It’s a very rare scenario when a sequel is a bigger draw than the original. But with Buffalo Gold, Aristocrat managed to pull it off. It’s a lesson in how to take a time-honored mechanic and build upon it, and in some ways the sequels that are being released for many games today take a page from how this game evolved itself, including its own recently-released sequel, Buffalo Gold Revolution.
In today’s post I’ll dive into the game, and what it did to make itself a strong successor to the original Buffalo. It’s a careful balance of volatility and amazing line hits that make it a game that many seek out, years after its release.
Understanding the Game
Like its predecessor, Buffalo, This is a 5×4 reel game. The bet is increased from 40 cents on the original to 60 cents largely to accommodate the enhancements bolted on to make this its own game.
The game features an all ways pays format and stacked symbols, like its predecessor. A new feature on the base game is for the wilds to have a multiplier of 2x or 3x, something that was limited to the domain of the free spins bonus in the earlier Buffalo.
Buffalo pay if they appear on the first two reels or beyond on adjacent reels; a 5-of-a-kind buffalo hit will pay 5x. Stacked symbols and multipliers on the wild can boost the pays quickly.
This is one of the appealing things about the game – it can provide some solid line hits even outside the bonus, and with the addition of multipliers in the main game, it can be even more exciting.
More than half the Buffalo Gold games I’ve seen don’t give you the choice of activating the gold feature or not, but some, especially in markets like Las Vegas and Atlantic City, do. Turning off the gold feature makes the game basically play like classic Buffalo. But it also means you miss out on the most interesting part, which is the Gold Free Spins Bonus…
Free Spins Bonus
The bonus trigger and basic bonus mechanic draws heavily from the original Buffalo. Get three or more coins and you’ll trigger a bonus. The number of spins you get are based on the number of coins triggered; you also get a bigger trigger pay when you have more coins.
The popular retrigger on two coins or more during the bonus stays the same, and offers the same number of free spins, starting with 5 spins for 2 coins, 8 spins for 3 coins, etc. The frequent retriggering is part of what made Buffalo popular.
In the bonus the wilds multiply by either 2x or 3x, just like in the original Buffalo game. Combined with stacked symbols and the all ways pays format, it can lead to some impressive line hits on even smaller bets.
The secret sauce to Buffalo Gold in the bonus is the collection of gold heads, dubbed the Gold Bonus; there are 15 in all to collect, but as you collect more heads you change some of the other animal symbols to buffalo:
- Eagles change once you’ve collected 4 gold heads
- Cougars change once you’ve collected 7 gold heads
- Wolves change once you’ve collected 13 gold heads
- And finally, elk change once you’ve collected 15 gold heads
The first two happen pretty routinely within the confines of a normal bonus, but the other two are harder, and require a lot more retriggers. Chasing 15 gold heads and joining the “15 Gold Head Club” is among the slot goals many players who haven’t done it have.
So in the process of adding some volatility to the bonus, they’ve created a rare scenario that many players will play frequently to try to achieve. This is an incredibly clever additional mechanic, and while it costs more on the base game to have this be available in the bonus, it adds a significant enhancement that makes the bonus even more fun to play.