Over the years, online casino software groups have recognized that some of their most popular games are those based on themes and characters that are instantly recognizable to players.
Taking that fact one step further, some of the top software companies such as Microgaming, Net Entertainment, Playtech and IGT signed licensing agreement with film and media groups in order to obtain the rights to develop games based on well-known movies, games and comic characters. Thus, online video slots such as South Park, Scarface and Gladiator were created and released into the industry - starting the trend for some of the most popular games available today.
In this article we:
- Take a look at twenty of the most popular branded slot games available at online casinos.
- Examine the games' most appealing bonus features.
Top Branded Slots
The branded slots examined in this article and their software companies are listed below. Some games are examined with their sequels.
- The Dark Knight Rises)- Microgaming
- Lara Croft Tomb Raider (and Lara Croft Secret of the Sword) - Microgaming
- Hitman - Microgaming
- Jurassic Park - Microgaming
- Terminator 2 - Microgaming
- Game of Thrones - Microgaming
- South Park (and South Park Reel Chaos) - Net Entertainment
- Scarface - Net Entertainment
- Dracula - Net Entertainment
- Marvel Comics slots - Playtech
- Kong - Playtech
- Rocky - Playtech
- The Sopranos - Playtech
- Gladiator - Playtech
- Frankie Dettori's Magic 7 - Playtech
- The Three Musketeers - Playtech
- Monty Python Spamalot - Playtech
- Pink Panther - Playtech
- Wheel of Fortune - IGT
- Monopoly - IGT
The Dark Knight Slots
Two of Microgaming's most iconic slot games are the branded The Dark Knight and the Dark Knight Rises slot games, with the former released in 2012 and its sequel one year later. The games are based on the Warner Bros Batman blockbusters, with the main character being one of the most instantly recognizable in the world.
The Dark Knight Rises features all the images from the original movie on which it is based, and Microgaming has incorporated the haunting music from the movie as well.
In terms of bonus features, the 243 ways to win game includes an epic Bane vs Batman battle which unlocks free spins, the chance to hit massive multiplier wins, wild icons and much more. Three or more scatter symbols trigger the Flight Mode, while the Free Spins Accumulator ensures plenty of free games.
Batman and other superhero fans are instantly attracted to Microgaming's two epic slot games at leading online casinos.
Lara Croft Slots
Another duo of branded slots is the Microgaming Lara Croft series, based on the Eidos Interactive video game series Tomb Raider. The beautiful archaeologist-turned-adventurer, Lara Croft comes to life on the reels of the two slot games, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, and its sequel, Tomb Raider - Secret of the Sword. The first game was launched in 2005 after Microgaming signed an exclusive deal with Eidos, thus creating the first branded online slot. Three years later, the software group launched the long-awaited sequel which has become just as popular as the original.
Lara Croft Tomb Raider is a five reel, 15 pay line slot and follows the adventures of the protagonist as she travels to find ancient treasure. Features to increase wins in this game include the Tomb Raider wild symbol, the scatter symbol which triggers up to 10 free spins and a bonus round where Idols pay out coin credits.
Tomb Raider Secret of the Sword, also known among players as Tomb Raider 2, is an updated version of the original, featuring 30 pay lines and bigger chances of triggering bonus rounds. Land three or more scatters on the reels to activate the first free spins bonus to win 10 free games and a 2 - 5x multiplier. A second, randomly triggered, free spins feature rewards five free games. Tomb Raider 2 also boasts a Global Adventure bonus for some great reward potential.
Following on the success of Lara Croft Tomb Raider slot, Microgaming released another slot game through its licensing deal with Eidos Interactive, this time based on the video game character Hitman. Since 2007, this has been a constant favorite for players at Microgaming powered online casinos.
The action-packed Hitman slot features two main bonus games, as well as other bonus features to make it as rewarding as it is entertaining. The five reel, 15 pay line Hitman slot has a main bonus game triggered by three Laptop symbols, where players are required to choose one of five targets in their role as Hitman, and a weapon of choice. Up to 270,000 coins can be won through this bonus game.
