Developer iSoftBet has released a new Hold & Win slot machine called Thunder Shields. In this production, the crew board a Viking ship and sails the seven seas in search of treasure. Fortunately, gamers don’t have to kill priests or citizens to get rich. If you hit it big, though, nobody says you can’t celebrate by smashing kegs open with axes in a vast hall.
The Thunder Shields launch screen manages to set the tone immediately. A Longship, adorned with a red-eyed sculpture, races across the seas while being hit by lightning. The locals must have been terrified whenever one of them floated up a river or swam along the coast. They didn’t show up to have a casual conversation about recent events in the area. These ships could only imply one thing: prepare for murder. Before you even start Thunder Shields, the opening visual paints a picture and gets your blood pumping.
When this happens, the visuals within the game are also rather nice. The large 5×4 grid with 40 fixed paylines takes up most of the screen space. A glimmering reddish-gold horizon appears in the outskirts, either the result of a sunset or the smoke from a recently destroyed town. Let’s go while the sun is setting so it’s not too hot. A reasonably dramatic score plays in the background; it doesn’t sound particularly Viking, but it accomplishes the job.
Bets on Thunder Shields range from 40 percent to $40 (or 40 Euros) every spin, making it possible to plunder from any device. The overall default RTP is around par (96%), while the volatility is about average (medium to high). Symbol payouts aren’t very generous, but the game’s many extras—all of which revolve on the Hold & Win feature—make up for this by providing welcome diversions from the main action.
Line wins are the most common type of win in slots, and they occur when the same symbol appears three times on an active payline. Slim values may be found across the board in symbols. The low-paying 10-A card royals in a runic-inspired typeface come first. The next group of symbols consists of four characters that pay out between 1.875x and 6.25x the wager for a line of five of a kind.
Slot Characteristics, Thunder Shields
Numerous features, such as two kinds of respin and Mystery Spins, appear often to compensate for the low-value symbols. When the reels stop spinning, the crossed axis tile acts as a mystery symbol, landing in whole or half stacks to reveal the same matching symbol type. The Mystery Spins bonus round can activate at any moment during the main game. When this feature is active, at least three reels will appear as complete Mystery Stacks, and all of them will morph into the same matching symbol.
The wild sign is the charged golden hammer, and it may be used in place of any other pay symbol. Colossal Respins are also activated anytime a wild sign appears. After the first respin, the first two reels stick together to form enormous icons. When a wild appears during a respin, the gigantic symbol expands by one reel, up to a maximum of four reels in width, and an additional respin is granted. If you get a fourth re-spin, you’ll get double the usual multiplier. Each time a wild retriggers a respin, the multiplier increases by one. When a Cash Shield lands as a huge symbol, it is counted as the sum of the spots it covers. A Colossal Respin can lead to more Hold & Win Respins in this way.
Cash Shields are represented by gold circles with values of x1 to x250 shown in their centers. Hold & Win offers three more spins when six or more are in view. At the beginning of each round, the Cash Shields that activated respins are frozen in place, and the round restarts once a new Cash Shield appears. All data is gathered when the spin counter reaches 0. Special shields, in addition to Cash Shields, might appear to boost payouts:
All monetary values are multiplied by two, or “x2.”
The Collector gathers up all monetary values to make room for further Cash Shields to land.
Reel Boost – makes the grid larger by one reel. There’s room for up to two more reels.
The Cash Boost function raises the monetary values in the active window.
Respin Boost – adds one extra permanent respin to the counter.
There are also three Thunderstorm Prizes up for grabs during the Hold & Win bonus. Valued at 10, 100, and 1,000 times the initial wager, respectively, they are the Mini, Major, and Mega. Keep in mind that the x2 multiplier can also quadruple these numbers. Thunderstorm Prizes are unlocked by landing all three storm shields during the Hold & Win Respins bonus round.
Lightning Shields’ Case in the Slot
The preceding list of features may give the impression that Thunder Shields has more going on than it actually does. While the Hold & Win bonus is very complex for a feature of this type, much of the game is spent securing low-value line victories. Colossal Respins generate large symbols, which makes whole screen wins a real possibility, therefore it might be one reason why symbols are low. Even then, the maximum premium grid is only worth 250 times the initial investment.
Colossal Respins are entertaining when you’ve built up enough momentum, and Mystery Symbols appear randomly. They improve when multipliers are involved, albeit doing so is difficult. Thunder Shields is only relevant in so much as it is a means to an end—the Hold & Win bonus. Fans of this genre will have a great time here, as the Respins are trickier than in other games. Admittedly, iSoftBet appears to have taken some cues from Money Train 2. But hey, we’re talking about Vikings here, and they pretty much did whatever they pleased, consequences be damned.
Thunder Shields is playable for its potential as a Hold and Win+ game. It’s got the looks, the attitude, and the functions to keep you spinning while you wait for Cash Shields to drop.