Witness the Northern Lights on the slot from Neon Valley Studios (formerly Atomic Spin) powered by Microgaming’s Quickfire platform. Aurora Wilds is the first creation from the new partner studio, joining a whole list of smaller developers that use the platform to reach a broader audience. The game is a rather blatant Starburst clone that includes not only the respin mechanic but goes as far as the animations and sounds. They did try to stand out by adding a Jackpot Wheel where you can win up to 2,000 time your bet.
Aurora Wilds is a video slot with five reels, three rows and 10 fixed lines, paying both ways from left to right and from right to left. However, a five of a kind is awarded once only. Available on desktop or mobile, you can bet from 0.10 to 60 credits per spin. The medium variance game comes with an RTP of 96.20%.
A snow-capped mountain scenery illuminated by the aurora borealis is the backdrop to a frameless game window that is dominated by tribal animal symbols. The displays for the four fixed jackpots sit on top of the reels. A pleasant soundtrack changes to the exact Starburst-crescendos on respins and winning spins.
Mentioning Starburst might raise the expectations to see gemstones on the reels which is indeed the case although Neon Valley Studios made the effort to carve them into animal symbols. In ascending order, they are rabbits, fish, turtles, moose and eagles, awarding 2.5x to 6x your bet for a single five of a kind. The premium symbols are as expected red 7s and bars, paying 12x and 25x your stake respectively when you hit five on a line. A diamond with a pair of neon feathers is the expanding wild, appearing on the centre reels only and substituting for all symbols.
Following the proven mechanic, Aurora Wilds comes with the Expanding Wilds and Respin feature, that triggers when you land a wild symbol anywhere on reel two, three or four. It will expand and lock in place for a free respin. Hit another one on the respin and it will turn into an expanded sticky wild as well and award another respin. The maximum you can have are three respins. The feature ends when no new wild lands on a respin. Wins are evaluated and paid after each respin.
The feature that separates Aurora Wilds from Starburst is the Jackpot Wheel. Small bonus icons can appear attached to any symbol on reel two, three and four. Hit three to trigger the bonus feature where you are guaranteed to win one of four fixed jackpots – Mini with 15x bet, Minor with 50x bet, Major with 100x bet and Grand with 2,000x bet. You will get one spin on the wheel to determine which jackpot will be yours.
Starburst and “Book of…” slots are by far the most cloned games in online gaming and to be honest, there is at some point a moment where we get sick and tired of them. I feel the release of Aurora Wilds to be such a moment. When will developers start relying on their own creativity to bring us entertaining games without blatantly copying existing ones? One can only hope Neon Valley Studios will up their game for their next slots.
Plus, in over seven years we have yet to see a max win on Starburst (full screen of bars paying 500x bet), so hitting a 2,000x win on the jackpot wheel Neon Valley integrated into their design seems like a very remote if at all possible occurrence.