If you are a regular at online casinos, you will know the Starburst slot game all too well. In fact, even if you’ve only dabbled with online casino gaming infrequently, the chances are that Starburst will have featured in your slot sessions. That’s because so many of the leading iGaming operators now use spins as a common marketing tool to attract new customers, such as those that can be found in comparison platforms like oddschecker – and Starburst is one of the most popular games used to award anything from 50 to 500 free spins risk-free.
What is the secret to Starburst’s enduring success, and what can iGaming software developers learn from NetEnt’s classic slot game when designing the next generation of video slots for casino game libraries? Below, we’ll explore what makes Starburst such an inviting prospect for slot fans new and old.
A timeless visual and audio experience
Starburst has an intergalactic feel, with the reels sat within a space-themed environment. It’s a cleverly selected theme as it’s one of those that never seems to age and has been consistently used in all forms of video gaming since the 1970s. Visually, the base game symbols on the reels are easy to spot and compare with the game’s paytable. Aside from the gem-based symbols, it’s easy to see the Starburst wilds.
All in all, the visual experience is perfect for those new to slot gameplay. There is not too much going on, which can sometimes be the issue with more contemporary slots that look to incorporate additional interactive features surrounding the reels. This can unnecessarily detract attention when the ultimate outcome of the game depends on the reels.
That doesn’t mean this game doesn’t provide rewarding visuals after successful symbol combinations. Starburst features arcade-esque light shows and effects after a winning spin, while the “Big Win” light show takes things to even greater heights with the addition of flashing text and flashes of light across the galaxy’s skyline.
From an audio perspective, Starburst also offers an immersive experience. With high-definition (HD) quality sounds and a cosmic soundtrack, this all helps to turbo-charge your senses with every spin of the reels.
Simplistic game mechanics
What sets Starburst apart from so many of the other classic slots is its basic gameplay. Although some might turn their noses up at simple game mechanics, many engage better with Starburst because it’s so easy to keep track of what’s happening on the reels. Too many slots try to complicate the action with a host of reel modifiers and scatter symbols, many of which are just too hard to remember.
The Win Both Ways feature is a big plus for Starburst players, as symbol combinations pay out from left to right, as well as right to left. Whenever the expanding wilds symbol appears to fill an entire reel, players know they are guaranteed one free respin. That’s the main bonus feature. Having only one bonus ensures the waters aren’t muddied, which is vital for slot newbies.
You can keep unlocking more free respins if you land another expanding wild in a different reel. In fact, it’s entirely possible to land expanding wilds in all five reels, turning all the reels fully wild. If this occurs, you’ll win Starburst’s maximum jackpot. However, even gem-based symbol combinations can yield respectable wins, adding more bang for your buck.
Stake requirements to suit all bankrolls
With only ten paylines, it’s easy to budget your stake per spin. You can bet as little as 0.01 unit per payline or as much as 10 units per payline, equating to 0.10 and 100 units per spin, respectively. This is why Starburst has remained such an enduring prospect for slot players. Long-standing slot players with deeper pockets and bankrolls can bet at high-roller levels, while those new to slot gaming can test the water with ultra-cheap spins.
Is Starburst proof that less is more when playing slots?
With a return-to-player (RTP) percentage of just over 96%, NetEnt’s Starburst game carries plenty of incentives for slot players. It sits just above the industry average RTP, ensuring more regular payouts on the reels. In fact, it’s described as a low-to-medium volatility slot game. A low volatility slot is one which pays out frequently but is less likely to pay out the big bucks when it happens. High volatility slots will pay out less regularly but in greater amounts when they do.
Yes, Starburst is somewhat lacking in bonus features compared to the latest slot releases in 2022. However, the reason it’s lasted for a decade is down to its simplicity. It doesn’t pretend to offer the bells and whistles that newer counterparts do. That’s why it’s still such an engaging slot option.
How long Starburst remains an integral part of the slot library of online casinos remains to be seen. However, there can be no denying the impact that this slot has had on the iGaming scene. It also helped to position NetEnt at the front and center of fully responsive slot gaming ahead of its recent sale to Evolution Gaming.
New Starburst sequel will carry series forward
NetEnt have no finally launched a long-awaited spin-off of Starburst in the shape of Starburst XXXtreme. This revamped version of the original also contains expanding wilds and free respins but the iGaming software studio has added further depth to this feature by incorporating random win multipliers worth up to 450x your initial stake. These random multipliers are triggered for every fully wild reel you land. Meanwhile the Random Wilds feature is also an option in some countries where players are permitted to pay to unlock bonus games to guarantee at least one or two Starburst wild symbols.
Another considerable difference between Starburst and its successor is the latter’s volatile hit frequency rate. It stands at 20% in Starburst XXXtreme, which means you can expect to win just one in every five spins. Although the maximum jackpot of 200,000x means it’s a potentially more lucrative game if the reels and symbols are in your favour. Either way, it demonstrates that there’s plenty of legs in the Starburst slot franchise yet.