Anyone who’s ever owned an Atari or Amiga (or even a Commodore 64) is in for a real nostalgic treat here. Relax Gaming has clearly been inspired by Thunderkick’s legendary Flame Busters when they made Hellcatraz slot, but the two games have only the charming 8-bit audiovisuals in common. This is not in any way a copycat game, and as a proud ex-owner of an Amiga myself, this reviewer hopes more developers will get into the business of creating video slots inspired by retro video games style.
The reels are set inside a prison building on a small coastal island, undoubtedly inspired by the infamous and “inescapable” Alcatraz prison, located in the San Francisco Bay. Many a good escape movie has been made about that prison, and we welcome the 8-bit video slot version with open arms. The math model is about as brutal here as we imagine life in the real penitentiary must have been, but the massive 51,840x potential makes it worthwhile to attempt a prison bust.
The base game is riddled with innovative countdown mystery symbols, and these can help you land bigger wins when they get activated once in a while. The main attraction by far is the bonus round, where you will benefit from the mystery symbols on each spin. Choose between 2 different game modes, one more volatile than the other, and watch the backdrop switch from day to night. Any fan of high risk/reward games will have a field day here, and even if you’re a millennial, you should still be able to appreciate the beauty of the origins of modern day video games.
What symbols are there?
There are 9 regular symbols in play here, and the highest value symbol is the stern looking correction officer guarding the 8-bit Hellcatraz prison. Right next to him you’ll find the smug mugshot of a smiling Al Capone lookalike with a cigar hanging from the corner of his mouth. Also the sharks circling the prison island is represented on the reels, and you need between 3 and 6 matching symbols to win. Here is the paytable for Hellcatraz slot:
- Correction officer - Pays 2x for 6 on a payline
- Prisoner - Pays 1.2x for 6 on a payline
- Shark - Pays 1x for 6 on a payline
- Guard’s badge - Pays 0.8x for 6 on a payline
- Handcuffs - Pays 0.6x for 6 on a payline
- Card suit symbols - All pay 0.4x for 6 on a payline
What are the bonus features?
The wild symbol in this game is a simple orange W, and it will step in for all regular symbols to help you form winning combos. There is also a cascading wins feature in play here, which means that winning symbols are removed from the reels to be replaced by new ones falling from above. This allows for more than one win per spin, and the cascading goes on as long as you keep landing new winning combinations.
The main base game feature is the Mystery Reveal feature. You will always land symbols displaying a different set of numbers between 1 and 5. The set of numbers can be either identical on all the symbols, or it can be mixed. This depends on which mode you play in, the lockdown mode or the mixed mode.
These number symbols serve as mystery symbols that you can unlock. You do this by getting the same number of cascading wins as the number displayed on the mystery symbols. In other words, the mystery number counts down 1 digit per cascading win, and when it reaches zero all the number symbols turn into an identical regular symbol to help you form winning combos.
Free spins in Hellcatraz
Sometimes you will land small golden keys on top of regular symbols, and these are collected in a meter on the left-hand side of the reels. Each key can give you between 1 and 10 keys added to the meter, and you need to fill the meter with 2,000 keys to trigger the Super Free Spins bonus round. You will land keys quite often, but it will still take a while to trigger the feature.
You always start out with 5 free spins, and the good news is that all the mystery symbols you land during the bonus round do not require any cascading wins to reveal themselves (at least not in Lockdown Mode). If you play in the Mixed Mode, you will get a bunch of mystery symbols unlocked on each spin too, but you will also get some requiring 2 cascading wins to be revealed.
What’s more, you will also benefit from special Golden Mystery Symbols during the free spins feature. These are your key to getting more spins, as 2 of them on the reels combined with 2 cascading wins will give you 2 extra free spins added to your tally.
The bonus round can also be bought (depending on your jurisdiction), and this will cost you 200x your stake if you have collected zero keys. You can also use whatever keys you have gathered, which gives you a nice discount when you buy the feature.
How to play
The first thing you need to consider when you start playing Hellcatraz slot is which mode you want to play in. This is pretty important, as it impacts both the gameplay and the volatility significantly. If you go with the Mixed Mode, the game is still considered highly volatile, but now the mystery number symbols that land on each spin will be mixed.
This means that you can land a batch of countdown symbols with the number 5, and these can go together with a batch where 3 is the countdown number, as an example. The benefit of this, is that you have a bigger chance of getting to zero on at least one of the batches, although all mystery symbols can sometimes show the same number in this mode too.
The lockdown mode is about as hardcore as it sounds, and now the game has what’s described as super high volatility. All the mystery number symbols will land with identical numbers here, which means that you can expect bigger wins if you manage to unlock them.
