Throughout media we’ve seen plenty of heroes turn into horrible villains. We saw Harvey Dent turn from Gotham’s white knight and star prosecutor into a deranged lunatic hell-bent on revenge against those involved in his fiancée’s death.
We watched Walter White gradually become more and more ruthless as he descended into the underworld, abandoning his family in an attempt to gain more power. And even though we all knew it was coming, it was still painful to see Anakin Skywalker lose his innocence and his ideals and become Darth Vader, bringing an end to the Jedi Order. “You were the Chosen One!”, his best friend and mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi shouts. “You were supposed to destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!” Those lines sound incredibly corny, just like most of the dialogue in the prequel “Star Wars” trilogies… But honestly? After playing Starburst, I somewhat understand them. “You were the Chosen One, NetEnt!”, I yelled at my screen. “You were supposed to destroy bad slots, not make them! Bring balance to online casinos, not leave them in darkness!”
Yes, as you may know NetEnt have always been among the very best online slot developers ever. They’re certainly my own, personal favourite, at least, and if the other reviews on this site are any indication you should know that I’m a very critical person when it comes to my slots! I have, however, never had a reason to be critical of NetEnt – their slots such as South Park, Gonzo’s Quest and Jack Hammer have shown us exactly what a creative, talented team can do with an otherwise very limiting medium. Their bonus games have been incredibly interesting and fun to play, and their licenses have always adhered to the source material to the letter. And then… There’s Starburst.
|£0.01 – £100
Starburst is not an interesting slot. It is not a fun slot. It is not particularly appealing to anyone but the most casual gambler. And it’s not like it’s a failed experiment – if I could see that they tried to do something very different with it, but it just wasn’t working, I’d still rate the slot poorly but would say “You know what, gotta give credit where it is due – at least they tried”. But no. There is no effort put into it. Starburst is literally about as basic as a slot can possibly get. It’s something I’d expect from IGT, but never from the company that gave us some of the best slot games of all time! It’s like Christopher Nolan suddenly making a “Scary Movie” sequel!
The first sign that something is terribly, horribly wrong here is that the paytable only has two slides on it. No, this isn’t a mistake, we didn’t mess up when taking the screenshots – that’s literally everything there is on the slot. One of the slides explains the values of each symbol, which is what, well, we expect by default from even the worst slot – otherwise, how do you know what you can win? And in all honesty, the values are really, really low. The absolute most you can get by aligning 5 of the most valuable symbol is, make sure you’re sitting down, 250 times your bet. On a slot with 10 paylines, that means that the most you can possibly win when playing on all of them is a meager 25 times your wager. Screw other slots that give you up to 5000 times your bet on non-special symbols, I want to turn my 10p into £2.50, because that’s where the big money’s at!
The other slide talks about the Wild feature, which, admittedly, does require a bit of an explanation – it’s one of those things that may be a bit hard to grasp at first, but instantly make sense when shown in action. Basically, every time you get a Wild, it expands to overtake the entire roll, which in turn leads to more of your paylines getting combinations. This only happens on reels 2, 3 and 4, as no Wild symbols will appear on 1 and 5, but if you’re lucky you can get all 3 of those reels filled with Wilds, leading to massive wins.
“Wait a minute”, I may hear you asking, “What about the bonus game? All NetEnt slots have awesome bonus rounds, so why wasn’t that described in the payout?” Oh, my sweet, dear, beautifully innocent reader. Haven’t you figured it out by now? I’m afraid that… Well, there just isn’t a bonus round in Starburst. No bonus game, no free spins, nothing. There… Is… Nothing. I kept saying to myself “No, no, that can’t be it, it’s a NetEnt game, there has to be something! Maybe if I just keep on playing…” But alas, the truth hurts more than a head-on collision with an 18 wheeler.
I often berate certain slots, often those made by IGT, for having extremely simplistic bonus round – you just trigger it by activating the Wilds and then get a certain amount of free spins without any sort of interactivity or spectacle whatsoever. Sure, Aliens also has a bonus round that’s not interactive in the slightest, but that looks so good and is so nerve-wrecking that it’s still incredibly fun, but when a slot only says “Congrats, have some free spins or whatever”, it feels cheap and unsatisfying. The only thing cheaper and more unsatisfying is when there aren’t any free spins given at all. Looking straight at you, Starburst…
Do not play this slot. My theory is that this is a marketing test. A NetEnt executive saw all the success that the simpler IGT games were enjoying and was like “Y’know what? Maybe we’re approaching this the wrong way. Let’s try and put no effort into a slot, make it literally as simple as we can get away with, and see how well it does!” The fact that it’s popular enough to warrant a review means that their strategy has at least partially worked. Please don’t encourage this behaviour, because at the end of the day it is us, the players, that will lose. South Park, Jack Hammer and Gonzo’s Quest are all brilliant NetEnt slots that definitely deserve a chance over something like Starburst, so I would heavily encourage you to play those instead of bothering with this thing. I am confident that not even the most inexperienced gamblers will have any fun with it.