NetEnt has launched Finn and the Swirly Spin, a game which does away with the traditional slot reels in favour of a new spin mechanic. The team behind the game talk us through the development of what could prove to be a landmark launch for online casino.
It is easy to take a developer's claim of having created "a slot with a difference" with a pinch of salt, but NetEnt's latest title is likely to make the industry sit up and take notice.
Finn and the Swirly Spin is a new five-reel, five-row, Irish-themed slot, featuring a new leprechaun mascot. This would seem a sensible rather than a striking move (Rainbow Riches has proved the Irish theme is wildly popular) were it not for the game board.
NetEnt has done away with the traditional spinning reels, replacing it with a spiral path ending in a keyhole in the centre, and a key at the end of the path.
"Symbols do not land in the standard way but follow a spiral pattern, with the key symbol starting at the outside corner and with the goal to end in the centre position," NetEnt chief product officer Henrik Fagerlund explains.
Winning patterns of three or more symbols will disappear, creating space for the other symbols to move around the path and for new symbols to enter, allowing the key to move down the path. Once the key reaches the centre it unlocks a free spin mode, described by the supplier as "the Leprechaun Las Vegas". Along the way, wilds will be generated to increase the chance of more wins, while randomly-generated features such as Starfall Wilds, Dragon Destroy, Irish Luck and Magic Transform offer additional help.
Finn and the Swirly Spin looks and feels unlike anything released before by a top-tier casino supplier. Smaller independent studios have made some strides in innovating with the core slot mechanics, but never a company of NetEnt's size or means.