Last update: 16th April 2018
Our slot of the month for December 2017 is Highlander by Microgaming. At this time of year people often like to wallow in nostalgia, and this game certainly offers the opportunity to do just that as it is themed on a classic piece of 1980s hokum.
The original Highlander film (released in 1986) didn’t do well in the USA, recouping less than half of its budget in its initial run, but European audiences were more favourably disposed towards it because of the songs written for the soundtrack by Queen and because Christopher Lambert who played Connor MacLeod (the eponymous Highlander) was already well known in his native France. Real success came with the video release which assured its cult status – if you were around in the 90s you may well have watched this film (or if unlucky, one of the dreadful sequels) many times back at a mate’s house at the end of a night out. Highlander was also a TV series during the 90s.
The Highlander slot is based on and includes music and footage from the original film. As well as past and present versions of the Highlander himself, the symbols on the reels include the Kurgan (MacLeod’s immortal enemy) and Brenda and Heather (the two women in his life) – but disappointingly no Sean Connery as Ramirez (presumably they couldn’t get permission to use him).
As befits a slot based on a film that is more than 30 years old, the Highlander game does not contain anything particularly new – it’s basically a reiteration of a format Microgaming does consistently well – the 243 way slot.
Highlander is medium variance; much of the 96.23% RTP is tied up in the bonus round and in the base game, 5 of a kind is needed to produce a worthwhile win. The base game does have one gimmick, attached to the sword scatter symbol. Three or more of these are needed to trigger the bonus round, but if you spin just two of them, both turn wild creating the potential for extra winning combos.
The bonus round in Highlander is a classic 10 free spins with an extra bonus feature and as in many other Microgaming slots the bonus feature adds extra wilds. When the bonus round starts, the background changes from the Highlands of Scotland (where the flashbacks in the film are set) to New York City (where the present day action takes place).
During the free spins, the Quickening Wilds feature can activate on any spin. Lightning strikes the spinning reels and turns several positions wild increasing the chances of multiple winning combos. The number of positions that turn wild increases each time the feature activates.
Getting a big win unlocks perhaps the most iconic piece of footage from the film – the swordfight between the Highlander and the Kurgan.
The tagline of the original Highlander film was “There Can Be Only One” – but it can’t really be applied to the slot. Entertaining though it is – especially if you like a fat helping of 1980s cheese – it is a variation on an already well established theme (the 243 way film tie-in slot) rather than offering anything unique.