Cascading Reels Slot Mechanic: Origins and Variations

Slot developers are constantly designing new gameplay mechanics and dynamics to offer reel spinners as much excitement as possible with every new release. Of all the interesting features introduced in modern online slots, the cascading reels mechanic is among the most impressive as it introduced a new exhilarating way of playing.

Today, the game mechanic is available in many online slots to a point where some casinos even have a dedicated category of games with the said feature. If you have ever wondered how the magic happened, spare a few minutes of your time as we discuss the origins of this exquisite gaming mechanic and how it has evolved in today’s post.

The Origin of Cascading Reels

The concept behind the functioning of slot machines has always been simple. You spin the reels and then collect your winnings whenever you match similar symbols on an active payline. Plenty of slot machines still feature this classic model.

Come 2009, NetEnt sprinkled a little spice into the slots world and ushered in a new immersive era of reel spinning. Gonzo’s Quest from NetEnt became the first slot game to come with cascading reels – a feature that NetEnt referred to as the ‘avalanche mechanic.’

In theory, this new introduction to slots gaming offered players better chances of winning compared to older slot machines. That’s because instead of spinning reels, symbols drop in tandem from above the screen; so, whenever you land a matching symbol combination, the combo will disappear from the screen to make space for more symbols. The process will keep repeating itself in the same spin until there are no more adjacent matching symbols in view.

So, thanks to the avalanche feature in Gonzo’s Quest, you could theoretically rack up lots of extra payouts as long as the cascades continue. Other popular NetEnt slots that have since incorporated the avalanche feature in their gameplay include:

  • Pyramid: Quest for Immortality
  • Imperial Riches
  • Elements Cosmic Fortune
  • Fruit Case.

Owing to the avalanche feature’s popularity, the slot mechanic has since taken many variations depending on the software developer. Here’s a look at some of them:

Microgaming’s Rolling Reels Feature

The rolling reels feature from Microgaming is usually applied differently in different games. Nonetheless, the baseline of the feature is that the rolling reels are activated after forming a winning combination.

The symbols that entered a winning combination will disappear from the playing field and will consequently be replaced by new ones. The process repeats itself until there are no more wins in view. Moreover, in some Microgaming slots, the rolling reels feature goes hand in hand with a multiplier trail, but the sequence of multipliers changes from one game to another.

Some of the most notable Microgaming hits with the rolling reels feature are such as:

  • Break Away
  • Rugby Star
  • Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs
  • Jungle Jim and the Lost Sphinx.

IGT’s Tumbling Reels Feature

IGT slot machine games that use the tumbling reels feature are usually set up just like any other standard game. After loading the game, you set your bet, then hit the play button to start spinning the reels and hope to line up matching symbols across your screen.

But then, the tumbling reels feature kicks in after you complete a winning combination. Your winning symbols will be removed from the reels, and the blank spaces will be filled with new symbols which will tumble in from above. This, of course, opens room for creating more winning combinations in one spin. Some of the highest-rated IGT slots featuring the tumbling reels feature are as follows:

  • Da Vinci Diamonds
  • Cosmic Fortune
  • Valkyrie Queen.

Playtech’s Collapsing Reels Feature

The base concept here is the same, just like in Microgaming’s rolling reels and IGT’s tumbling reels mechanic. Essentially, when winning combinations form, the matched symbols collapse and disappear to make way for new symbols. That way, you could end up enjoying multiple wins from a single spin if you are lucky.

Some of the most immersive Playtech games with the collapsing reels feature include:

  • Legacy of the Wild
  • Legend of the Jaguar
  • Eliminators
  • Hot Gems.

More Developers are Jumping into the Cascading Reels Bandwagon

While we have looked at only a few variations of the cascading reels slot mechanic, many more developers have adapted the feature. Depending on the provider, the feature may come bearing a different name or just use the cascading reels tag. For instance, providers like Quickspin (Swooping reels) and Elk Studios (Dropping symbols) give the cascading reels feature a different name. Meanwhile, the likes of Pragmatic Play prefer the ‘tumbling’ moniker that IGT uses.

Well, whichever name the feature is given, we can all agree that it has become a mainstay in the gaming world. So, if you are a fan of spinning reels online, find a slot machine with cascading reels in your next gaming session to relish one of the finest innovations in the slot game scene.

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