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Of all the characters that sprung forth from Arthurian legend, perhaps no character has more mystique than the famous wizard of the court, Merlin. Shrouded in mystery and seemingly able to conjure up miracles at will, he has become as synonymous with the tales of the Knights of the Round Table as King Arthur himself.
Not only that, Merlin’s appeal has spawned a TV series, and now there is a rather exciting new slot from the team at NextGen Gaming. So can Merlin magic up a memorable slot game that offers equal amounts of appeal and excitement, plus the chance of a big win, or has the wizard’s magical powers started to wane? Let’s take a closer look at the elegant-looking Merlin’s Millions and find out.
Overview: Merlin’s Millions
Merlin’s Millions is a 5×4 reel slot that features a total of 50 paylines in play on each spin. You cannot select paylines. You can change the size of the bet by increasing the wager per payline from $0.02 up to $0.40. This gives you a standard bet range of $1 up to $20 per spin, which puts this more in the region of the low- to medium-stakes players. You can increase the size of the bet by using the Super Bet feature, which we will explore later in the review.
The setting for the slot is a forest glade, with Merlin himself standing to the left of the reels carrying his staff. The wizard can get a little impatient if you don’t spin the reels too quickly. (He’ll even give you a knock on the screen to keep you alert). There are gentle sound effects, adding to the spooky feel, without going overboard on the fear factor.
Who will the Merlin’s Millions slot appeal to?
Given that this slot has a slightly unusual 5×4 reel and 50 paylines set up, with a good number of bonus games and other features thrown in, fans of unusual slot games will certainly be attracted to Merlin’s Millions. The bonus features are well thought-out and they alone will certainly draw in keen slot players to give them a try.
Arthurian legend fans will also be keen to try the slot, although this is NextGen’s own interpretation of Merlin. Some may find it at odds with common pop culture portrayals of the wizard. There’s a base game jackpot of 1,000 times your bet, which when played at higher level stakes does translate into a very decent-sized win.
Gameplay: Merlin’s Millions
One of the most important things to note on the Merlin’s Millions slot is setting the size of your bet. This is because in addition to deciding on how much to spend per spin as a standard bet, you need to consider one of the special features of the slot, the SuperBet button. This button is on the right hand side of the screen.
The SuperBet feature allows you to increase the value of the multiplier applied to any win completed with the Wild symbol. Without the SuperBet feature enabled, the multiplier is 1x. You can increase that to 2x, 4x, 6x, 8x or 10x the value of the win, however with each increase in multiplier size, the amount you have to pay for the SuperBet feature also increases.
For example, if you are wagering $1 per spin and want the 10x multipler SuperBet feature, this would increase the cost of each spin from $1 to $7. An 8x multiplier would cost $6 in total. As you can see, it’s a hefty premium to pay, so you do need to consider whether you want to use this feature and at what size you want to set the multiplier.
Once you have selected this then you can start the reels spinning using the Spin button or Auto Play feature. The reels are populated with the usual mix of playing card low symbols (from nine through to ace) and there are three higher value symbols on the reels. There is a purple bottle with what looks like an eye inside it, Merlin’s staff and the Spellbook, which offers the base game jackpot of 1,000 coins when landed five on a payline.
The base game generally awards smaller wins. Many of these won’t cover your initial wager, especially if you are playing with a SuperBet multiplier. This means you need to trigger the key bonus features in order to give yourself a chance at the bigger value wins. Merlin is the Wild symbol. He is stacked on the reels allowing you the chance to win on multiple paylines on a single spin.
The first feature is the Owl Bonus. Land the owl on reels one, three and five and this triggers a Pick Me Bonus where all the symbols on the reel will turn into an owl symbol. You can then select one symbol and it will reveal a cash prize, or will tell you to collect what you have won. You continue to pick owl symbols until you select the collect option to end the round.
The Blue Orb feature is the in-game Free Spins bonus round. This symbol only appears on reels two, three and four and when you land it across these three reels in a single spin, you will receive five free spins. During the free spins, Merlin uses his staff to zap reels on each spin and this turns that entire reel wild. This is the round where most of the bigger wins can be achieved.
