The UK Gaming giant with the little name, Microgaming, has a new title out, a space-themed game set on the Banana Planet and called Banana Odyssey.
Naturally, the game features two chimpanzees as astronauts.
Microgaming are arguably the UK’s biggest gaming operator, providing not just a huge slate of games, but also casino operating systems to massive casino sites like Fortune Lounge Group, 32Red, and the Palace Group.
So new releases from Microgaming are big news.
This title is a tie-in with Slingshot Studios. Slingshot is an independent design studio that builds games for Microgaming. These tie-ins are becoming more common as the giants of the industry gain more power and look outside their own organisations for new and innovative approaches.
Slingshot are, say Microgaming, “focused on enhancing successful slot game staples and innovating with fresh new features.”
The companies have been working together since October 2018, when the pair unleashed Cash of Kingdoms onto the market. The big deal in that game was a fantasy-themed game with a medieval look and Invading Wilds to fit that theme.
Slingshot have a longer history outside Microgaming. The company was formed in 2016, with illustrators, animators, developers, testers, and more coming together.
Their games are supposed to be aimed at particular areas of the market.
Since then, Zombie Hoard – we’ll let you guess the theming of that one – has also joined the Microgaming family.
Bananas in Space
Banana Odyssey is an animal, space, cartoon, and sci-fi-themed game.
The set-up is a classic five-by-three playing field, across which run 10 pay lines.
The main bonus features of Banana Odyssey are base game expanding wilds and respins, and a free spins round.
Symbols are character-based, with two chimpanzee astronauts the stars of the reels.
Buck and Chip are two astronauts on the search for Banana Planet, which holds all their worldly desires.
The expanding wild triggers in the main game, when it lands on one of the three central reels, expanding to reel-size and triggering a Cosmic Respin feature. This locks the wild in place for a respin, with new wilds offering the possibility of a respin.
The main additional bonus is a free spins round themed on hyperspace. The game is launched via scatter symbols on the central reels – three to start the spins.
Free spins come in sets of 10s. The expanding and locking wilds remain in play for some really big wins.
According to James Buchanan of Microgaming: “Slingshot Studios have done a tremendous job creating an energetic, fast-paced slot, successfully combining popular game mechanics of respins, expanding wilds and free spins.”
Slingshot are pleased with themselves too, and Richard Vermaak, the studio head put particular focus on “humour, energy, and attitude” in Banana Odyssey.
This theme might feel somewhat out-there, but (tragically) there’s a long history of apes and monkeys going into space.
That’s right: not only do we destroy the habitats of our fellow earth dwellers, we also capture them, use near-torture techniques to train them and then (all too often) kill them in experiments in space!
The US started launching primates towards space from 1948 and didn’t send the last one up until 1985. The French, Soviet Union (then Russia), Argentina, China, and Iran have also sent primates into orbit or beyond.
Albert the rhesus macaque was suffocated to death on his first flight in 1948. The vessel he died on was a Nazi-style V2 rocket. They didn’t even bother to give his successors a proper name. Poor old Albert II, who introduces us to the unfortunate euphemism, “a hard landing”. He died. Albert III was blown up. Albert IV also died after his parachute – which no doubt was high quality – failed.
The first monkey to survive a US space flight was Albert VI in 1951. He died two-hours later almost certainly after being left to roast in the desert sun before the capsule he had flown in was opened.
Patricia and Mike survived a flight in 1952, but their flight was relatively low altitude. Able and Baker survived a proper spaceflight in 1959. But then Able died in surgery to remove electrodes. Baker, however, is our first happy ending, surviving to the age of 27.
After 1961, there was a break until 1969, when Bonny, was killed by a spaceflight when he passed away shortly after landing.
The Space Shuttle flight of April – May 1985 featured two squirrel monkeys.
The French launched monkeys into space from 1967, usually killing them.
The Soviet Union did slightly better with its money, killing only one of the rhesus macaques they sent into space in the 1980s. One, Dryoma, was given as a present to Fidel Castro.
The most recent monkey flights have been Iranian, flying as recently as 2013.
Space Monkey Slots
Thankfully you can enjoy the fantasy of monkeys in space without causing intelligent, sentient creatures to die after suffering unimaginable terror with Banana Odyssey.
Reviews for Banana Odyssey so far have been mixed. The best test of a slot’s quality tends to be time: good games last.
This isn’t a full review – lookout for that – but we think Banana Odyssey is a decent looking prospect. The graphics are fun and the soundtrack is pretty good too. It’s very easy to play and it lives up to the “high energy” hype that Microgaming and Slingshot have stirred up around it.
If you want to check out Banana Odyssey then just fly along to your favourite UK casino site. Microgaming games are very widely available and can often be found in the lobbies of plenty of the biggest casino sites.
It has decent stats, with a 96.31% theoretical return to player and a top prize of 160,000 coins. Betting goes from 10p to £400 in UK currency.
This has been a slow burner but we reckon it might yet take off and it’s a game that you might want to add to your space itinerary this weekend.