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Corn Chips and a few things Mexico

Posted by THEPOGG on Jan 25, 2019

You probably don’t know that January the 29th is international Corn Chip Day but you probably do know that corn chips are a derivative of the tortilla chip and that tortillas originate from Mexico. If you are a slots player than you might also know that Mexico, with its richly diverse cultures has helped to inspire a plethora of slots games, some of which have to be considered among the best slots games out there.

Here at ThePogg we’re not afraid to make links as tenuous as this in order to bring you a list of slots games that we believe are worth taking the time to sit down play. We’ll be exploring those multifaceted elements of Mexican culture and with each vibrant component we’ll find you one or possibly even 2 slots games to go with them. If there are any Mexican readers out there then I’ll apologise in advance for all the things that I am inevitably about to get wrong and for all the sweeping generalisations that I’m about to make about your wonderful country.

We’ll be exploring Mexico along 5 different cultural avenues, all of which have at least one slots game we can associate with it that has scored 7 or more from us on initial review. We’ll be looking briefly (and very superficially) at the Mayan and Aztec civilisations that left their mark on Mexico long before the conquistadors showed up. We’ll take a look at Día de Muertos, the Mexican Holiday that celebrates the lives of those who have passed. Pinatas will make up a section of our list, as will Mexican wrestling and our final contribution will be the chilli, Mexico’s most renowned ingredient and a cornerstone of many of their national dishes.

What those 5 aspects of Mexican culture all have in common is their vibrancy. Everything on that short list is bold, flamboyant and instantly recognisable. Those three qualities make Mexico the perfect hunting ground for a slots designer who wants their audience to understand a game instantly. They want to catch the eye and hold our attention for as long as they can and the fiesta of the mariachi band in the background is the perfect soundtrack to accompany it all.

The Mayans and the Aztecs

As I have already stated there’s no way I can drill deep into the complex histories of these two mysterious cultures and will shamefully gloss over the surface before looking at a couple of games that take their inspiration from Mexico’s lost civilisations.

The Mayans

We think that Mayan civilisation began roughly 2000 BC, meaning that its origins pre-date Ancient Greece by over 1000 years. The cities that they built were situated in the south-east of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. They had their own written language, a logosyllabic script, similar to Egyptian hieroglyphics, most of which was found chiselled into stone or painted on ceramics.

They used basic mathematics, had their own calendar, made chocolate from the cocoa plant and built some impressive pyramids, some of which we might not have discovered yet. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Mayans is their mysterious decline. In the 8th and 9th centuries Mayan civilisation began its decline and was all but gone by the time the Spanish arrived. That said there are still somewhere in the region 7 million Mayans alive in central America today.

The Mayans were also partial to bouts of human sacrifice, offerings that were thought to bring blessings from the many gods that they worshiped. This brutality and the questions that this ancient civilisation leave us with play a huge part in creating the fascination needed to make the Mayans the perfect backdrop to a slots game.

Mayanan

Mayanan was released by Quickspin in October 2017. The game is set against the backdrop of an ancient Mayan temple sitting deep in the Mexican jungle. With this game you get big drums and a hefty dose of panpipe blowing to help create the mysterious jungle atmosphere that sets the tone for the game. The symbols are made up of a few brightly coloured animals that you would find in the jungle and the game comes with one very entertaining feature. Like all Quickspin games you can tell that effort has gone into making the game look good and the features, whilst there aren’t many of them, as equally well-designed and made to fit with the game’s theme.

Play the game here for free

The Aztecs

The Aztecs are a much more recent and short-lived civilisation than the Mayans. However, their influence over Mexican culture is arguably more profound than that of the Mayans. For a start the Aztecs didn’t call themselves the Aztecs. The actually called themselves Tenochca Mexica and the ruins of their capital city (Tenochtitlan – place of the prickly pear cactus) can be found in the middle of the nation’s current capital, Mexico City.

When the Spanish arrived and saw Tenochtitlan they witnessed a city had been built on top a lake, one had not grown organically over time but one that had been planned and built from nothing. The city was divided into quadrants, which matched their belief that the universe was divided into 4 parts.

Like the Spanish who would usurp them, the Aztecs conquered the surrounding land and created an empire spanning much of Mexico, with Tenochtitlan at its heart. They did so relatively recently, with the empire only coming into existence in 1300, before it was obliterated by the Spanish in the 16th century.

This short reign is in stark contrast to the Mayans who built their empire up over thousands of years. Yet, the reasons for the popularity of Aztec themed games is essentially the same as it is for Mayan themed ones, as you will see with our choice below.

Aztec Secrets

Aztec Secrets was released by 1×2 Gaming back in 2016 and on initial inspection doesn’t look to be all that special. Unlike our previous entry this is not a game that will wow you with its good looks. The game’s background is, nothing really. A blue screen with some leaves. There are some interesting looking symbols that tie in well with the theme, but vibrancy would not be a word I would use in connection with them. What set this game apart at the time was the value for money that it offered. At well less than 3% we felt that this was a game that made up for all its failings through its low house edge.

Play the game here for free

Día de Muertos

Día de Muertos takes place on the around the same time that Halloween is celebrated. The festival can be linked back to a much older Aztec festival that celebrated the Goddess Mictēcacihuātl, the queen of the underworld. She is now known as the “Lady of the Dead” and resides over the contemporary festival that takes place in Mexico each year.

