The Best and Worst Slot Sequels
You know what they say about sequels, right?
They say that sequels never manage to live up to the hype. For me, I have always considered this almost like a law of nature; an almost psychological fact.
When a movie or a video game gets a sequel, it is always mainly because the first one was such a huge commercial hit. And because it was a hit, people feel a certain nostalgia towards it.
There is nothing more powerful than nostalgia, and when people see the sequel, they are always going to compare their fond, nostalgic memories to what is essentially cold, hard reality.
In this article, we will see whether some of the biggest online casino slot machine sequels can hold a candle to their predecessors!
Starburst and Starburst XXXTreme
The original Starburst game came out in 2013 when the online casino business was really starting to hit its stride. No longer did people have to download outside programs or apps to play, and slots were starting to look better than ever. Many games still had no music, but the tide was definitely starting to turn.
Starburst became known for many things. One was its catchy space music and the other one was its crazy re-spins peppered with wild stacks. What is more, the 10 bet lines allowed players to win both from left to right and right to left. While there was no free spins mode, at least the game was simple enough to become known as one of the absolute staples in the industry.
It is almost baffling that it took NetEnt around 8 years to come up with a sequel in Starburst XXXTreme!
Sadly, even Starburst XXXTreme was still not really a fully fleshed-out sequel. Instead, this game still had most of the same visuals and sound effects—as well as the iconic Starburst tune playing in the background. Most annoyingly, NetEnt decided to remove the right-to-left winning feature, which I always considered to be a focal part of the so-called Starburst franchise. In its place, though, we got wild stacks with random multipliers.
To me, Starburst XXXTreme was an XXXtreme disappointment. I would have rather seen NetEnt try something completely new and different with their beloved IP. Fresh visuals, a new funky remix of the old tune, and some actual free spins would have been nice!
Bloodsuckers and Bloodsuckers II
Remember when vampire movies like Twilight were cool? Me neither, but it seems like NetEnt was probably inspired by them when it first released Bloodsuckers in 2013. In its bonus mode, this game actually let you impale some evil vampire hearts!
To this day, the original Bloodsuckers remains one of the highest-RTP games in the whole industry. In addition to this, the slot’s low volatility makes it a perfect game for newbies. It is no wonder that 99.99% of casinos forbid you from wagering your bonus with this old favourite!
In 2017, NetEnt decided to freshen things up a bit.
Bloodsuckers II was a great game in its own right. While it retained its predecessor’s low volatility, however, the RTP had been taken down to a more bonus-friendly 96.94 %. This was still great value, and the addition of music and some visual enhancements actually made Bloodsuckers II a worthy sequel and much more fun to play than the first game in the series!
Esqueleto Explosivo and Esqueleto Explosivo 2
Is there a soul alive that does not find Mexican mariachi bands entertaining? Didn’t think so.
If you have never tried Thunderkick‘s 2014 hit game Esqueleto Explosivo, you are in for an absolute treat. This game was entertaining as all hell, combining crisp graphics with simplistic yet amazing features. Your goal here was to form winning combinations that would make skulls sing and explode in a burst of joy. New skulls would then appear as the multiplier climbed with each successful musical performance. Wow!
Esqueleto Explosivo 2 followed at the start of 2020. As you can see from the images that I have put here, the games definitely look vastly similar. The two biggest differences compared to the original were the sequel’s addition of a free spins mode and completely different volatility. While the first adaptation fell on the low volatility side of things, here the volatility was rather high indeed.
If you can make it to the free spins mode in Esqueleto 2, you will know why this game is a fresh change of pace and another worthy sequel!
Reactoonz and Dr Toonz
In my mind, there are two types of online casino players… Those who love Reactoonz, and those who cannot stand it.
The reason why I have chosen to make such a distinction is the fact that the 2017 edition of the game has remained wildly popular ever since its release. This game was certainly different and brought a nice change of pace to your typical payline slots. Here you actually had to put your brain to work as you tried to make sense of what was happening!
For some of us, though—me include—, the highly volatile Reactoonz was not all that fun to play with its fillable quantum win meter. It could certainly make your blood boil when you just missed the great Gargantoon feature by an inch!
Granted, Play’n GO also released a game called Reactoonz 2 before Dr Toonz, but that game was mostly more of the same. Thus, I will rather turn my focus to Dr Toonz, which, although a kind of a spin-off, feels like more of a real sequel.
Instead of having to form clusters, Dr Toonz lets you create wins with its 4096 ways. This already makes the new game much easier to digest. What is more, Dr Toonz takes the comedy to a whole nother level with its incredible sound effects and music. Combined with the improved quantum meter and a new free spins mode, Dr Toonz might just be one of the best slots released in 2021!
As you may have noticed, I have left all the Megaways games out from this article. This is because they are all basically the same: new high-volatility adaptations of previously dormant IP’s. As such, creating Megaways sequels is hardly as momentous as actually coming up with entirely new concepts. Having said that, I most certainly love a slot like Twin Spin Megaways, which must be one of my favourite games to date!
While my list thus far is far from comprehensive, I might just visit the topic of slot sequels again at another time!
To conclude, I would have to say that slot sequels can indeed often be better than what their predecessors were. The only thing that is really required is some imagination and creativity from the producers. If your first game was highly volatile, you might want to go the exact opposite route during your next game to spice things up. Also, if there were some especially great qualities before, you might want to crank them up even further going forward!
It is not that hard!