It’s hard not to love Aloha! Cluster Pays. NetEnt’s sunniest slot is full of cheery colours, jaunty music and an irrepressibly happy Tiki figure who chuckles and dances every time you win some cash. It’s easy to play and even easier to understand, thanks to a novel approach that’s binned complicated pay lines in favour of something a little different. The premise is simple; create a ‘cluster’ of 9 matching symbols or more and you pocket some cash. Unorthodox it may be, but does this fresh concept work well in practice?
WHAT IS ALOHA! CLUSTER PAYS ABOUT?
We suspect that some people will love the ‘Cluster Pays’ element of Aloha, but others will think it’s a bit naff. That’s the impression we get from speaking to other players and reading feedback online. That said, we can be more sure of the universal appeal of the game’s design and theme. Whatever your opinion of the gameplay, there’s no denying that this is a beautiful slot.
The game transports you to a tropical island in the Pacific where the water runs blue the volcanoes illuminate the pink skyline. Hawaii is clearly the inspiration; the clues are everywhere. There are coconuts, shells and pineapples for symbols, while the effervescent Tiki character even dons a floral garland and dances the Hula. It’s difficult to hate him, even when you are on a losing run.
It’s enough to charm the flip flops of many a player but a slot doesn’t become a classic by looks alone. Aloha! Cluster Pays must ultimately be assessed by the strength of its ‘Cluster’ concept, and it’s this that seems capable of polarising opinion. Our view? It’s great to see something different. Plus, the principle is so easy to follow that it makes Aloha perfect for a few a throwaway spins when your mind’s less than concentrated.
ALOHA! CLUSTER PAYS BONUS FEATURES
You need a minimum of 9 matching symbols in a cluster to win. The budding mathematicians among you will have quickly deduced that 9 symbols constitute three-fifths of a standard 5×3 reel interface. Clearly Aloha! Cluster Pays needs a bigger grid, so it gets it. The unusually large 6×5 layout gives you plenty of scope to create the big bundles that will boost your balance.
Symbols belong to a cluster when they are touching a matching symbol either vertically or horizontally. If a symbol is diagonally linked to the rest of the pack, it doesn’t count. Only the highest paying cluster from a single spin converts into cash and the high paying Tiki symbols can cover two spots on the grid. They count double when they do, ensuring it’s easier to form a win.
The substitution symbol effectively behaves like a wild by mimicking surrounding symbols to form new clusters or expand existing ones. Represented by a wooden box with a question mark on it, they can come in small clusters themselves. That’s handy if three or four of them appear in the middle of an existing group of identical symbols.
This feature represents your best chance of winning a decent amount in the main game and appears at random. Don’t expect to trigger it too often – it’s a welcome if an infrequent visitor to the reels. During sticky respins, a successfully formed cluster will remain in place through a random number of subsequent spins. If more matching symbols appear, they are added to the cluster to create an even bigger win.
SCATTER SYMBOLS AND FREE SPINS
You’ll need at least three tropical postage stamps to appear anywhere on the reels to activate your free spins. The scatters are big enough to cover two rows but they count even if they are only half showing. Three matches provide you with 9 free spins, though you get 10 if you land 4 scatters, 11 if you hit 5 and 12 should you earn 6 on a single spin. We love the free spins round before the lower value fruit symbols gradually fall away to leave the more lucrative Tiki symbols standing. That gives you a better chance of forming high-value clusters and hula-ing off with x30 or x40 your stake.
WHAT ARE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING ON ALOHA! CLUSTER PAYS?
This is not a high brow slot and is one of the easiest to understand for novices. It sits towards the lower end of the variance scale, which perhaps reflects its likely audience. That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable to play for everyone, but high rollers and risk takers might be left frustrated by the regularity of smaller wins at the expense of bigger ones. The casino free spins round is your most obvious route to riches given that it’s weighted in favour of higher paying symbols. However, sticky re-spins can theoretically lead to a grid full of the same symbol (something a little more modest but still sizeable is likely). Aloha! Cluster Pays has a wide range of stake levels – from 0.10 to €200 – and a theoretical RTP rate of 96.42%.
OUR VERDICT ON ALOHA! CLUSTER PAYS
We’re always drawn to games that try to do something a little different. By bidding farewell to paylines in favour of ‘clusters’ NetEnt have created an intuitive slot, which is really easy to understand. If we’re going to grumble, it’s because 9 seems like quite a lot of matching symbols, yet it’s the minimum number that constitutes a ‘cluster’. Wins come thick and fast, but they are frequently low value. All that shouldn’t detract from the charm of this online slot. It will rightfully appeal to many and has become something of a guilty pleasure here at 777 Casino HQ. That cheeky Tiki lures us back time and time again. It’s a fun game with a fresh approach that’s eminently playable. All this ensures that Aloha! Cluster Pays is a worthy addition to the impressive NetEnt catalogue.