There are scores of Asian themed slots to play. Casinos in Vegas and around the country usually have several – and online that number rises significantly. My question is whether China River from Bally has anything to make it stand out in this crowded niche?
Well, for a start this is the only Asian themed slot which includes a beautifully produced red bird with a yellow head moving above the reels. While the overall design is on the plain side (though professionally produced as you would expect from Bally), this bird really does stand out. There is a free spins game, where you can enjoy up to 15 spins with stacked symbols in play too. While this is not particularly unique, it can add some nice wins.
You’ll find many of the hallmarks of Bally slots in use. These include the familiar sounds, fixed number of win lines (40 in this case) and wins that come in groups – rather than single big wins.
Pay tables on Bally slots can sometimes confuse first time players. For a start the wins are shown as multiples of your total bet, and not in coins like many other manufacturers use. These can also appear a little low – for example the single biggest win on China River is 33x your bet amount.
Don’t be fooled, these slots do have big win potential. What you will find is that single wins simply keep your bankroll in play. You are waiting for one of two things – multiple wins at the same time (thanks to the wild symbols) or the bonus game where stacked symbols add a lot more possibilities.
Those times you trigger 5+ of the 40 win-lines will quickly erase any thoughts about ‘low payouts’.
The main way to win in China River is via the free spins. You’ll also get to see a nice effect where the screen gets covered in cherry blossoms. When you get to the spins, day has turned to night and the red background has become dark blue. Symbols are stacked, which means they come in groups on the reels. If you are lucky you’ll get several reels of the same symbol – which will often produce a windfall. Add in the occasional wild to the mix (the red and yellow bird also appears on the reels in this capacity) and your bonus game can turn into a big payday. As a side note, the usually quiet slot will play a traditional Chinese style tune while the bonus game is running.
Like on all Bally slots, the only decision you will need to make before you spin is how much to bet. There are 30 win-lines (not adjustable), and bets from 1c per line. One small quirk of having bets increment by 1c is that you’ll miss out the popular round numbers of $1 and $2 per spin (the closest is 90c and $2.10c). This is not a big problem of course, more of a curiosity. The maximum spin amount is $1 per line, or $30.
The best paying regular symbol is the Chinese writing, which pays 33x your bet for 5 on a line. The lily comes after that at 16x for all 5 with the golden urn and jade frog following from there. There are six playing card symbols in play, ace down to 9.
Bird symbols (the same one as above the reels) are wild in China River. These only appear on the center 3 reels. Wilds substitute for all of the other symbols to create winning combinations.
If you hit a win with the golden coins (which do come stacked on the reels), then you will trigger the free spins bonus game. The number of spins you receive depends how many coins are included in your win. This is 5 spins for 3, 10 for 4 and 15 spins for 5.
This is a solid slot and carries off the Asian theme very well. The graphics are mostly plain, though the red and yellow bird stands out – looking wonderful above the reels. There are no particularly unique features in this game. The free spins round with night-time view is the only time you’ll be away from the standard game. If you enjoy straightforward slots and in particular the Asian themed games – then China River is one for your shortlist.