Friend of the site Binbin of NETimeGambling.com asked me awhile back about the Gold Stacks 88 series, and to perhaps do something about the games, which recently saw two new editions come out.
While it had been on my to-do list for awhile, I got reminded about it when I saw slot channel The Slot Cats playing one of the new versions. I found one of them on a recent casino trip and gave it a go. I then played it a second time on a follow-up visit, and that’s the version I’m reviewing for this article: Turtle Kingdom. Coming up later this week I’ll look at another variation, Dancing Foo.
The game series features 88 credit bet increments (hence the 88 in Gold Stacks 88; a previous variation had lower bets but still the Gold Stacks mechanic). All of the versions I’ve looked at cap out at 880 credits, pretty standard for this sort of game.
Both of the versions I looked at had the same base pay table for symbols; there are versions of Gold Stacks 88 which differ. But the series is known for small line pays because the expectation is that stacks of symbols will line up with enough frequency to make up for it.
Indeed, the name Gold Stacks 88 indicates the game’s institution of gold stack zones on the reels that are substituted with a symbol, which helps increase the chances of a stacked line-up.
The stacks are limited to the more premium symbols, and not the six poker symbols. This is helpful given the better payouts on the premium symbols, and the fact that there are 13 symbols overall: 6 poker symbols, 5 more premium symbols, the bonus symbol and the wild symbol.
That wild symbol has something special too, as some of them can be wilds that expand to fill the reel, further helping the chances for bigger line hits. The game is an all ways pays format, so having those full reels of things can build the multipliers up quickly. This tends to yield a lower hit frequency, but bigger hits when they happen more often than not.
All of the games have a progressive feature, which can trigger anytime a wild symbol appears, whether in the base game or the free games.
One thing that’s unique about this series of games is that bonus prizes are added as you reveal Minis, Minors or Majors, meaning if you win one of those three you’ll win more than just the shown progressive. (It’s a predetermined bonus, however, so your picking does not influence what is yielded.)
It’s this feature that yielded my success on the game. I sat down because the Mini and Minor was on the high side and I figured if I could get into the picking bonus I could take one of them, plus that extra bonus. I got the picking screen, quickly tapped, heard the sound that said it was done, noticed I didn’t have three minis… and then realized what I had done.
I had won the major! With $150 in bonus prizes added to the $1149 major progressive, I had my first handpay not achieved as part of a group – my biggest solo win!
And, because I was doing so well, I kept going and a few spins later managed to win that Mini progressive too.
That was my first session – a couple of progressives, no bonuses. So my next visit I played again, and this time got the bonus. Gold Stacks 88 games don’t have a common bonus, so there’s something interesting about each.
For Turtle Kingdom, the bonus round features 8, 10 or 12 games to start based on whether you get 3, 4 or 5 bonus symbols. Wilds do substitute for them, like other games of this type, and similarly you must get them on consecutive reels starting from the left.
With this bonus, if you land a stacked wild symbol on reels 2, 3 or 4, it fills the reel, and becomes sticky for the remainder of the bonus. It also adds one free spin. So you can cap out at 15 free spins, and if you get all three middle reels sticky wild you’ll get minimum 4 of a kinds for the remainder of the bonus, which can add up fast.
The sticky wild reels also count towards attempting to trigger the progressive pick, so that can help improve the chances of one coming out. This game series does seem to send the progressive pick chances out more during the free games, and this one looks to be no exception.
This bonus was very reminiscent of the classic WMS game Black Knight, which also had a sticky wild bonus with the middle three reels as the best outcome. However, it didn’t play up the stacked reels as much (the sequel, Black Knight II, did a bit more), and it didn’t give bonus games for landing the sticky wilds.
I had a solid final outcome on the game’s bonus for a $1.76 bet, further endearing me (for better or worse) to this game. A second bonus didn’t do nearly as well – without the sticky wilds it can be a dud of a bonus, so there’s definitely volatility to be had here.
But of course, it’s an Aristocrat game, so that’s not surprising. This doesn’t seem as tough though as many of their other games, and you do get those stacked line hits with some regularity, so it’s a fun game for those who want something with some difficulty but astronomically so.
Watch and Learn
TheBigPayback got the progressive picks and the free games in this video:
The Slot Cats played the game at Circa in a recent session (the game starts at 0:47), and shows what happens when the wilds don’t make their way out quickly: