The number five in the game’s title refers to the five largest animals that live in Africa. Microgaming has a large number of poker machines based on a safari theme and this title is one of them. Other pokies with this theme include Lions Pride, The Forgotten Land of Lemuria, and Untamed: Wolf Pack. The graphics on this particular title are relatively crude compared to some of the other safari-inspired machines, and this game doesn’t have any animations or short video clips, common features in Microgaming’s video pokies collection, even on more traditional games.
The betting options on Big 5 are nearly as simple as the reel and line arrangement and the interface and virtual case the reels are set in. Players can wager one, two, or three coins per spin on the title’s single pay line. To change the number of credits you wager, select the option you want using the buttons underneath the title’s three spinning reels.
The value of the coins can be any of five available denominations. That’s an outstanding variety for a traditional game with just one pay line. The lowest denomination is $0.25 and the largest is $5 apiece. The player has a choice of setting the value at $0.25, $0.50, $1, $2.50 or $5, for a total range of bets between $0.25 and $15 each time the reels are set in motion. High rollers won’t be satisfied with such a low max wager, but the available bets make it a good match for budget-conscious gamblers.
The biggest payouts on the game’s pay table come from three-coin wagers, but bettors can take a shot at those big cash prizes for as little as $0.75 per spin; that represents three coins set at the minimum denomination of $0.25 each. It isn’t exactly a penny pokie, but with a max bet that costs less than $1, low rollers willing to spend a little outside their comfort zone may be swayed by the fact that a three credit bet of $0.75 could earn them $600 if they land the highest paying combo for a reward of 2,400 credits.
Looking at the game, it is easy to see why it is considered classic or traditional – the game’s case is decorated by a simple graphic featuring the five largest African safari animals crowded around the poker machine’s logo. The water buffalo, lion, elephant, rhinoceros, and leopard shown side by side with the red and yellow title would be a nice addition to the pay table as reel symbols, but only the lion (the king of the jungle) makes it onto the reels.
It would be nice if Microgaming’s designers had stuffed a few more animal symbols into the actual game, rather than just featuring a drawing of them on the case, but at least bettors still get to see the beautiful lion on the three reels. It makes sense that the lion is the animal selected, since he is also the most valuable symbol on the game’s pay table.
Speaking of the pay table, it sits just to the right of the animals and the three spinning reels. This sidebar shows every combo and its value to the player should they line up on the game’s one pay line. Seven different combinations lead to payouts. Besides the majestic lion, three game symbols in varying numbers and combinations will lead to a prize.
An image of a bunch of cherries, a line-up of the very traditional poker machine bar symbols, and a stylized and bright gold number five set against another bar (known as a Bar-Five) all fill out the rest of the winning combo schedule. The table also shows the value of each win broken up by the size of the player’s wager: one credit, two credits, and three credits.
For fans of casino gambling, the history of the games can be really intriguing. Poker machine history is just as fascinating as the tales of table games like roulette, also known as the Devil’s Wheel, or craps, which takes its name from the French word for “toad,” weirdly enough. Classic pokies like this Microgaming release have a loyal following in land-based casinos and Internet betting venues alike.
Every poker machine game in the world, from the latest progressive ultra-HD multi-bonus game in a Las Vegas casino to the simple safari-themed Web-based poker machine covered in this review, can trace its lineage back to a single inventor in late 19th century America. The first such game was invented by an American named Charles Fey. It was intended to be a mechanical distraction and was first installed in frontier saloons as a novelty item. Back then, players fed a coin into the game, pulled a lever to set the reels in motion, and hoped to line up a matching set of cherries, stars, or playing card images.
At first, the prizes weren’t in cash; in fact, they could hardly be called prizes at all. The machine would spit out a piece of paper or a token that could be exchanged at the bar for a small trinket like a piece of candy, a cigar, or if they were really lucky, a shot of whisky. So while Big 5 is similar to Charles Fey’s original games (the first of which was called Liberty Bell and had three reels and a single pay line) the prizes can’t be compared. What’s a cigar or a piece of gum compared to Big 5’s maximum jackpot of $9,500?
So why are classic games with very simple rules and small pay tables still popular? Some players are looking for a game they can play without much thought; think of this game as the junk food of casino gaming, easy to digest, inexpensive, and strangely addictive. No bonus games, no wild symbols, no scatter images, no side bets, no progressive jackpots – there are more things missing from this game than features that are present, compared to other modern pokies.
But that simplicity is a major reason for the title’s popularity. Who should play this title? Beginners trying to learn the basics of pokies or gamblers who just want to wind down by playing a mindless game are all ideal targets.