China River Slots

China River Slots

Asian themed slots are about a dime a dozen these days in the gaming world. So you can excuse us for not being extremely excited about China River slots.

Nevertheless, China River is one of Bally's most popular games of all time, developing a following in land based casinos before being released online in 2013.

So does this popularity mean that China River is truly a timeless slot? Or is it one that's easily lost in the shuffle when compared to other Asian themed games?

We'll answer these questions below, but first, let's do an overview on the online and land based versions of China River slots.

China River
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Game Overview

The setting is a big part of this 5 reel game since it's meant to make you feel like you're on the rural banks of a Chinese river. The stage is set with a beautiful tree in the background, lush vegetation, a far off mountain and a golden pheasant watching over the reels.

The golden pheasant is a symbol of good luck in China, so it's little wonder why the multi colored bird is seen often throughout this game.

You can also hear Chinese music in the background whenever you spin the reels. You can mute the music, however, we don't think that it ever gets so annoying that it takes away from the game.

Symbols in China River

Symbols in China River include generic letters, a frog, golden cauldron, lotus flower, Chinese coins, Chinese letters and the aforementioned pheasant. The Chinese letters are the highest paying symbol, delivering you 15,000 coins if they appear five times in a pay line.

The golden pheasant is wild and appears on reels 2, 3, 4, and 5 only.

Each reel in China River contains Mystery Stacked Wild symbols that are replaced with one random symbol after each spin. All mystery symbols are replaced with the same symbol per spin, and mystery position symbols can be replaced with any symbol except the golden pheasant.

Animations that you'll see during winning payouts include Chinese letters with fireworks shooting out of them, and pink leaves blowing by the pheasant. Overall, this isn't really a game that will wow you with its visual displays.

China River features 30 pay lines, and you must play all of them. So even if you use the $0.01 coin, you'll still need to bet $0.30 per spin to play. The highest that you can turn the coin size up to is $15.00, making for a maximum bet of $450.00 per spin.

Return to Player Percentage

This game's return to player is 93.98%, which isn't the worst we've seen, but it's definitely below the average for online slots.

Bonus Round

The bonus round is unlocked when you land 3, 4 or 5 Chinese coins in an active pay line. This earns you 8, 10 or 15 free spins respectively along with a base payout of 5 coins, 20 coins or 100 coins.

The best thing about these free spins is that you can keep earning more by getting 3 or more Chinese coins during the free games. And any winning combination that you earn during this round will be doubled.

Other than these perks, there isn't really anything special about the bonus in China River. It's certainly nice that you get free spins, but it would be better if the bonus was more substantial.

China River Slot Machine

The first version of China River is still found in land based casinos. Little has changed since Bally's first introduced this slot to casino floors, but there are a few subtle differences.

First off, the golden pheasant animation is different since you look into the bird's eye and see it fly towards a river boat.

Another difference is that you're asked to touch the screen to start bonus rounds. You of course won't have any touchscreen option when playing through a PC or Mac.

The land based slot machine also features a double screen, with the bottom one displaying the reels and the top part showing your wins and other information.

Finally, the land based China River is a bit more entertaining, with coins flying everywhere during big wins, more sound effects and Chinese music playing the entire time.

We don't think that these differences are enough to send you on a hunt for this game in brick and mortar casinos. However, it's clear that the online version of China River has a hard time replicating every little nuance that made the land based version so popular.

Comparisons to Other Asian Themed Slots

As mentioned before, you can find a large number of slots that are similar to China River. The Asian theme is, after all, one of the most common in the gaming industry.

So how does China River stack up to the rest? See for yourself from the following slots that we picked out for a comparison.

Jade Idol Slots
Jade Idol

Created by CryptoLogic, which is now part of Amaya, in 2005, Jade Idol tells the story of a wealthy oriental woman who lives in the city.

We'd have to give China River the edge in graphics by a solid margin. However, Jade Idol has the type of features that make it more timeless than China River.

The most notable feature is the bonus game, which sees you select mystery boxes for three rounds in hopes of scoring big payouts. You can also win free spins and hit some big payouts thanks to the wild and scatter symbols.

Lucky 8 Slots
Lucky 8

This RealTime Gaming creation has quite a backstory since you are tasked with rescuing a rich merchant's daughter from an evil emperor.

We have to say that the theme alone wins out over China River's more general look at Asian culture. We also like the music and overall feel a little better in Lucky 8 slots.

One aspect that could be improved is the graphics, but this isn't enough to detract us from playing Lucky 8 over China River more often.

  • Read Full Game Review
Ronin Slots

Here's another war faring Asian slot from RealTime Gaming. The drop off from China River's graphics and animations to Ronin's is pretty steep.

Ronin does have a few good qualities, though, including several different ways to earn free spins and a random progressive jackpot.

But overall, we'd choose China River over Ronin just due to the below average graphics in the latter.

  • Read Full Game Review
Wild Panda Slots
Wild Panda

Developed by Aristocrat slots in the 1990s, Wild Panda still finds a place on casino floors today.

One notable aspect of this game is that it features 100 pay lines. This slot also has an interesting way to unlock the bonus round since you need to spell out the word PANDA.

But these are the only aspects that are worth discussing about Wild Panda since it's a pretty basic slot that doesn't have the graphics or features to even keep up with China River.


What you see above only scratches the surface of all the available Asian themed slots. This number will continue to grow because slots players have an affinity for seeing Asian culture on the reels.

With so many different games out there, we feel that China River merely blends into the mean, rather than stands out.

We don't see anything inherently wrong with this slot. In fact, the background, symbols and music do a solid job of setting the theme up.

But China River just doesn't have enough outstanding features to make it worth choosing over some of the other slots that we discussed. Plus, it doesn't help matters that the 93.98% RTP is pretty low by online slots standards.

Nevertheless, if you're the type of slots player who wants to try as many Asian type games as possible, then we suggest giving China River a few spins. But don't be surprised if you come away feeling like it's just another slot in a crowded niche.

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