The massively popular slot Starburst is perhaps the best known offering from Net Entertainment – or NetEnt as they are commonly known – a Swedish digital gaming supplier founded back in 1996. Other well known NetEnt slots which are often found at UK bingo sites include Gonzo’s Quest, Twin Spin, Jack and the Beanstalk, the South Park series and the Jack Hammer series.
Starburst has just 10 paylines but they pay both ways – right to left as well as left to right.
The RTP of Starburst is 96.1%. The maximum win is 50,000 coins and the coin size can be set from 1p to £1. In addition there are 10 bet levels (number of coins per line) and this means that the slot really does suit all pockets; assuming that all 10 lines are played you can bet anything from 10p to a massive £100 per spin.
Net Entertainment slots are frequently based around a simple, powerful gimmick such as the reels spinning in sync in Twin Spin, the friendly octopus swapping symbols around in Beach and the Avalanche (collapsing reels) feature in Gonzo’s Quest – and Starburst is no exception. Its gimmick is the Starburst Wild. These appear on the middle three reels only and when one does, it lights up, expands to cover the whole reel and remains in place while a respin happens. Respins can be retriggered up to a maximum of 3 at which point reels 2,3, and 4 are all wild and that is when big wins happen.
The soundtrack consists of some extremely atmospheric electronic background music with the usual musical flourish when a win happens. The music for Starburst Wilds has been done particularly well – when the lights go out after a respin that doesn’t win, you can really feel the disappointment.
Unlike Eyecon slots such as Fluffy Favourites and Virtue Fusion slots such as Clover Rollover, Starburst cannot be played as a mini game (and nor can any of the other Net Ent slots). It has to be played in a separate window (but this can be small enough not to interfere with the bingo or chat).
The mobile version of Starburst is called Starburst Touch and the reels fill the phone screen with very little in the way of distractions; the screen for setting the bet size is accessed via the tiny menu icon in the bottom right hand corner.
So why is it so popular? Here’s some of the possible reasons:
1) There’s no need to wait for and play through a long bonus round in order to get a substantial win. While long bonus rounds can be exciting and entertaining, they demand the player’s time and attention. Bingo players who are passing the time while waiting for the next game to start and people playing slots on a mobile phone may not want that as they are only going to be playing for a few minutes and only have time for a few quick spins.
2) It is a low to medium variance slot which makes it a common choice for playing through wagering requirements and for those who play slots for entertainment.
3) Many casinos and bingo sites give out free spins on Starburst so players get to know the slot without having to spend any real cash.
4) The sheer stunning simplicity of it, especially on a mobile device.
Starburst has not quite achieved the market penetration of that other bingo players’ go-to slot Fluffy Favourites, but that is only in the bingo world. If you look at casinos and slot sites also, it becomes clear that Starburst (and Net Ent) is well on the way to total world domination. In the bingo world it is mostly 888 / Cassava managed sites that offer this iconic slot, although some of the big Virtue Fusion sites such as BGO, Betfair and bet365 offer the opportunity to play it (and other Net Ent slots) in a different area of their site with a transferable wallet. Starburst has also now arrived at Gamesys and at Daub Alderney.
There’s even a lookalike called Winstar which is found at many Virtue Fusion/Playtech sites (it plays very differently though).
As with Fluffy Favourites, while it is easy to find bingo sites with Starburst, usually only cash play is allowed and if you want to be able to take advantage of a bonus or free spins offer to play it you’ll need to be picky about where you play. Some possibilities are:
1) An 888 / Cassava bingo site that offers a slots bonus as part of the welcome offer (but do be aware that at these sites the wagering requirement for a slots bonus, typically 99 x bonus or 80 x (deposit + bonus) is much more onerous than it is for a bingo bonus)
2) A Gamesys site. The welcome bonus at these can generally be used on anything and despite slots play only contributing at 5% the effective wagering requirement when playing slots is still less than it is at 888 / Cassava.
3) A Virtue Fusion site that offers Starburst in a different area of the site which can be played with the same wallet; at Betfair, for instance, Starburst is not available to play in the bingo section at all but if you head to the Arcade section which can be played with the same wallet there’s a free bets welcome offer and a weekly free bets raffle both of which apply to Starburst. BGO have Starburst in their Vegas section and give all new players 20 free spins. There’s also a slots welcome bonus offer and lots more free spins but this would have to be taken instead of the bingo bonus welcome offer as they cannot be combined.
4) Other sites which have Starburst alongside bingo and regularly give out casino bonuses and/or free spins such as Mainstage Bingo and Maria (as of autumn 2015 all three of the welcome offers available at Maria included 40 free spins on Starburst).
5) A separate account at a slots site or Net Entertainment casino. The main disadvantage of this would be having to find two deposits instead of just one; as Starburst has to be played in a separate window to bingo anyway, and pending bingo winnings (where the wagering requirement hasn’t yet been completed) generally can’t be used to play slots, it shouldn’t make any difference to the playing experience. The big advantage of doing it this way is the free spins and bonus offers you would then be able to take advantage of and a few of these are as follows (correct as of March 2016).
Spin Genie – 50 free spins plus 100% deposit bonus (30 x wagering)
GUTS 25 free spins plus 100% deposit bonus, and further bonuses and 25 more free spins on each of next 3 deposits (35x – 45x wagering, none on winnings from free spins).
Leo Vegas 50 free spins on registration, 200% deposit bonus up to £100 plus 20 more free spins every day for 10 days (35x wagering).
Total Gold 25 free spins plus 100% deposit bonus (30 x wagering requirement with free spins treated as bonus)