In China culture and tradition, it is a common custom to give a monetary gift in a special red envelope known as a Hong Bao on special occasions such as weddings, Chinese New Year or the birth of a child. The story behind this special envelope is that the red colour symbolises good luck and is believed to ward off evil spirits as well.
On the Hong Bao slot, it is your turn to collect red envelopes for wins of up to 2,083x your bet. There is a multiplier wild feature, a Hyper Bonus Buy option, a Hyper Bet feature and a free spins round with multiplier wilds.
That sounds like really a lot and I agree, the slot seems overloaded with all sorts of features and gimmicks. It took me as a seasoned slot player some time to understand it all. To make matters worse, the features have quite an impact on the RTP. We’ll list it all in chronological order in this review to try and make it more transparent.
Hong Bao is a video slot with five reels, four rows and 50 fixed pay lines. Wins are awarded for three to five symbols from left to right only. Bet sizes range from 0.30 to 300 credits per spins. The medium to high variance game has an RTP of 94.74% – 97.50%, based on which Hyper Bet Level you are playing and whether you are using the Hyper Bonus feature buy option.
Kalamba Games was inspired by this Chinese tradition to create a stunning game, held in gold and red – the main colours of the Hong Bao. A mesmerizing mountain scene can be seen in the background with Chinese temples, blue skies and waves gently hitting the seashores. The game window is flanked by the controls for the Hyper Bonus bet and the Hyperbet as well as the display for Hong Bao collection meter. The background changes to a night setting with fire works in the bonus round. A gentle, traditional Chinese soundtrack completes the slot design.
All pay symbols except scatters and Hong Baos can appear fully stacked in the base game and free spins. At the low end, you will find the card royals from 9 through to A in Chinese writing style, paying 0.5x and 1x your bet for a single five of a kind. They are followed by orchids, traditional fans, jewel boxes, and vases. All will pay 1.66x your bet when five land on a line.
The wild is the top paying symbol, represented by a Chinese gold coin and awarding 8.33x your stake for a 5OAK. A Chinese temple is the scatter while a Hong Bao is the collectable bonus symbol, both appearing on the three centre reels only. During the free spins, the scatters are changing to Chinese gongs.
On the left of the game window, you will find a display with four multipliers. The default setting is x1 while activating the Hyper Bet will increase it up to x5, depending on the extra stake you are willing to bet. You will also benefit from a higher number of free spins in the bonus round with an increasing Hyperbet. Your RTP at level one is at 94.74% and will peak at 97.20% on level four, hence, some thought should go into what kind of bet level you want to play the game, based of course on your available balance.
For example, the lowest bet is 0.30 as default. This will increase to 0.70 on Level 2, followed by 1.15 on Level 3 and 2.12 credits on Level 4. A rather steep increase, hence, we urge some caution on using the Hyper Bet feature.
During the base game, the multiplier wilds can appear randomly at the top of a reel as a emerald, bronze, gold and platinum frame around the symbol, displaying the active multiplier. They will override the pay symbol and move down by one reel position on each spin until they disappear. The active multiplier is applied every time a multiplier wild is part of a winning combo. However, more than one multiplier wild are not multiplied by each other, nor added. They substitute for all other symbols except for scatters and bonus collection symbols.
Hitting three temple scatters on the centre reels will trigger the free spins feature with the number corresponding to the active Hyper Bet level. Any gong scatters landing on a free spin will award +1 free spin. Multipliers wilds will randomly appear on reels one, three and five, displaying the multiplier based on the active Hyper Bet level. They will lock in place as sticky wilds for the remaining free spins.
If you are impatient to wait for the free spins feature to trigger organically, you can gain direct access to the bonus round by activating the Hyper Bonus feature buy. You will be offered three options from which you can select one. The Hyper Bet is not active during the free spins, so the extra cost is calculated from the default bet.
In clear numbers, at a bet size of 0.30 credits, options one to three will cost you 10.80, 38.90 and 74.50 credits respectively. Pretty insane amounts and in no way low or even medium-roller friendly.
There is one more feature on this slot that you can decide to play at four levels – Bronze at 50, Silver at 100, Gold at 150 and Platinum at 220 collected red envelopes. A counter on the right indicates the progress. Any red envelope appearing on the three centre reels in a spin in the base game will increase the meter by +1.
Upon reaching a level, you can decide whether you want to play the bonus spins or keep collecting more symbols to reach the next level. However, once the decision is made, you cannot play the lower level spins and will have to continue until you reach the next level.
The bonus spins are played with only red envelopes, blanks and +1 spin symbols on the reels. Initially, three bonus spins are awarded and the aim is to collect as many treasure chests as possible during the feature. The more are collected, the higher the winnings, which are calculated based on the average bet size used to reach the respective levels.
Phew, that was something. Hong Bao is a visually-rich, feature-packed slot that will keep things busy as you will need a while to understand all the mechanics. Once you got it all, you will have an engaging slot the can be fun to play. Personally, I don’t want to play a slot with a notepad next to me to calculate what I should bet or do next. A little simpler set-up could have turned Hong Bao into a candidate for the favourites list.