Well, here’s a pleasant surprise! I’ve played Mascot’s previous online slots, and many of them were great fun, provided that you were a fan of lower-volatility slots, at least! The developer's current release, Wild Phoenix Rises, is different though, falling into the higher volatility category and has a much higher quality feel to it than this company's previous output. To put it simply, Wild Phoenix Rises looks fantastic! The game uses 25 fixed paylines and has an RTP of 95.37% - a little below average (but not so much that it would put me off giving the game a try) and a maximum win of 5,500x bet.
Hiring a great artist isn’t such a monumental task, of course – any developer with adequate funding is capable of doing that. On the other hand, coming up with great new ideas requires true talent – which is much harder to recruit! Introducing the “Risk and Buy” feature, a new concept to me that I’ve never come across before Wild Phoenix Rises, and allows you to either purchase some free spins or gamble them for the chance to earn a win multiplier of up to 1,000x. Let’s think about that for a moment… if you did manage to reach the maximum multiplier – an incredibly difficult task, by the way – then you would only need to win 1,000x during the free spins to earn a million times your stake. That’s a prospect that makes me wonder if I’m even understanding the description correctly; however, I can tell you that your chances of ever reaching such a multiplier are so small that the chances are it is probably correct. The free spins are hardly your average feature either – they come with modifiers and work a lot like a three-spin feature in some ways.
We’ll tell you all about it later, but for the time being, I just want to get across – this is a unique and innovative release that deserves your attention, so go ahead and fire up our Wild Phoenix Rise demo, it’s available to play below.
For many, the Phoenix is little more than a breed of bird; for others, it is a mythological creature that is associated with Greek, Egyptian, or Persian mythology, all of which have analogous descriptions of this creature as being associated with the sun, and obtaining new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor. It’s a powerful simile that goes back thousands of years and has given rise to many other online slots, such as The Wild Wings of Phoenix, Eternal Phoenix Megaways, and Phoenix Paradise. It seems that Mascot has a little competition here then, so I guess the big question now is how does it pay?
The most valuable symbol is the phoenix egg, which has a maximum return of 60x the total bet for a full payline of five of a kind. The treasure chest lags far behind this, paying just 16x the current stake for all five symbols. The next two symbols look to be parts of the sequence of the phoenix rising from the ashes, and these have payouts of 10x and 6x the total bet for all five symbols. Finally, the royals have been spiced up with some character art – the Aces have a mage, for example, and pay 3.6x the total bet for a full pay line of five-of-a-kind. The kings are a little less valuable at 3x, followed by the queens at 2.6x, the jacks at 1.2x, and the tens at 1x for a five-of-a-kind combination. This is one of those rare games where we still get a little treat for hitting the scatter symbols as well – it's only 25x the total bet, but it’s still nice to have, considering many games stopped paying out for such combinations a long time ago.
Sadly, the betting range suffers from the usual issue that Mascot games have had a problem with ever since I first reviewed one of them. It’s not the bet spread that is the issue – you have minimum/maximum bets of €0.25 and €50.00, respectively; the problem is that there are only six options between those two limits, which is frankly ridiculous. Even low rollers may find themselves forced to choose between a bet that is either too low or too high for their real tastes with these arbitrary limitations.
base game & modifiers
Wild Phoenix Rises base game
The basic gameplay of Wild Phoenix Rises has a few interesting aspects that separate it from other video slots. There are still five reels, each consisting of four rows, and this extended playfield does end up returning a few more dead spins than you may be used to. The reason for this: the game only utilises 25 paylines, and whereas other developers will often stack the symbols on their reels to balance out this anomaly, Mascot has chosen not to bother with any such arrangements. The upside of this setup is that the returns offered on the games paytable are a little more generous in comparison to other slots.
risk'n' buy feature
To the right of the main spin button, you’ll find an interesting-looking alternative spin control. Clicking this button will open a new window which allows you to try and increase the value of your win. Although this sounds like just another gamble feature, it’s actually much more interesting – better yet, it’s possible to magnify the value of your prize by as much as 1,000x.
free spin meter
I always appreciate little touches such as this – every winning spin during the base game whilst playing Wild Phoenix Rises will fill one bar on the free spin meter displayed to the right of the main reel set. The idea behind this feature is to ensure that if the player ends up waiting a very long time for the scatters to appear, their patience will be repaid by adding extra spins and multipliers to their next bonus round.
wild phoenix rises slot bonus features
Wild Phoenix Rises free spins feature
The main bonus round can be accessed in several ways when playing Phoenix Rises. You can hit three or more scatter symbols, which also come with a small cash prize as well. Alternatively, you can also gamble any significant win for the chance to play some free spins via the Risk’n’Buy feature. Finally, if both of the previous options sound like far too much hard work, there’s always the bonus buy menu as well!
Despite its name, this is actually a three-spin type bonus round that can potentially begin with the usual three spins, but if you used the bonus buy or waited an unusually long time for the scatters to drop, you might end up with four or five lives instead.
Any winning spin during this feature will top your lives back up to their initial value. All good things come to an end eventually though. If you fail to hit anything for several spins in a row, your accumulated winnings will be boosted by the current multiplier before they are awarded to you.
bonus buy feature
This is an interesting one – at the time of writing, opening the bonus buy menu shows four options, but the first one has the text ‘special offer’ written above it. It appears that this is a promotion that could tie in with the game's release, but it’s also possible that the game will always promote this option in this way!
As it stands, you can purchase:
80x Bet - 3 Free Spins, 3x Multiplier
27x Bet – 3 Free Spins, 1x Multiplier
79x Bet – 3 Free Spins, 3x Multiplier
105x Bet – 4 Free Spins, 3x Multiplier
Note that whilst all these options state ‘free spins’’, this is actually a three-spin feature meaning your initial three spins may well be refreshed several times – you might end up with three spins, but the chances are it will probably be more like 15-20.
A gorgeous looking slot that shows Mascot are not to be underestimated!
The feature can be very exciting if you obtain a high multiplier.
Higher than average jackpot of more than 10,000x the total bet.
Lots of dead spins in between some relatively high wins.
Mascot Gaming's Wild Phoenix Rises is a testament to the presence of an exceptional team that must be in play within the company, who, upon this showing, are fully capable of rivalling more renowned developers like Pragmatic Play and Play’N’Go.
To summarise today's review, this particular title stands out significantly compared to other games we've put under the microscope from Mascot Gaming, and I am eagerly anticipating what else this studio has in store for the future.