With these cluster slots, combinations of symbols pay when there is a certain number of same symbols next to each other, regardless of their positions on the reels. Two of the most popular slots of this type are Aloha! Cluster Pays, which pretty much started the trend, and The Legend of Shangri-La, the game that came fairly recently. The question we ask is, as always, which one is better?
Aloha! Cluster Pays
Graphics & audio 5/5
As the name suggests, Aloha! Cluster Pays features a Hawaiian theme, which means a lot of bright colors both in the background and on the reels. Tiki on the side of the reels is there to keep players company and celebrate the wins with some pretty funny reactions.
Symbols on the reels are represented by colorful Tikis, flowers, and coconuts, pineapples, and oysters, and the chilling music in the background creates a true holiday experience. All in all, Aloha! Cluster Pays definitely looks and feels great from the moment you start spinning those reels.
In-game features 4.5/5
As mentioned, this slot doesn’t have traditional paylines. Instead, players get paid when there are nine or more same symbols creating a cluster. Instead of a traditional wild, there is the substitution symbol, which changes into the adjacent symbol to create the best possible cluster combo.
The Sticky Win Re-spin feature is activated randomly after a win and it is similar to what you’ll find in slots such as Jack Hammer. Namely, the reels will keep spinning for as long as more symbols are being added to the cluster.
The Free Spins feature is activated by three or more free spins scatters landing on the reels. With every spin, low paying symbols are being removed from the reels, so the last few spins are always the most exciting, since usually only higher paying Tiki symbols are left on the reels by that time.
Like most of the recent NetEnt games, Aloha! Cluster Pays has an RTP over 96% – 96.42% to be exact. This means the game can provide a lot of play with reasonable small to medium wins relatively frequently.
Winning potential 4/5
Unlike with most slots, it isn’t hard to figure out the maximum win on a single spin with Aloha! Cluster Pays. Red Tiki is the highest paying symbol and creating a full cluster of 30, meaning covering the entire 6×5 grid, will pay 1,000 times the stake.
Nothing breathtaking in comparison to some other slots, but very solid.
Overall value 4.5/5
Aloha! Cluster Pays is a very nicely designed slot that will help you relax and offer a lot of entertaining gameplay thanks to a high RTP and a reasonable variance. The fact it plays different than most slots also helps as it will offer a nice change of pace.
The Legend of Shangri-La
Graphics & audio 4.5/5
Based on the utopian idea of Shangri-La, a fictional harmonious valley where everyone lives in peace and happiness, The Legend of Shangri-La features graphics that perfectly depict such a place. With green meadows in the background and beautifully designed symbols such as butterflies, goldfish, lotus flowers, as well as high-paying Guru symbols, the slot does convey this perfect world image.
However, unlike Aloha, this game’s graphics are very advanced – you can tell this release is from 2017. The graphics are so advanced, in fact, that you probably want a decent speed smartphone or desktop and internet connection to run it optimally.
In-game features 4/5
While the game looks really good, The Legend of Shangri-La doesn’t really do much to bring anything new in terms of features. The only difference is during the Free Spins feature, where Substitution symbols are randomly added and removed from the wilds, instead of removing lower paying symbols. We usually expect more from new games, so this was a bit of a letdown.
The Legend of Shangri-La has an RTP that’s slightly higher than with Aloha! Cluster Pays – 96.59%. This isn’t a huge difference, so these two games are in a same category when it comes to player returns. You’ll be able to play Shangri-La for a while without having a huge bankroll.
Winning potential 4/5
The pay table of The Legend of Shangri-La is basically identical to the one found in Aloha! Cluster Pays, with the highest paying symbol, Red Guru paying the maximum of 1,000 times your stake for the full cluster of 30. Not too bad and definitely enough to get you excited.
Overall value 4/5
The Legend of Shangri-La is definitely a great game if you love the cluster pays idea, and graphics are pretty amazing. However, the fact is that this game can be a bit slow on some computers, which is probably something designers could have prevented. Also, aside from graphics, the game doesn’t bring anything new compared to Aloha!, which can be a turnoff for some players.
Our verdict & where to play
These two games are basically the same, with different symbols placed on the same engine (or at least it feels that way). The RTP is almost the same and the maximum winning potential is exactly the same.
However, we must give a slight advantage to Aloha! Cluster Pays because the game plays smoother and because it feels like The Legend of Shangri-La can’t quite compete in terms of in game features.
Either way, you won’t go wrong by playing either.
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