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Ever since its premier in Montreal, Canada in 2007, Cirque du Soleil’s traveling production Kooza has enchanted audiences across the globe. Featuring up to ten astonishing acrobatic performances, as well as several minor acts to aid the storytelling, we learn about the weird and wacky world of Kooza, created by The Trickster, through the eyes of The Innocent and his companion, The Bad Dog.
The show is still running and there are a no signs that its popularity is on the wane. As such, Bally’s, one of the most famous names in casino gaming, acquired the copyright to develop a slot based on the show and this is the result of their efforts. So does the Cirque du Soleil slot machine shine like the show itself, or does it not quite reach those lofty standards? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
Overview: Cirque du Soleil Kooza Slot Machine
In order to bring the story of Kooza to life, Bally’s has created a 5×4 reel online slot game featuring a total of 40 non-selectable paylines. The backdrop to the slot is of course the Kooza stage. It is meticulously set and provides the perfect backdrop (indeed, the only possible backdrop) for the slot itself.
One of the most intriguing features is that the Cirque du Soleil Kooza slot has four different jackpot prizes. These can be won if you trigger the Jackpot Bonus game from within one of the bonus features. Here you can win the Mini, Grand, Colossal or Tres Magnifique jackpot prizes. These range from 10x, 40x , 125x or 500x your stake. The jackpot isn’t a progressive game, but the higher your wager on each spin, the greater the size of each jackpot will be.
Who will the Kooza slots appeal to?
The most obvious people who will enjoy the Kooza slots are those that have witnessed the performance. Bally’s has done a great job of intertwining the different elements of the show into a slot game. With the characters from the show instantly recognizable, if you’ve seen it, this is certainly a game that fans of Kooza, or indeed any Cirque du Soleil performance, will love.
From a slot players perspective, Kooza offers a decent choice of bonus games. (We’ll explore these in more detail below.) There’s also a chance at winning four jackpot prizes on any spin and some nice bonus features in the base game too. These can pay well, and anyone that enjoys feature-packed slots, or slots with a slightly different approach to their bonuses than the usual free spins, will enjoy what Cirque du Soleil Kooza has to offer.
Gameplay: Cirque du Soleil Kooza
The first thing that hits you when you load up Cirque du Soleil Kooza is the sheer brightness and vividness of the slot. All the bright colors that illuminate the show have been transferred into the game. This, along with key characters from the narrative, really does help draw you into the mysterious world of Kooza.
Once you’ve selected the stake you want to play (there’s no messing with coins here, simply select how much you want to bet from a list and play that), then you can get the reels spinning using the spin button or auto play feature.
What you will notice on the reels is that there is the usual mix of symbols. There are the playing card low symbols, though just the Queen, King and Ace are present. There are mid-symbols, including two masks, plus two characters from the story (Charli and Innocent). The higher value symbols are the Skelly and Wheeler symbols.
There is also a Wild symbol on the reels. This can be used to substitute for any of the symbols above to create a winning line. Additionally, you can receive the highest value base game payout for landing five wilds on any of the 50 paylines, which pays out 10x your standard bet.
What is fair to say is that hitting big wins in the base game isn’t particularly easy. You do need to hit five on a payline to trigger a decent win. Most base game wins are around the same value as your stake and often a little less. That does hit the play value of the slot considerably.
However, this is mitigated in that it is relatively easy to trigger one of the bonus features. There are several you can trigger either randomly, or by landing specific symbols on the reels.
During the base game, on any spin a bonus can be triggered which will turn two of the reels all to the same symbol (one of the higher value character symbols). This doesn’t guarantee a win. However, if you can land this with the same symbol on the reels, or Wild symbols, you can hit some decent wins when this bonus is triggered.
The first triggerable bonus is the Box Pick Bonus. Here you need to land the Bonus Box on reels 1, 3 and 5. When you do, you get to select from three boxes. Two will reveal a cash prize. The third will have a spin of the Bonus Wheel feature available. Cash prizes range from $30.00 up to $500.00. Additionally, if you trigger the Bonus Wheel, then you leap to the feature described below.
Land three Bonus scatters on reels 2,3 and 4 and you trigger the Bonus Wheel feature. This is a wheel that you set in motion that offers you a chance at one of four prizes. Either a Cash Prize (between 37.50 and 875.00), Trickster Free Games, Wheel of Death Free Games or most excitingly, the Jackpot Wheel.