When you have picked the mode you feel is right for you, it’s time to choose the bet level between 10p and £25 per spin. There is an autoplay feature where you can autospin between 10 and 1,000 spins, and even infinite autospins are possible here. You can also set a win or loss limit, both for single wins and combined wins. Of course, manually spinning the reels is also possible, and quickspin mode makes for very rapid gameplay here.
Where to play Hellcatraz?
Perhaps you’re eager to get going with this game already, and we don’t blame you the slightest bit for that. This is a very exciting slot for sure, but it can be a good idea to test it out in demo mode before you actually play for real. Don’t worry, however, cause we have the perfect solution for you no matter what you prefer.
Play for real money
If you feel ready to go for the big wins with real money, we have an algorithm in place that ranks all the casinos that carry Hellcatraz slot. All you have to do is click the link below, and you will be taken to the top of this page. Here our selection of licensed and safe casinos are listed with their respective welcome bonuses. Pick and choose as you wish, and play Hellcatraz for real money now.
Play free demo version
Being a very volatile game, it can be a good idea to give it a testrun in demo mode before you start to wager your own money. This way you will get a feel for the gameplay, and you can decide on a bet level that will suit your bankroll with peace of mind. Don’t worry, you don’t even have to leave this page to play Hellcatraz slot for free. Follow the link to the top of this page and play Hellcatraz in demo mode now.
The 200 Spins Hellcatraz Trial
Nothing beats that new slot feeling, and the first 200 spins is always a good test of how much beginner's luck we have managed to muster this time. Please keep in mind that this is a very subjective trial run, and that your first 200 spins might play out completely differently than ours did. Still, allow us to present you with our initial experience with Hellcatraz slot.
As always, we set the bet level to £1 per spin, and immediately checked out the paytable. This gives us a good overview of how much each symbol pays out per total stake, and in this case all the symbols pay between 0.4x and 2x, which is unusually low to say the least. Still, we knew that insane wins are possible here, so it was with eager anticipation we set the mode to mixed and auto-played the first 100 spins.
It became immediately apparent that you will get a lot of dead base game spins here. This is due not only to the high volatility, but also to the fact that the numerous mystery symbols that land on each spin very often will not be unlocked. This takes up a lot of prime real estate on the reels, but when we finally managed to unlock them, we landed a decent “big win” of 49x our stake.
That was hardly enough to keep us afloat, so we decided to switch to Lockdown Mode. It did not feel all that different at first, but when a massive bulk of mystery symbols unlocked, we won a decent “epin win” of 89x our stake. We also bought the bonus round one time for each of the 2 modes. This landed us a solid 428.5x our stake in Lockdown mode, and an okay 116x our stake in the Mixed mode.
Growing up in the 80’s makes this reviewer a sucker for anything 8-bit, but it’s still our more or less unbiased view that Relax Gaming has created a highly volatile little masterpiece with Hellcatraz slot. Our best advice is to play in Lockdown mode, cause you really need those big mystery symbol wins once in a while to keep you afloat, and the volatility is not really that different either way.
The mystery symbol countdown is innovative for sure, but it can also be a bit frustrating since “dead symbols” take up so much space on each spin. If you have the chance, it’s probably a good idea to purchase the bonus round after you’ve collected a decent amount of keys, as this is where you can expect the big wins to come. The max win potential of 51,840x is impressive, but this is not a game for casual low-risk players.
- 2 different gameplay modes
- Innovative mystery countdown symbols
- Free spins with mystery symbols
- High volatility and 51,840x max win potential
- Not for low-risk players
- Max bet is “only” £25
If you appreciate Hellcatraz you should also try:
There are not that many games out there that look like an old-school 8-bit video game, but there is at least one that closely resembles Hellcatraz. Here we shall present you with this “competitor” game, as well as a few others that you might also like.
Flame Busters - clearly Thunderkick’s 8-bit masterpeice has been a source of inspiration for Hellcatraz, but it’s in no way a copycat slot. Flame Busters is also a highly volatile game, but the max win potential is around 10 times lower here. Still, this is a charming and highly entertaining game, which comes with random fire drills and an elaborate bonus round.
An Escape from Alcatraz - is modelled after a physical slot machine, which is another way of dipping into that sweet nostalgic feeling of a simpler time. The main attraction is the bonus game, where you will help a convict escape the legendary prison island. There are 3 levels to this prison break bonus game, and if you make it all the way to the mainland, you will not walk ashore empty handed.
Prison Escape - is another intriguing prison break slot with a very elaborate bonus game. You will guide the escapee through a massive bonus trail, with the angry guards spread out across the board. There are plenty of bonuses to pick up along the way, which means you will escape the prison a rich man if you succeed.
Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior - is our last (but not least) recommendation. The binary digits might have been upgraded to 16-bit here, but it’s still a nostalgic trip down memory lane for most players of a certain age. This game is as close to a real video game that a slot can come, and it’s simply a must try for all slot playing video game fans out there.