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“I packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hour, 9am.” So sang Elton John in one of his most iconic songs about a lonely astronaut sent out into space. Long before Rocket Man became one of Reg Dwight’s most popular compositions, there was a 1950s TV show about a hero who had two rockets strapped to his back. He was the original Rocket Man and he is the subject of this intriguing slot from High5 Games and IGT.
Admittedly, in this new slot, Rocket Man’s outfit has been given a somewhat more appealing makeover than his original rather bleak-looking helmet and the simplistic rocket controls that were located on his chest (brilliantly, these included Up, Down, Slow and Fast). However, the overall feel of the slot retains that link back to the 1950s Sci-Fi genre that became almost as well known for its genuinely unintentional comedy value as it did for the action and intended storylines.
Overview: Rocket Man
What we have with the Rocket Man slot is a 5×3-reel game that has up to 99 selectable paylines in play. You can wager on 1, 10, 25, 50 or 99 paylines. (Though we’d always suggest you bet the maximum paylines on any slot.) You can also bet from as little as $0.01 coins per payline, up to a maximum of $0.50 per payline. This means a minimum bet of $0.01 (or $0.99 if you play the maximum number of paylines) up to maximum bet size of $49.50.
That puts Rocket Man firmly in the low to medium stakes slot fan bracket. There’s another nice surprise, as rather than the standard reels, Rocket Man features Tumbling Reels. This is known by lots of other names on other slots, but is essentially when the symbols drop down from above on each spin and when you land a winning payline, the symbols disappear from the reels, allowing other symbols to drop down and potentially trigger further wins from the same spin.
Who will the Rocket Man slot appeal to?
The original Rocket Man TV series and film were probably some of the corniest Science Fiction you would see of any era. If you’re a fan of that kind of film (and there are plenty that are), then this slot will put you on familiar territory, even if the Rocket Man himself has been updated to reflect a more modern age. That’s something of a pity, as the unintentional humor of the original would have translated well in the slot.
The fact you can play 99 paylines will also attract punters that prefer slots with more chances to win on every spin. There’s a single line jackpot of 5,000 coins available on the slot. This is considerably higher than you would find on some other High5 themed slots. Again, this may well attract gamers who are looking for juicier wins than they can find on similar games from this provider.
Gameplay: Rocket Man
Once you have selected the number of paylines and coin size, you’re ready to play. Auto Play can run up to 25 spins for you at a time, or you can click the Spin button to get the Tumbling Reels feature into action. Once you do, the symbols will drop down into the usual 5×3 matrix from above. At the end of the spin, the winnings will be calculated.
It’s hard to define what the setting for the slot is. There’s a sky in the background. This is an obvious link to the Rocket Man’s flying prowess, but the console itself looks rather Art Deco in design, and while it harks back to the 1950s, it seems to resemble one of the grand old theater/cinema screen surrounds that are typical of that era.
On the reels, things are simpler and thankfully this slot does away with the usual playing card low symbols. Rocket Man has a variety of symbols linked to the theme, including three lower value symbols (diamonds, gold bars, and a bag stuffed to the brim with cash) while the higher value symbols include two 1950s femme fatales, a rather sinister looking villain, and the Rocket Man himself.
The villain and Rocket Man offer the largest two payouts on a payline with 1,000 coins for five villains and 5,000 coins for five Rocket Men on any one of the 99 paylines. That is a healthy-sized single payline prize to be won and compares favorably with several other similar games available from the same development company.
The in-game Wild will help you on your way toward landing more pay lines as it can substitute for any high or low value symbol in the base game to complete paylines and you can land more than one Wild across the reels on a spin, or on a Tumbling Reels respin, to trigger additional paylines.
The other symbol is the atomic symbol and this is the in game Scatter. Land three or more of these on a pay line and you trigger between one and four free spins and whats more, for the duration of your free spins there is an additional Wild symbol in play on reels 2, 3 and 4, to add to the standard Wild which is located on reels 1, 2 and 3. Unfortunately, you cannot retrigger the Free Spins bonus game from the round itself.
Special features: Rocket Man
The main feature of the slot is the Tumbling Reels feature where symbols fall into place on the 5×3 matrix from above and when a winning line is triggered, the contributing symbols disappear and are replaced with new symbols from above, potentially triggering additional paylines.
Land three or more of the atomic Scatter symbols on the first three reels and you will trigger a Free Spins round of between 1 and 4 free spins. During Free Spins there is an additional Wild available on reels 2, 3 and 4.
In the base game, the Wild symbol appears on the first three reels only. It substitutes for any of the lower or higher value symbols to create a winning payline. You can land multiple Wilds on the reels and trigger wilds in the Tumbling Reels feature when they drop down from above.
The base game sound is somewhat disappointing as it is simply a generic sound, but the sound effects when you land a payline win are much better with screaming ladies and rather satisfying exploding effects when you hit a lower value win.
One thing is true about Rocket Man is that you do tend to win on spins relatively frequently. It’s rare to hit a lengthy run of spins without some form of win, however that does not mean that all spins guarantee a profit on your initial wager.
The best way to win big in the Rocket Man slot is to land the biggest paying symbol across the reels on a payline in all five positions. That does give the base game and free spins an added edge and makes each spin more exciting.
The biggest issue for me on this slot is that there are no multipliers applied to winnings even in free spins, even if you triggered additional Tumbling Reels wins following the initial spin. This is a big oversight and would have added extra depth and excitement to the slot.
Very few Free Spins
The maximum number of free spins you can win is four and that is a very small amount. When you consider it can be as few as just one free spin and that you cannot retrigger free spins, it does make you wonder whether triggering the bonus is really worth it.
Few bigger wins
A lack of multipliers, many frequent smaller value wins and a lack of free spins tends to mean that this is a slot which is medium to higher variance with most wins being small amounts, often much less than your wager. That means even if you win regularly, you may still end up losing cash on the slot.
Graphics & soundtrack 2/5
The graphics are serviceable without being truly impressive and there’s nothing too exciting there. The sounds are weak initially but improve when you hit a payline win, so I’ve upped them a mark for that feature.
Originality & creativity 2/5
The Tumbling Reels feature is a novel way to play but the limited number of Free Spins means you can’t take full advantage of that extra Wild on the reels and that limits the appeal of the slot and how original it is.
Play value 1/5
A large proportion of the spins you play through will see you win an amount that is smaller than the wager you made, especially when you consider that you are likely to be wagering 99 coins. That means that hitting big wins, which only come along rarely, is the only way to get decent value from the slot.
Jackpot potential 2/5
With a top payline prize of 5,000 for five of a kind Rocket Man across the reels, this is a decent sized win and indeed, if you are going to enjoy this slot, this is the jackpot to target, although even played at the full price bet per line of $0.50, this only equates to a $2,500 jackpot.
Repeat play 2/5
The Tumbling Reels feature is always popular and that will likely hold players interest for a while and have them coming back to try again, but once you realize the poor value of the slot in terms of limited free spins, no multipliers and low payouts in general, then this isn’t a game you will be coming back to play too often.
Total score: 9/25
Rocket Man is a good example of a slot which has some promising features, but which when put together just doesn’t quite gel. The Free Spins rounds are too short, the features of the slot not rewarding enough and the wins you do achieve are generally very small.