Until I stumbled on the Katana slot, the Book of Ra was easily my favourite Novomatic slot with its Expanding Scatter feature – it just did it for me. But let’s talk about Expanding Wilds now because that is where Katana comes in!
Like most of the popular land-based Novomatic slot machines, Katana is highly volatile. You need the bonus feature to make a decent profit and even then, you need a slice of luck but when it decides it likes you, then 500x your stake or more is quite achievable. In land-based casinos, the Katana slots are often badged up as Shogun as that’s what its original name was (licensing restrictions!) but I have played one Gaminator machine that actually showed it as Katana so clearly, both are available at land-based casinos. What’s more, the land-based Katana slot had 15 free spins in the bonus round rather than the 10 of the online version which made it a lot more volatile.
The high variance video slot is samurai themed with the reels set on polished wood. The high value symbols are the geisha, archers, a temple, the famous Nagoya castle
and a warrior mounted on his steed holding a flag. The lower value symbols are Japanese calligraphy-styled playing card symbols A, K, Q, J, 10. The ‘Katana’, which is a samurai sword is the game’s Scatter and the highest paying icon which activates the Shogun Bonus Feature. The Wild is the Shogun who replaces all symbols except for the Scatter. Landing five of the former on the reels will get you 20x your bet per line, whereas five-of-a-kind of the latter will give you 80x your stake. Unlike in some other Gaminator games, in this online slot, none of the symbols pay out on two-of-a-kind. The Japanese graphics are on point and the sound palette is Novomatic’s standard dings and bells with some themed music when you trigger the bonus feature.
The game has a 5x3 reel layout with 20 adjustable pay-lines. The minimum bet per line on this slot is 0.02 credits and the maximum is 5.00 credits, which gives you a total bet of 100.00 credits when playing on all win-lines, which is advisable. The RTP (how much the slot pays back) on this slot is an average 94.09%. The key to either version of the Katana slot is the Shogun free spin bonus which awards you with 10 free spins when you get three or more Scatters anywhere in view. This is a common trigger mechanism in Novoline slots that you will probably have seen in Book of Ra itself, the popular Lucky Lady’s Charm and the 10-payline Dolphin’s Pearl Deluxe. But like those games, it doesn’t happen that often! The only real exception I can think of is in Reel King where you get the miniature slot machine feature randomly triggered but is not nearly as fun.
What’s special about this feature is the Expanding Wild action. During the free spins the Wild symbol, which appears on every reel, will expand to fill all positions on a reel when it’s in view, in the process forming several winning combinations. In addition, retriggers are fairly common on the Katana slot and when you get a feature round that kicks out Scatters and Wilds – as it can – you can make a colossal profit. But you have to ride the bad times to get there! In fact, the Wild doesn’t work its magic every time it appears, it’s temperamental in this way. The first time I activated the Shogun bonus I landed a couple of Wilds to no avail. If the Expanding Wild isn’t enough for you, the game even has a gamble feature with which you can double your winnings by simply guessing the colour of the next card correctly. The wrong answer will cause you to lose your hard-earned cash!
The Katana slot is highly addictive, highly volatile and available to play online for free or real money. Its Expanding Wild function and Shogun bonus can be extremely lucrative, except that it can be quite hard to trigger. Like I said earlier, this one of my favourite games; the graphics are good, it plays well and with a bit of patience can be extremely profitable.
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