You may be wonderingÂ why I am writing a review of one of the oldest and most popular online casino slots ever in late 2014! IGT’s Cleopatra slot is an ageless classic, loved for its simplicity: 20 pay-lines, 15 free spins at 3x multiplier along with doubling wilds. Although it was itself a nod in the direction of Aristocrat’s Queen Of The Nile slot (video), the format has been endlessly copied on other games with less success. The curiously addictive ‘dang! dang! dang! as the three copper sphinx symbols drop in and trigger your bonus round will be familiar to the vast majority of slots players, even today.
The game started off as a land-based slot in casinos in North America and became very popular, so was one of the first IGT adaptations for online play, although due to U.S. banking laws forbidding online gaming transactions, ironically not for Americans. Now some of the lucky ones (or unlucky!) can play in New Jersey online.
Now I will get to the fundamental reason of this review – I, along with some of you too no doubt have noticed that the original game has changed. Play online today and you will immediately see a difference in the button layouts. Astute players will already know that there are two versions of the Cleopatra slot in land casinos: the Game King version and the Kiosk version which a simple look at the pay-table will reveal that theyÂ behave differently. But this change to the online versionsÂ is a little more subtle.
The first thing that you notice with the new version of Cleopatra is that the reels and spins are far slower than the super-rapid older version, then you notice that when the free spins are triggered, you need to press ‘Start’ to start them whereas on the old version they started automatically. Some may welcome this, as if like me you tend to ‘prepare’ yourself for the bonus round by making a drink or taking the laptop outside so you can have a smoke while watching a feature, then you can choose when to proceed. On the original, the 15 spins auto-start and are over in the blink of an eye!
So what you say? But I have found some more sinister characteristics of the new version coming to light. The stake selection is limited and if you like to employ a strategy whereby you edge your stake up as you get each bonus round, then you’re out of luck. The betting denominations on the new version are generally 1c, 2c, (sometimes 3c) then 5c, 10c andÂ 20c a line. If you start off with a small deposit and hit a bonus round you literally double your stake each time if you want to up it a touch. This will usually have a catastrophic effect on your balance and means you NEED another bonus round quite quickly (or a big win in normal play, and I’ll get onto that later..) Basically you have lost the facility to choose the ‘number of coins’.
On the original version, you’ll notice precise stakes/coins can be set, if not on the bottom of the game as in this photo there will be buttons above it provided by the casino depending on the platform – if they are dedicated IGT casinos you get the buttons above, whereas as the multi-platform sites tend to use the game itself as in the photo (below). You can choose denominations of 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c, 5c, 10c and so-on.
Then you have options for number of coins, so you can bet almost any stake you like. If you have a decent hit at 5xcoins@1p (Â£/$1) then you can change to 2p and play 3 coins (Â£/$1.20) a spin and so-on. Those of you experienced will know why this can be crucial – the key to winning on this very ‘streaky’ game is to have overlapping bonus results. In plain English this means you win from a bonus round, and trigger the next before the winnings from the last one have been spent. Edging up your stake each time will obviously proportionally increase your balance. See the result in the picture (left)Â from a Â£50 GBP deposit!
This started at 40p a spin, and was upped to 60p, 80p Â£1, Â£1.40 until I was at Â£20 a spin and over Â£6,300! Notice the option to pick 1-5 coins by the start button. Not a fluke, as I have done it to the Â£10 a spin level several times and made over Â£2000 each time. Basically I was able to slowly but surely take advantage of the ‘overlapping’ bonus rounds streak with small increases in stake. Having to literally double the coin-size on the new version means that this is now near-impossible. (Perhaps that’s why the game has been modified?)
I state all this as a player that has had hundreds of thousands of spins on each version. Many people claim to have played “millions of spins on xx slot” but in reality this would take months of continual play and is pure exaggeration. I have noted my real stats and stand by the review I type here.
I will conclude with the fact that our dear seductive Cleopatra seems to have become a mean-spirited old crone as she has aged. Version 2 definitely has a different algorithm (maths model) employed. The game plays very differently to the original. I am not referring to lack of coin-number options or the bonus start-button or the RTP which appears to be similar if you check on the site where you play. The general variance and win frequency has noticeably changed. I actually spotted this in the first thousand spins I made on version 2, but you need a much bigger sample on random games to make such observations; now I have one.
Firstly it seems that the 5-line larger wins are rare on the latest game. There seems to be a prevalence of small 2 and 3-line wins for amounts up to 1 x stake. Secondly bonus triggers seem harder to hit and more evenly spaced. As a result bonus rounds are poorer in return as they reflect the normal gameplay. Retriggers are rarer too. The variance seems to be lower, thus the potential for big streaks. As I said, I regularly saw the old version kick-off on some great runs centred both on big wins and bonus rounds and yes, it could be dead for ages but the win potential on a streak seemed almost unlimited at times! I have yet to see a streak occur on the newer version. There has been the odd cluster of bonus rounds which meant at one stage I quadrupled a Â£50 starting balance, but then the game just died.
You may be speculating that I have had bad luck, or haven’t played it enough to know for sure. I most definitely have. I have proved it to myself beyond reasonable doubt. The newer version is like a different game.
Unfortunately, this new version of Cleopatra isÂ now the most common. The mulitplatform sites nearly all use it, such as the excellentÂ GUTSÂ plus sister sitesÂ Unibet and Maria Casino, the popularÂ MrGreen, and others. Even Virgin Games, primarily now an IGT site has it!
There are ports in the storm though – the older version is present on dedicated IGT sites Kerching and MoneyGaming plus Mecca GamesÂ to name a few. These are where I play Cleopatra now, along with a free-play version at Online Casinos Vegas when my bank balance isn’t what it should be!
So, if you too have noticed the observations I have made above, then rest-assured that you are not alone and not wrong concerning your opinion of the new, revised Cleopatra slot. The great news is that you canÂ visit any of theÂ sites I list in the paragraph above and load it in free play mode to checkÂ the version before you play. The new version is easy to spot immediately as you get a dark-blue square with the IGT logo in the moment the game starts to load, plus theÂ gold progress bar shown in the pictures above, whereas the old version loads over the background of the actual game with a small ‘progress’ overlay in the centre plus has a purple surround.