Cascading Reels in Online Slots

Anyone who has visited a land-based casino or sifted through the catalogue of games at an online outlet will know that slots reign supreme. While every visitor and player will have their own favourite game to play, these ubiquitous machines are regularly the most popular. But because of their popularity and the sheer number of titles available, many newcomers can find it overwhelming to pick out and understand a game. A big part of that is the different features that you can find on modern slots, particularly cascading reels. So what are cascading reels in slots and what do they mean for the gameplay?

Cascading Reels or Tumbling Reels

When walking through the floors of a big casino venue or being faced with a long list of slot games, you will often see the terms cascading reels slots and tumbling reels slots. At face value, you may expect that these are two different features that games will employ. In this case, though, they essentially mean exactly the same thing. Both refer to a kind of slot that, unlike traditional games where the reels spin and stop even if a win is achieved, sees the reels continue to spin as wins are achieved and symbols are cleared.

That means that one spin can result in a number of wins as the grid is cleared when there are winning paylines. This is where the terms cascading and tumbling come from. As symbols drop in to replace the winning paylines that have been cleared from the grid, they appear to cascade or tumble into place. These slots are popular with players because they can potentially lead to bigger wins as multiple paylines can pay out in one spin.

History of Cascading Reels

The very first slot machines that hit the market in the late 19th and early 20th century were extremely simple in nature when compared with what we have today. The Liberty Bell units were the first kind that you would find on the bartops of venues and shops. These introduced the common symbols of the fruits and bells that we still associate with slots to this day. In these machines, often known as one-armed bandits, the player would pull a lever and the reels would spin before stopping. If a payline was matched, the machine would pay out and the reels would stay in place.

After slot machines started to make the switch to digital counterparts instead of mechanical units, the possibilities seemed to be endless. Wilds and re-spins were introduced and these would often use different mechanics that allowed a player to continue their game without needing to eat up their bankroll and keep spinning. It was the internet that really ushered in the era of cascading reels slots, though, as innovative developers entered the market to get in on the online casino market.

In 2011, the long-hailed developer NetEnt introduced tumbling reels slots to the world in their award-winning slot Gonzo’s Quest. Rather than following the more standard approach to slot gameplay, this groundbreaking title brought its Avalanche feature in which winning paylines would be wiped off the grid and new symbols would take their place from above. This proved immensely popular with slots fans and, because of that, other developers looked to get in on the act and integrate the feature into their own games. This is where we find ourselves today.

How Does the Tumbling Reels Mechanic Work?

When choosing a game with this mechanic, it is good to know exactly how it will work and what you will expect to see when playing. Slots with tumbling reels may follow quite similar gameplay mechanics but it does depend on which game you choose to play exactly what you will experience. There are a few universal truths that you can generally know will be present in your cascading slots game.

Firstly, as we’ve mentioned, the symbols from a winning payline will be wiped from the reels on your grid. This then means that there will be an empty space at the bottom of the screen, into which the symbols above will drop in and take their place.

Then, if these too make up a payline, the same will happen again until the symbols don’t match a winning outcome. This means that there can be multiple wins from just one spin and one stake, rather than having to continue using your bankroll.

There is also somewhere else that you may find cascading reels, though, and that is in bonus games.

Tumbling Reels in Slot Bonus Features

Not all tumbling reels slot mechanic games will follow this approach, though. Some will have a much more standard form of gameplay in which one spin can only ever get one win. That is that a winning payline will not be cleared to see the above symbols drop into their place. However, they may include a bonus game mechanic that can be triggered in a number of ways. Usually, this will be by matching a number of bonus symbols.

These bonus games will take the form of a side bet where players will spin the reels and look to get winning paylines that will be replaced by those above. This gives them the chance to win extra credits based on this additional game, potentially adding up to their existing payout from any winning paylines in the main game.

Popular Slots With Cascading Reels

With exactly what these games are well and truly covered, the next question is: which slots have tumbling reels? As this mechanic has taken the slot world by storm, there is a long list of titles to choose from.

Gonzo’s Quest

As we said, this is the original cascading slot game. Despite using a fairly traditional theme Gonzo’s Quest has the Avalanche feature was a real game-changer and started a revolution in slot gaming.

Jewel Falls

Jewel Falls is a slot game that uses attractive visuals of gems and jewels to build its theme. Its tumbling mechanic is complemented by Free Spins and Stacked Mystery symbols.

While slots with cascading reels are popular with players because of the ability to build big wins, it is important to recognise that this is never guaranteed. These slots are often quite volatile, meaning it’s possible that you will not win at all.

Take Time to Think | | 18+

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