Decades ago, free spins once felt like a revolutionary slots feature. After all, most slot machines didn’t offer many cool features back then.
Times have changed greatly, though, and most slots have bonus rounds and other extras. These features are designed to give players something to look forward to beyond just what happens with each spin.
Game developers have continued pushing the envelope by coming out with unique bonuses. But you may find some of these features to be downright odd and confusing.
That said, I’m going to discuss 19 of the strangest slots features in the game today. Understanding how these bonuses work can clear up any confusion and enhance your slots experience.
1 – Buy Feature
Slot machines are supposed to be random affairs, where you never know when you’ll trigger jackpots and bonuses. However, a new feature has cropped up that gives you an opportunity to purchase a bonus round.
The buy option, which is listed among betting options, lets you pay for a chance at the bonus round. Once you initiate the buy feature, you’ll automatically trigger the bonus on the next spin.
The amount you must pay to activate this option varies based on the slot. But you’ll normally be paying a significant amount compared to your bet size.
For example, you might have to pay 100x your wager to trigger the future. While this might seem expensive, it can be well worth the cost if you win a lot in the bonus.
2 – Colossal Reels
A colossal reels slot machine almost looks like an entirely different type of casino game. It features two sets of reels, including a 3×5 set on the left and a 12×5 group on the right.
These two assortments combine to offer 100 paylines. That said, Colossal Reels give you lots of chances to win on every spin.
3 – Rotating Reels
Rotating reels are arguably the wackiest slots feature on this list. As the name implies, the reels rotate around, rather than staying stationary like in almost every other slot.
Here’s an example on how rotating reels work:
- You trigger a bonus round.
- You perform your first spin in the bonus.
- Your regular spin concludes.
- The reels rotate 90 degrees afterward.
- The reels rotate 90 degrees again.
- The reels will rotate 90 degrees a third time.
- The reels rotate 90 degrees one final time.
- They’re now back to their original position.
The reels are re-evaluated at the conclusion of every spin. You therefore have a chance to win new prizes after every rotation.
The catch to rotating reels is that they’re only available in bonus rounds of certain slots. But it’s definitely worth trying any game with this feature when considering its uniqueness.
4 – Climbing Wild Symbol
Wild symbols, as you may know, substitute for other symbols to help form payouts. A typical wild icon only remains on the screen for a single spin.
Climbing wilds, on the other hand, can stay onscreen from more than one round. These icons move up one row following every spin. Once they reach the top of the reels, they’ll finally disappear from the field of play.
How long these symbols stay on the reels depends upon where they land. Ideally, a climbing wild starts at the bottom of the screen.
It has the longest distance to climb from the bottom, meaning it will provide you with an extra wild symbol for more rounds.
5 – Megaways
A Megaways slot is characterized by having six reels and an “all ways pays” format. The latter refers to how matching symbols only have to appear in adjacent reels to create wins, rather than in specific lines.
Megaways slots can also feature as many as seven symbols in each reel. Combining this aspect with all ways pays creates the chance to net lots of payouts.
You theoretically have up to 117,649 ways to win per round with a Megaways slot. But you’ll need all six reels to offer seven symbols in order for this to happen.
All hope is not lost if you don’t get seven symbols per reel. These games typically offer between 5,000 and 20,000 ways to win on the average spin.
6 – Colossal Symbol
Each slots symbol normally takes up a 1×1 space in a game grid. In a slot with a 3×5 grid, for example, there would be 15 total spaces — each with a different symbol occupying it.
However, colossal symbols blow this standard out of the water. These symbols can either take up a 2×2 or 3×3 space.
The obvious benefit to a colossal symbol is that it packs the same icon within a larger block. Assuming you land a 3×3 colossal symbol, then you’ll have an excellent shot to hit a larger payout.
7 – Extra Wild Symbols
An extra wild symbol is exactly how it sounds in that you receive additional wilds after a spin concludes. These extra wilds are usually triggered randomly.
A game’s theme often comes into play when additional wild symbols are awarded. You can see an example below:
- You’re playing a baseball-themed slot.
- Extra wilds are randomly triggered.
- A pitcher starts throwing additional wilds onto the reels.
Paylines will be re-evaluated for more wins after the extra wild symbols are added. You’ll normally be looking at one or more additional wins after the fact.
8 – Mystery Symbol
What you see is normally what you get with slots symbols. But mystery symbols change the game by transforming into other icons.
In most cases, these symbols change to offer higher payouts.
- You land several bike symbols on the reels.
- One line features three bikes, which normally pays 5 credits.
- But the bike becomes the mystery symbol.
- All of the bike symbols transform into higher-paying Lamborghinis.
- The winning line now features three Lamborghinis and pays 50 credits.
Mystery symbols can sometimes guarantee wins when they appear, but this isn’t always the case. Also note that mystery icons are normally part of free spins.
9 – Walking Wild Symbol
A walking wild is similar to the previously described climbing wild. However, this particular feature differs in the way that it moves.
Rather than climbing up the row, a walking wild moves across the reels. It moves one reel over following every spin. The walking wild icon will exit the screen after it reaches the right-most reel.
These wilds are typically better than the climbing variety, because they stay on the screen longer. Most slots feature either a 3×5 or 4×5 grid, meaning there are five reels going across in each case.
Having a wild icon stay on the screen for up to five reels, versus climbing three or four rows, keeps the wild symbol around longer.
