Pandamania Slot Game
Nextgen Gaming released Pandamania, a video slot game, in November 2014. The game uses active animations on several levels to enhance the player experience. The game setting is a zoo where a Panda has managed to escape from its cage and is now running amok among the exhibits and scenery.
Pandas (more properly, Giant Pandas) are a species of bear native to south central China. Their striking black and white fur is recognized around the world. The Panda is even used as a mascot or trademark for various products and services across the globe (although many are probably using the Urdu surname Panda). The name is believed to be a western conflation of the Nepalese phrase "nigalya ponya", which means "eater of bamboo". Bamboo is the primary food eaten by Giant Pandas in the wild.
Giant Pandas are distinguished from Lesser Pandas, small creatures resembling raccoons who were once believed to be relatives of the Giant Pandas. We now know that is not true. Although classified as an endangered species, Giant Pandas are kept in 18-20 zoos around the world and they are much loved by the public. Pandamania plays on the popularity of the zoo-bound Pandas with a very appropriate zoo setting.
Pandamania uses a random Panda Escape Bonus in addition to two others plus Nextgen Gaming's trademark post-spin Gamble option. The game offers a theoretical return to player of 95.533%, which is pretty good compared to most other slot games.
Game Basics & Symbols
Pandamania is a 5-reel, 3-row video slot game with 25 optional pay lines. All prizes are paid from left to right and only the highest possible prize per line is awarded to the player. The features in-tile animation, active background animation, and random foreground animation that affects game play. There are three special symbols in the game.
Except where noted below, all prizes are computed using a multiplier determined by winning combination times the bet per line, applied to each active pay line that awards a prize.
The game's Wild symbol is the Panda. Its standard tile shows the Panda eating candy from a concessionaire's striped box. When the Panda can contribute to a winning combination on a valid pay line its tile becomes animated, showing the Panda tossing candy into the air and catching it in its mouth. The Wild symbol substitutes for all others except the Scatter and Pick Me symbols, and any winning combinations using a Wild symbol pay a double prize.
The Panda Mania sign is the game's Scatter symbol. When 2 of these signs appear they pay 1 times the Total Bet wagered on the spin, not the bet per line. 3 or more Scatter symbols trigger the Free Spins bonus game and they pay 5 times, 20 times, or 100 times the Total Bet respectively for 3, 4, or 5 Scatter symbols.
The Pick Me symbol is a special bonus round trigger. These tiles only appear on reels 2, 3, and 4. When 3 Pick Me symbols appear the bonus game begins.
The Zookeeper is the highest value symbol in the game after the Scatter. His prize values are 3 times bet per line for 2 adjacent symbols on a pay line, 25 times bet per line for 3 symbols, 250 times bet per line for 4 symbols, and 500 times bet per line for 5 symbols.
- Zoo Tickets
The Zoo Tickets offer the next highest value. 2 adjacent Zoo Tickets pay 2 times the bet per line, 3 tickets pay 20 times the bet per line, 4 tickets pay 100 times the bet per line, and 5 tickets pay 250 times bet per line.
- Ice Cream
Candy/Vending Cart - The Ice Cream and Candy symbol and the Vending Cart symbol both pay 15 times bet per line for 3 adjacent symbols, 50 times bet per line for 4 adjacent symbols, and 200 times bet per line for 5 symbols.
The "A" and "K" symbols pay 10 times bet per line, 25 times bet per line, and 150 times bet per line for 3 adjacent symbols, 4 symbols, and 5 symbols respectively.
The "Q", "J", "10", and "9" symbols pay 5 times bet per line, 20 times bet per line, and 100 times bet per line for 3 adjacent symbols, 4 symbols, and 5 symbols respectively.
Display & Controls
There are two informational widgets positioned above the screen with the playing reels. On the left is Total Bet (showing the product of active pay lines and coin value bet per line). On the right is your Balance, shown in currency.
A status bar runs across the bottom of the reels playing area. The game displays tips and messages about the prizes you have won here.