Both the Wheel of Death and Trickster Free Games options are free spin games. They award players free spins and a number of other features during the bonus in the hope of triggering a bigger win.
The Jackpot Wheel, however, is another wheel which you set in motion. It will award you one of the four jackpot prizes ranging from Mini (10x your stake) up to the Tres Magnifique prize which is 500 times your stake.
Special features: Cirque du Soleil Koosa
Land the Jackpot option in the Bonus Wheel feature and you spin the wheel to decide which of the four jackpots you can win. They range from the Mini (10x your stake) to the Tres Magnifique (500x your stake) and this latter prize is the largest prize available in the game by a considerable margin.
Hit three of the Bonus scatters on the middle reels and you trigger the Bonus wheel. This wheel offers you the chance of winning a cash prize, two free spins bonuses (Trickster Free Spins and Wheel of Death Free Spins) or a chance to win one of the four jackpots on the Jackpot Wheel.
Box Pick Bonus
When you land the Box Pick symbol on the first, third and fifth reel you trigger the Box Pick bonus. This triggers a box pick round where you select from three boxes. Two hide a cash prize, one offers you a chance to play one of the games in the Bonus Wheel round.
Bally’s presentation of the Cirque du Soleil Kooza slot is first rate. The colors are vibrant and engaging. The sound effects match the game well and the soundtrack is perfectly suited. The animations are smooth and the symbols on the reels well designed.
The stacked symbols in the base game do help land some of the better sized wins when you can get them lined up, especially across the first three reels where you can trigger multiple payline wins, or when you land them with a wild symbol.
Easy to trigger bonus games
The most enjoyable aspect of the Cirque du Soleil Kooza slot is how relatively easy it is to trigger the bonus features. After just a few spins I had already triggered each of the main bonus games at least once. In subsequent sessions this was repeated. The means that the bonuses seem to be easier to hit in this slot, which explains why the base game plays more tightly than other similar slots.
Low value wins
The base game offers relatively regular wins but the majority of these wins are small, usually just on a single payline and of an amount that is around your stake or less, which does mean that the play value on the slot isn’t particularly great for the base game.
Too few paylines
Part of the issue with the low base game payouts is that there are only 40 paylines in play. On a 5×3 reel slot, that is a decent number but on a 5×4 reel slot, those 40 paylines don’t go very far and you can often find yourself thinking you must have a win, only to discover the symbols are not on one of the 40 paylines.
Lack of animation
Given that Kooza is all about acrobatics, I’d have thought a little more animation for the bonus games would have been used to bring the slot to life. It does feel a little “static” at times, especially when you consider what the show is purported to be about and how it portrays the story.
Graphics & soundtrack 4/5
Graphically and in terms of sounds, the Kooza slot is beautifully done. There could have been a few more animations to bring the game more to life, especially in the bonus rounds, but overall, this is a superbly presented slot that is a feast for the eyes.
Originality & creativity 3/5
There’s more than enough original elements in the Cirque du Soleil Kooza slot. The two main bonus games are well thought out. There is enough variance in the sub games accessed from them to keep players interested. Additionally, the four jackpot bonuses are a great feature.
Play value 2/5
The smaller returns you find on the base game and the fact that some of the bonuses can trigger only very small wins (or none at all) does affect the play value unfortunately. This isn’t a slot that will guarantee to break your bankroll as you do trigger bonuses more easily but if you get it playing more tightly it can eat a chunk of your cash.
Jackpot potential 3/5
The four jackpot prizes really do add a lot of excitement to the Kooza slot. But, the fact that the top prize isn’t the biggest at 500x your stake means that a lot of players preferring bigger jackpot games are not going to be overly tempted.
Repeat play 4/5
There’s so much in the Cirque du Soleil Kooza slot that you will certainly not get through everything in your first session and that combined with easy to hit bonuses means this is a slot you will come back to play time and time again.
Total score: 16/25
Cirque du Soleil Kooza is a very nice looking slot with some great features and some enticing gameplay. It’s use of bonus features is very good indeed, but it can also play very tight at times. This is a solid, enjoyable slot but with a few small tweaks could have been even better.