10 – Transferring Wild Symbol
Some slot machines feature multiple sets of reels. The colossal reels described earlier (point #2) are a perfect example of such slots.
These types of games can feature transferring wild symbols. When a transferring wild appears on one set of reels, it’s copied onto the other set(s). You can therefore look forward to at least one wild on each group of reels.
11 – Split Symbols
As covered with colossal symbols, most slots have symbols that fit a 1×1 space on the grid. However, split symbols are unique in that they can pack 2 icons into the same 1×1 space.
The benefit of a split symbol is that it can help you form bigger payouts. In a 5-reel game, split icons can form payouts that contain up to 10 symbols.
Most often, split symbols are reserved for the highest-paying icons. If you do happen to get 5 split icons (10 symbols total) in a single payline, then you’re normally looking at a huge prize.
12 – Nudge
The nights feature can refer to one of two things:
- Being able to nudge reels after a spin to move the symbols.
- The game automatically nudging the reels to help you trigger a bonus.
Fruit machines, which refer to slots commonly found in UK pubs, offer the first type of nudge feature. In this case, you can choose to nudge reels and turn a losing spin into a win. or transform a smaller payout into a larger one.
Using this option in fruit machines requires some strategy. You want to carefully consider if you’ll improve your position by nudging the reels.
The second type refers to slots that automatically bump the reels to help you trigger a future. Here’s an example on how this works:
- You need three scatters symbols to trigger free spins.
- You land two scatter symbols cleanly on the reels.
- The third scatter is just above the reels.
- The game automatically nudges the scatter into place.
- You now get to play free spins.
13 – Synced Reels
A synced reel sees two or more reels spin together, stacked with the exact same symbol. Sometimes these reels can be adjacent, while other times they might be spread out (e.g. reels 1 and 5).
Either scenario gives you a stronger chance to win big prizes or just form payouts in general. After all, you’ll have stacks of the same symbol in multiple reels.
14 – Trailing Wild Symbol
A trailing wild can clone itself. This symbol moves downward after every spin and continues cloning itself the entire way.
- You’re playing a slot with a 4×5 grid.
- A trailing wild lands in the top row.
- You spin the reels.
- The trailing wild moves down one space and leaves a clone directly above it.
- You spin again.
- The trailing icon moves down again and leaves a second clone.
- You spin one more time.
- The trailing wild moves down again and leaves a third clone.
- You now have a string of four wilds within the reel in question.
The trailing icon will finally exit the screen at the bottom, at which point its clones also disappear.
15 – Cluster Pays
Most slots require wins to appear in active lines. Cluster pays slots differ, though, by seeing prizes formed in clusters.
A cluster is formed when the required number of symbols are touching. You need at least four symbols to create a cluster pay in most of these slots.
This feature offers a fresh break for the standard requirement of forming wins in paylines. It also allows you to create prizes with clusters totaling up to 25 symbols (or more depending upon the game).
16 – Sticky Wild Symbol
Most wild icons are only available for the spin in which they occur. A sticky wild, on the other hand, can hang around for multiple spins.
This wild is aptly named for the fact that it “sticks” to the reels. It’ll be available for two or more rounds, depending upon the game.
Sticky wilds are most commonly found in free spins. In this case, any sticky wild that lands on the reels will hang around until the free games are finished.
17 – 243 Ways
A 243-ways slot doesn’t have paylines. It instead sees wins formed when matching symbols appear in adjacent reels.
These payouts must be formed from left to right, starting with the leftmost reel. But aside from this restriction, 243 ways is a pretty liberal setup.
The number 243 comes from multiplying the number of spaces in each reel of the 5×3 grid: 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 243.
These games normally require you to bet at least $0.25 or $0.30 per spin. They act like a 25 or 30-line slot in terms of betting — even though they offer 243 ways to win.
18 – 720 Ways
A 720-ways slot is very similar to the 243-ways format described above. After all, 720 ways also sees payouts formed by symbols appearing in adjacent reels.
But the key difference is in how the reels are set up. As mentioned before, a 243-ways slot offers a conventional 3×5 grid.
720 ways has a strange 3-4-5-4-3 setup. Reels 1 and 5 feature three spaces; reels 2 and 4 have four spaces; and reel 3 features five.
IGT’s Siberian Storm and NetEnt’s Wild Rockets are two examples of this rare format. You typically have to bet a minimum of $0.50 to play 720-ways games.
19 – 1,024 Ways
A 1,024-ways game forms payouts the same as 243-ways and 720-ways slots. But again, the setup is the main difference.
This format is played on a 4×5 grid. Here’s the math on how these games offer so many different winning possibilities: 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 1,024.
Much like 720-ways games, these slots require you to make a hefty $0.50 minimum bet, or even higher in some cases.
You can see that there are a number of odd, yet entertaining features in the slots world. These bonuses spice up the action and give you something different to look forward to.
But you definitely want to understand any feature that’s available in the games you play. After all, you want to be excited when various bonuses come up — not dumbfounded about what’s going on.
Some features aren’t exactly easy to understand either. The buy feature, for example, merely appears as a button among the betting options. You therefore need to read the info screen to figure out what exactly it means.
This brings me to a good point in that you should always check out the info section when playing a new game. This practice enables you to find out more on the features you aren’t familiar with.
Luckily, you should have a heads-up by knowing the 19 features and game formats discussed in this post. I made sure to cover a number of topics that players may be sketchy on.
But this isn’t to say that you won’t still find other odd features throughout the gaming world. Again, the info screen is your best friend in these situations.