Land three Insignia symbols on reels 1, 2 and 3 to reveal other bonus prizes. Hitman slot also offers the chance to win up to 18 free spins, and features expanding wilds.
Jurassic Park Slot
Microgaming released Jurassic Park slot in 2014 after signing a deal with Universal Partnerships and Licensing to develop games based the iconic film trilogy of the same name. The first movie in the sci-fi adventure series was released in 1993, starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, and directed by Steven Spielberg. Several more movies were released in the series, which remains one of the most popular and revenue-generating in the film industry.
Tapping into this success, Microgaming's Jurassic Park slot takes players on a futuristic adventure where they come face to face with dinosaurs across the five reels. The game is interspersed with original footage from the film, thanks to the use of Parallax Scrolling technology, and it is clear that the overall effect creates a very entertaining gaming environment for players.
The 243 ways to win Jurassic Park slot boasts:
A randomly triggered T-Rex Alert Mode feature, where up to 35 wild symbols are added to the reels for up to 6 spins for some huge wins.
Three or more Dinosaur Egg symbols trigger the free spins feature with no less than five free spin games, each based on a different dinosaur and the chance to win 25 free games, multipliers and much more.
Terminator 2 Slot
Microgaming signed a licensing deal with Studiocanal for the rights to create a slot game based on the iconic Terminator 2: Judgment Day movie released 1991 and starring the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger. The 243 ways to win slot was released in 2014, but has managed to incorporate the feel and action of the classic movie with amazing special effects to match.
At least three scatter symbols trigger the Free Spins feature where an additional row of symbols drops down onto the reels, turning the feature into a 1024 ways winning experience.
Watch the T-1000 symbol morph into others to create the highest possible win. The randomly triggered T-800 feature scans the reels for cash wins, while a 5 of a Kind feature pays out quite often. Win up to 88,000 coins in this game which has become as iconic as the original movie on which it is based.
Recently, Microgaming released Terminator 2 in multiplayer format, allowing it to be played in tournaments at partner casinos.
Game of Thrones Slot
Microgaming launched its Game of Thrones video slot game based on the HBO fantasy drama series of the same name. The show has attracted a record numbers of viewers, winning multiple awards and entering its sixth season.
Microgaming's take on the game is a 5 reel, 243 ways to win, 15 line game set in the world of Westeros and centering on the Houses of Baratheon, Lanniser, Stark and Targaryen. An interactive element of the game iss for players to choose which House to serve during the free spins feature, which is triggered by three Iron Throne scatter symbols. Each House offers its own rewards as follows:
House Baratheon - Reward with 8 free spins and a 5 x multiplier. The Baratheon high symbol is stacked three high.
House Lannister - Win 10 free spins and a 4 x multipler, with the Lannister high symbols stacked four deep.
House Stark - Claim 14 free spins and a 3 x multiplier, with the Stark high symbols stacked five high.
House Targaryen - Win a whopping 18 free spins and 2 x multiplier.
Game of Thrones slot also boasts a gamble feature where players can flip a coin to advance along a trail and increase their winnings.
South Park Slots
The Swedish based casino software group, Net Entertainment signed a deal with South Park Studios to create one of the top branded games in the industry, South Park video slot. As a result of the huge popularity of the game, a sequel was released in the form of South Park: Reel Chaos.
Both games are themed on the hugely successful American adult satirical animated sitcom, South Park, revolving around four boys - Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny - in the Colorado town of the same name. The show was created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the Comedy Central TV network and has run over 18 seasons - making it the third longest running animated series in the United States.
The first South Park slot is a five reel,2 5 line game with free spins, wilds, Sticky Wilds, bonus games and three mini-features. The bonus game features include:
Cartman - Help him hunt hippies and win prizes
Stan - Win Sticky Wilds and re-spins
Kenny - Collect coins and multiply wins by up to 10 times.
