5 Dragons is an oriental themed slot from Aristocrat is combines many recent features with a solid video slot setup. The ‘reel power’ sign shows that there are no traditional win-lines. Instead this slot has 243 ways to win, with any combination from left to right on any reel counting. Other notable features include an optional ante bet and the ability to choose your free spins feature from 5 options.
This slot is available online, though it started out as a popular live casino game. The two versions are essentially identical. You’ll hear a stylized sound track during the bonus feature plus the familiar mechanical clicks of stopping reels shared by all Aristocrat pokies with this game. The symbols are colorful and themed on ancient Chinese icons including a dragon, golden carp and tortoise.
With 243 ‘all-ways’ technology, you will not need to select the number of lines to play with this game. Instead you hit the ‘credit’ button on the bottom left to choose your coin value and the ‘bet one’ button to choose a line multiplier. This is not immediately apparent when you first see the game – so make sure the ‘bet’ number at the top is right for you before you spin. The smallest spin is 30c (1c credit at 1x multiplier). The max bet is $9. These amounts include the ‘ante’ which you can select by clicking the ‘5 Reels + Extra’ button. The ante improves the multipliers when the free spins bonus feature is triggered. This does increase the overall return to player percentage of the game.
The top symbols this slot are the golden dragon and the carp, which both pay 800 per credit for 5 of a kind. The tortoise and red packet pay 300 for 5 symbols. Golden coins act as the scatter symbol and will trigger the bonus feature. There is also a wild symbol in the form of a fire / dragon combination. The remaining symbols are the playing cards ace through nine. These have the same look across most Aristocrat slots. The 243 way payouts mean you’ll see a lot of smaller winning combinations from this game while you play.
After a win you’ll have the chance to take a gamble to double your money. The ‘bet one’ and ‘bet max’ buttons become ‘gamble’ buttons. Clicking either takes you to a separate screen, where you choose from red or black for a randomly dealt card.
When you trigger the bonus by hitting 3 gold coins, you’ll get to choose from 5 options. The options are for more free spins with a lower win multiplier, or fewer spins with a bigger multiplier. This is really down to your personal taste.
There are some extras to note for the bonus feature. First the spins and multiplier choices are better if you choose the ‘ante’ bet during normal play. This bonus can be retriggered while playing. This works by letting you complete your current round, then offering the choice of spins / multipliers once again. An extra bonus is awarded for the red packets if you get these on reels 1 and 5 during the free spins bonus.
This is a common theme for slots with lots of competition from different software houses. Aristocrat themselves have more titles in this area. The most popular is Choy Sun Doa, which for me at least beats 5 Dragons in terms of build and gameplay.
What I like about 5 Dragons is the way that modern technology has been integrated with a solid and almost retro-feel setup. The 243 ways win-lines setup makes it easier to spot winners as soon as you are used to it, and the ante bet adds an interesting angle too. If you hit the free spins without this, you’ll be left wondering what could have been with higher multipliers. All-in all a solid slot, which scores high on playability without standing out from the crowd.