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[toc]It wasn’t that long ago that we took a look around one of NetEnt’s most popularly played retro-styled slots in Fruit Shop and that scored a respectable 14/25 in our review.
However, with Christmas approaching, NetEnt have decided to give the slot a new festive feel with a Christmas makeover and the release of Fruit Shop Christmas Edition.
So is this just simply a new makeover for the old slot for the festive season, or have NetEnt done a little more to the game than simply given all the symbols a coating of snow and ice and decorated around the reels with a snowman and Christmas tree?
Let’s take a closer look at the slot and find out a bit more about it.
Overview: Fruit Shop Christmas Edition
If you have played the original Fruit Shop slot then you’ll be very familiar with what is on offer here. The same symbols are used on the Christmas version, only this time they have been decorated with a little snow frosting for the lower value playing card symbols and the higher value fruit symbols have been encased in a block of ice.
It is still a 5×3 reel game with 15 paylines.
The maximum and minimum bet sizes have also not changed with $0.15 being the lowest value bet and $37.50 being the largest bet (coin value $0.25 at Level 10).
The colours on the slot and the addition of some Christmas-themed ephemera outside of the reels gives the slot a jolly festive feel.
Who will the Fruit Shop Christmas Edition slot appeal to?
The first thing to note is that this is most definitely what I would call a ‘cash in’ slot, in that it has jumped on the back of the festive period to give a popular slot a little bit of a facelift in the hope of attracting a few more spins.
There’s no marks against NetEnt for doing that, many companies do this with their popular slots to cash in at this and other times of the year.
The slot will appeal to Christmas fans and of course, with it being a more retro-styled game with the old-style fruit symbols on the reels, there’s clear appeal too for the gamer who enjoys classic New Jersey online slots games.
However, it should also be noted that this slot will appeal to punters who like to be able to access all the key features of the slot from the base game.
There are no scatter symbols in this slot, and you can trigger free spins on any winning spin using any of the fruit symbols. This somewhat unusual feature will certainly attract slot fans who like a different approach to the usual free spins round activated by landing scatters on the reels.
Where to play Fruit Shop Christmas Edition in New Jersey
If you’re feeling the festive spirit of the season and want to check out this game, you can find it at Tropicana as well as sister site VirginCasino.com, in addition to Golden Nugget.
Gameplay: Fruit Shop Christmas Edition
Rather like the original game on which the Christmas Edition is based, all the main features of Fruit Shop Christmas Edition are available directly from within the base game and there aren’t any real bonus features or unlockable free spins to try and aim for.
Furthermore, this is a more retro-styled slot so there aren’t other features like stacked symbols or sticky wilds, for example.
Instead, what you get are five reels decorated in a Christmas theme and a game which is identical to the original Fruit Shop. This of course means if you love that game, then you’ll enjoy this festive version too.
We’ve already mentioned the playing card low symbols and the fruit symbols are the higher paying wilds.
A nice touch is that you can win with just two cherries on a payline, rather than three, which again harks back to the days when landing just one or two cherries on a slot would pay out a win.
While lower value symbol wins simply offer you a coin payout, land a win with a fruit and you not only win a cash prize but also some free spins.
How many depends on the fruit landed and how many of the fruit you have on a payline, but you can win either one, two, or five free spins through this feature.
The free spins you earn start immediately after you win. The reels change colour to signify this and the free spin meter will appear.
During free spins, you can trigger additional free spins by landing more fruit symbols on winning paylines, however, if you land winning paylines with the lower value playing card symbols, then these also pay out additional spins during the free spins round.
During free spins, a 2x multiplier is awarded on your cash wins.
As the free spins progress, any extra you earn are added to your tally and your total cash prize from the round will also increase with every winning spin you earn. Eventually, when all your spins are used up and you have a final total of cash won, the round ends and you head back to the base game.
The other feature to note here is the Wild Fruit Shop symbol that can substitute for all symbols to create additional wins on a spin.
In essence, that is all there is to Fruit Shop Christmas Edition. It is exactly the same game as the original, just with a little extra Christmas frosting put on proceedings.
Special features: Fruit Shop Christmas Edition
Fruit Shop Wild
As in the original game, the Fruit Shop wild can be used as any other high or low value symbol to help create winning paylines. Any win using a wild receives a 2x multiplier and you can trigger free spins using the wild as an additional fruit symbol.
Without doubt the best feature of the game is the ability to trigger up to five free spins from the base game by landing winning paylines involving the fruit symbols.
Free Spins Cash Multiplier and Bonus Free Spins
During free spins, you can trigger additional free spins by landing additional winning paylines which not only are subject to a 2x multiplier in free spins, but also earn you even more free spins.
Base game free spins
The fact that in addition to a cash reward, you receive free spins when you hit a winning payline using any of the higher value symbols is a novel way to give a player free games and it works very well on the slot.
Additional free spins
The ability hit some free spins and then earn more by landing more payline wins, including lower value symbols as well as higher, is a great way to add extra excitement in the bonus round and gives players a better chance of a bigger win.
Although NetEnt have only very lightly touched up the slot for the Christmas period, the makeover is pretty good and playing the game does get you in a festive mood.
No difference to original game
It is somewhat disappointing to discover that the only distinctions between this game and the original Fruit Shop are purely cosmetic, so essentially what you have here is the same game, just with a new livery to cash in on the Christmas theme.
The same problems that beset the original are also relevant in this slot and the biggest is a lack of features.
The wild and free spins bonuses are great in Fruit Shop, but there isn’t anything else to play for to activate and that does make playing the game very repetitive at times.
The fact that there is just a 2,000 coin jackpot in the base game is a tad disappointing. While you can win considerably more in free spins, you are not hugely likely to unless you trigger an inordinate amount of free spins in that round.
Graphics and soundtrack 2.5/5
I’ve given the game an extra half mark here because I think the way the symbols on the reels and background have been given a Christmas makeover is well done and gives the game a little lift over the original.
Originality and creativity 3/5
I’ve knocked a mark off for originality and creativity. Although NetEnt has given the slot a Christmas look and feel, and this has been done very well, the actual mechanics of the slot are just the same as the standard version, which is a tad lazy in my view.
Play value 3.5/5
Fruit Shop Christmas Edition is a very simple game to play and everything is accessible in the base game. The wild symbol helps create additional wins and the free spins round when triggered can be quite lucrative.
Jackpot potential 1.5/5
The same criticism we made of the original game still stands here.
A 2,000 coin jackpot is decent enough when played at higher stakes, but for lower stakes punters, that isn’t a jackpot that will get them too excited.
Repeat play 2.5/5
Fruit Shop Christmas Edition is, as the name suggests, a slot that has been squarely aimed at the Christmas market and as such, you’ll likely enjoy it only at that time of the year.
Yes you’ll play it at Xmas, but after that, you’ll likely play the original instead.
Total score 14/25
This is the same slot as Fruit Shop but simply done up in a Christmas theme. As such, it is a decent enough game with some nice features, but it won’t have any real appeal beyond the Christmas months.
Plus, the fact the games are exactly the same is a little disappointing.