Review Format: iPhone 4
Fruit machines and videogames have traditionally been uneasy bedfellows. On the one hand, the quick-play nature of slots should make them an ideal subject matter for mobile videogames, designed to be played in short bursts on the move. But yet, thanks to their entirely random nature and the fact that you’re essentially playing for sums that can never be redeemed in real life, they often lack the thrill and satisfaction of a skill-based game.
A decent stab
Still, you can’t accuse Blue Shell Games of not trying to address things somewhat with Lucky Slots. And on paper, things don’t look too bad. The game comes equipped with 21 slots games (with the promise of more to come via DLC), each of which offer a plethora of bonus modes, free spins and strong styling.
Rather than making all of these available from the off, you unlock new slot machines via a levelling-up system, which fills up as you play. Furthermore, there are also a series of bonuses and unlockable which can also yield nice surprises along the way.
Nevertheless, Lucky Slots still manages to come up short in a couple of critical areas. The first – and by far most annoying – of these is its business model. Rather than simply being a game you pay upfront for, Lucky Slots is funded by in-game micro-transactions.
While this ensures the game is free to download, the in-game coins you use certainly aren’t. Although you’re typically given a few hundred coins for free each day via the bonus system, the emphasis is clearly on you buying additional coins. And this is something the game has no qualms in pointing out to you.
Simply put, Lucky Slots is relentless in its drive to get you to buy coins. Every change of screen is usually accompanied by a pop-up message advertising “special deals”. And even once you’re playing a game, you’re not entirely immune to this – play for long enough, and the dreaded spammy messages will appear onscreen.
To an extent, this is understandable (after all, Blue Shell needs to make its money off the game somehow), and Lucky Slots is by no means the only game that pushes in-app purchases in such an aggressive way. But this doesn’t change the fact that it’s horribly intrusive and vulgar, especially as the levelling up system – which is tied to the amount of coins spent per spin – works in such a way that you’ll basically need to wager plenty of coins if you’re to unlock further slot machines.
Same old story
But if the tedium of its business model is of its own creation, then its second failing is an altogether familiar one, common to all slots videogames. Although the selection of fruit machines and its peripheral elements help to an extent, the simple fact of the matter is that Lucky Slot remains by its very nature a random-outcome game, being played for little more than the hope that the next spin will see your make-believe bankroll increase.
Were this the only option in this regard, this mightn’t be such an issue. But the fact the vast majority of online casinos offer mobile versions puts it at a disadvantage. Not only are such mobile casinos predominantly browser-based (meaning no downloads, installations or updates), they also feature a broader selection of games (such blackjack, roulette and video poker) and, crucially, offer genuine freeplay modes, thus sparing you the relentless buy-more-coins-now spam bombardment.
While it would be harsh to describe Lucky Slots as being entirely without merit, it also remains hard to truly recommend it. Those with a love of fruit machines who lack the desire to play for real money may well find enough here to keep them entertained for a while. But the fact the freeplay modes of full mobile casinos offer considerably more rounded experiences with none of the baggage means you’d be better off with one of those.