British studio Plumbee broke out of stealth mode back in March with $2.8 million in funding and the announcement of its first Facebook game: Mirrorball Slots. The team’s fairy-tale themed slot machine title is now freely available to all on the social network, and showed up as the No. 14 fastest-growing Facebook game by DAU earlier this week. But is it any more interesting than the numerous unimaginative, uninspired slot machine sims already available on Facebook?
Mirrorball Slots, like its numerous competitors, assumes that players know how to play a slot machine with multiple pay lines, and provides no tutorial whatsoever. Players may bet on up to 25 different pay lines at once, with their maximum bet increasing as they level up. Various combinations of symbols net different amounts of winnings, and “wild” cards may be substituted for any symbol. It’s possible for multiple lines to pay out at once, and particularly huge wins prompt a “share” dialog where players are invited to brag about their good fortune on their Timeline.
“Bonus Wilds” vary in functionality depending on the machine players are currently using — on the Three Bears-themed machine, they increase the winnings multiplier; on the Rapunzel-themed machine, they “stick” in place until the player wins something; on the Snow White-themed machine they can trigger a bonus round.
Alongside these symbols, there are also “Scatter” markings that allow players to trigger a “free spins” mode, the exact form of which again varies according to the machine players are using. The player is initially provided with ten free spins of the reels, and certain symbols provide particular bonuses. On the Three Bears-themed machine, collecting “Goldilocks” symbols in sufficient quantities turns the three different “bear” symbols into wild cards; on the Rapunzel machine, collecting bonus wilds allow a prince to climb a tower, earning bonus spins and increasing winnings in the process; on the Snow White machine, players simply get triple winnings for a brief period.
When playing each machine for the first time, players will receive a free “charm” after a few spins. This automatically triggers the “Scatter” free spins mode after the next spin, enabling players to try out each machine’s bonus game at least once — and potentially earn some big winnings in the process. The game promises that these “charms” will be purchasable using hard currency “soon” but the feature is not yet implemented, and neither is the ability to buy hard currency using Facebook Credits.
Social features include a leaderboard that ranks players according to their total winnings and a gift-exchange system. These “mystery gifts” often contain hearts, which players can collect and either exchange for coins to feed into the slot machines or save for an upcoming “bonus game” which is not yet in place.
Mirrorball Slots is extremely well-presented, with excellent visuals and high-quality sound. Music is used sparingly to highlight special events rather than provide constant background noise and it works very well, adding a good degree of tension to the game. Despite all this, though, there’s no getting away from the fact that Mirrorball Slots is clearly unfinished. The game’s hard currency and item shop is not yet implemented, the “hearts” acquired from gift exchanges cannot be used to their full potential and there is little incentive for players to level up beyond being able to place larger bets — there are no machines to unlock, for example. The Snow White “Magic Mirror” machine also feels like it was produced for a different game — its screen size is different and it does not feature a “bonus game” in the same way as the other two machines.
All this is a great shame, because the implementation of the “charms” and the free spin minigames help to elevate this title over the other numerous, predictable and rather dull slot machine sims that are proving so popular on Facebook at present. Mirrorball Slots, then, is one to check back on in a few months — namely, when it’s actually complete.
Could be a great take on the stale slot machine genre, but too many features are listed as “coming soon” at the moment. Check back in a few months when more features have been implemented.