Arctic Fortune was the first of a line of Microgaming pokies known as “1,024 Ways” machines. Featuring four rows of symbols across five reels, the 1,024 Ways moniker is based on the number of potential symbols in the entire game – multiply 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 and you’ll get the number 1,024. By removing the traditional concept of pay line activation and instead using five reels with four rows of active game symbols which can appear anywhere on any reel to count towards a win, Microgaming created an entirely new style of online poker machine play.
The theme is a combination of the winter season and the conquering Viking race that dominated Northern Europe and the Northern Arctic centuries ago. The pokie’s background is a serene and snowy picture, a hint at the theme that is incorporated throughout the game. For example, the music that plays constantly in the background (getting louder for player wins) fits in nicely with the Viking theme, though after a few rounds of play the bettor may want to enter Expert mode to turn the loud and boisterous Viking-style tunes down or all the way off. More on that later.
A unique feature of the game at the time of its release is the fact that every symbol is animated against its own background image, which is similar to the large snowy scene in the background of the pokie as a whole. When the symbols line up to form a winning combo, the wintry background scene and the symbols themselves comes to life via animation.
The game’s symbols include three Viking warriors in traditional garb, each with their own style. One of the warriors is female, the other two are male. Their fiery red hair and Viking-style armour comes to life when the symbols are activated. The pokie’s other symbols also blend into the theme of the game – these include a Viking-style treasure chest, a cornucopia, a Viking Longship, and an elegant Husky dog. Arctic Fortune includes a wild symbol, which is the logo of the Arctic Fortune game itself, as well as a scatter symbol, which is a rustic map of the Arctic world.
It has more than just a wild symbol and the 1,024 Ways to Win feature – the game includes a luck-based free spins bonus as well. Fans of progressive jackpots and skill-based bonus games side games will be left out in the cold, pun intended.
Every symbol in the game has its own unique animation – though short, they add to the overall visual appeal of the machine. For example, when you make a combination that involves the female Viking warrior, she twirls her spear around in the air and flips her long red hair back. Combos that include the Longship symbol set the ship to sail across an ice-packed sea with the Northern Lights twinkling in the background. Combinations involving the Husky dog involve the dog’s breath freezing out into a big wintry plume.
Even though all 1,024 possible symbol combinations are always enabled, players still have to choose how many coins they wager per line, between 1 and 10. A player’s total bet for each spin is determined by multiplying their line wager by a power of fifty. When a player spins a winning combination, the “Way Wins” as Microgaming calls them (think of them as payouts per line) reward the gambler with an amount as established on the machine’s pay table which is then multiplied by the number of coins bet per line. Arctic Fortune payouts are converted into player credits by multiplying the payout by the bettor’s chosen coin size. Available coin sizes on all versions of this unique Microgaming title are as follows: $0.01, $0.02, $0.05, $0.10 and $0.20. The game’s Scatter wins pay out a little differently, based on the pay table’s indicated prize which is then multiplied by the total number of coins wagered.
The Arctic Fortune Logo can substitute for any symbols except the Map which acts as the game’s scatter. The Map symbol appears only on the second and fourth reels.
When two Map scatter symbols appear on the game’s reels the payout equals the total amount bet by the player, which ranges from $0.01 up to $200. When three or more Map scatter symbols show up on the game’s reels the free spin round is triggered. This round awards as many as 40 free spins. During the free spin bonus, all payouts are multiplied by up to 6 times at random. To make the free spins game even more appealing, it ends with a bonus award of up to 9,000 coins. That large bonus amount is then multiplied by the player’s total number of coins bet per spin.
One downside to Microgaming’s Arctic Fortune pokie is the lack of a progressive top jackpot. In fact, all the games fixed jackpot wins are on the lower side in terms of Microgaming’s non-traditional poker machines. The highest fixed prize pays out 1,500 coins while the second highest pays out just 1,000 coins. The reason for the low prize is the large number of multiplying factors present in the game, and the much-advertised “1,024 Ways” method of determining payouts, which makes the big prizes a little more likely to appear every time a pokie fan sets the reels spinning.
As is common with many other Microgaming titles, players who push the “Spin” button on Arctic Fortune first choose between Normal and Expert Mode. In Expert mode, bettors can customize some game options, like sound effects, visual effects, game speed, and sound volume. Arctic Fortune also offers an AutoPlay feature in Expert Mode – setting up the game in AutoPlay allows as many as 9,999 automated spins, though players can choose as few as 5 or 10 if they wish. AutoPlay options also include the option of stopping the game’s reels from spinning if a win is bigger than or equal to an amount the player determines during setup.