Review of Gung Pow Slots
Whether you say “Happy Chinese New Year“, “Gung Hay Fat Choy“, or “恭禧發財“, Gung Pow Slots responds courteously by giving you 243 different ways to win. Which is around 213 more than most traditional machines out there today. They achieve this massive amount of paylines by using “Way Wins” which are won left to right when symbols are joined together to form a winning combination in any direction.
The Chinese name for this release is “Lucky Firecracker Online Slot“, which I kind of like better than “Gung Pow“, which reminds me of chicken for obvious reasons. Now I’ve never been to China but I’ve always wanted to go, so this review will be sprinkled with a tiny pinch of bias. There’s just something about those beautiful red lanterns.
For those unfamiliar with Chinese culture, the screenshots below show the kind of imagery that is traditionally used. You will notice that red is a predominant color because the Chinese believe that red is the luckiest color of them all and it’s always associated with money. For example, if you were to receive a monetary gift from a friend or family member it would always be given to you in a red envelope and it would be handed to you using two hands as a sign of respect.
Anyway, as you can see, the designs and colors are very nicely done and they are quite pleasing to the eye: click on a screenshot below to enlarge it.
For anyone who has ever been to a Chinese New Year festival either at home or abroad, you will know that there are two things that remain constant – the noise and the colors. Firstly, the noises are provided by loud firecrackers and explosives, (which were originally a Chinese invention), and secondly, the colors are supplied in the form of lanterns and fireworks, which were also made popular by the Chinese.
Chinese New Year is taken very seriously by those who celebrate it because it is a way to pay respect to dead ancestors, as well as an opportunity to clean out your physical and spiritual house. The color red is used extensively throughout the festival as it symbolizes good fortune and happiness. This is due to the fact that red was proven to scare away the mythical creature of Nian who would enter Chinese villages once a year to eat their children.
One time a friendly spirit appeared before his yearly visit and frightened Nian off with firecrackers, red lanterns, and red clothes. Since it worked once, the villagers kept up the tradition and never lost another child to him again.
As you would probably guess, all of the symbols in Gung Pow are Chinese-themed and come directly from Chinese culture and how they celebrate entering their new calendar. Everything looks sharp and is vibrant in color, which really helps to relay the spirit of the holiday.
Unfortunately, Microgaming chose to use our most hated symbol of “9” in this game instead of something more imaginative such as a dragon, a red envelope, or a young Chinese villager running from Nian. Any of these would have been better than 9, but we’ll just have to take what we’ve been given.
- J (Jack)
- Q (Queen)
- K (King)
- A (Ace)
- Chinese Firecrackers
- Chinese Sparklers
- Chinese Noise Makers
- Chinese Fireworks
- Chinese Lanterns
- Gung Pow Logo (Wild)
- Lucky Chinese Coin (Scatter)
You’ll want to see lots of Fireworks since it pumps out 12,000 coins for 5 of a Kind. The next best is the Noise Makers with 8,000, and then the Lanterns give you 6,000 coins for 5 across the board. Please note that in a terrible twist of fate, the Gung Pow Wild is shifty and only appears on reels #2 and #4.
Like virtually all other 243 payline machines, Gung Pow does not have a jackpot of any kind. So those of you who are looking to chase a huge cash prize will have to move on to something else to scratch your itch.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a traditional bonus round in Gung Pow but it does have a nice Double Up Feature where you can wager your previous spin’s winnings on the flip of a card. It’s up to you to choose red or black and either double your winnings or give them back to the machine.
To access the Double Up Mode simply click the “Gamble” button which is located above “Spin”. When you want to grab your winnings just click “Collect” to cash out and return to the regular mode.
Three or more Scatters anywhere on the reels triggers the free spins mode which will give you a flat 15 each time. The nice thing is that all wins during the round are given a 3x multiplier so this is your best chance to stack up some extra money. In addition, you can re-trigger more gratis spins if you hit 3 Scatters again while freerolling.
The other great part about this situation is that you have the opportunity to win a whopping 90,000 coins thanks to its high maximum payout. This is obviously going to be very hard to hit and most players won’t ever see a payout like this, but where there is light there is hope.
There are very few animations in this machine and it’s pretty straightforward without many bells or whistles. So if you don’t like too many moving pieces, Gung Pow will probably appeal to you.
There are some nice subtle graphics with the Firecrackers, Sparklers, and Lantern symbols when they light up in a winning payline combination. Also, the Scatter Coins twirl and swell, while the Wilds bloat and shine when triggered.
Audio & Soundtrack
As soon as you load this game up you are transported to a busy gaming floor in Las Vegas thanks to the constant muffled buzz of people talking and one-armed-bandits paying out. If you listen carefully enough you can hear a drunken salesman from Jacksonville hitting on a cocktail waitress. This audio is a strange choice since most would think that the biggest pet peeve of those gambling in Vegas would be the constant noise while playing.
There are of course some Asian-style audios to denote big wins in the style of a traditional 7 stringed zither or “Guqin”. All of the other sound effects are pretty much what you would expect with nothing standing out either way.
Many players aren’t big fans of 243 payline machines and we would have to count ourselves among this group. There’s just too much going on all the time and it gets hard to keep track of: you win and win but never really seem to be adding to your balance. In addition, because there are so many ways to win in the regular mode they never have bonus rounds or fun special features.
That said, most will enjoy Gung Pow for short periods of time when they want to kick back and play a game that doesn’t require too much thinking. The colors and images are sharp and the Double Up bet should always suck you in for a few big gambles so there’s definitely excitement to be had.
For the most part this release will appeal to those who love Chinese New Year and the others who simply like playing 243 payline machines. Everyone else will probably want to skip this one in favor of something with a little more action.
However for those who want a little taste of China, I say…
Bonus Video of Gung Pow
Here’s an interesting video about what actually goes on in China during their New Year’s celebrations. They certainly put a lot of effort into it all – I would love to go see it one day. Enjoy!