Finally, one other feature of note is the Gamble Feature, which is a standard prediction game. You can wager on the turn of a card drawn at random from the pack on any cash win. Either you can guess the color of the next card (red or black) to double your prize or guess the suit of the next card to quadruple the value of your prize. Guess incorrectly though and you lose any cash prize gained.
Special features: Merlin’s Millions
Blue Orb free spins
Land the blue orb across reels two, three and four and you trigger five free spins. Merlin will turn one or more reels entirely Wild during each spin, triggering some of the highest value wins available on the slot.
Land the owls on reels one, three and five and you launch the Owl Bonus. This is a selection game where you can select any of the owl symbols to reveal cash prizes. Keep selecting and winning cash until you select the collect symbol, at which point the round will end.
Before you spin the reels, you can elect to pay a premium to apply a multiplier of between 2x and 10x the standard win to any wins completed by the Wild symbol. The SuperBet feature isn’t a cheap option but the chance to win big is greater if you play with a larger multiplier in play.
The Merlin’s Millions slot has a very nice presentation and there are some nice touches. It does have a slight feel of the Gonzo’s Quest slot to it, albeit without the tumbling reels option. The graphics are not quite as sharp, but in terms of presentation, Merlin’s Millions does a very good job.
Merlin is stacked on the reels and he acts as the in-game Wild. He is often responsible for some of the biggest and most valuable base game wins, especially when you land several paylines and have the SuperBet feature in play.
Blue Orb free spins
Although it isn’t the easiest bonus to hit, patience is rewarded when you land the five free spins. That doesn’t seem a lot and the size of wins can be variable. The real game-changer is Merlin himself turning reels wild on each free spin. This feature allows for potentially larger wins, more so than in the base game.
I think the SuperBet feature is a great idea, but the fact that it costs so much to use on every spin (to play the full 10x multiplier costs you 7x your usual stake) means that this feature is effectively only viable for medium stakes punters. Lower-stakes players won’t want to spend $7 per spin to access the feature, especially when returns are usually very small.
Low-priced base game wins
You do win relatively often on the Merlin’s Millions slot but the vast majority of these wins are very small indeed, not even coming close to your usual stake on a spin. That does affect the play value of the slot considerably.
Too many lower value symbols
I’m not a fan when slots have lots of playing card lows and just three higher value symbols. In a game that is already weighted in favor of the casino, it just seems unfair for a player to have even less chance of a decent win by having fewer of the higher value symbols on the reels.
Graphics & soundtrack 4/5
The Merlin’s Millions slot looks and plays nicely with some nice touches in the background as you play the slots (watch Merlin’s antics as you spin). The music is sparse, but well thought out and keeps the suspense ratcheted high.
Originality & creativity 3/5
The fact this is a 5×4 slot with 50 paylines with a selection of bonus games, including the SuperBet feature, does make this a little more unusual and original than most slots, but at its heart it’s still a slot that uses free spins as its main selling point.
Play value 1/5
Unfortunately, this is where Merlin’s Millions really falls down. Too many lower value symbols compared to high means the value of most wins is very small compared to your bet. Add into that a SuperBet feature which is very expensive to utilize fully and you do not have a great value slot.
Jackpot potential 2/5
Hitting the jackpot in the base game of 1,000 times your stake is hard to do but is much more likely during free spins where entire reels can turn Wild. There’s also decent wins to be had in the Owl Bonus game too. It is fair to say though that the value of these wins isn’t massive compared to some other games.
Repeat play 3/5
There is enough enjoyment to be had in the Merlin slot to keep you coming back for more, but the game is definitely more suited to a medium-stakes player that can access the SuperBet feature. This means that the appeal is greatly diminished to a lower stakes player as a result.
Total score: 13/25
This is a slot that nearly hits the mark. The game is presented well and the Orb and Owl bonuses are well thought out. However, play value is very poor and the SuperBet feature is only accessible to mid-level stakes players given its hefty cost to use on each spin. This is a decent slot, but could have been so much better.