Kyle - Win 10 free bonus spins and the Ike Wild.
South Park: Reel Chaos, the second game in this series is the long awaited sequel which sees the fourth-graders protect their famous town from Professor Chaos and his band of villains.
The game boasts four mini-features, as well as the main bonus feature, the Epic Bonus Spins, where the Mintberry Crush battles the enemies across the reels for the potential to win big.
Launched in 2012, Scarface slot game is the result of a licensing agreement between Universal Studios and Net Entertainment. The five reel, 20 pay line game is based on the classic 1983 American crime drama movie of the same name, directed by Brian Da Palma and starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer, who was an unknown actress at the time.
Net Ent's take on Scarface slots does great justice to the legendary movie, with the same retro look and top notch tension brought through great graphics and animations to the reels.
The game boasts three stacked wilds which activate Nudge Spins, free spins and an iconic bonus game. This slot machine, which pays tribute to the classic "Say Hello to my Little Friend" scene from the original movie, allows players to take the role of the protagonist Tony Montana as he takes his last stand in a shootout against his enemies. Players win coins for every successful kill made.
While movies about Dracula have been part of the landscape since 1931, it wasn't until the movie Dracula Untold was released by Universal in 2014 that Net Entertainment decided to step in and sign a licensing deal to create a game about the mysterious Count and his legendary thirst for blood.
The tale of Dracula was first introduced in the 1897 Gothic horror novel by the Irish novelist, Bram Stoker, which recounts how vampire Count Dracula moves from Transylvania to England to find fresh blood.
The 5 reel, 40 line Dracula slot is the eighth branded slot game by the Swedish software group, and the fifth license signed with Universal.
NetEnt's Dracula, as do most branded slot games, features footage from the original movie, which brings a realistic touch to the reels. In this game, Dracula broods by the reels and turns into a cluster of bats when the rewarding Bat feature is activated. When this happens, a random number of bats fly in and land on the reels, and when the reels stop turning, these bats turn into a random symbol.
During the main game, when the stacked Lady symbol appears on reel 2 along with the stacked Dracula symbol, 10 free spins are activated. The Bat feature can be activated once during the free spins feature.
Marvel Comics Slots
Marvel Comics, with their distinctive red and white icon, are one of the most popular brands in the world, and have been so since the brand was founded in 1939. The comic series really took off in 1961 with the launch of the superhero quartet, the Fantastic Four, followed by some of the most popular characters in time.
Some of the Marvel Comics characters that have been immortalized through books, movies and figurines include Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Ghost Rider, Spider Man and X-Men.
Prior to 2009, when Marvel Entertainment was acquired by Walt Disney Company, the software group, Playtech signed a licensing deal with Marvel to create slot and other casino games based on these characters, and this was the start of one of the most successful branded games series ever seen in the world of online gambling.
Prior to signing a deal with Playtech, Marvel Entertainment had a contract with Cryptologic, which also produced several games based on these characters. However, it is generally agreed that Playtech's games are much better and hugely entertaining.
Playtech's first branded slot games based on Marvel characters were Iron Man and Hulk. Today, it is possible to find over 20 of these superb games, each one more rewarding and entertaining than the next. All Playtech Marvel Slots are linked to the fantastic Marvel progressive jackpots which are triggered randomly and regularly pay out record sums of cash to lucky winners.
We take a look at some of the most popular Marvel Comics by Playtech:
Fantastic Four (50 Lines): This game came as a sequel to Playtech's 5 reel, 20 line Fantastic Four slot, and boasts greater winning combinations and lots more action. Characters on the reels include Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, The Human Torch and the Invisible Woman. Bonus features abound, such as the logo wild symbol, a scatter symbol which unlocks multiple free spins and, of course, the four jackpots.
Iron Man 2 (50 Lines): This is another sequel which only improves on an already excellent original game. The 50 line Iron Man 2 rewards players with 10 free spins and double payouts, while multipliers reward up to 100 x your total bet. Another interesting feature is the Skill Stop feature which allows you to stop the reel by clicking the 'Spin' button again.
