WMS, a slots industry veteran, goes full Roman with its Spartacus Megaways slot machine. The sequel to WMS/SG Digital’s renowned land-based slot machine Spartacus: Gladiator of Rome is powered by the Megaways license. The initial slot was a convoluted twin 5×4 + 5×12 arrangement. The latest Megaways version streamlines the grid while increasing the number of possible winning combinations to 10,000 and adding a few more bells and whistles.
Spartacus is a name that frequently shows up in popular media. That’s hardly surprising, since he allegedly trained as a gladiator and later led a slave revolt that defeated the Romans across the peninsula in a series of decisive victories. The Spartacus Megaways movie follows the tradition of portraying the topic in a romanticized epic approach.
The game’s setting, a columned room with lots of crimson velvet curtains, gives it a theater vibe. Six primary reels and one horizontal 4-position reel make up the grid. While bonus reels are often found above the main grid, WMS deviates from convention by placing them down the bottom.
The gameplay is accompanied by an evocative soundtrack, heightening its dramatic feel. It’s eerily reminiscent of the score to one of those 1970s biblical/mythology movies that get dusted out every Christmas and Easter. Think of any of the legendary Harryhausen stop-motion films, such Ben Hur or a Franco Zeffirelli production. Do you think the electric guitar soloing over the top ruins it, or adds to the epicness of the song? Player discretion.
Every time the reels are spun, anywhere from two to ten symbols might appear on the main screen. When the game’s bonus reel is taken into account, there are potentially a million different ways to win. That’s a huge increase over the standard Megaways-powered slot’s 117,649 possible combinations. It’s easy to mistake this for a random number, but it really has a precedent in the year 1,000,000,000,000 BC.
Spartacus Megaways may be played from 20 p/c up to $/€20 per spin, and its RTP of 96.32% is both above average and higher than the original. Even while volatility isn’t as extreme as being thrown to the lions, it’s still on the high side.
There are 12 icons total, and they’re divided into two groups: low and high. The game’s logo is the high card, followed by the Roman-font 9-A royals, then the axes, swords, helmets, tigers, and gladiators. The values are a tad low, most likely to compensate for the fact that there may be a million Megaways shown at once. The maximum payout for collecting all six logos is 25x, with the gladiator only receiving 7.5x.
In a novel twist, the wild symbol never shows up on the seventh (bottom) reel. Although it has no intrinsic value, the wild can replace any other icon in the game with the exception of the Amphitheatre bonus icon.
Features of the Spartacus Megaways
Features of Spartacus Megaways include cascades that can occur at any time, a dynamic curtain, and a free spins bonus round.
When you get three or more of the same symbol, the cascade feature begins. This mechanism causes winning symbols to burst off the reels, making space for new symbols to fall into. This may result in several consecutive combos from a single spin, which will keep rolling as long as fresh winners appear. There is no upper limit on the win multiplier, which increases by 1 with each victory.
Each spin causes a different number of reel locations to be hidden under crimson drapes. A random location on a reel has its curtain lifted once a win happens in the main game. This increases the potential for further cascades by increasing the number of win methods and opening out the grid.
Free games are activated when four or more Amphitheatre icons appear on the reels. Then, a wheel will spin, offering free spins (6-16) and curtain arrangement. As in the main game, the amount of curtains activated by this feature cannot be reduced by player success. This is excellent if you just receive a few curtains or none at all, but less so if you have to deal with covering a large amount of the reels.
Every wild that falls during the free spins round will grow to fill the whole reel, even the positions obscured by the curtains. And if you see three or more scatters, you’ll get the same number of free games as you did before. For retriggers, the curtain designs are the same.
Final Judgment on Spartacus Megaways
A player who enjoyed Spartacus: Gladiator of Rome and thought, “Man, this thing would rock if it had a million ways to win; will pretty much be in slots heaven,” will find that their wishes have been granted. Fans of the former may be in for a treat, as neither is what you’d call a “straight forward” gaming experience. WMS has maintained the same exaggerated quality as the original, despite Megaways’ efforts to simplify the grid(s).
How successful is the experiment? In a sense. The increased number of victory ways is preferable to, instance, Beetlejuice Megaways’ double grid approach, which is more cumbersome than original. The absurd amount of possible outcomes adds a certain degree of mystery.
The situation with the curtains is odd, though. That makes sense; clearing out places with cascades makes sense and gives you something to work for in the main game. However, possessing a fixed set of drapes during free spins is like wielding a two-sided gladius. It’s not a big deal if it’s a small sum, but it may grow annoying if it covers a lot of reels and stays there for the entire bonus round. If you happen to acquire a bunch of locked curtains, your free spins will be far less generous than the main game.
While it’s impossible to know for sure, it seems unlikely that Spartacus Megaways will have the same level of success as Spartacus: Gladiator of Rome. It doesn’t lack any sort of appeal; in fact, traditional slot machine lovers would enjoy the retro design. It would be cool to see a million Megaways in use, but unfortunately, there are so many annoying curtains in the way.