While Halloween may have passed us by, the next big celebration has the whole world slowly getting in the festive spirits. As it seems to be growing tradition, companies seem to be swapping scary statues for merry Santas and creepy decorations for jolly ones the moment October ends and November rolls around. For most people, this is an annoyance, but not for us, because we’re Christmas addicts.
So much so that we all too eagerly waited for Habanero to release Santa’s Village, their Christmas themed game in which you guide Santa through a map, and through that, unlock three different free spins bonuses. Available symbols include playing card icons J, Q, K and A, as well more festive symbols fit for the season, such as candy sticks, candles, tree decorations, Christmas stockings, wreaths, reindeers, Santa himself and presents. Said presents are Wilds, and can replace all symbols. There is no Scatter.
Habanero Systems isn’t a developer we think a lot of gamblers are familiar with – which is a shame, since their games have been some of our favourites in recent years. You can trace their games all the way back from 2012, if not even earlier, but despite their excellence, the developers simply haven’t managed to punch through to find the recognition their titles deserve.
Despite having a small team, they produce awesome graphics and fun gameplay, and use their small size to their advantage, being able to change course on the fly as needed. Habanero did receive nominations for Top Slots Developer, Innovator of the Year and Best themed slot at Logan Casinos awards for 2018.
How to Play it
The title is played on a 5×3 playing field with horizontal pays – symbols pay only if they collect three matching icons in a row, regardless of position. Gamblers can only adjust their coin value and bet level. Coin value can range between $0.01 up to $20, which means bets themselves go for a minimum of $0.15 up to a massive $3000 at maximum for each spin.
And while we’re pleased that nearly everyone will be able to find a suitable bet at which they can play comfortably, we have to admit, the prospect of someone being able to play for $3000 each spin makes us just a touch dizzy. Autoplay is available in this Habanero release, allowing you to set the number of auto spins. If you open the advanced menu, you can also choose to stop Autoplay if you hit a free spins bonus, as well as if your balance decreases past a certain point, or a single win exceeds a certain threshold.
The background image depicting a cosy house filled with presents and a large Christmas tree helps get us in the right mood immediately, but even more valuable than that is the music. Jingle Bells is something everyone’s heard in their lives, but this piano remix of the popular song makes us want to leave the title on and just enjoy the music while we do other things.
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If any of the Santa symbols appear in a winning combination, gamblers are taken to a map. Santa will move across the map, and how much he moves is determined by how many Santa symbols were part of a win. As Santa can pay with only two symbols, your odds of making him move are greater, and his position is saved after he moves. This means, over time, you’ll get Santa to a silver circle, which awards one of three different free spins bonuses.
The first free spins has Santa turn into an expanding Wild. He loses his own pays, but you’re guaranteed to see one or two Santas on the playing field, with the rule that they can’t be adjacent to each other. The second free spins bonus has Santa tossing presents from his sleigh, adding between two to four Wilds on every spin. Finally, the third free spins bonus awards two sticky re-spins and an additional extra spin for every winning combination. The winning combination remains on the reels for the duration of the re-spins. All three bonuses reward 12 free spins.
The largest win you can score in Santa’s Village is 500x the wager for a five-of-a-kind Wild win. Or rather, this is the largest win, not account for the progressive jackpot that’s constantly ticking as you play the game, and can be activated at random. This game has a medium volatility, and an RTP of 96.07%, which is above average for video slots.
We had a lot of fun with Habanero’s Christmas release, and we honestly can’t wait for the holiday season to roll around once again. Expect a lot more seasonal titles from us as December draws closer. As it stands, we warmly recommend aiding Santa on his journey, and picking up a few presents ahead of schedule.