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Understanding the heritage and lineage of games has proven to be an increasingly popular past time, there are a growing number of games historians on the web these days.
This week we’re adding to this revival by taking another look back into the past with our NetEnt Nostalgia feature that revisits NetEnt’s golden oldies and examines why they have been so successful.
Jack Hammer is the game that we’re going to take a look to see how it subsequently went on to affect NetEnt today.
This comic-strip cartoon game has a look like no other, had some interesting features, and went on to inspire many other retro games – including a sequel.
The game’s theme is an old school comic strip, depicting a noir or detective story. You play as the downbeat, burly detective Jack Hammer, trying to capture and defeat the evil Dr. Wuten.
This theme shows up incredibly strongly in the slot reel design, with its cell-shaded comic style, but also in the game symbols.
There are 4 high-value symbols and five low-value symbols. The low-value symbols are classic tropes from comic detective stories: a daily newspaper, an old fashion getaway car, a ringing telephone, a blimp, and a vile of poison.
The high-value symbols in the game are the young newspaper boy, a damsel in distress, the evil Dr. Wuten, and finally Jack Hammer.
There are 25 different bet lines in Jack Hammer, which are fixed.
You can bet using the two modifying buttons: coin value and bet level. The bet level allows you to alter the number of coins placed upon the individual bet lines (ranging between 1 and 10), and the coin value allows you to change the sum of money each of those coins is worth ( value include 0.01, 0.02, 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1, and 2).
This gives players the opportunity to make a minimum bet of 0.25 and a maximum of 500!
Like any good comic book, Jack Hammer had to make the most of limited space. And back in 2010, when this game was made, NetEnt ensured it did just that. They built in sticky wins, free spins, and wild symbols.
The sticky wins in Jack Hammer are pretty cool. They’re like hired thugs hanging around until they’re not needed. In other words, when you get a win of 3 or more free spin symbols, sticky wins are activated and the winning symbols do not leave the reels.
The reels will keep spinning, and the symbols will remain until you stop creating new wins.
The wild symbols are pretty self-explanatory, they land on the slot reels and, when they do, they can be substituted for any other symbol.
The free spins round is also self-explanatory. When you get more than five free spins symbols landing on the reels, then you’ll enter the free spins mode.
In this mode, you’ll either get 10 free spins or up to 30, and as you play you can accrue additional free spins – all your winnings are multiplied by x3.
Jack Hammer was an incredibly popular game at the time, and much of this is down to its original concept.
Upon release there had been very few explicitly retro, comic strip styled games, and this style is very easy to look at.
Because of this, it meant games could avoid too many flashy lights, but still have an interesting visual experience.
This then led to a direct sequel to Jack Hammer, the appropriately named Jack Hammer 2, which was released only a year after the first.
It incorporated many of the same features like sticky wins, free spins, and wilds. But, its biggest selling point/difference was its use of 99 fixed bet lines, rather than 25.
There are also many spiritual sequels to Jack Hammer, as the cartoon and retro themes proved to be massively popular. We saw retro 80s games like Hotline, 50s themed games like Wild Water, and cartoon games like Wild Wild West.
One of the biggest developments that games undergo is the improvement in graphics. However, because Jack Hammer explicitly went for a cell shaded comic style graphic, there can’t really be any improvement on this. It wasn’t aiming to be realistic or hyper glossy, it was aiming to be a comic.
One big difference, however, that you might notice is the rather small amount of features. Jack Hammer has only two real features (sticky wins and free spins) and a wild symbol. Many of the newer NetEnt games pack more than this in. Some like Arcane: Reel Chaos or Wild Worlds pack in 5 or more exciting features at least.
We’re happy to report that Jack Hammer is most certainly still playable across many casinos – including the ones below:
Why not take it for a spin to see what made this game so memorable?
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