I'm not quite sure where the inspiration for the Panda Magic slot by Realtime Gaming comes from. I think perhaps the success of the Kung Fu Panda series of films may have inspired it as there are certain similarities between the two.
Panda's are best known as reticent reproducers, bamboo eaters and somewhat clumsy and rather cute members of the bear family. They are the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund and generally, most people think of them as rather sweet and inoffensive.
So what Realtime Gaming have done is taken the Panda, dressed him up in Magicians robes and given him what appears to be a magical staff, somewhat akin to what Gandalf carries around in the Lord of the Rings. The result is Panda Magic, one of their most recently released games which features some significant upgrades on the typical Realtime Gaming slot.
Outlined below is a brief encapsulation of the slot, with a more detailed review of the game and its features below that.
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Well, well, well, look what we have here. I've criticized Realtime Gaming in the past for not giving their slots a bit of added care and attention when it comes to presentation, but they have really hit the nail on the head with the Magic Panda slot.
The presentation is sublime, with a misty mountain backdrop, lit by a crescent moon providing the backdrop to the game. To the left of the reels stands the Magic Panda himself, a rather portly bear truth be told, and at the foot of the screen are all the main controls including the Bet size buttons, Auto-play, the Win display and the spin button. There is also a Speed option to increase or decrease how fast each spin plays out to suit your taste.
In addition to the stunning visuals, the game also has outstanding sound to accompany it with nicely produced music and sound effects at the key moments in the game helping to bring the slot to life. This may not be quite on a par with the efforts of some of the top slot developers just yet, but it is a big leap forward for Realtime Gaming.
What's on the reels?
On the reels, which is a 5x4 layout rather than the standard 5x3, there are a mixture of different items and characters from what is presumably the story of Panda Magic. Items are somewhat arbitrary although most are linked on the theme of magic with a magic ticket, book, a candle, a purple wizards hat not to mention an owl and what appears to be a Chinese Pagoda.
What is particularly nice with this slot, especially compared to other Realtime Gaming slots, is that every different symbol has with it some animation or sound which accompanies a win. This does liven up the game-play a great deal and stops it feeling repetitive and it also brings to life the story of the characters on the slot a good deal more.
Alongside the standard symbols on the reels there are two other key symbols, a scatter symbol (which is the Magic Tickets symbol) and a Wild which is the Wild Panda logo and these are the key to the two main bonus features of the game as we will explore in more detail below.
The Wild Panda logo is the in game Wild and this can appear anywhere across the reels. It serves a dual purpose in the game however. In the base game as a standard Wild, it will replace any of the high or low value symbols to help create an additional winning payline or two on a spin. Landing more of the Wilds across the reels on a base game spin can help you land larger individual payline wins, as well as more payline wins.
The second feature of the Wild symbol is that when you trigger the free spins bonus game, you could also trigger the "More Magic" feature. When this is triggered, the Panda will magically add three wilds to a reel or he may add some Expanding Wilds to the reels which will then cover the reel. Occasionally, if you are very lucky, he may add both types of Wild to the reels by adding new Wilds and turning existing Wilds into Expanding Wilds on the reels.
Obviously, the more Wilds of each type you land during the bonus feature increases your chances of a better sized win in the free spins bonus round. However, this bonus will only trigger on some occasions when free spins are triggered.
Free Spins Features
To enter the free spins feature you need to land three or more of the Magic Tickets Scatter symbols across the reels. One nice touch is that these scatter symbols also offer you a payout when you land three or more and that kicks off your bonus round nicely, especially if you can land the five scatter top prize.
Depending on the number of scatters landed you will receive 20, 25 or 30 free spins and before your free spins start and during the playing of your bonus, you could trigger the More Magic bonus as outlined in the Wild Features section above, which can add a number of additional Wild symbols to the reels.
An additional nice touch is that during the Free Spins round, any win that you achieve will be doubled so you have a 2x multiplier in place on all your free spins. However, you should be aware that as a more volatile slot, wins in this round can vary from relatively small amounts, to some huge wins, up to the jackpot of 2,000 coins on a single spin.
Other Bonus Features
Other than the Free Spins bonus round and the More Magic Wild bonus features outlined above, there are no additional bonus features on the Panda Magic slot as this is not a progressive jackpot game.
Best Feature of the Panda Magic slot
Without doubt the free spins bonus feature is where the big money is to be made in the Panda Magic slot and as such, this is its defining feature. The free spins are good fun but the More Magic Wilds that accompany it make it all the more intriguing and offer the opportunity to land some of the bigger wins available in the game.
I must also give credit here to Realtime Gaming for the quality of presentation. The music, animations and graphics on the slot are a massive improvement over some of their older games and it lifts the game to new levels. The fact there are 1024 Ways to Win is also a bonus, although the 0.50 minimum bet is perhaps a tad high for micro-stakes gamers, which means that this for me is a slot for more mid to higher stakes players.
What does the Panda Magic slot lack?
It is clear that Realtime Gaming have made a real effort in the presentation with this slot and the addition of Ways to win over paylines is another innovative step. However, the company is still very much in the mindset of one free spins bonus round with a Wild bonus attached as being the only type of bonus on offer.
There was so much scope to add different bonus rounds with the subject of this slot being a Magic Panda, literally anything was possible, so to see just the same two bonus features in the slot is a tad disappointing, even if they are presented in a more exciting fashion than previous Realtime Gaming offerings.
Panda Magic is a fun, well-presented slot with some innovative new looks and features for a Realtime Gaming offering. Its 1024 ways to win offer more flexible winning opportunities and the bonus features can pay out some exciting bigger value wins, although it should be noted that this is a mid to higher variance games and payouts can be very variable.
However, while the slot plays well and is enjoyable, it is stymied by a lack of variation in the bonus features with the same two features you will find on almost every other Realtime Gaming slot available here. That is a missed opportunity as with this game being about a magical Panda, there was scope for some really interesting and unusual bonus features to be used.
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