Where's The Gold Slots
Australian gaming developer Aristocrat Technologies released Where's the Gold slots in 2003. It was initially only available in Australian casinos, but this game's booming popularity saw it quickly spread to Las Vegas casinos in the mid-2000s.
These days, Where's the Gold is still found in many Vegas hot spots as well as in online casinos. This is pretty astounding when you figure that Where's the Gold isn't even one of the more advanced slots for its time, let alone today.
So what exactly made this slot so popular? We'll give you a couple main reasons why below while we cover its game play, features, and compare it to other Aristocrat slots.
This is a 5 reel slot with 25 pay lines, and you can adjust the coin size from $0.02 to $4.00. This makes the minimum bet worth $0.02 and the maximum wager worth $100.00.
As the name implies, Where's the Gold has the feel of California's 1849 Gold Rush. The symbols convey this gold rush feeling since you'll see all of the following on the reels.
- A miner
- Covered wagons
- Pick axes
- Gold letters on the reels
The background is a dusk, desert setting with cactuses and hills in the background. Overall, the background and symbol graphics are decent, but they don't exactly make you think of the stunning 3D slots of today.
You won't hear any music while playing this game. But Where's the Gold does feature some interesting sound effects, including galloping hoofs when the reels stop.
When you change pay lines or hit winning combinations, the sound effects seem like they're straight out of an Atari game.
What makes Where's the Gold Special?
We've already covered that the graphics aren't overly impressive. Plus, the gold rush theme has been used countless times in the land based and online slots. So what separates this from other games?
First off, Where's the Gold was one of the first slots to introduce extra wild symbols during the bonus round. We'll discuss this in greater detail later, but you can look forward to multiple wild symbols whenever you trigger the bonus game.
This is actually quite weird because the main game doesn't have a wild symbol. Even for a slot developed in the early 2000s, this is backwards and not something that players will appreciate.
Back to what makes Where's the Gold interesting, it was also revolutionary for allowing you to trigger the bonus round so frequently. This somewhat makes up for the fact that you won't have any wild symbols helping you in the main game.
You'll find a scatter symbol, however, and it's the dynamite. The dynamite symbol multiplies your payouts based on your original bet, at the following rates.
- 2x for 3 symbols
- 10x for 4 symbols
- 50x for 5 symbols
Dynamite also triggers the bonus round when you land three or more of these symbols anywhere on the reels.
Once the bonus round is triggered, you're taken to a second screen where you'll choose one of the five characters to dig gold. We've actually seen up to seven different characters available, meaning you don't see the exact same gold prospectors each time you unlock the bonus round.
The seven characters are as follows.
- Happy Lucky
- Findo the dog
- Mary Money
- Nugget Ned
- Peter Panner
- Professor Gold
- Winnie Fortune
Once you choose the character that you think will find the most gold, a spotlight appears on them and all five characters start digging.
What really adds to the experience here is how each character collects gold in their own manner. For example, Professor Gold uses a magnifying glass, Findo sniffs out gold, Happy Lucky uses a metal detector, Winnie Fortune uses her crystal ball, Nugget Ned swings a bug net, and Peter Panner pans for gold just like they did in the Wild West.
Once the round is over, you earn a certain number of free spins based on how many gold nuggets your character finds.
From here you head back to the reels to perform your free spins. Here's where the extra wilds come into play because you'll notice that some of the symbols have changed to gold.
These gold symbols are wild and replace anything besides the dynamite scatter symbol. The gold symbols remain wild until your free spins are finished.
Where's the Gold also has a gamble feature that you can activate after any winning payout combination. Just click the Gamble button in the lower right hand corner whenever you win a round to activate it.
This takes you to a second screen where you'll see a card in the middle. You can pick whether the card will turn up red or black to double your original win, or choose if the suit will be a diamond, club, heart, or spade to quadruple your win.
If you successfully guess the right color or suit, you can either choose to collect your winnings and quit or keep playing. If you continue playing, note that you can only win five times in a row before the gamble feature ends.
Assuming you've ever played slots before, you're probably familiar with the gamble feature since it's available in many games. And the fact that you can double your bet by selecting the card's color certainly isn't anything new.
However, the originality comes through being able to quadruple your bet by selecting the card suit. This isn't an option that you'll find in many slots, especially ones produced in the early 2000s.
Where's the Gold Online
As mentioned before, you can easily find Where's the Gold at online casinos. But if you prefer the experience of land based casinos, there's really not much point to playing the online version.
The main difference is that the gamble feature background is a different color in the online game. You'll see a solid green background in Where's the Gold online, versus a solid red color in the land based machine.
You're also greeted by a loud yeeeee haaaaa! upon firing up the online version. We assume that this could be the case in brick and mortar casinos too; however, since these games rarely shut off, you don't get to see the miner yelling this cliché cowboy saying.
You'll also be able to use an expanded auto play feature online, which allows you to auto spin the reels with your selected betting options for 5 to 500 spins. If you feel like stopping auto spin before the designated number of spins are up, just click the button after a round is over.
Comparison to other Aristocrat Slots
We don't really have any different versions of Where's the Gold to compare, aside from the slight nuances in the online version. So we thought that it would be worth comparing this slot to a few other games developed by Aristocrat.
One theme you'll notice is that Where's the Gold has a superior bonus round to most other Aristocrat slots.
This is another Wild West type slot that features buffalos instead of miners. The key aspect of Buffalo is that it gives you up to 1,024 ways to win per spin.
You'll also find a wild symbol in the main game, which is a step up from Where's the Gold. The downside is that Buffalo's bonus round is only free spins, rather than an inventive, second screen experience.
This is an Asian themed game that gives you 243 ways to win. The graphics are a little more interesting in Choy Sun Doa than in Where's the Gold, especially the background, which is an Asian nature scene.
But again, the bonus round, which mostly features free spins, doesn't quite compare to Where's the Gold.
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Aristocrat games typically have very small jackpots, so this one is a bit of an anomaly with a 12,500 coin top pay out.
Other than this, though, Let's Go Fish'n is practically a replica of Where's the Gold, right down to the second screen bonus round. In this bonus round, you select which of the five characters will catch the most fish.
Although one of the most popular Aristocrat slots of all time, Pompeii doesn't quite measure up to what Where's the Gold offers in terms of graphics or a bonus round. Maybe the popularity stems from how well this game sells the Roman theme.
Queen of the Nile is quite possibly Aristocrat's most played slot machine of all time, and it even inspired IGT's legendary Cleopatra game.
The wispy, desert background sounds do a great job of creating the ancient Egyptian theme, but there's not much else special about Queen of the Nile.
Where's the Gold isn't the most technologically advanced slot that you'll find. In fact, it wasn't even too advanced when it was first released.
However, the fun second screen bonus round, extra wilds, and intriguing characters offer enough to hold your attention for a while.
And given how you can expect to play the bonus round pretty frequently, it's easy to see why Where's the Gold has developed such a following in the slots world.