Back in 2018, Pragmatic Play released Chilli Heat, a 5×3 reel game with 25 fixed pay lines and a re-spin feature wherein players could win up to 2,512x bet, which proved to be either so successful for the team, or so enjoyable to create, they've decided to revisit this Mexican town to bring us Chilli Heat Megaways. There's been an upgrade on the same graphics in this new release, which includes a stereotypically Mexican man with a sombrero, and his Chihuahua sidekick. Graphics haven't been the only upgrade, with the team at Pragmatic choosing to make improvements on the statistical side of things too, increasing the maximum win to 5,000x bet and turning volatility up to high (5/5) from a prior 3/5. Default RTP has taken a slight dip from 96.52% to 96.50%, but it's hard to see how anyone would notice such a small change. Other options are, as expected, available so players should be sure to check before spinning.
Visually, things are much the same, but better. The same two cacti plants fill the front of the screen, with a bunch of red chillis hanging to the top right, and some sunlight streaming from behind the reels. The main difference is the building on the left, which seems to have been painted turquoise blue in the past 3 years, from the previous red. The overall imagery has been upgraded, though, with sharper graphics that still maintain their cartoon vibe, and even the logo getting this small upgrade. Audios are the same as within Chilli Heat – remaining upbeat and light.
Chilli Heat Megaways Base Features
Taking place across 6 reels, wins are formed by matching 3 or more symbols on adjacent reels beginning at the left, with the exception of the premium-most symbol, paying for 2 ways. Up to 7 symbols can land on reels 1 and 6, and up to 8 symbols can land on reels 2, 3, 4 and 5 (including the top reel), for a combined total of up to 200,704 ways to win. Symbols involved in these wins replicate the symbols from Chilli Heat, including 9, 10, J, Q, K and As at the lower end of the pay table, rewarding players between 0.6 and 1.5x bet for 6 of a kind. At the premium end, shots of tequila and bottles of hot sauce pay out 1.5x and 3.75x bet for 6 of a kind respectively, and Chihuahuas award 6.25x bet, again for 6 of a kind. Finally, our main male character rewards players with 10x bet for 6 of a kind, but also pays for 2 ways, coming in at 0.5x bet, and the wild symbol, represented by the Chilli Heat logo, substitutes all symbols except Money symbols, appearing on reels 2, 3, 4 and 5 only.
Chilli Heat Megaways makes use of Pragmatic's popular Tumble Feature, meaning that after every spin, winning symbols are paid and removed from the reels, and all other symbols drop down to the bottom of the reels (or the top reel symbols will move left). This allows new symbols to drop down in their place to continue to facilitate new wins. New symbols will be the same size as the initially removed symbols, and tumbles will continue until no more wins are formed.
Finally, players can choose to bet an extra 25% for an increased chance to trigger the feature – double the chance, actually. This means more Money symbols, which we'll get to in a moment, are on the reels, but payouts are not affected by placing this additional bet.
Chilli Heat Megaways Bonus
The final symbol not yet covered within Chilli Heat Megaways is the Money symbol, represented by golden money bags, which appears on all reels, except the top reel. At the beginning of each spin, any Money symbols take random values from a pre-defined set. Landing 6 or more Money symbols triggers the re-spin feature.
During re-spins, only Money symbols are on the reels, and only special symbols can land on the top reel. At the beginning of the feature, reels 1 and 6 are locked, and players are awarded 3 re-spins. The number of spaces for symbols to land on each reel is equal to the triggering spin. Any time no symbols land, 1 re-spin will be used, but any time a Money symbol or special symbol lands, the re-spin count goes back to 3. Special Symbols can provide a host of features:
- Green Lock (Pointing Left): Unlocks reel 1.
- Green Lock (Pointing Right): Unlocks reel 6.
- Orange Double Arrow: Extends the number of possible symbols on the reel below to 7 until the end of the round.
- Pink Arrow (On Circle): Collects the amounts of all Money symbols from the reel below and adds it to the total win.
- Pink Arrow (On Square): Collects the amounts of all Money symbols currently on the screen and adds it to the total win.
- Blue X (On Circle): Multiplies the amounts of all Money symbols from the reel below by x2, x3, x5 or x10 randomly.
- Blue X (On Square): Multiplies the amounts of all Money symbols currently on the screen by x2, x3, x5 or x10 randomly.
The feature will end when all appropriate positions are filled with Money symbols, or re-spins run out. At this point, the values of all money symbols plus everything collected so far is added together and awarded. The feature will also end if the 5,000x maximum win is reached.
Players in appropriate regions may buy the re-spin feature for a cost of 100x bet. This will only ever be 100x regular stake – players cannot buy the feature if the additional 25% bet is turned on. After buying the feature at least 6 Money symbols will land on the next spin in random positions.
Chilli Heat Megaways is a nice follow on from it's predecessor, kicking the maximum win up a notch, basically keeping RTP the same, but adding in the option of a feature buy and the volatility we know the Megaways mechanic can provide. Graphics are better, sounds are more or less the same, and the whole thing does work together more as one piece now, which will undoubtedly prove an exciting experience for fans of the original.
As a standalone, it's hard to see how this one is standing out from the rest, but that doesn't stop it from being good fun. Special symbols don't seem too frequent during re-spins, pointing to the potential if players do manage to get these symbols working together – up to 5,000x bet, and as a design are slightly confusing, so it may take time for players to know what has landed, as at first glance they do just appear a bunch of random character symbols. Previous releases in this style have opted for phrases to describe the action, such as “Collector” in Money Train 2, which does clear up any confusion, but Pragmatic may have felt this was too obvious.
Once the feature does get going, there is a certain level of excitement, heightened when a few reels are primed into 7 open positions, and you're just waiting on a special symbol to land and change everything. However, like most games of this styling, when you get a poor feature it can be “blink and you miss it”, and sometimes the wait doesn't feel worth it – a problem easily solved for players in regions with access to feature buys, who can skip the monotony for 100x bet.
*The screenshots taken of games reviewed on this site are taken from Demo Play, as reviews are often written before games are released for real play.