Hulk - Ultimate Revenge: This five reel, 25 pay line slot represents the big Green Monster whose rage and strength are felt from the first spin. Hulk - Ultimate Revenge boasts a bonus game which is triggered by three scatter symbols, and which is considered the highlight of the game with its excellent graphics and sound features.
Spider-Man: One of the most popular characters of all times is given the honors by Playtech on this 5 reel, 25 line slot. Spider-Man slot comes with wild substitute symbols, a brand logo scatter symbol which triggers the amazing bonus round and lots more opportunities to win big.
Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World Slots
When Peter Jackson set out to remake the 1933 epic monster movie, King Kong, nobody realized just how huge a success the movie would be. The 2005 King Kong made $550 million in revenues worldwide, and won three Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects.
Playtech definitely had big shoes to fill when it opted to create a branded slot game based on Jackson's masterpiece, but from the success of the game it is clear that Kong Eighth Wonder of the World has make a mark in the slots industry. The 5 reel, 20 line game features original clips from the film, as well as most of the characters and filming locations.
Kong slot game is divided into two modes - Jungle Mode which is played on Kong's home, Skull Island, and City Mode, which features an urban backdrop. Each mode boasts its own bonus game, and once players have completed the bonus game in one mode, they switch back to the previous mode.
King Kong himself is the wild symbol in the game, while the Kong logo triggers scatter prizes of up to 100 times the original bet.
The game also offers multiple special features, including Wild Jungle Respins, free spins galore, extra bonuses and more.
Rocky, written by and starring the American actor Sylvester Stallone as the Italian-American boxer Rocky Balboa, became the highest grossing movie in the year it was released, 1976, and went on to win an Oscar for Best Movie, as well as two others. The original Rocky movie triggered five sequels, and became one of the biggest and most recognizable brands in the world - shooting Stallone to fame as a household name.
All the original characters of this epic sports drama are featured in Playtech's take on Rocky slot which was released in 2010, including Apollo Creed, Mr T. and Adriana.
The five reel, 25 pay line Rocky slot carries several great features, including a top jackpot of 10,000 coins if you land five Rocky icons.
A Red and White Glove on reels one or five leads you to the Knockout Bonus Round, where the world's most famous boxer goes 10 rounds against the chosen opponent, and players are rewarded with a prize every time Rocky wins a round.
The free spins, triggered by Italian Stallion icons, reward players with double multipliers and the chance to re-trigger the 25 free games. Players can also win five times their bet by spelling out the word ROCKY in order from left to right.
In addition to all these features, Playtech's Rocky also offers a gamble game, where players need to choose a card and guess whether the next one will be black or white, in order to double their winnings.
The Sopranos Slots
The American drama, The Sopranos launched in 1997 and ran for six seasons on HBO. Created by David Chase, the crime series portrays the lives of the New Jersey based mafia man Tony Soprano (played by James Gandolfini) and his family. The Sopranos won multiple awards throughout the year it ran, including five Golden Globe Awards and 21 Emmy Awards. It was also named the best written TV series in the history of television.
It was only natural, then, that Playtech sought to create a game that showcased the highly entertaining show to perfection, and the end result - created by the software company in 2012 - does a lot of justice to the brand.
Playtech's five reel, 25 pay line The Sopranos features all the characters who make an appearance in the series, including Tony, Johnny, Paulie, Chris, Bobby and Artie.
The randomly triggered Raid Bonus feature invites players to choose where to hide four envelopes, and then see their accounts credited with the stash. The Stolen Goods symbol on reels 1 and 5 simultaneously activates the Stolen Goods Bonus feature, where players are asked to choose among the 10 containers to win prizes.
Another bonus feature is the Bada Bing Bonus, where players need to pick one of five famous characters to win cash prizes and get taken to meet the Boss. This feature triggers original footage from the movie, which makes the game extra entertaining.
