When I was younger, and my mum would do some baking, these small muffins or cupcakes were called “buns”. That terminology seems to have fallen out of fashion in recent years. I suspect that in another decade or two, I’ll get some awkward looks if I ask for a “chocolate bun” rather than the Americanism “chocolate cupcake”. You’ll be glad to know that there is a good reason for all this waffle, as Cupcakes is the title of the latest game from Stockholm-based super developer NetEnt. This is a grid slot which treats all symbols as scatters, meaning there are no paylines or payways required. As for the other vital stats, we've got an RTP of 96.05% and a maximum win of 2,762x.
Like many other grid slots, winning combinations landing in Cupcakes are immediately removed from play. NetEnt refers to this as the “avalanche” mechanic, but it’s the same thing as the rolling or cascading reels feature you may have seen in games produced by other developers. The eponymous cupcakes appear as giant 2x2 symbols, and whilst they have no monetary value initially, they have a multiplier value that can be collected later. You can win up to 16 free spins in the main bonus round, which can also be purchased if permitted within your jurisdiction.
New NetEnt slots don’t seem to come around as often as they used to, so it’s always fun to check them out when they do. You can try this one for yourself in our free demo slot of Cupcakes – available to play below:
It’s only been a few days since we reviewed Peggy Sweets, a new slot by Red Tiger which is visually quite similar to Cupcakes. I wrote in that review about how the European meaning of the word “sweet” is quite different to the American one. I also predicted that, in the current era of rapid globalisation, it wouldn’t be long before so-called Americanisms become just regular English everywhere in the world. It seems like that process may be happening even quicker than I thought, however, considering that even a quintessentially European software house such as NetEnt is already naming their games after an Americanism… then again, I’m not sure that a slot titled “buns” has quite as good a ring to it!
Alas, I digress – let’s dig into the Cupcakes paytable and see if we can find any sweet surprises! It’s going to be a short search though, as the paytable only features seven unique symbols – called “gumdrops” in Cupcakes parlance – and all of them share identical payouts! I was very surprised by this – why would NetEnt choose to give all the symbols the same return? Fifteen or more matching symbols of any type anywhere on the screen will award 1x your current stake, whilst smaller groups of 12-14, 10-11, or 8-9 symbols are worth 0.5x, 0.4x, or 0.2x, respectively. The secret is that winning combinations of gumdrops are collected by cupcakes of the corresponding colour when removed from the reels. Gather ten gumdrops on a single cupcake, and you will be awarded the bet multiplier stated on the cake of up to 100x.
The quick bet selection screen contains dozens of possible wager sizes to cater for all types of players. Low rollers will be happy to see plenty of small bet sizes starting at a minimum of €0.10, whilst those with larger bankrolls can opt to bet as much as €200.00 per round if they wish.
base game & modifiers
Cupcakes slot base game
On first impressions, Cupcakes' playfield looks like a regular square. After a few seconds of looking at the screen, however, I quickly noticed that the game has six “reels” of seven rows each. The extra row makes sense in a game that relies on symbol avalanches, and you’ll need every bit of available real estate to stand a chance of hitting the biggest wins.
The 6x7 configuration gives a total of 42 positions where gumdrops and cupcakes can fall, and you’ll need at least eight matching gumdrop symbols to create a winning combination. The gumdrops do not need to appear in clusters, as every symbol is treated as a scatter in this game.
cupcake Symbol & gumdrop Collection
Cupcakes can only appear at the beginning of a game round and are always positioned at the bottom of the playfield. Cupcakes can only appear on certain reel pairs, too – specifically reels 1+2, 3+4, and 5+6. Up to four cupcakes can appear in each game round.
Each cupcake takes the colour of a gumdrop, and any winning combinations of gumdrops of the same colour will be collected by matching cupcakes when they are removed from the reels. Each cupcake has a multiplier value of between 2x and 100x. If a cupcake is filled with ten winning gumdrops, your winnings will be multiplied by the value shown on it.
The gumdrop collection feature is the key to winning more than the very low values shown on the paytable, but there is a small problem – cupcakes are removed from the playfield after you have filled them with gumdrops. This means that eventually, there will be no more cupcakes available to fill, limiting your ability to keep winning consecutively. On the bright side, if you manage to eliminate all visible cupcakes, their values will be multiplied before being applied to your win.
The conditions for triggering the Crush Feature are reasonably complex, and even if you meet those conditions, it is still a matter of chance whether the feature will activate.
To be in with a chance, you need to have at least five winning gumdrops in one of the three symbol pairs (1+2/3+4/5+6) that do NOT already contain a scatter or more than one cupcake. The feature will also not activate if four cupcakes are visible on the screen.
If you meet all those conditions, the game will randomly decide whether to award you the Crush Feature – that’s generosity for you! When activated, the Crush Feature will cause an additional cupcake to drop onto the playfield before attracting all the gumdrop symbols of matching colour.
The Crush Feature is effectively just a free multiplier, but during my testing of the game, I frequently found that it showed up at the perfect time to keep my current win streak going, so it’s a hit as far as I’m concerned!
cupcakes slot bonus features
Cupcakes slot free spins feature
You’ll need to hit three or more scatter symbols to trigger the main bonus round. A three-scatter trigger awards ten free spins, while four or five scatters award 13 or 16 free spins, respectively.
The free spins feature plays out very similarly to the base game, with one crucial difference: any multipliers collected in this mode are not lost between each spin! Any multipliers collected from cupcakes in this mode will instead be added to the total of multipliers accumulated during the previous spin, potentially allowing you to reach some crazy multipliers by the end of the bonus round.
You can win additional free spins by hitting further scatters whilst the bonus round is in play. The machine is a little less generous here, though, compared to the base game, with three, six, or nine additional free spins being granted for three, four, or five scatter symbols, respectively.
If you want to bypass the base game and go directly to the free spins feature, you may do so at the cost of 100x the normal price per spin. The number of triggering scatters is determined randomly after making the purchase.
cupcakes slot review final thoughts
I’m generally not very keen on slots which use the same value for every symbol on the paytable, regardless of how those winnings are boosted later. NetEnt hasn’t done anything to change my mind on that with Cupcakes, and I feel as if the unusual payout structure takes away from what may otherwise have been a more enjoyable game. I can’t knock the presentation of this slot, but the gameplay lets it down.