Below the screen with the reels are a series of game controls. They are, from left to right:
This blue button with a white letter "i" on it brings up the help screens, of which there are five. Use the left and right arrows to navigate through the screens and click on the red "X" button when you want to return to the game.
A sound toggle button is positioned just below the Information button.
- Pay Lines
The Pay Lines widget has four components: a Max Lines jagged bar that is only clickable when fewer than 25 pay lines are active; a red down and blue up arrow to help you adjust the number of active pay lines; and a display box showing how many pay lines are active. You can click on any pay line number on either side of the screen to set that many pay lines to active status. Higher-numbered pay lines are deactivated. You can also use the up and down arrow keys on your computer keyboard to adjust the number of pay lines.
- Coin Value
Next to the Pay Lines widget is a Coin Value widget. This widget has four components: a Max Bet icon drawn like a small stack of coins at the top; a red down and blue up arrow to help you scroll through the available coin values; and a display box showing you which coin value is active as your bet per line. You can use values ranging from 0.01 to 2.00. The right and left arrow keys on your computer keyboard act as the red down and blue up controls for this widget.
- Win Display
The WIN display bar tells you how much you won from the last spin.
- Gamble Button
To the right of the Win window is a Gamble button denoted by a red Heart and black Club. This button is only active after a prize has been awarded and before you click on Spin.
- Autoplay Button
The Autoplay button is next. Click on Autoplay to bring up a widget with a slider control that allows you to set how many spins the game will make for you. It deducts the amount of your most recent wager for each automated spin. You can choose from 0 to 100 spins. The game deducts the Total Bet amount for each spin from your Balance and stops when you interrupt it, you run out of money, or it completes the last scheduled spin.
- Spin Button
The Spin button initiates a single game. It disappears from view while the reels are spinning.
Pandamania Bonus Rounds
There are three bonus rounds in Pandamania, plus the gamble feature.
During normal game spins and Free Spins the escaped Panda may ring the bell on the vendor cart and come cycling in front of the screen. He'll zap 1 or more Zookeeper tiles to turn them into Wild symbols. This only happens if the converted Wilds will help award a prize but the Panda does not always help you.
You'll occasionally see other pandas moving around in the background, including running behind the reels or diving off a cliff with a waterfall.
You should see more Panda Escape bonuses during the Free Spins game.
When 3 or more Scatter symbols appear on the screen the Free Spins game begins. You win 10 free games and all prizes are doubled.
The game can be triggered again.
When 3 locks on cage doors appear on reels 2, 3, and 4 you are prompted to pick one. You may win a single prize or all prizes. If you win a single prize you may be told to play again.
After any spin where you have won a prize the Gamble button becomes clickable and remains so until you use it or you click on Spin. You are presented with a new dialog featuring the back of a playing card.
The Gamble game gives you the chance to double or quadruple your prize. If you win, you get another chance to double or quadruple your prize. The game stops when the prizes become too large, when you click on Cancel or Take Win, or when you lose.
There are two ways to gamble. The first option is to choose either Red or Black as the color of the card that will be shown.
The second option is to choose one of four playing card suits (Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, or Spades).
If the card turns out to match your choice you either double or quadruple your money.
If you want to play a slot game that is filled with random chances to make money it will be hard to find one that offers more options than Pandamania. There will be times when the screen is crawling with Pandas, so the game lives up to the name quite well.
The ambient sounds and music are suitable for a visit to the zoo. You may decide to disable the sound after a while. That won't affect game play. You don't need to hear anything.
The busy background is both intriguing and a little distracting. When the Pandas run amok you'll smile the first time and you may even start to look for them after a while.
A Panda runs behind the reels or does something near the water if a normal Wild symbol turns up and helps win a combination but other things move in the background too. There are clouds cruising across the sky, a couple of flags waving in the breeze, a very active waterfall, etc. None of those special effects have any impact on the game. Only the Panda running loose with the vending cart changes anything for you.
One other interesting thing occurs in the game. The normal Wild symbol and the converted Wild symbol move asynchronously if they both contribute to a prize. The discrepancy does not appear to have any significance.