Despite being called “Day of the Dead”, the festival actually takes place over a number of days and sees family and friends pray and remember those they have lost. During the festival gravestones in cemeteries are adorned with brash, bold colours. Gifts, including toys for children are bought and left beside graves as an offering for the dead and a symbol of the love that has been lost with their passing.

Along with skulls that have become a symbol of the festival there is food, music and colour, not what most westerners would associate with death and mourning. The skulls are worn, they are decorated, turned into candied sweets, lit up, turned into puppets and anything else that can be done to make them the central icon of the festival.

It is believed that on this night the dead awaken from their eternal sleep to celebrate with their family and friends, making it a time to celebrate life opposed to mourning death.

Grim Muerto

There are a number of games that use Día de Muertos as a theme but the one that stood out the most was Play ‘n Go’s Grim Muerto. A few years old now, Grim Muerto is a fantastic looking game, that makes the most of the visual spectacle that it is based on. You have a skeleton mariachi band playing the game’s soundtrack in the background. You have bright, bold colours. You have roses, guitars, trumpets and accordions and a fun bonus feature that does a great job of paying tribute to this incredible festival.

Play the game here for free

Lucha Libre

What says Mexico more than Lucha Libre? You see a Mexican wrestling mask and you know that you’ve seen a Mexican wrestling mask. There’s no ambiguity, Mexico has its own type of wrestling, where the wrestlers wear masks and no one outside of Mexico knows much more than that.

Wrestling in Mexico goes way back to 1863 when Enrique Ugartechea , the first Mexican wrestler, adapted Greco-Roman wrestling and turned it into Mexican wrestling. However, this was still a long way off the Lucha Libre that we all don’t know much about today.

In the early 20th century, the term Lucha Libre was coined, meaning free fighting, coming from organised fights that were set up to make some money during the Mexican Revolution. But it wasn’t until 1933 that Mexican Wrestling began to look like it does today thanks to a man known as Salvador Lutteroth, who founded the EMLL (Mexican Wrestling Enterprise), the first wrestling federation made by Mexicans, including Mexican wrestlers.

Then to seal the Mexican wrestling deal along came La Maravilla Enmascarada, “The Masked Marvel”, who shot to fame after wearing a mask to hide his then faltering personality and set a trend that epitomised the sport.

Not all Mexican wrestlers wear masks but the mask still plays a huge part in the sport which is aired on Mexican TV 5 days a week, culminating on a Friday with Super Viernes.

For this particular instalment there were so many good games to choose from that we’ve decided to include 2 Mexican wrestling games on our list.

Lucha Legends

Lucha Legends is brought to us by Microgaming and is a whole lot of crazy masked fun. The game looks fantastic, filled with cartoon character symbols against the backdrop of the wrestling ring. The diminutive Sal & Pepe take on Burro, El Diablo and the enormous Martio. The game comes with a number of exciting features and the obligatory mariachi soundtrack.

Play the game here for free

Lucha Maniacs

Lucha Maniacs sees Yggdrasil do what Yggdrasil do best, making a game that looks utterly fantastic. Everything on display shines, from the symbols to the reels themselves. Small moving parts, like the loudspeaker and the flag help to bring things properly to life, with the features on offer only adding to that.

Play the game here for free

Piñatas

The last two items on our list are going to take much less explaining than those that have preceded it. We all know what a piñata is, we all know what you do with them and we even know where they come from, right?

Piñatas are a Spanish tradition that really took off in Mexico. You’d think that, as I did, but unlike me you don’t have the smug sense of superiority that only comes when you’ve just found learned something most people don’t know.

Piñatas actually originate from China. They would be shaped like an ox or a horse and had seven bells rattled out of it during New Year celebrations. The tradition made its way to Spain in the 14th century when they were filled with everything that Christians abstained from during Lent and released at the end of it, just as Jesus would have wanted.

However, the piñata really took off in Mexico because there was a similar tradition already taking place in the country when the Spanish arrived. Instead paper mâché unicorns, the Aztecs would smash ceramic pots with sticks that would release offerings intended for Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, sun and human sacrifice.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Spinata Grande

Spinata Grande is a Net Entertainment game that looks as good as anything you’ll see on this list. The symbols are all different types of piñata, each one more crazy and colourful than the previous. The game is set in a traditional Mexican town and is about as manic as any game you’re likely to play. There are plenty of fun features to keep you engaged, so not only does it look good, this game also offers great entertainment too.

Play the game here for free

The Chilli Pepper

Chillies aren’t just Mexican food. They’re Chinese food, Thai food, Indian food and whole host of other places I don’t have the time to mention.

Yet, if we’re playing word association and I say chilli, if you reply with a country, it’s most likely to be Mexico. If you put a hat on a chilli, it’s most likely going to be a sombrero. And if you ask a chilli to sing, you’ll most likely expect it to tear into something accompanied by a mariachi band, which is about all my need to say about our fiery friends before bringing you the final game on our list.

Chilli Chilli Bang! Bang!

Chilli Chilli Bang! Bang! is the last game to bring us a taste of Mexican culture and this IsoftBet release takes us all the way back to where our article started. This game takes us back to a Mayan temple, one that Chillihuahua, our chilli guide takes us through. Like just about every game on our list this one also looks fantastic. The game has some great features, at the centre of which is the chilli symbol.

Play the game here for free

There you have it folks. A tenuous link that allowed us to tap into one of our favourite themes and bring you the best games that Mexico has to offer.

Adios amigos!

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