Light hearted, festive and set to a bouncing bass backing track, Carnival Queen is a fun romp despite an average RTP (96.1%) and middling volatility.
Drawing on the Brazilian holiday of Carnivale, Carnival Queen takes the flowery headdresses and anonymising masks of the festival and makes them part of a brightly coloured, jazzy slot.
The reels are bedecked with the cheery faces of party goers and the background is a lively New Orleans-like background, the American city that most leans into the spirit of Carnivale each year.
The choice of this theme makes for a fun and upbeat slot with a cheery disposition and some exotic flare.
The graphics are pretty well designed, using the theme to good effect. A purplish night scene creates a backdrop to the colourful reels, which teem with entertaining characters.
The art and animations are only as complicated as they need to be, though the game is rendered in low res, so stick to smaller-screen devices for the best visual experience.
The music leans heavily on the carnival tradition with its upbeat dance vibes. The reel sounds are programmed to synchronise beautifully with the backing track, making for a real party groove as you play. Unfortunately, the short loop time will probably begin to grate on most players' nerves before too long.
Carnival Queen is played out on a six reel slot with four rows on each reel. The game is played with an any way wins system, resulting in 4,096 ways to win on a grid of that size.
There is also a cascade system in place, which removes any winning symbols after they are counted up and then has new symbols fall down from above. This can result in new wins and further cascades. Each time a cascade occurs, one is added to the current multiplier. Each spin starts with a multiplier of one.
Overall, this makes for an enjoyable base game with a solid, if unimaginative, set of bonuses and special symbols (see below for full details).
The Wild symbol substitutes for all symbols except the Scatter symbol. During Free Spins, if a Wild lands on a reel during a spin where no win is possible, it destroys all the symbols along its row and reel, triggering a cascade.
Hitting three or more Scatters will trigger a Free Spin bonus with four Free Spins per symbol, up to 20 Free Spins. During the Free Spin bonus, landing two or more Scatters will add free spins, although now the rate of exchange is three spins per symbol.
In addition, during the Free Spin bonus, the cascade multiplier (see the gameplay section) does not reset between spins.
The return to player of this game is 96.10%, which is more or less where our idea of average for the industry sits. The volatility of this game is medium, which makes it a somewhat poor match for our preferred slot machine strategies.
The range of bets on the site we tested ran from a minimum bet per spin of $/£/€0.10 up to a maximum of $/£/€100.00 per spin, a nice spread covering most people’s bet size preferences.
Thunderkick's Carnival Queen is a great looking slot (despite its low resolution display) with a rocking soundtrack, solid gameplay mechanics and a perfectly okay return to player.
Its main drawback is that, as a medium volatility slot, it is of little use to players who use our preferred slot strategies. That said, if a player is opting to go his own route, they may find much to enjoy in Carnival Queen.