Music fans don’t have to travel to America’s West Coast to get a hit of hip hop this summer. Instead it can be experienced right here in Malta where three of our island’s most creative game studios have just unleashed their own rappers delights in the form of video slots that channel the exuberant spirit of beats, graffiti, low riders and chilled grooves. 

Whether its coincidence or competitive instinct that’s led Push Gaming, Relax and No Limit City to land these games all at the same time is anyone’s guess. But either way, we decided to find out if these new video slots are as good as they look. 

East Coast vs West Coast

The online slots industry has appropriated many ideas from popular culture over the years to spice up its games, but No Limit City’s East Coast vs West Coast must go down as one of the coolest, and this from a game studio that is blazing a trail with a series of innovative titles with their trademark xNudge and xWays features.

The first thing we noticed as we loaded this one up on our mobile is the quality of the artwork – the backdrop is a beautifully-depicted downtown south-central LA setting and the logo uses a classic graffiti font right out of the 80s. Meanwhile the reels are laced with hip hop imagery – dead presidents, beat, tape box stereos, rappers and pit bulls in caps and gold chains. 

Having laid it on thick with the graphics we were excited to see if No Limit could match it with the gameplay. 

Once up and running, after a few spins we found the basic gameplay to be a little slow with not many wins, but we did trigger the free spins round twice in our session and that did bring up some modifiers that made things a little more interesting. In particular, the xNudge Wilds are worth looking out for – these are stacks of Wild symbols that nudge up or down to fill an entire reel set. And the linked reels feature can bring up some good wins as two reels display identical icons for one spin.

Overall, East Coast vs West Coast delivered some hits, with one or two decent wins. We will definitely be coming back to this one whilst chilling on the beach this summer.

Top Dawg$

East Coast vs West Coast might be the Snoop Dog of this pack – slinky and chilled – but Relax Gaming’s Top Dawg$ felt more like NWA – ferocious and packing a serious gut-punch. One popular review site has already labelled it a ‘must play’ for high volatility gameplay fans in 2021. 

Once again, the graphics in this slot are top quality – the backdrop is another broad LA highway, with palm trees, clear blue skies and heat haze creating a balmy atmosphere. Once we fixed our eyes to the reels we picked up more of a cartoon vibe though, with the main characters from the game represented by a gaggle or weird looking dogs including a white poodle. 

Maybe it’s not as ferocious as Ice Cube, and in fact you could even be fooled into thinking this game is an easy ride. But it’s not! Relax cranked up the variance when building this game and that means risky betting with longer odds of hitting wins than normal, but ultimately the chance to hit big wins of up to 25,000x your stake. 

The highlight of our testing session was a free spins round where we dropped three sticky wilds that lasted the full round, each with a 2x multiplier attached. In the end our wins weren’t that big but you could see how Top Dawg$ has the potential to produce a few more epic moments. Overall, the game doesn’t have as many features as No Limit City’s hip hop offering but it’s volatile mix of wilds, multiplier and free spins suggests it could be equally rewarding at the right moment.

Jammin’ Jars 2

So we leave the West Coast behind and travel to somewhere that looks more like the inside of a New York or Miami club in the 1980s. This one we were really looking forward to loading up, being the sequel to one of Push Gaming’s most popular slots in a catalogue that is not short of classics.

Jammin’ Jars 2 is notably different to East Coast vs West Coast and Top Dawg$ as this is a grid game that plays out on an 8x8 reel set. That means we were looking to land clusters of identical icons rather than identical ones on a payline. Push have also cranked up the top payout from 20,000x per spin in the original to 50,000x per spin in v 2. 

Unfortunately, we didn’t get anywhere close to that kind of payout in our test session. However, we did love this slot. The disco dancefloor vibe and Jam Jar DJ in super-cool shades gives the game a fun feel. We didn’t crack the free spins round but we can tell you that it has some big features that include a level-up system where collecting enough gold vinyl icons brings more wilds to the grid, and in super-sized format of 4x4. And that in itself suggests the chance of some pretty special wins. 

It’s hard to pick a favourite after test driving each of these games. Each one has its own particular charm – East Coast vs West Coast has its fantastic artwork, Top Dawg$ has vertiginous variance and Jammin Jars 2 has the best features. Which one you prefer will come down to your own thinking around what makes a great slot game. What we can be sure of is that these titles are delivered by three Maltese studios who are each at the very top of their game right now and bringing the noise in abundance.

Go check ‘em out for yourself. Have fun, and gamble responsibly. 

About the author: Mark Longdon is a freelance journalist who regularly writes for popular entertainment blogs and magazines covering movies, music, gaming and travel. He is currently residing in London, UK, waiting for the opportunity to flee abroad again.

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