Ariana was released by Microgaming in May 2015, and it's based on a deep sea theme with the titular character being the main symbol. In this game, Ariana is a part of the deep sea royalty, and while that might remind people a little bit of the Little Mermaid, this game has a much more serious theme.
While it's not necessarily dark or adult in nature, you'll definitely feel a much more serious vibe like you're hunting for treasure and on the look out for any clue you can find.
The Game Layout.
This game uses a 25-payline layout with the typical five reels and three rows. Coins start at the low $0.01 apiece and go up to $0.50, and because you can bet up to 10 coins on each payline, you have an exceptional degree of control over the size of bet you'll play with per spin.
The ability to bet more coins on each payline is a feature that we wish more games had because it keeps you from having to choose between one bet size that's too small and another that's too large. Ariana has a medium overall volatility with balanced payouts and bonus features that don't hog so much of that value that you end up with big swings.
Comparisons to Mermaid's Millions.
Before we go any further, we want to point out the obvious comparison to Mermaid's Millions, another popular game by Microgaming. This game is similar to Ariana in the sense that it's about a deep sea theme and that it has a free spins bonus feature, but nothing else about it is similar at all.
It uses a different betting setup, a different number of paylines and wildly different features and graphics. Any critic who wants to say that this is just an updated version of Mermaid's Millions really has no idea what he or she is talking about, or the critic simply hasn't experienced the game at all.
The Important Symbols.
The two most important symbols in this game are the Ariana wild symbol and the starfish scatter symbol. The wilds play into the main feature of this game, and the starfish allow you to earn free spins. Five wilds gets you a payout of 500x, which might seem small until you see the other features.
The wilds will substitute for anything in the game except for the starfish. Five starfish will give you a 5,000x payout as well which is the largest regular payout in the game.
Stacked and Expanding Symbol Features.
A lot of major symbols appear stacked on the first reel. If you have a full stack of three of the same symbol covering the first reel, and any of them are a part of a winning combination, then every other matching symbol on the rest of the reels will also expand before your payouts are given.
This gives you a chance to run up some massive wins, and this is especially the case since the wild symbols are included in this during the other bonus feature. Stack up three wilds on the first reel with one wild on the other four reels, for example, and all 15 symbols will end up covered in wilds for an exceptionally large payout.
The Free Spins Bonus Feature.
Line up three or more of the scatter symbol to be rewarded with 15 of the coolest free spins we've seen in a while. The wild symbol starts out stacked on the first reel during these free spins, so you're going to have a shot at completely covering the reels if you line up the wilds correctly.
There's no multiplier on your wins for these free spins, but that's compensated for by the Ariana symbols covering the first reel and maximizing your chances of taking down bigger payouts.
Overview and Final Thoughts.
Overall, the Ariana video slot is a nice addition by Microgaming, and it fits into their typical testing strategy of coming out with new games that are centered around innovative features to see how players like them.
If it turns the game into a hit, then Microgaming will usually pick up a variation of that feature to use in one of their upcoming biggest releases of the year. This is how they're able to make sure that their new top titles are among the most popular in the world each year because of what amounts to this type of market research.
With that aside, Ariana is a solid game itself. While it's not as feature-packed as some newer titles, it has a refreshing visual appeal that's a lot different than how most deep sea-themed slots have been presented, and you'll get a lot of value packed into the normal paytable because of the stacked and expanding symbol feature.