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Best of John Grochowski

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Where the Buffalo Roam

25 April 2021

When introduced at Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas in 2019, the Buffalo Link slot machine sent anticipation level soaring while whetting the appetites of slot directors.

Aristocrat didn't distribute the game in 2020, when much of life and leisure time industries were put on hold. But now Buffalo Link is out and it's a favorite to become one of the most popular new slot machines of 2021.

The Buffalo brand has done great things for Aristocrat. In the original version, Buffalo isn't complicated, with free spins and multipliers on wild symbols being prime attraction. But the stampeding Buffalo symbols raise the adrenaline, and Aristocrat has a feel for player-friendly math and the balance between frequency of winning spins and the chance to win big.

Since the original, we've seen Buffalo Stampede add jackpots and expanding symbols and Buffalo Gold adding gold heads you collect as you play. When you get enough, the gold heads turn other animal symbols into Buffalo.

We've seen variations on the theme with Buffalo Diamond, Buffalo Chief and the mechanical-reel Buffalo Rush.

Now comes Buffalo Link, played on a standard 5-by-3 video reel grid while adding elements from the mega-popular Lightning Link and Dragon Link slots.

Buffalo Link has four jackpot levels. a free spins feature, a hold-and-respin feature that gives you a shot at the jackpots, and a must-win-by collecting feature.
Let's take them one by one:

  • Typical for Aristocrat, labels on jackpot levels are Mini, Minor, Major and Grand. The Mini and Minor pots are for set amounts, while Major and Grand are progressive.

Machines are multidenominational, usually from pennies on up through quarters. At penny level, the Mini pot is $20 and Minor is $40, emphasizing rapid hits and awards that help keep you in action.

Amounts vary on the progressives, but a penny player is looking at a few hundred dollars at Major level and low thousands on Grand. These are nice paydays, not lifestyle changers, but they hit a lot more often than millionaire-makers.

  • Free spins are triggered by three free coins, or by the collecting feature. During free spins, wild symbols have 2x or 3x multipliers. Land more than one wild symbol in a winning combination and your payoff is multiplied by all, adding big win potential

One change: Wild symbols have multipliers even if on the fifth reel. Earlier Buffalo games have multipliers on other reels, but not on the fifth.

  • In addition to the head-on close-up Buffalo symbols in the earlier games, Buffalo Link has wide image standing Buffalos facing left. Written across those symbols is a credit amount or a Mini, Minor or Major Jackpot level.

If eight or more standing Buffalos land on the reels, it launches a hold-and-respin feature. Those symbols are held on a 4-by-5 grid, so there are a total of 20 space. Buffalos added during respins also are held, and the respins go on until three in a row bring no more Buffalos.

When the round ends, you win any credit awards and jackpots displayed. If you fill the entire grid with Buffalos, you win the Grand jackpot.

  • The must-win-by feature brings a mystery. A display keeps count of Buffalo symbols you collect during play. The count starts at 100, and the feature must hit by the time the count reaches 1,800.

A number between 100 and 1,800 is randomly selected. When you reach the randomly selected number, you go to a bonus event. It could be the free spins bonus, and it could be the hold-and-respin round. That's a mystery, and part of the fun.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski