Esqueleto Explosivo 2
Five years after Thunderkick’s classic release, Esqueleto Explosivo (translation: Exploding Skeletons), they are back with a sequel, the imaginatively titled Esqueleto Explosivo 2. As you might have guessed, the theme remains the same; an upbeat journey into the bars and streets of Mexico during the annual celebration of Día de Muertos (translation: Day of the Dead) where Mexican families pray for and remember their lost loved ones to help them on their spiritual journey to the afterlife. It is a joyful rather than morbid affair.
It’s an honest title for what is, essentially, a reboot of the original with a few cheeky tweaks. To be fair to Thunderkick, although this looks and sounds almost identical to the original, the tweaks employed make it an entirely different sensation for the other senses.
First off this is a highly volatile 5x3 slot with 99 paylines rather than a low variance, 17 paylines affair. The additional paylines comes from using an adjacent reels mechanic, i.e. winning combos are made from 3 or more of the same symbols on adjacent reels starting at the leftmost reel. However, all symbols also need to be touching the symbol on the next reel, either above, below, either side or diagonally. This is why there are 99 paylines rather than the 243 ways to pay you to see on other ‘adjacent reel’ slots.
Secondly, the max win has increased somewhat from 700x to 5,000x. This is no dizzying max payout, but it should be enough to entice a high variance player to give it a whirl.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Thunderkick has made the wise decision to add a free spins round. Back in 2014 perhaps the dropping reels and increasing win multipliers were enough to sate your average slots fan – these days they need a little bit more. There are also other minor tweaks and feature upgrades, but we’ll get to those a little later.
Esqueleto Explosivo 2, released on 22nd January 2020 has an RTP of 96.13% and can be played from €0.10 to €100 a spin.
Design & Symbols
If you’re familiar with the first instalment then you can skip this section as mimics the original identically but for an additional symbol or two. The base game action takes place in a courtyard, surrounded on all sides by houses with an arch in one corner leading out into the street. The houses all have brightly coloured umbrella light decorations and the cobbled courtyard floor is has potted plants and cacti littered around its edges. The floating skull reels sit in front of a long table covered in candles, pictures of relatives and other offerings. The night sky is visible above the arch, as are a multitude of fireworks. The noise of fireworks, cheering, singing, and traditional, upbeat Mexican fiesta music all add to the celebratory atmosphere. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that music is one of the highlights of the game.
Low value symbols are skulls with cyan and orange markings. Medium value symbols are skulls with blue and green markings. The highest value symbols are a skull with pink markings and a purple lady skull. The purple lady skull, who comes replete with a neatly tied back head of blonde hair and earrings is a new symbol and is the most valuable, with five adjacent symbols paying 5x the bet size.
Below the skulls on the bottom row are 5 skeletons who form a mariachi band. Whichever skull symbols are on the bottom row make up the heads of the bandmembers. There is also an explosive (Explosivo) wild who wears sunglasses, sports a big grin, and glows yellow. The scatter is a mechanical wind-up skull.
- Dropping Skulls with Mucho Multiplier
- Explosivo Wilds
- Free Spins
Dropping Skulls with Mucho Multiplier
The game plays similarly to a raft of other games which all take their inspiration from NetEnt’s classic Gonzo’s Quest. Skulls explode after forming part of a winning combo and are replaced by skulls dropping from above. Below each reel is a different, increasing win multiplier which form the ‘Mucho Multiplier’. Each consecutive win moves you one place up the Mucho Multiplier. The appearance of an Explosivo Wild also moves the multiplier along one place. In the base game the multiplier starts at 1x moving to 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x, and 32x. A non-winning drop resets the Mucho Multiplier.
Explosivo Wilds substitutes for all regular symbols bar the scatter. They also (strangely enough) explode and take with them between 3-8 regular symbols (apart from scatters of the high value purple lady skull). The number of skulls exploding depends on where the wild lands. Basically, it takes out all regular symbols surrounding it. New skulls then drop down to fill the gaps.
3 or more scatters activate the free spins bonus game. 10 free spins are awarded, with an additional two spins awarded for any other scatters landing during the activation spin. During the free spins round 2, 3, or 4 scatters landing add a further 3, 7, or 10 free spins respectively. An additional two spins are awarded for any other scatters above 4 landing during the bonus round.
The Explosivo Wild has an additional role during free spins; for every third Explosivo Wild collected one extra free spin is awarded. Furthermore, after every 3rd wild, the lowest multiplier is removed and subsequent wins start at the new base multiplier. A 64x multiplier is unlocked when the base multiplier reaches the 32x multiplier.
Our Thoughts on Esqueleto Explosivo 2
Thunderkick very rarely fails to deliver the goods, and Esqueleto Explosivo 2 is no exception. Fans of the original will love it, as I’d imagine will a whole new generation of players. Upping the volatility considerably was a very good change to make given the current demand for high variance slots. Another good decision was to add a free spins round; with some decent potential under its hood, Esqueleto Explosivo 2 now really packs a punch.
We’ve seen plenty of games with the cascading symbols and increasing win multipliers in the Gonzo’s Quest mould, but few are as entertaining as EE2. From the tweaks made to the Explosivo Wild to the joyous bursts of mariachi music and acapella singing, this is yet another fantastic release from Thunderkick.