As 2020 begins and we leave 2019 behind us we want to take stock of the last 12 months in slots innovation and identify what we at ThePogg believe are the best slots released last year.
The software developers did not fail to hit the mark in 2019, bringing us an impressive haul of slots, with a few of them already confirmed as instant classics.
In an increasingly competitive market it is becoming harder for the big guns to dominate like they have done in years gone by. That said, most of the industry’s best-known names will be represented here, with one in particular picking up more spaces than any other.
However, a few lesser known names do make it onto the best of 2019, hinting that the established order could face even more competition in 2020.
The themes on offer have been varied, but the old favourites continued to be rolled out with varying degrees of success. This year has seen a huge increase in the number of South and Central American themed slots, with the Incans, Aztecs and Mayans almost proving as popular as the unshakable ancient Egyptians.
We’ve seen Greek and Norse gods tussle it out with Roman gladiators and Irish leprechauns. Halloween and Christmas have been represented; one with aplomb and the other without it.
We have seen TV shows and films hit the reels but number of them is nowhere near what it once was. The growth of negative press that surrounds the industry has inevitably meant that certain brands have chosen to avoid affiliation in the name of positive PR.
Despite this move away from the megabrands and vast commercial appeal there has been a number of slots released this year that have musical connections, with Play ‘n’ Go even opting to promote some lesser known European rock/metal bands in some genuinely innovative ways.
With TV and film characters becoming less and less prominent, slots designers now need to do the hard work themselves. There is more emphasis on creating new characters, new worlds and new features. Those elements will play a huge part in determining the outcome of this list, but what we consider most important will be the connection between theme and feature.
Slots that can marry those two elements will always score highly from us, and are pretty much a requirement for any slot looking to score that elusive score of 10 out of 10 from us. We’ll also expect some value for money, a slot that looks good and anything else that might contribute to a more eventful gaming experience.
The Top 10 Slots of 2019
Our list will be in order and only includes slots that we gave the full score of 10 out of 10. A few perfect scores have had to be excluded, proving that 2019 was a great year for new slots. Differentiating between the 10s has proved to be tricky, but make no mistake about it, all of the slots on this list offer an exceptional reel-spinning experience.
Without wasting anymore time here is ThePogg’s list of the best 10 slots of 2019, from 10 to 1.
Relic Hunters and the Book of Faith
Until the release of Relic Hunters and the Book of Faith I didn’t think for one minute that Wazdan would feature on our end of year list. Most of Wazdan’s previous back catalogue is pretty uninspiring, generic stuff, the sort of slots that a developer needs to grind out in the early stages of their career. However, with this one there is a clear suggestion that Wazdan are looking to take things to the next level. This is by no means the best looking “Indiana Jones” inspired slot out there and it is the lack of gloss that ultimately means that Relic Hunter and the Book of Faith doesn’t rank higher on this list. Despite this significant failing, the features on offer are so varied and so interesting that we couldn’t justify leaving Relic Hunters and the Book of Faith out. There are quite simply far too many features for me to go through them all, but trust me, this is not a slot that you are not going to get bored with any time soon. If Wazdan can build on this release then there is every chance we could begin to speak about them in the same breath as likes of Play ‘n’ Go and Net Entertainment.
Rumble Rhino is arguably not one of the best slot releases of 2019 but it is, without question, the only one I have been able to find that donates a percentage of its profit to charity. That alone was enough for us to give this one a 10 out of 10, despite the fact that it holds few of our usual criteria needed to hit the top spot. The gambling industry gets a bad rap in the press these days, with daily stories about gambling addiction and the failings of big gambling companies to effectively address the problem, something that often proves to be a tough accusation for us to defend. Slots like Rumble Rhino can go some way towards altering that perception and is a trend that we would like to see much more of in 2020. Well done to PariPlay for using the medium that they work in to try and raise awareness for such a fantastic cause.
Jackpot Raiders won’t be the only Yggdrasil slot on our list but it is the best from them since July 2019. However, the downturn in quality from the software developers in the latter half of the year is not something that overly concerns me. They have branched out into collaborations with independent developers and have been working very hard on their new Splitz technology, something that could see them dominate the slots landscape in 2020. Jackpot Raiders is, as you would expect from Yggdrasil, a stunning looking game, one that makes the most of an exceptional bonus feature. You have choices and there are levels. You have a character who needs to traverse vines, rickety bridges and canyons. There is very little not to like about this one.
