If there's one mechanic that has dominated the online slots industry, it's the ‘fishing' mechanic. Over the years, dozens of studios have tried their hand at offering a game where the main goal is to collect cash values, and the popularity of these releases doesn't seem to be slowing down.
It's been over 8 years since the first fishing game was released – Fishin' Frenzy, by Reel Time Gaming. There was nothing overly complex about this one – players had to land cash symbols alongside collector symbols (in the form of fish and fishermen), and they could reel big wins in.
It's quite surprising, then, that 8 years later we're still seeing a plethora of fishing releases. In part this is thanks to Reel Kingdom, partner of Pragmatic Play, who released Big Bass Bonanza in 2020, giving a new lease of life to a mechanic that was starting to look tired.
In this release, players could collect fishermen and advance through levels, awarding additional spins and multipliers up to x10 on cash values – a recipe for success. Alongside this, many in game features were added, like dynamite features and waterfalls to add fish or fishermen to the reels for guaranteed collection, along with highly volatile maths models.
Since the release of Big Bass Bonanza, this team have went on to produce 8 more games in this series, along with 4 more offering the same mechanics but a different theme. Let's take a closer look at this series and the games that make it what it is.
Popularity of the Big Bass Series
So, what makes the Big Bass series such a popular one? Each time a new release is announced in this series, players have the same level of anticipation – excited to see what could come next or be added on. There's a few different elements contributing to the popularity of this series, in our opinion.
Firstly, the core mechanic, as we already discussed, was already a popular one. Fishing games have been popular since long before the Big Bass series started, which means Reel Kingdom were already onto somewhat of a winner when they started out. What they have done here is elevate this popular mechanic, by adding progression, additional spins and multipliers up to x10, without overly complicating it.
The result is that the Big Bass series is perfect for new gambling enthusiasts. There's nothing overtly complex and no need to read the game information. Even if one of these releases was the first slot you ever played, we'd be surprised if you didn't pick it up very quickly. Simplicity in gameplay, along with bright, colourful graphics and an upbeat soundtrack, combined with a popular core mechanic, and this series became a winner.
Maths in the Big Bass Series
The second reason the Big Bass series has become so popular is due to the maths model working in the background. A lost of the time players don't consider the maths when they're thinking about online slots, but that doesn't mean they don't notice it.
The Big Bass series combines highly volatile maths with frequent bonuses and maximum wins that, whilst not breaking any records, are more than enough for players to be delighted with. As a result, players come away from these releases feeling that bonuses are landing frequently enough, whilst still offering excitement when they do land – that all or nothing feeling that makes us love anything labelled high volatility.
This is the main reason that the Big Bass series has become a go to for UK players who no longer have access to bonus buys as a result of regulatory changes. Even in the releases that do offer a bonus buy, players without access can expect to trigger Free Spins as commonly as 1 in 113 or 1 in 117 spins.
Big Bass Bonanza
Released in December 2020, Big Bass Bonanza was the original in this series – and the one that got the ball rolling. As we said, one of the most popular aspects of this series is the bonus frequency.
Big Bass Bonanza comes with a bonus frequency of 1 in 113 spins on average – the most frequent of this whole series, which helped to propel this game to popularity and start a cult following.
Combine this with RTP options up to 96.71% and maximum wins available of 2,100x bet, it's no wonder this release paved the way for a dozen more to follow.
Bigger Bass Bonanza
Is bigger always better? Reel Kingdom certainly think so, which is why 9 months after the release of Big Bass Bonanza, in September 2021, the team brought us Bigger Bass Bonanza. Within this time, we were introduced to Floating Dragon – the same mechanics with an Asian theme. It wasn't long before the team were back to the shorefront though, and this time around players had something new to hunt for – a 4,000x bet fish.
With an additional 2 win lines than its predecessor, Bigger Bass Bonanza offered players RTP options up to 96.71%, a bonus frequency of 1 in 122 spins on average and wins up to 4,000x bet.
Big Bass Bonanza Megaways
There isn't a huge difference between many of the releases in this series, but each one does try to introduce at least one new element. In November 2021, it was time to combine the fish mechanic with one of the other most popular mechanics around – Megaways.
Licencing the Megaways mechanic from Big Time Gaming, Big Bass Bonanza Megaways offers players the same cash collector mechanic they know and love with up to 46,656 ways to win and a new Bazooka feature – which completely clears the reels and drops in new symbols for additional chances to collect cash prizes.
Additionally, Big Bass Bonanza Megaways offers RTP options up to 96.70%, a bonus frequency of 1 in 1 in 116 spins on average, and win potential up to 4,000x bet.
Christmas Big Bass Bonanza
It's easy to look at a Christmas release, particularly one that doesn't look very dissimilar to the original, and think there haven't been any changes made. This was the general reaction to Christmas Big Bass Bonanza, released in December 2021.
In many ways, Christmas Big Bass Bonanza didn't bring any changes around. Instead, it was designed to act as a seasonal offering, with snow, sleighs and a Santa Clause to get people in the festive spirit. Maths also remained the same, with RTP options up to 96.71%, a bonus frequency of 1 in 113 spins on average and win potential up to 2,100x bet.
