Of the various link games, Ultimate Fire Link, by Scientific Games’ Bally division, tends to be the most fun and the one that gets my money. There’s a few reasons of this, from the way the link bonus works to the variety of bonuses. But the core setup is one that’s a bit more attractive to me.
Ultimate Fire Link has a linked set of jackpots, just like other link-style games (Lightning Link, Lock it Link, Mighty Cash, etc.), and a fireball-collecting mechanic that works like other link games.
A couple of things that make this game stand out from its competition. One is that it works with a 5×4 reel set, vs. the 5×3 reel set common the other games. That means the game pays out a bit differently.
The second is that it only requires a four fireball trigger, not that it necessarily makes it easier to get, but psychologically it feels different – the balls come out less frequently overall so it doesn’t feel like it’s teasing quite as often. (You can land up to 10 fireballs to trigger the game, a maximum of two on each reel, also a bit of a different scenario than the other games.)
The third is the fireball bonus itself is very different than its competition, with a doubling of the grid at the onset and unlocking another row with every 4 balls collected beyond the initial four required. This can make for a more diverse array of outcomes.
Finally, all levels have progressives, and each level has its own set of progressives, making things a bit more balanced on the progressive side. (Of course, higher overall wagers mean higher chances of landing those progressives.)
Progressives can be landed throughout the bonus, and you can land multiples of them. The Major only appears on reel three and the Mega only appears on two reels during the fireball feature.
Because it’s harder to unlock the higher rows during the fireball bonus, frequently the best fireballs will land up there, and if you unlock the row, in turn it amplifies the bonus quickly.
The games have a diverse array of bonus rounds, some with the taller reels, some collecting all fireballs landed, some with stacks of wilds, some with multipliers, some with the ability to collect more spins… this keeps the game fun while giving players a reason to try different versions of the game.
I personally enjoy the By the Bay theme’s bonus round, which offers the 5×8 reel set, and an instant payout of any fireball when it lands. It feels to take out some of the volatility by having more ways to win some credits.
What’s pretty clear is that Ultimate Fire Link, while looking to have a contribution in the link-style game category, has a different balance to some of its counterparts, and adds a bit of depth to the game as well as balance. While the games are still sufficiently volatile to get a sizable win on a line hit, bonus or fireball feature, it doesn’t feel quite as tough, with more frequent potential to get some sort of a bonus or feature. I think that’s why I personally enjoy them.
I’ve had plenty of sessions where I conk out very quickly on Lock it Link or Lightning Link, whereas with Ultimate Fire Link I tend to have decent runs. As such, for those who have tired of many of the link games because of how tough they are, it may be worth putting in a bit more time on Ultimate Fire Link instead.