Net Entertainment always do well in these types of lists because, let’s face it, they are the biggest and the best designers out there. You could have a top 10 Net Entertainment List for 2019 and it wouldn’t look too shabby at all. Unlike the majority of excellent Net Entertainment slots that were released last year this one doesn’t take itself too seriously. The Wild Worlds slot game has a cartoon aesthetic that plays out like a 90s computer game. You have levels and bad guys and an overall narrative that takes the design of this slot up to a level that most others simply cannot get anywhere near.
Rich Wilde and the Tome of Madness
Play ‘n’ Go struck gold when they released Riche Wilde and the Book of the Dead, easily one of the most popular slot games of all time. This year they released the newest Rich Wilde instalment and the results were impressive. I suspect Rich Wilde and the Tome of Madness won’t hold the same level of universal appeal as its predecessor and a lot of that has to do with just how complex this game is. There is so much going on, with so many permutations, that for some, Rich Wilde and the Tome of Madness will be too much, but for the rest of us this slot holds serious entertainment and it comes with a house edge that is much more competitive than the standard Play ‘n’ Go 4%.
Quickspin have had a very solid 2019. We have already awarded them the coveted prize of top Christmas slot for 2019 and now with the Golden Glyph slot they find themselves at number 5 in our top slots for the entire year. It is, as most Quickspin slots are, a stunning looking game and the only one on this list to take on the poison chalice of ancient Egypt and come away with something that we really haven’t seen before. We all love a tumble on the reels but add to that a chance to trigger the bonus feature with each and every one of them and you have a slot experience that leaves you thinking something exciting could happen with each and every spin. Totally unique and totally brilliant this is Quickspin’s best slot to date.
The Black Mamba slot is one of the most recent you’ll find here. Released towards the end of 2019 by Play ‘n’ Go, the music on this slot is brought to you by a little-known Italian rock outfit called Black Mamba. I don’t know a huge amount about the band other than they are 3 quarters female and switched this year from 3 members to 4, giving the bass player more time to play bass and less time singing. The music may not be to everyone’s taste but despite that, this is a quality slot, and one of the best releases in 2019. It comprises everything that makes a good Play ‘n’ Go slot. It looks exceptional and is utterly engaging. You get meters that need to be filled, cascades and various different random features. It is one of those slots that always feels as if something is happening and it comes with that all important competitive house edge.
Arcane Reel Chaos
The moment I saw Arcane Reel Chaos I had a sneaky suspicion I was going to be in for something pretty special. This game has it all, and is helped along quite emphatically by its own narrative. There is nothing I like more in a slot game than a plot that is properly exploited. As much a computer game as it is slot game, Arcane Reel Chaos sees you take on 4 different bad guys over 4 levels within the Free Spins game. The Arcane Reel Chaos slot is as much about story telling as it is about software design and as such has to be considered one of the single best slots released in 2019.
Champions of Rome
Champions of Rome is another Yggdrasil release that hit the perfect 10 out of 10 mark early on in 2019. We’ve seen great things from the company over the last few years and this slot suggested that 2019 was going to continue in that manner. The game looks as good an anything Yggdrasil have ever released and like all their standout titles this one makes the most of the features that it offers. Actual gladiator fights built into the bonuses means that we have another game that applies its theme to its features in a way that makes it entirely unique. This gained a perfect score from us and is fully deserving of its place at number 2 in our top 10 list of slots for 2019.
Scudamore’s Super Stakes
Released at the beginning of 2019, Scudamore’s Super Stakes got Net Entertainment off to the best possible start, allowing them to lead the pack from the moment that starter’s pistol fired, a position that this slot has retained throughout the whole of 2019. What we liked the most about his slot were the features. A bonus where you can actually bet on a horse and then watch it race. A betting option where you gamble on how many of a certain symbol will appear over a certain number of spins. For a slot to be considered the best release of 2019 the features needed to be something special and in this case Net Entertainment have given us something that is utterly engaging, and most importantly of all, can only work with this particular game. What I mean is, the features on offer here would make little sense outside of a horse racing theme. Hands down, this is the best horse racing slot you can play, and for our mind, it is the best slot of 2019.
I know that everyone will have different opinions on what makes for a great slot. All you have to do is take a look at the top 5 slots being played in the UK today and you’ll see 5 slots that would never gain a score of 10 out of 10 from us. Despite this we have no qualms about the 10 slots that we have chosen to enter into our top list for 2019, with each and every one of them offering the levels of ingenuity that are needed to be considered the best in a calendar year.
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