At the beginning of the year, Stakelogic showed us their take on the wealthy, albeit illicit, lifestyle many lead, in El Patron – packed full of cash, bullets, and characters behind bars. It seemed El Patron was a success for the team, because less than 8 months later we have a sequel – this time taking on Big Time Gaming's core Mechanic – El Cowboy Megaways. With a fixed RTP of 96.21%, this highly volatile release is capable of producing wins up to 10,000x bet, so let's take a closer look and see what else is on offer.
Visually, El Cowboy Megaways is a kind of hybrid Wild West/Mexican affair – as the name would suggest. It seems things take place around Día de los Muertos, or as we know it – Day of the Dead. With la calavera de azucar (sugar skulls), sheriff's badges, guns, cacti, cigars, tequila and streamers (the party kind, not the slot kind), the whole thing is bright, bold, and colourful. Music takes on a significantly more Western feel, but doesn't necessarily detract from the overall atmosphere.
El Cowboy Megaways Base Features
Taking place across 6 reels, wins are formed on El Cowboy Megaways by matching at least 3 symbols on adjacent reels, beginning with the leftmost reel. With the Megaways mechanic in play, up to 7 symbols can land on each reel, for a total of 117,649 ways to win. Symbols available begin with non premiums – some sort of knife/belt buckle (I think), and cigars are up first, awarding wins between 0.10 and 0.50x bet for 3-6 of a kind matches, followed by knuckle dusters and guns, awarding wins between 0.15 and 0.75x bet, again for matches between 3 and 6 of a kind. Rounding up the non premiums are bottles of liquor (presumably tequila given the Mexican atmosphere), paying between 0.20 and 1x bet for wins between 3 and 6 of a kind.
At the premium end, we meet 5 character symbols – each adorned in Day of the Dead celebratory attire – with their colours corresponding to the non premium colours. Land 3 of a kind of any premium to see wins between 0.25 and 0.75x bet, with wins increasing to values between 1.25 and 5x bet for 6 of a kind matches. Finally, Wilds are available, substituting for all symbols except Scatters.
Alright, so first things first – there's no Super Stake in El Cowboy Megaways, which can be good or bad depending on your viewpoint. There's no incentive to double your stake here, but also no option to try to get Free Spins in any sooner, so six in one hand really.
What we do have are Cascades. On every spin, all symbols involved in a win will explode from the reels. When this happens, any symbols above the empty positions on the reels will drop down to fill the spaces, and then new symbols will drop in from above to fill any remaining positions. This gives the opportunity to create more wins, with Cascades continuing until no new wins are formed.
Those of you who are astute (or you know – have eyes), will have noticed there are two Bonus Reels above and below the reels. These help to facilitate the Action Feature. On every spin, Sheriff Badge Wilds can land on the bottom reel, and Action Symbols can land on the top. If an Action Symbol aligns with a Wild Symbol on one reel, the Action Symbol will be activated. The following Action Symbols are possible:
- Expanding Wilds – a Wild Symbol lands on the relevant reel and expands vertically to cover the reel.
- Dropping Wilds – 5 Wild Symbols land on the relevant reel. Respins are awarded, with Wilds dropping down one position for each respin. Respins end when all Wilds have dropped off the reel.
- Multiplier Wilds – Wild Symbols land on the relevant reel with multipliers of x2, x3, x4, or x5. The multipliers awarded can be different for every activation, and if more than one is used in a win, they multiply together.
Wild Symbols cannot land or be activated on the first reel, so we're not sure why the bonus track extends to reel 1 – probably just aesthetics. Either way, you won't ever see an Action Feature on reel 1.
El Cowboy Megaways Bonus
Land 4, 5, or 6 Scatter Symbols to trigger 15, 20, or 25 Free Spins, respectively. During Free Spins, the top Bonus Reel contains a Wild or Multiplier Wild Symbol, whilst the bottom Bonus Reel contains the Dynamite Action Symbol. If a Wild Symbol aligns with a Dynamite Action Symbol on one reel, the Wild will be activated and award the following:
- Wild Symbol – up to 15 Wild Symbols can land anywhere, except reel 1.
- Multiplier Wild – Multiplier Wild Symbols land on the relevant reel, with multiplier values of x2, x3, x4, or x5. If more than one is used in a win, the values are multiplied together.
Neither Wild nor Multiplying Wilds can land on reel 1. Additionally, there is a wheel to the right of the reels, containing a win multiplier. On every spin, this wheel chooses the win multiplier for the spin at random. The win multiplier can take on a value of x2, x3, x4, x5, x6, x8, x10, x12, x15, x20, x25, x50, or x100.
Players in appropriate regions can head straight into the action with four Feature Buy options:
- 100x bet – 15-25 Free Spins.
- 300x bet – 15-25 Free Spins (min 5,040 Megaways on every spin).
- 1,000x bet – 15-25 Free Spins (117,649 Megaways on every spin).
- 250x bet – a random chance of landing any of the above.
El Cowboy Megaways does a good job of carrying on from El Patron – the Base Game is made exciting with Cascades and the Action Feature, so particularly for players who can't (or won't) opt for the Feature Buy, there's enough to keep things ticking over, hopefully producing some exciting wins whilst you wait on the bonus.
When it comes to Free Spins, things do have the potential to take off with win multipliers up to x100 and Multiplying Wild Symbols that multiply together. Aligning reels in the right way is key, however, and it isn't something that's happening left, right and centre. When it does happen, returns are possible up to 10,000x bet – a decrease from El Patron, but still not a value to be sniffed at.
With a 1,000x bet Feature Buy, there's certainly something here for the player that likes to take a risk. Of course, in buying this feature you guarantee maximum Megaways on every spin (between 15-25 of them), and still get the win multiplier and Action Features, so there's definitely value for money there. That said, we did buy a few and returned less than 250x bet, so this is one option to be approached with caution. Thankfully, it is still possible to land through the Random option (250x bet), although the exact chance of each bonus with this option is not made clear.
If you're a fan of the Megaways mechanic, there's nothing at all to say you'll take issue with El Cowboy Megaways – a solid release, with a fixed RTP of 96.21%, a highly volatile maths model, and impressive wins on offer.
*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.