What Christmas Big Bass Bonanza did offer, however, was a bonus buy, wherein for a cost of 100x bet, players could head straight into the free spins feature – and this was one thing that proved popular.
Big Bass Splash
Things hit somewhat of a turning point in June 2022, with the release of Big Bass Splash. Prior to this, many felt this series was becoming a bit stagnant – not offering enough changes to warrant the number of releases hitting the market.
What Big Bass Splash offered was a mini-bonus before main Free Spins began, where players could unlock modifiers, including additional free spins, more fishermen on the reels, more fish on the reels, more hooks on the reels to reel in fishermen and automatic advancement to level 2.
Alongside this, players were given the same bonus buy option that Christmas Big Bass Bonanza had, and a respin feature – where landing 2 Scatters could trigger a respin to find the third.
Big Bass Splash offers RTP options up to 96.71% and win potential up to 5,000x bet – the biggest in the series so far at the time of release. The bonus frequency is not provided.
Big Bass – Keeping it Reel
More changes came in the form of Big Bass – Keeping it Reel, the October 2022 release from this team. Alongside the first Ante Bet to increase the chance of triggering Free Spins naturally, Big Bass – Keeping it Reel offered players a bonus buy, and the most unique bonus feature yet.
During Free Spins, all fish not collected by a fisherman are stored in a net at the top of the reels. This total value, which decreases each subsequent spin, can be collected by landing a golden fisherman.
Big Bass – Keeping it Reel, offers RTP options up to 96.07%, a bonus frequency of 1 in 117 spins on average and win potential up to 10,000x bet – knocking Big Bass Splash out of the water.
Bigger Bass Blizzard – Christmas Catch
After Big Bass – Keeping it Reel came another season release, this time with not too many differences than anything else in the series.
A seasonal reskin of Bigger Bass Bonanza, Bigger Bass Blizzard – Christmas Catch offered players the same experience, this time with icicles, snow, and snow mobiles to set the scene. Alongside this, players were given a bonus buy and an Ante Bet option, to make some distinction between this and the original.
Maths stayed more or less the same however, with Bigger Bass Blizzard – Christmas Catch offering RTP options up to 96.08%, a bonus frequency of 1 in 121 spins on average, and win potential up to 4,000x bet.
Big Bass – Hold & Spinner
After a small side step in Bigger Bass Blizzard – Christmas Catch, Big Bass – Hold & Spinner took another leap forward, at least where this particular series is concerned.
In this release, players were given a multitude of options that we've seen before in this series – an Ante Bet, the ability to hook Scatters onto the reels and a bonus buy, although in this case we had two bonus buys, thanks to a new feature.
Big Bass – Hold & Spinner introduced players to the Hold & Spinner bonus made popular in the Floating Dragon series, where cash values could land on the reels and be collected, with lives resetting back to 4 each time a new symbol landed.
Alongside this, Big Bass – Hold & Spinner retained the normal Free Spins bonus we know, with fish symbols, fishermen and multipliers up to x10. The bonus frequency is slightly rarer in this one, coming in at 1 in 233 spins on average but RTP options are available up to 96.07% and win potential is available up to 10,000x bet to make up for it.
Big Bass Amazon Xtreme
The latest in this series, at the time of writing this article, is Big Bass Amazon Xtreme – another release that brings together many elements we've seen before in this series, along with a few new tweaks.
Big Bass Amazon Xtreme offers players an Ante Bet, a Scatter respin like that of Big Bass Splash, and a mini bonus where players could unlock modifiers prior to starting Free Spins. Possible modifiers are additional spins, guaranteed fish, advancement on the fisherman trail and removal of the lowest fish values.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Big Bass Amazon Xtreme, however, is the multipliers that are available. Rather than climbing to the usual x10, Big Bass Amazon Xtreme offers multipliers up to x50 with additional spins awarded each step of the way.
Alongside this, Big Bass Amazon Xtreme offers RTP options up to 96.07%, a bonus frequency of 1 in 149 spins on average and win potential up to 10,000x bet.
Our Biggest Bass Win
Our biggest win on this series came on Big Bass Splash, where we unlocked all modifiers with the exception of level progression on a €3 stake. We went on to climb through each level to x10 multipliers, ultimately reeling in a huge win of 1,040x bet – an impression win on any game.
The Series That Keeps on Giving
Alongside the Big Bass releases we've mentioned so far, players can also play Pizza Pizza Pizza, and the Floating Dragon series – which offers many of the same mechanics we've covered today.
With 9 games in the Big Bass series alone, we're left with no option but to wonder where it could go from here. Are we to expect Reel Kingdom to continue revisiting this series multiple times per year? Is there an opportunity to introduce new mechanics to work alongside the fishing theme, or will they stick to the basics. After all, if it isn't broken, why fix it?
One thing that is for certain, in spite of the fact that they were by no means the first studio to release a fishing game, Reel Kingdom have had their fair share of influence on studios, with many other providers seeing how popular these releases are and choosing to include a progressive fishing mechanic in their own releases.
It will be interesting to see where this series goes, but one thing we know for sure – it doesn't seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. And with it so popular with players across the globe, can we really be surprised?