I’d never heard of NoLimit City prior to writing this review, so was very surprised to learn this company has been creating online slots for over fifteen years. The company claims to focus on creating innovative and unique games, so I was excited to give Punk Rocker xWays a try. Here’s what happened next…
Punk Rocker xWays Overview
The intro screen looks like no other slot I remember seeing before – my guess is that was intentional, and intended to reinforce the punk rock, anti-establishment theme of the game. Numerous London icons litter the screen, including an underground roundel that has been “enhanced” with a little graffiti.
If you leave the introduction screen open for a while before hitting continue, several cards will begin to scroll across the screen which give additional information about the game. There’s an interesting feature that allows you to replay your best game rounds – I can imagine this coming in handy for many people, as it is very easy to miss the tiny window when you can take a screenshot of your latest monster win.
You can also watch the biggest wins of all time scored by other players, should you wish. These are great ideas that I’d love to see implemented into games produced by other slot developers.
Spinning the Reels for the First Time
The visual style of Punk Rocker xWays is very unique – for me, I didn’t really find the look of the game particularly attractive, but I suspect there will be many players who will love the alternative style presented by this game. The soundtrack wasn’t really to my taste either, and I soon found myself searching for the mute button.
There’s a lot of confusion regarding this game on the web – some review sites claim it uses a 6×6 grid, whilst several others state 5×4. Neither of these statements are technically wrong – Punk Rocker xWays features an expanding reels feature, so both configurations are technically possible at certain points during play. When you first start the game, however, you’ll find yourself presented with a regular 5×3 grid which uses the familiar 243 ways to win mechanic.
As soon as I began spinning, I quickly realized where the confusion came from – symbols split spontaneously, increasing the number of ways to win. This is similar to the way Megaways slots work, yet Punk Rocker xWays feels very different from any Megaways game I have ever played.
Within twenty spins, I hit three bonus symbols. These are represented by the familiar London Underground roundel symbol, but then transformed into a strange golden mask symbol. The grid expanded to six reels wide, and an onscreen notice informed me that I had won the “Anarchy” free spins.
There is an additional row of symbols along the top of the regular reel area, but I wasn’t sure how these were affecting my play. I figured I should have a look at the information pages at this point, as I genuinely had no idea what was going on!
Some players may not be bothered by this, but for me, I much prefer to understand why certain things are happening when I play an online slot. You can find an overview of all these strange elements in the “Special Features” section below.
Punk Rocker xWays Paytable
There are five high-paying symbols, with payouts ranging from 20x your stake for a full line of six-of-a-kind down to just 4x. I admit, I found it very difficult to recognize who these portraits were supposed to be representing – with a little research, I was able to ascertain the highest paying symbol is a punk-inspired portrait of Winston Churchill, whilst the lowest paying picture symbol Is supposed to resemble Sean Connery. The remaining three are a supposed representation of the Mona Lisa, a monkey wearing a crown, and a picture of Einstein with a Mohawk.
The low paying symbols feature an anarchy symbol, a guitar distortion pedal, a Molotov cocktail, a knuckle duster, and a pair of Dr. Martens boots. I think it’s clear by now that this certainly isn’t your average online slot!
The payouts for all the low-paying symbols are seriously underwhelming, so I think it was a very smart move on NoLimit City’s part to mention (in a large font) that the maximum number of pay ways per spin is 46,656, directly underneath this part of the paytable.
The base game of Punk Rocker xWays is relatively simple, but once you hit two or more bonus symbols, things immediately become much more complicated. Most games require you to hit three scatters to trigger a feature, so I was surprised – and pleased – when a feature triggered after I landed just two bonus symbols.
When two bonus symbols land on the reels, the game makes a big fuss as each of the remaining reel’s land. This suggests that you need a third bonus symbol, but even if you miss, you will still be rewarded with the riot re-spins feature.
The sixth reel will activate, and your two bonus symbols will become sticky wilds. Any Molotov cocktail symbols will also convert into sticky wilds as well. Sadly, you only receive a single spin in this feature, but you are guaranteed 729 ways to win. Amusingly, if you don’t hit anything, one of several risqué expressions of disappoint such as “B***ocks” will be overlaid on top of the reels.
Anarchy Free Spins
This is the first of the “real” bonus rounds and is triggered whenever you hit three bonus scatters. As with the riot re-spin feature, the sixth reel will unlock, but you now receive eight free spins rather than just one. The triggering scatters transform into wilds, which will jump around the reels into different positions on each spin.
An additional row appears above the grid during the Anarchy free spins, which contains modifier symbols that can affect your bonus in various ways. These include:
- Wild Multiplier – Adds a multiplier of 2x, 3x, 5x, 10x, 15x, or 25x to jumping wild symbols.
- 4-High xWays – A large xWays symbol will appear, then divide into four matching symbols.
- Extra Free Spins – Up to three additional spins will be added to your remaining total.
- 6-High Reels – Expands the grid vertically, creating a 6×6 grid with 46, 656 pay ways.
- Jumping Wild – An extra jumping wild is added to the reels for the remainder of the feature.
Note that these features only activate if at least one jumping wild is present in the reel below the modifier symbol. Additionally, the Molotov cocktail symbol also gains some new tricks during Anarchy free spins – not only do they convert into wilds, but they will also expand and convert any symbols above them into wilds as well.
Civil War Free Spins
This feature works in the same way as the Anarchy free spins, but requires four bonus symbols to trigger. The sixth reel will unlock, you’ll receive eight free spins, and all four of your bonus symbols will transform into jumping wilds. I really expected more from this feature – it costs around three times as much to buy this bonus as the anarchy free spins, yet the only advantage seems to be you have four jumping wilds instead of three.
The “Vital Statistics” section earlier in this review notes that the RTP of buying the civil war free spins is actually lower than that of purchasing the anarchy free spins. I’m sure the math must add up, and that the extra roaming wild makes a significant difference to the payout potential of this feature.
Despite this, the civil war feature just isn’t worth shelling out 238x your stake for. You are much better off sticking to the anarchy free spins at 80x your stake instead.
Punk Rocker xWays – Our Verdict
It’s great to see another innovative new slot hitting the online casinos – Punk Rocker xWays feels very fresh, and unlike anything else I have played recently. As the graphics and sound were not really to my taste, I showed this game to my friend Marco who is an absolute punk rock disciple.
Marco absolutely loved the game, confirming my earlier thoughts that this game is going to be very popular with the punk rock crowd – and they are the target audience, after all. Despite my misgivings about the presentation, I had a lot of fun playing Punk Rocker xWays, and would definitely recommend adding it to your list of games to check out in the future.
|Release Date:||February 12th, 2020|
|Special Features:||Expanding Reels, Multiplier Wilds, Two Free Spin Modes, xWays, Respins, Nudges|
|Layout:||5×3 (243 Ways), Expands to 6×6 (46,656 Ways)|
|RTP (When playing normally):||96.11%|
|RTP (If only bonus buy is used):||Anarchy Spins: 96.54% / Civil War Spins: 96.44%|
|Cost of Bonus Buy Feature:||Anarchy Spins: 80x Stake / Civil War Spins: 238x Stake|
|Maximum Win:||15,072x Stake|