Free spins galore can be found in Crime Family Free Games feature, triggered by three scatter Sopranos logos. Players can unlock different modes to enjoy greater rewards at every level.
Ridley Scott's magnificent 2000 epic drama about the Roman Empire, Gladiator, was a huge box office success, winning multiple awards including five Academy Awards (among them Best Picture and Best Actor for the main protagonist, played by Russell Crowe).
Gladiator tells the tale of the Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius who is forced into slavery, and how he fights in the arenas of the ancient capital in order to avenge the death of his wife, child and emperor.
The branded slot game created by Playtech manages to mirror the drama, excitement and historical importance of Gladiator, the movie. Created in 2008, this game has gone on to become one of the software giant's most popular games, enjoyed by slot fans all over the world. In recent times, Playtech changed the game to Gladiator Jackpot Slot, which carries a fast growing progressive jackpot and has the potential to pay out seven digit sums!
Some of the appealing features of Gladiator slot, besides the progressive jackpot, include the Coliseum bonus round which rewards with free spins, and also features an expanding scatter symbol and extra wild symbol - both of which make a random appearance.
Another bonus feature, triggered by three wild symbols, has players choose among nine Gladiator helmets for big wins.
Frankie Dettori's Magic 7 Slots
This might not be classed as a pure branded slot but it was worth a mention because it pays homage to one of the most incredible jockeys of all times, Frankie Dettori.
In 1996, Ascot witnessed an incredible feat when Dettori rode all seven winners of the day at one of the most prestigious racing events in the world.
Playtech wanted to spread the thrill of that magical day to online slot fans, and thus created Frankie Dettori's Magic Seven slot game - a five reel, 25 pay line masterpiece which encapsulates the heart-stopping action felt on that magical Champion's Day at Ascot.
By landing five Frankie wild symbols on the lines, players can win the 7,777 coin jackpot - a substantial amount for anyone!
When the Racetrack Bonus symbol appears on reels 1 and 5, the Magic Seven bonus feature is activated, and players take their pick among the 20 spots on the racecourse to reveal cash rewards. This bonus feature is particularly entertaining because when players reveal a trophy, they are treated to footage of one of the seven races run by Dettori on the big day.
Landing three or more Magic Seven logo symbols on the reels triggers the Free Games Race feature, where players race three races around a track to claim free spins, depending on where their chosen horse places. First place earns players 35 free spins.
Frankie Dettori's Magic Sevens slot also boasts a gamble feature, where players get the chance to increase their rewards.
The Three Musketeers Slot
Playtech based its slot game, the Three Musketeers on the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas, which recounts the tales of Athos, Portos and Aramis, and their companion, d'Artagnan, as they carry out their many adventures in 17th Century France. Over the years, the Three Musketeers appeared in books, TV series and films, the latest being the 2011 romantic adventure film directed by Paul WS Anderson. Starring stars such as Logan Lerman and Matthew Macfadyen, the movie made over $130 million in the box office.
Playtech's take on The Three Musketeers is a charming 50 pay line game with many symbols that set the tone of the century - diamonds, parchment, swords, daggers, moneybags and more. Animations perk up when bonus features are activated.
There are a number of bonus features in The Three Musketeers slot which make this a game worth seeking out at Playtech casinos. Some of them include:
The Wild Muskets of Athos - activated when a Musket symbol appears to the right of Athos and rewards one re-spin with wilds.
The Splendid Sword of Porthos - activated when a Sword symbol appears to the right of Porthos and turns the entire reel wild with one respin.
The Golden Daggers of Aramis - Asks players to choose one of two bags of gold displayed in order to collect a bonus.
Stacked free spins when they appear on reels 1 and five.
Queen's Diamond Bonus - A five stage feature activated by the d'Artagnan symbol which begins with an introductory clip. Plaeyrs follow the trail to collect bonus symbols and move on to the next stage. If they complete all stages, they win the Queen's Diamond bonus.
