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Online Slots Bonus Features

Once upon a time, slot machines let you spin reels and line up symbols...and that was about it.

These days, online video slots players aren't content with something as boring as a fruit machine with one payline. You can now play slots with 1,000 paylines and bonus features ranging from instant wins to free spins and even skill-based target games.

Most modern online slots have a bonus game or random cash prize. They make the game more interesting for gamblers, but are they really good for your bankroll? Let's take a look at some popular bonus rounds you'll find in today's games.

What Are Bonus Features?

Bonuses can appear at any time in a slot. Some games have random cash wins that appear during gameplay. Most bonuses, however, are triggered by lining up certain symbols on the reels. These can be Wilds or bonus Scatters which pay out wherever they land on the reels.

Not only will you pick up a small prize by landing Scatters, with three or more you'll trigger one of the game's bonus features.

Popular Online Slots Bonuses

Many of today's slots feature at least one bonus round. Popular games, meanwhile, may feature two or three. Always check the paytable before you play so you know what bonus symbols to look out for.

Random Win/Click Me Feature

Some games will reward a random prize during the base game. These can appear at any time and may include a small cash win or a single re-spin. Click Me/Instant Win bonuses are usually triggered by landing three Scatters anywhere or three from left-to-right. The icons will turn into mystery symbols on-screen and you'll have to select one to reveal a prize.

Example: Royal Reels (Betsoft) - This jewel-themed slot features a 'Click Me' bonus which is triggered by landing three gem symbols from left to right. The gems will glow on-screen; pick one to reveal a random cash prize.

Free Spins

The most popular bonus feature in online slots is the Free Spins bonus. Free Spins features come in many flavours, but the most common is triggered by hitting three or more bonus Scatters.

Typically, free spins will have a multiplier attached. That is, everything you win during the bonus feature will be multiplied before heading to your Bank.

Example: Game Of Thrones (Microgaming) - A modern online slot based on the popular books and TV series, Game of Thrones features a Free Spins bonus that is triggered by hitting three or more Scatters anywhere.

With Game of Thrones, your free spins aren't fixed. Instead, players have a choice of spins and multipliers - do you go for 25 spins and a 2x multiplier, or plump for 10 spins and a juicy 8x multiplier? Giving players the choice of combos is becoming more popular among slots developers.

Pick Me Bonus

The Pick Me, or Pick 'Em bonus is also triggered by hitting three or more relevant bonus symbols on the reels. Typically, the player is taken to a second screen where they will have a choice of 8-12 objects. Each one hides a cash prize, a multiplier, or sometimes free spins.

Players have a set number of picks or they get to keep picking until they hit the 'Collect' symbol. Once that happens, they return to the reels and continue the game as normal.

Example: The Slotfather (Betsoft) - Betsoft is a slots developer who likes to pack its slots with interesting bonus features. The 'Pick Me' bonus is a common feature of their games, and features in The Slotfather. Here, the Pick Me bonus is triggered by landing characters in specific places on the reels.

The gangster from the game peppers the screen with bullet holes. The player has to click on bullet holes to reveal prize multipliers and free spins totals. The free spins are then played out on a separate set of reels.

Wild/Scatter Combos

Some slots award simple cash bonuses if you hit combinations of symbols on the reels. It might be Scatters on the middle reels only, or a Scatter and a Wild together.

Example: Werewolf Wild (Aristocrat's) - Features a Scatter in the form of a gold coin. It only appears on the first reel, but if you land it at the same time as a Wild anywhere else, you'll win a random prize worth two or forty times your total bet.

Trail Bonus

Usually triggered by hitting three or more bonus Scatters on the reels, a Trail Bonus plays a little like a board game. On a second screen you'll spin a wheel or roll a dice to move a character along a prize trail. Along the way you may win cash prizes, free spins or prize multipliers. Get to the end and you'll hit the jackpot.

Example: Rainbow Riches (Barcrest) - A hugely popular online slot with a Celtic theme, Rainbow Riches's Trail Bonus features a jolly leprechaun who works his way along a road paved with cash and multipliers. Reach the end of the trail and you can win a pot of gold worth 500x the player's total stake.

Combat Rounds

Some newer slots feature fight rounds where your chosen 'fighter' takes part in a scrap to the death (or the jackpot, whichever is sooner). There isn't much skill involved here, as it's just a case of selecting fighters and watching the carnage.

Example: Beowulf (Quickspin) - Quickspin's slick slot based on the ancient English poem features a fight between Beowulf and the monster, Grendel. The fight continues as the reels spin, with each character adding free spins and multipliers as they land blows.

Progressive Multiplier

Instead of bonus rounds, some slots feature progressive multipliers. These usually take the form of a meter up the side of the reels which run 1x, 2x, 3x and so on.

The more consecutive wins you hit, the higher the meter goes. Some slots have a target, like free spins or a prize jackpot, while others (like Barcrest's Crown Gems) just apply the multiplier to your regular wins. Once the consecutive wins stop, your meter reverts to its starting point.

Example: Streak of Luck (Playtech) - A new and popular slot from Playtech, Streak of Luck awards free spins when you hit five wins in a row. Hit another five consecutive wins, and you'll win 10 free spins, and so on. Of course, hit four wins in a row and then one losing spin and you'll go back to the start of the meter.

Skill Games

More and more, developers are incorporating skill-based, or arcade, games into their slots. These bonus round require a little more than just picking boxes. Instead, you'll need to use your mouse to aim and shoot at targets or land punches on an opponent. The more you hit, the more you win.

Example: 24 (iSoftBet) - Based on the popular TV series, 24's bonus round features an on-screen target. Aim and shoot bad guys to earn big prize jackpots.

More recently, IGT's 'Reel Edge' games take classic Atari games like Centipede and give them a slots twist. As well as a Free Spins bonus, Centipede lets you play the legendary arcade game. The more you shoot, the more cash you win.

Are Bonus Features Good For Slots Players?

Bonus rounds make slots more interesting for players and allow developers to give the gamblers something new.

However, while they can pay out big money, developers have to play bonuses against the payouts in the base game. Often with slots that have decent bonus features, the regular payouts can be few and far between. That makes bonus slots a little more volatile than classic games that have few bonuses but smaller and more regular wins.

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