Friends with benefits. Who doesn’t like that? As the Merlin’s Money Burst slot demonstrates, NextGen Gaming surely enjoys its new home within the Scientific Games family. With now nine game studios under one roof there are plenty of treasures to discover for a games developer. NextGen seems to have raided that treasure chest and has started a revival of their most popular titles by slapping pay mechanics and game engines from its new found friends on to them. Medusa Megaways is such an example where NextGen benefited from the license agreement between Scientific Games and Big Time Gaming, remodelling one of their most successful slots with the dynamic reels of the Megaways engine.
Oh yes, this review is about Merlin’s Money Burst. Slot connoisseurs will shout “Bruce Lee’ the soon they open this slot and they won’t be wrong as the game is a blatant clone of the popular slot with the martial arts legend. Merlin’s Held Respins, Merlin’s Free Spins, Merlin’s Wild Spins and a SuperBet option, which will increase the win multiplier when wilds are part of the combo, will provide the excitement on this NextGen creation that can lead to wins of up to 37,500 times your stake. Not too shabby for a clone.
Merlin’s Money Burst is a video slot with five reels in a 2-2-4-4-4 format with 60 fixed pay lines. Wins are awarded for three to five matching symbols on a line from left to right only. Playable on any desktop or mobile device, it comes with bet sizes from 0.30 to 7.50 credits in default, rising to 2.50 to 62.50 credits on the maximum SuperBet level. Accordingly, the RTP of this high variance game comes with a range based on which SuperBet level is activated. Level 0 will get you 95.50%, increasing to 96.75% on Level 5.
A typical wizard scene with an enchanted forest filled with precious crystal flowers and rune-marked trees is greeting you when you load the game. The translucent game window is populated by various wizard props such as potion bottles and spellbooks. The royals received a cartoon-touch with a set of animated eyes. An enchanted soundtrack accompanies the action on the reels.
The wizard theme continues with the pay symbols, starting at the low end with animated card royals from 10 through to A. Hit five on a line to win 1x to 2x your stake. They are followed by sand timers, red bags with gold coins, potion bottles and spellbooks. Pays for a 5OAK range from 3.33x to 16.66x your bet.
Merlin is the wild and top-paying symbol at 50x your bet, substituting for all regular pay symbols. Scatters are a red crystal held in a dragon’s claw, appearing on reels three, four and five only.
The slot comes with a feature called SuperBet that will let you bet more per spin and in turn, will apply wild win multipliers of up to x10 when at least one Merlin wild is part of a winning combo. Due to the high extra cost, we strongly recommend using the feature with caution. Level 5 will cost 2.50 credits as minimum bet, which renders the feature useless for most players. The levels can be changed after any spin in the base game. The example below demonstrates the increase on each level.
Once you found your preferred setting, it is time to sit back and enjoy a flurry of bonus features that can lead to mega wins. They are triggered in different ways and reflect an increasing overall win potential.
First up are Merlin’s Held Respins, which are triggered when you land matching symbols on all four positions of the front two reels. You will get five respins with the front reels locked in place throughout the feature. Merlin might make a random appearance to enchant a number of symbols on the back reels and turn them into wilds.
Next in line are Merlin’s Free Games, activated by landing three crystal scatters on reels three, four and five in one spin. An initial 10 free spins are awarded which can be retriggered, except if you trigger the last feature on this slot – Merlin’s Wild Spins – during the free spins. The respins can also be won during the free spins round, plus, Merlin might make again an appearance to turn symbols wild, which can extend to an entire stack.
The last and best feature to win on this slot are Merlin’s Wild Spins, triggered when you land matching symbols on the front reels and three scatters on the back reels. You’ll get 10 initial free spins which can be retriggered. The symbols on the front reels are replaced with sticky wilds for the duration of the feature while Merlin might turn up to 12 symbols on the back reels into wilds on every spin. The dream hit would be a full screen of Merlin Wilds with the SuperBet on Level 5 applying an x10 multiplier, leading to a monster win of 30,000 times your bet. Highly unlikely, but one can dream.
Seeing the road NextGen is taking brings up the question of which slot will be next to receive a makeover with a “borrowed” pay mechanic or reel set. With Medusa Megaways and Merlin’s Money Respins, they actually chose two popular gems from their slot collection and further improved them. We liked spinning the reels on this game but didn’t like the prohibitive extra cost for the SuperBet option.