Thunderkick returns with the second slot in their Beat the Beast series. Each of the five events is designed for “brave players,” as Thunderkick puts it. In the first installment of the series, the heroes ventured into the depths of the ocean to face the legendary Kraken in his lair. The sequel turns away from Egypt and all the symbolism that country’s hot, dusty deserts have come to represent. After slaying a deep sea monster with tentacles, the characters return to more familiar territory in Ancient Egypt.
The most obvious difference between Kraken’s Lair and Mighty Sphinx is the background and some minor color and symbol adjustments. The standard configuration of 5 reels, 3 rows, and 9 paylines for forming winning combos is retained. Thunderkick slots continue to provide the same betting range as before, between 10 pence and $100 or €100 each spin. Despite Thunderkick’s claim that they wanted to update vintage slot machines with current features for this series, the sequel doesn’t appear to have made much changes from the first.
Kraken’s Lair’s visually appealing combination of retro and modern aesthetics loses part of its luster when viewed through the same lens a second time. However, this is not a major flaw. The paytable retains a similar layout to the original, with low, medium, and high pay tiles corresponding to the various symbol values. The 10-A royal is the lowest paid item, followed by the scarab, the Ankh, and the Khopesh Sword. The winged Sphinx pays out 250 times the wager for a line of five, which is about half of what the Kraken paid out for a similar combination.
As to constructing winning combos, low pays need at least three of a kind; the mid and high pays only two. The Sphinx Symbol serves as both a scatter and a wild. When used as a wild, it can stand in for any other picture.
Slot machines that are considered “beasts,” or are otherwise a part of the Beast series, are powered by a particularly risky mathematical model. The Return to Player (RTP) for this slot machine is 96.14%, which is slightly better than Kraken’s Lair (96.12%) for those of you keeping score at home.
Use These Features to Defeat the Sphinx!
The game is lacking in features in order to replicate the feel of classic slot machines, but that doesn’t make it any less of a game. The Mystery feature can activate at any time throughout the main game. At the outset of each spin, up to three Sphinx Emblems operate as wilds/scatters and can appear on any reel. Sphinx Emblems have a multiplier of 2, 3, and 200 for 2, 3, and 5 of a type, respectively.
The highlight is the Free Spins feature which starts with 10 spins when 3 golden Sphinx Emblems appear in view anywhere on the reels. Every time the reels are spun, 1-3 golden Emblems appear in random positions. In case you were wondering, the extra spins awarded by seeing three Emblems are half of what the Kraken offered. When free spins are retriggered, they unlock the Wild Upgrade feature. One of the lower-paying symbols will be replaced by a wild one during this feature.
Conviction: Beating the Beast, the Mighty Sphinx
Before passing judgment, let us first agree that, taken on its own, Mighty Sphinx is a serviceable if unremarkable game. Some readers may be dissatisfied with it because they were hoping for a continuation of the Beat the Beast series. Producers of sequels often feel pressure to top themselves with each new installment. This holds true for everything from slot machines to novels. Among the few that would risk going diminutive is Mighty Sphinx. Kraken’s Lair is a great start to the Beat the Beast Series, including a terrifying antagonist, unique design elements, and promising future. The sequel is a watered-down version of the original in almost every respect. This covers not just aesthetics and functionality, but also maximum payout, a key factor for many gamers.
The potential payout of 4,444 times the initial investment is far lower than that of Kraken’s Lair. Unless you’re totally into the whole “beating the beast” thing, there aren’t many compelling reasons to play Mighty Sphinx.
Thunderkick usually produces high-quality, enjoyable games, but you can see that something held up development of Mighty Sphinx. It’s too bad, because the much-touted Beast series presents an excellent chance to let loose, issue a challenge to the industry heavyweights, and assert one’s authority. For Mighty Sphinx, I’m crossing my fingers that it’s just a matter of putting it in second gear and letting it coast for a little before injecting the nitrous oxide. Maybe the next installment in the Beast series will finally take gamers to that out-of-this-world, mind-blowing destination that has everyone talking. We live in hope.