Monty Python's Spamalot Slot
Monty Python is as British as strawberries and cream on Wimbledon day. This surreal comedy group triggered a hugely successful BBC show in the 1970s, starring members such as Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam.
Monty Python's Spamalot is a long-running Broadway musical comedy which was adapted from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a 1975 classic movie, which takes a highly satirical and irreverent look at the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
Riding on the success of Monty Python's Spamalot, Playtech created a fun, delightful-to-play 5 reel, 20 pay line slot game in 2012. Players join King Arthur and his knights in their quest for the Holy Grail across the reels, enjoying hilarious animations and original voiceovers by the legendary John Cleese and other cast members.
The game offers four bonus rounds as well as the chance to win big through two progressive jackpots.
Players choose which character to back (King Arthur, Sir Lancelot or the Knights who Say Ni) as they go on their search for jackpots. Bonus features include the Storm the Castle Bonus, the None Shall Pass Bonust, Knights who Say Ni Bonus and the Killer Rabbit Bonus. Rewards in this game include free spins, multipliers and more.
The Pink Panther Slots
The Pink Panther hit the screens in 1963 in the first of several movies in a series starring Peter Sellers as the French Inspector Jacques Clouseau. The successful comedy led to several sequels, including the Return of the Pink Panther, as well as animated cartoons, comics and other branded material.
Playtech's Pink Panther slots is a five reel, 40 pay line game with four rewarding bonus features and two progressive jackpots. The top fixed jackpot is 5,000 coins for landing five wild Pink Panther symbols.
The random Pink Pow feature can be found in the main game, which turns symbols wild for some good rewards.
Crack the Pink Code through another randomly triggered bonus feature by choosing which safes to open. Choose from free spins, expanding wilds and multipliers.
The Pink Trail Bonus feature, follows Inspector Clouseau's search for the Pink Diamond through four rounds of following footprints.
The other two bonus features are the Color Pink Bonus and the Wheel of Pink Bonus.
Also triggered at random are the two progressive jackpots - the Major Pink and the Minor Pink - which put players in line to win prizes ranging from consolation rewards to top rewards.
Wheel of Fortune Slot
Anybody who grew up in the 70s and 80s will have undoubtedly watched the Wheel of Fortune, an American game show which was created by Merv Griffin. The show invited contestants to solve 'hangman' style word puzzles in order to win prizes after spinning a giant wheel.
This show was the longest running game show in US TV history and aired a staggering 6,000 episodes. It finally went off the air in its original format in 1991, but syndicated editions continue to be aired up until today.
International Game Technology (IGT) created the Wheel of Fortune slot game, which has become a giant hit in itself. The branded slot game features the original music and theme and does true justice to the long-running show. Players can wager up to $50 per spin, with coin values ranging from 0.05 to $10.
The scatter symbol is the Bonus Jackpot icon, while the Wheel of Fortune logo acts as the wild symbol and substitutes for most others in the game to form winning combinations.
When players land three Wheel of Fortune logos, they trigger the side bonus round. Players spin the reel to reveal their prizes, although a run of bad luck could cause them to land on 'bankrupt'.
Five wild icons earn players the 12,500 coin jackpot, while matching five bonus logos earn players up to $50,000 if they stake the maximum wager.
IGT's Wheel of Fortune slot is hugely popular among players who enjoy the chance of winning rewards and playing one of the worlds most popular game shows at the same time.
One of the oldest board games in the world is Monopoly which originated in the US in 1903. The Hasbro and Parker Brothers owned game has been printed in 37 languages and licensed in over 100 countries, with its logo instantly recognizable as a brand.
It was only natural that a game that has become synonymous with hours of entertainment, as well as wealth, would grab the attention of a games developer, and the idea of as slot game based on Monopoly was born.
IGT has created a number of games based on the Monopoly brand, with features ranging from a Mystery Wild Bonus to the Board Bonus feature, a Property Bonus, a Community Chest Bonus and a Utility Bonus.
Recognizable features from the original game such as Go to Jail and Income Tax are incorporated in the slot game.