I must admit that I am continually bewildered by how some software development companies keep coming up with fresh new ideas for slot games. Just when you think there is nothing more that can surprise you, one company will turn up with a slot that is based on a theme that you haven't even thought was possible.
That is precisely the reaction I had when I first took a look at Realtime Gaming's Small Fortune slot. I thought this would be about wealth and good luck, but instead what you have here is what looks like a picnic, complete with a host of yummy things to eat. Only there's one problem, this picnic is about to be invaded by a colony of hungry ants ready to whip the food away for their own slice of 'small fortune'.
It's a brave theme for a slot and one that is incredibly imaginative, but does it all work when you put all the elements together into a single slot game? As usual, we've listed the brief highlights of the slot below and you can find the more detailed review of the game underneath.
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The presentation of the Small Fortune slot is rather clever. What you have at the top of the screen is a grassy field where any normal person would love to sit down and enjoy a picnic. However underneath the grass is where the reels are set and this is against the backdrop of the underground ant colony with its myriad of tunnels and chambers.
The reels are set against a Gingham styled picnic blanket which works nicely (if looking a little odd underground) but the sound is somewhat sparse and perhaps one of the most disappointing aspects of the slot (although to be fair to Realtime Gaming, I am not sure what noises ants make, if any).
The top of the screen is where your balance, bet size and any wins are shown and the two jackpots are displayed underneath here on the console. AT the foot of the console you can change your bet size, the number of lines in play and then use the Autoplay or Spin buttons to get the reels spinning. If you have played a number of Realtime Gaming slots before then the layout will be instantly familiar to you.
What's on the reels?
When it comes to symbols I'm delighted to say that Realtime Gaming have done away with the playing card low symbols and instead you have on the reels an assortment of items you'd like at your picnic, only with a couple of added critters on screen for some of them.
The lowest value symbols are the Glass drink, the bowl of salad, the cheeses, the champagne bottle, the picnic blanket and the butterfly on the flower which offer prizes of between 5 coins and up to 250 coins.
Higher value symbols include the Melon and apple core, the sandwich, the fruit pie and the picnic basket. The fruit pie is the highest paying symbol with 1250 coins to be won if landed five on a payline and all these higher value symbols offer payouts starting with just two on a payline.
Another symbol to look out for is the Scatter Girl. She doesn't offer access to free spins as in some other slots but when you land three, four or five scatters across the reels you can win 2x, 20x or 250x your total bet, not your line bet, which means that this can be a very lucrative win, especially if you can land four or five of these symbols.
The main Wild feature on the slot are the two ants. They appear on the first and fifth reels only and can be stacked on these reels. When they do appear, they can be used to substitute for any of the standard symbols outlined above to help create winning paylines, but they can't be used to substitute for the Girl scatter symbol.
However, the Wild symbols in the Small Fortune slot serve a dual purpose in that they are also part of the method by which you can unlock the free spins game as we shall outline below.
Free Spins Features
To unlock the Free Spins bonus round in the Small Fortune slot you need to land at least one ant on the first reel and another ant on the fifth reel and then have at least one of the Picnic Basket symbols land on the middle three reels on the same spin.
The more Picnic baskets that appear on the reels on this spin, then the more free spins you will earn as each picnic basket has five free spins attached to it. Furthermore, the Picnic Basket symbols can be stacked on the middle three reels, so it is possible to earn up to 45 free spins if you can land all nine of the symbols across the reels.
Once your free spins are awarded then you also receive a multiplier based on the number of ants that you landed on the triggering spin. If you landed the minimum two, then you get a 2x multiplier, but you could get anything up to a maximum of a 6x multiplier on all your combined wins in free spins. The free spins bonus can be re-triggered by landing more of the Ant/Picnic Basket combinations during the free spins round.
Other Bonus Features
Other than the features listed above, there are now additional bonus features on the Small Fortune slot, other than the two progressive jackpot bonuses, the Minor and Major, which can be won at random after any spin of the game.
Best Feature of the Small Fortune slot
There's a few nifty features on the Small Fortune slot but my favorite is the way that the Free Spins are awarded. It isn't easy to trigger free spins and often you may hit one of the ants with a couple of picnic baskets and not trigger the second ant and it can be frustrating but the fact what you land on the reels will decide your total number of free spins and your multiplier is a nice touch.
What does the Small Fortune slot lack?
I think the main thing that the Small Fortune slot lacks is the addition of some other game to stand alongside the Free Spins bonus. The Scatter Girl is a decent feature and offers some sizeable payouts for 4 and 5 across the reels, but other than the free spins round there is no other bonus available.
Even a little pick'em round where you get to select from a picnic blanket covered with food items to reveal cash prizes would have been a nice addition and helped give an added dimension to the game as at the moment, you are simply playing to trigger the single bonus, or get very lucky and hit the progressive jackpot.
The Small Fortune slot is a very pleasant surprise. Although there seems to be an awful lot of symbols on the reels (which there are compared to some other slots), you tend to win relatively frequently and there is a nice mix of wins when you do play. The bonus feature is good value, although a little difficult to hit at times, and the Scatter Girl does give the potential for some bigger wins. Then add to that two progressive jackpot funds to play for and you have a slot with plenty going for it.
However, it is fair to say that the slot does lack a little of the depth and excitement that you'll find on some other slots and the sound is very disappointing to be truthful. It can also play somewhat tight at times which does make it a more medium variance game.
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