dollar signs, BARS, lucky sevens, and bells.
Wild symbols are special symbols that appear randomly on the reels and work in tandem with standard symbols to help you form winning combinations. To understand how they work, imagine a joker in a deck of cards. When the jokers are wild, they can substitute for any other card in the deck. Suppose you are in an online casino playing the video poker variant known as Joker Poker. You draw a pair of twos, a pair of sevens and a joker. Since the joker is wild, you can play it as a seven to form a full house, which is a very strong poker hand. The principle is exactly the same when it comes to slots - the wild symbol can substitute for any standard symbol on the reels. Unlike card games, there is no limit to the number of wild symbols a slot machine can randomly generate.
Wild symbols sometimes have special properties that increase your chances of forming melds. For example, expanding wilds can cover an entire reel, while sticky wilds stay in place on the reels for multiple spins. Stacked jokers appear in piles of two, three or more, while expanding jokers expand to cover the reel once they land. Some wild symbols, like Thor's wild symbol in Thunderstruck, will multiply your winnings. In general, the more wilds on the reels, the better.
Scatter symbols are known as the slots player's friend, and it's easy to see. These special symbols do not need to form combinations to unlock rewards. Instead, they can "scatter" across the reels to trigger special features such as free spins or bonus spins. For example, in Gonzo's Quest, you want to land three golden scatters (called "Freefall" symbols in the game) anywhere on the first three reels. This triggers the Free Fall bonus round, which awards you 10 free spins and increases the value of the in-game multipliers. In Immortal Romance, the scatter symbol is a lion-shaped door knocker, and that's a big deal. Landing three, four or five scatters anywhere on the reels grants you access to the Spin Room and plays one of four different bonus rounds with free spins, multipliers and other special features. Scatter symbols can also be retriggered often, giving more spins and more fun.
Standard, wild and scatter symbols are the power of most video slots, but some of the best online slots go a step further with their special bonus symbols. These are usually symbols that come into play as soon as you have already activated a bonus feature. For example, one of the bonus rounds in Immortal Romance's Chamber of Spins features a Wild Vine symbol, which randomly turns adjacent symbols into wild cards! In Link & Win slots like Arctic Enchantress, Thunderstruck Wild Lightning, and Hyper Gold, you get extra free spins when you collect specific bonus symbols (ice spheres, in the case of Arctic Enchantress).
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