Western Belles Slot Machine
The racy and risque Western Belles online slot machine was released in early 2014 by renowned slot manufacturer International Game Technology (IGT), under the company's IGT Interactive division.
As an online only slot, Western Belles can only be played through an online casino platform which utilizes IGT Interactive software. Fortunately for fans of this unique Old West meets the Playboy Mansion style slot, IGT Interactive products like Western Belle can be found on more than a 100 online casino networks - including global leaders like Bet365, BetVictor, Paddy Power, Party Casino, and William Hill.
The game's theme is inspired directly by the cowgirl pin up artwork of Gil Elvgren 1914 - 1980, an American artist who specialized in painting whimsical depictions of gorgeous women posing and showing off scantily clad themed costumes. One of Elvgren's most popular genres of pin up art involved his beloved "Western Belles," a group of women who have no trouble riding horses or heading out on the range.
Of course, Elvgren's belles are typically outfitted in revealing skirts and low-cut blouses, but within the obvious focus on beauty is the artists' clear love of the Wild West dynamic. Among the well known models of the 1940s and 1950s that sat for Elvgren's pin up treatment were Arlene Dahl, Barbara Hale, Myrna Hansen, Kim Novak, and Donna Reed. During World War II, Elvgren's images of buxom American beauties were so appreciated by U.S. airman that the pin ups were even plastered over the nose tips of fighters and bombers.
Between 1945 and 1972 Elvgren worked for Brown & Bigelow, a publishing company based in his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. Through an exclusive licensing agreement with Brown & Bigelow, IGT Interactive was able to obtain genuine Elvgren pin up paintings for use in its Western Belles online slot.
The game's title screen immediately sets the adult appropriate tone for Western Belles, featuring the title written out to appear on an old fashioned wooden sign. Below that, a rickety fence occupies the foreground, with a smiling pin up cowgirl straddling the top. Her red boots and scarf combine with a blue skirt and white blouse to accentuate the Americana angle, but men will likely never notice that homage, focusing instead on the woman's long blonde hair and even longer legs.
The reel array dominates the main game screen, but in the background you'll find a basic desert landscape, with brushy bushes, red rock spires, and a clear blue sky overhead.
As for the reel symbols, Western Belles follows through with its theme in fine fashion, as even the basic card rank symbols 9, 10, J, Q, K, and A are styled to evoke Old West style printing. Moving on to the themed symbols, you'll be spinning the cowgirl boot, the cowgirl hat, the woman in the white blouse, the woman in the blue vest, the lipstick kiss, and the Bonus symbol.
Additionally, Western Belles includes an interesting feature known as Wild Reels, and when activated, this will cause entire reels to be filled with full fledged pin up paintings that serve as wild symbols. The Wild Reels come in two varieties, one for the base game which includes a Christmas cowgirl, and another showing a gunslinger cowgirl which appears only on free spins. A Wild Reel occupies all four spaces on a given reel, turning each space wild and replacing any symbol needed to create winning combinations across the screen.
For the most part, Western Belles integrates Elvgren's artwork perfectly, giving players a portrait shot on the main reels while they anticipate the full body reveal on Wild Reels. The game's overall design scheme succeeds in capturing the essence of the Old West vibe, as well as Elvgren's clear appreciation for the female form. Western Belles may not be a favorite for ladies out there, but their husbands will surely sneak in a few spins on a game that is clearly designed with men in mind.
And even if the visual motif doesn't appeal to you, fans of classic Western films will also appreciate Western Belles because of the game's intrepid soundtrack selection. Complete with the sounds of cracking whips, horses neighing and galloping, and even original songs by famed Spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone.
Gameplay Features and Mechanics
On its surface, Western Belles appears to be yet another five reel 40 pay line video slot machine design, following IGT's established template. Each reel contains four symbol spaces, putting 20 symbols in play on every spin.
Coin denominations begin at $0.01 - putting the game under the penny slot classification on a technical level - before escalating to $0.02, $0.05, $0.10, $0.20, $0.30, $0.50, $1, $2, $4, $5, and $10.
With 40 pay lines in play, the minimum cost to cover for players looking to activate the full range of max betting features should thus be $0.40. But as you prepare to make your first spin on Western Belles, you'll notice a new feature that isn't found on all that many games.
In the area where players toggle between the number of pay lines they'd prefer to activate, you'll see a header reading "40 Lines + Wild Reel." By toggling through to activate this feature, the cost to cover per spin jumps from 40 credits to 200 credits - or from $0.40 to $2 for penny players.
This may seem like a steep jump in the minimum cost to play even one spin, and indeed, it is. But in exchange for the extra 160 coins you're playing on the 40 Lines + Wild Reel feature, Western Belles will ensure that every single spin produces a Wild Reel. And when you're able to launch the game's free spins bonus, every free spin will include not one but two of the Wild Reels every time out.
Once again, Wild Reels occupy all four symbol spaces on a single reel, turning that entire reel wild for the purposes of triggering winners. So for the additional 160 coins per spin, you'll be guaranteed to see a Wild Reel show up every time. This can provide a tremendous advantage when trying to land winners, but as you might suspect, the additional cost can lend Western Belles a slightly higher level of volatility than playing it for 40 credits only.
