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Santa’s Wild Ride pokies are available at most Internet casinos that run Microgaming software. Santa’s Wild Ride is a five reel fixed-jackpot (non-progressive) Internet poker machine that uses the “243 ways to win” structure instead of the traditional pokie pay line payout system.
Microgaming is one of the big names in online casino design, providing both instant play and download versions of their game software to hundreds of real money gambling websites. The theme of Santa’s Wild Ride is simple but totally unique – Father Christmas on a winter joy ride, not in a sleigh but on a shiny new Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Fans of pokies can’t be pigeon-holed; different players look for different game features. Some prefer classic-style titles with three reels and a single pay line. Games like this are called “classic” because of similarities with the mechanical pokies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Others want to play modern machines with three-dimensional graphics, bonus games, multiple pay lines, and themes based on pop culture icons.
Microgaming software includes games that appeal to many different styles of pokie play. This includes classic games as well as complex contemporary versions and everything in between. This particular title is decidedly modern, though it doesn’t include a progressive jackpot or cutting-edge graphics and sound effects.
Some modern touches are easy to spot. This holiday pokie has a wild multiplier symbol, a scatter symbol, and a bonus round triggered by a special bonus symbol. These features are enough to place the game in the modern category, but it isn’t the most intriguing variation from traditional pokies.
Santa’s Wild Ride is a “243 ways to win” game, one of many produced by Microgaming and other software designers. The difference is simple; rather than activating pay lines with wagers (and winning for combinations on these pay lines) gamblers playing a “243 ways” game like this one earn prizes for combos on any line and any reel.
Microgaming is not the only designer producing “243 ways” titles, but they were among the first to license these games to their member casinos. Players unfamiliar with titles that don’t use pay lines should practice a few times and make sure they understand how it works.
“243 ways” is not a difficult payout system (some would say it’s actually easier than using pay lines), but it is different enough from the majority of poker machines to require a few rounds of play-money wagers. It may help to think of these games as “zero pay line” pokies, since lines are not a factor in determining jackpots.
This Christmas-themed game allows bets of between one and five coins per spin. Every version of this game found online has a fixed range of coin values, between $0.01 and $0.05 in one-cent increments. If Santa’s Wild Ride used pay lines, the range of available bets would be between $0.01 and $0.25 per line.
To make up for the lack of pay lines all bets are automatically multiplied by 30. It may help those unfamiliar with zero pay line pokies to imagine Santa’s Wild Ride as a 30 pay line machine that requires a bet on each line every round.
Minimum bet size is $0.30. That number comes from a minimum coin value of one penny and the minimum number of coins per spin is one, the minimum bet is $0.01 multiplied by the game’s standard 30x, for a total of thirty cents each round. The maximum coin value of $0.05 multiplied by the max number of coins allowed per bet (five coins per spin) means a max bet of $0.25. That amount increased by 30x sets a wager maximum of $7.50 per spin.
Since “243 ways” is an uncommon system, it may help players that don’t feel comfortable with this pay out method to look at an example of one of this poker machine’s jackpots.
The largest prize paid out on this machine is a fixed reward of 800 coins, paid out when five game logo symbols appear on the screen. 800 coins sounds small for a max jackpot. But if this combo appears during a free spin, doubling the prize, and if it is further multiplied by scatter symbols or the wild multiplier reward (a rare but possible outcome) bettors lucky enough to land five car key symbols can win up to 1.9 million credits. Take note that the game’s listed jackpots are based on the size of each credit before the 30x multiplier, not after. That sets the value of the top fixed jackpot at between $19,000 and $95,000. Isn’t Christmas great?
Traditional Christmas characters and images are used to populate this machine’s reels and display, though like the change to Santa’s traditional method of travel many of them are modernized. Father Christmas is pleasantly rotund, elderly, and wearing a red costume. His elves have the pointy ears and bells on their shoes as always, but instead of ribbons and bows they carry wrenches and tires.
This pokie has a wild multiplier symbol – like many Microgaming designs the symbol is the logo of the machine. This symbol replace all others to form winning combos, and if two or more appear the jackpot is multiplied by 2x, 3x, 4x, or 5x.
The free spins bonus round is triggered by the appearance of Santa’s car keys. Three or more of these images on any line or reel leads to an instant payment of twenty-five free spins. This may not be the most exciting bonus Microgaming has created – it doesn’t require any skill or even any luck, does not involve the plot of the game, and pays out one fixed prize amount – but free spins are a favourite of pokie gamblers. This round also appears more frequently than other video pokie rounds thanks to the lack of pay lines.
The free spins round can be a bit complex under certain conditions. If five bonus-triggering symbols appear, the player has to choose between three features: Stacked Wild (wild symbols stack on reels during free spins), Expanding Wild (wild symbols spread across an entire reel during free spins) or Trailing Wild (wild symbols slide down reels and later symbols during free spins) each of which changes the way the game runs for the duration of those twenty-five bonus rounds. Take note also that during these spins all prizes are doubled.
See also: Holiday Pokies
Santa’s Wild Ride was one of Microgaming’s first “243 ways” video poker machines. Reading posts and reviews on gambling forums and message boards reveals many reasons why members of Microgaming-powered casinos favour this title – it is something of a novelty, the rules are simple, the win rate is noticeably higher than other titles, and bet sizes are really low compared to other video bonus games. Holiday themed games also tend toward seasonal popularity, so as Christmas time approaches, titles based on jolly old St. Nick (and his traditional Harley Davidson motorcycle, of course) begin to garner more attention.
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