Assuming you choose to activate the 40 Lines + Wild Reel feature, the minimum cost to cover per spin stands at $2, while the maximum can reach a whopping $1,000.
Aside from the addition of Wild Reels, the gameplay offered by Western Belles closely follows the established pattern found in most IGT and IGT Interactive titles. You'll be spinning for regular wild symbols and Wild Reels, along with a Bonus symbol that applies a multiplier to wins and helps unlock the game's free spins bonus round.
When it comes to larger progressive jackpots, Western Belles is a standalone game, so it doesn't connect to any progressive networks.
You can find a full rundown of Western Belles' gameplay specifications below:
- Wilds: Yes
- Free Spins: Yes
- Multiplier: Yes, for 2x
- Bonus Game: Yes
- Progressive: No
- Return to Player: 92.85% - 96.33%
During the base game you'll be competing for your share of a fairly standard IGT slot pay table - one found in many of the company's online and brick and mortar slot titles.
The jackpot symbol in Western Belles is the lipstick kiss symbol, and landing five of these along an activated pay line will return the top payout of 1,000 credits. If you can score four of the lipstick kiss symbols on screen, you'll receive 200 credits, and three of them are good for a reward of 50 credits.
The lipstick kiss symbol also serves as the primary wild symbol in Western Belles, so it can replace any other symbol in the game except for the Bonus symbol to create winning combinations.
From there, each of the cowgirl symbols offers a 500 / 100 / 25 pay scheme for landing five, four, or three identical symbols, respectively. Both the cowgirl boot and the cowgirl boot follow the 200 / 60 / 15 pattern. The As and Ks among the card ranks pay out 125 for landing five, while the Qs, Js, 10s, and 9s drop down to 100 credits for a five reel winner.
Based on the IGT Interactive marketing information, Western Belles offers a low to medium level of volatility, combining increasingly frequent, yet smaller payouts, with a higher cost to cover per spin with the Wild Reel feature activated.
We mentioned this above, but just in case you forgot, the base game's wild symbol is the lipstick kiss symbol - which can replace any other symbol on the screen except for the Bonus symbol. By combining lipstick kiss wild symbols with Wild Reels, players can trigger multiple winning combinations on lucky spins.
Speaking of those Bonus symbols, which simply read "BONUS" in gold lettering, they'll only appear on the second, third, and fourth reels - also known as the middle reels. When you see one or two of these Bonus symbols, the result will be lackluster, as they don't produce payouts or affect the game in any way. But when you land three of the Bonus symbols on screen one on each of the middle reels, this will automatically apply a multiplier of 2x to double any payouts generated on that spin.
Most importantly, however, landing three Bonus symbols unlocks Western Belles' free spins bonus feature.
Triggering the Bonus Round
Following the usual IGT pattern, landing three Bonus symbols provides a dual benefit of sorts. First, you'll enjoy a 2x multiplier on any wins earned on that spin. Second, the game will award you with five free bonus spins.
This free spins bonus round is a great way to score some huge wins on Western Belle, all without parting ways with a pretty penny. You'll get to spin away and hope to land big winners, and your bankroll won't drop at all. Any payouts you earn on a free spin will be paid out according to the same coin denomination you used on the bonus round triggering spin.
And if you have the 40 Pay lines + Wild Reel feature activated heading into a free spins bonus round, you'll receive two full Wild Reels on each and every spin. This means that eight of the game's 20 symbol spaces will be completely covered by Wild Reels, creating a wealth of opportunity for landing winning combinations across the screen.
You'll only get five bonus spins to work with after triggering the round though, a fairly limited award that falls far behind some of the extravagant free spin bonus rounds out there today. To help compensate for this, Western Belles allows for re triggers, so if you can land three Bonus symbols on the middle reels during a free spin, you'll receive five more free spins on top. This re triggering can occur over and over again, up to the maximum of 225 free spins in a row.
With two full Wild Reels in play on every free spin, along with the usual lipstick kiss wild symbols, every free spin you can earn provides the potential for big time wins. And when you do land a sizable score, the game will reward you even further with a full screen animation featuring one of Elvgren's signature leggy pin up beauties riding her horse while stars shoot through the sky.
Aside from the allotment of free spins, Western Belles foregoes the usual assortment of bells and whistles, so you won't be enjoying any touch screen guessing games, side screens, or story modes. This lack of gameplay dynamics can make Western Belles feel a bit one dimensional over time, as the game simply provides base gameplay throughout.
Western Belles is a game designed expressly with a niche market in mind: gentlemen who fondly remember the era of Westerns, and the cute cowgirls that often co-starred in them. Through IGT Interactive's exclusive licensing arrangement, the inclusion of Gil Elvgren's original pin up paintings is a nice touch, giving the game a sense of genuineness that recreations simply wouldn't match. Although modern video slot fans may find themselves zoning out after a few hundred spins, thanks to the lack of bonus side games, Western Belles is still a perfectly suitable online slot machine that offers low to medium volatility.