Before the invasion of online slots, there was one name that ruled them all in the UK when it came to slot machines, and that name was Barcrest. If you played a slot machine in the UK – in a pub, club, amusement arcade or bingo hall for example – the chances are that it was made by Barcrest.
Sadly, due to the drop in popularity of real world amusements arcades Barcrest are not the slotting behemoth that they used to be. They were eventually taken by American slotting company IGT in 1998 and then sold to Scientific Games (now SG Digital) in 2011.
Barcrest in Brief:
- Founded: 1968
- Based: London, UK
- Number of games: 100+
- Most popular games: Rainbow Riches, Cosmic Cash, Valkyrie Fire
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Who are Barcrest?
It’s true to say that the UK when through a bit of a wagering boom in the 1960s. The country had finally recovered from the awful setbacks of the Second World War and the people of the UK were ready to start enjoying life again. One of the ways they wanted to enjoy life was by gambling, and the UK Government helped by legalising betting shops in the early 1960s.
The gambling boom was felt in other sectors, including amusement arcades. One-armed bandits (as slots were commonly known in the UK at the time) started appearing everywhere – pubs, clubs, bingo halls … even fish and chip shops and taxicab waiting rooms. In 1968 a handful of individuals decided to invest in this boom and created Barcrest. The company began to make slot machines from its premises in Ashton-under-Lyme in Greater Manchester.
This proved to be an extremely successful venture. In the 1970s and 1980s it seemed that every one-armed bandit dotted around the country was made by Barcrest. The company experienced a great deal of success in Europe too.
By the mid 1990s the real-world boom of one-armed bandits was over and Barcrest moved into online slots as well. US company IGT were keen to use the name Barcrest as part of their branding, so bought the UK company in 1998. Another US software giant – Scientific Games – then purchased Barcrest from IGT in 2011 for around $66 million.
What Makes Barcrest Unique?
Despite the move to online slots, there is still a ‘one armed bandit’ feel about Barcrest games. Indeed, their early efforts could not have been more like one-armed bandits if they had tried, complete with windowed reels and buttons to press. Even their most popular slot – Rainbow Riches – still has a one-armed bandit feel about it.
Even though the company is now owned by SG Digital it is still very easy to spot a Barcrest slot a mile off, and it’s not just because of the Barcrest logo!
What Could Barcrest Do Better?
Ah, Star Wars! Remember when we all loved Star Wars? Since then, there has been five sequels, three prequels, two spin-offs and two TV series. Looking at all that output, how much of it has matched the original? We’d say … none of it!
The same goes for Barcrest. We all loved Rainbow Riches. Since then there has been Rainbow Riches: Leprechaun Gold, Rainbow Riches: Home Sweet Home, Rainbow Riches Megaways, Rainbow Riches Cluster Magic, Rainbow Riches: Drops of Gold and even Rainbow Riches Slingo! If only Barcrest concentrated on releasing new games as much as they do on releasing rehashes of their most popular title.
Three of the Best – Barcrest
• Theme – Irish
• Special Features And Bonuses –
Rainbow Riches is bursting with big bonus features that will help players achieve huge cash prizes.
The wild symbol to keep your eyes peeled for in this slot game is the gold coin. This substitutes for other symbols on your reels to award big winning combinations.
Road To Riches Bonus
The first bonus feature that you may come across while playing the Rainbow Riches slot is the Road To Riches Bonus. To get started playing you will need to land three or more scatter symbols on your reels and these are represented by the cheeky leprechaun. You will then be transported to a new screen where there is a path of multipliers and a wheel of fortune. It is then time to spin the wheel and the number that it lands on is the number of places you will move up the reels. If you hit Collect on the wheel, you will collect your winnings and the round ends. The multiplier that you have ended up on last on the path is what is applied to your total stake.
Wishing Well Bonus
If you find at least 3 Wishing Wells you will trigger this bonus feature. This is a picking game, so choose a well to unveil a multiplier that is applied to your total stake.
Pots Of Gold Bonus
Land 3 pots of gold on the second, third and fourth reels to trigger this game. Players will find themselves looking at a leprechaun with lots of pots circling around him, each containing a different value. When they stop circling, the one that is above the arrow is the one that you will have won. This multiplier is again applied to the total stake.
• RTP – 95%
• Volatility – Medium
• Minimum Bet – £0.05
• Design – Rainbow Riches is one of the brightest and most colourful slot games that we have come across. Behind the 5 reels and 20 paylines is the rainbow, whilst on your reels you will find plenty of Irish themed symbols including pots of gold, wishing wells and leprechauns.
Players are sure to be feeling the luck of the Irish when spinning the reels of the Rainbow Riches slot game. Whilst there are many Irish themed slot games on the market, none have had quite the impact that Rainbow Riches has and it is one of the most popular slot games ever to have been released. With its lovely graphics, amazing range of bonus features, and some fun music, it is not hard to see why it has become as popular as it has.
• Theme – Sci-Fi
• Special Features And Bonuses –
Surprisingly, there is no wild symbol in this slot game, however, there are plenty of other fun bonus features to ensure that you are still taking home those big cash wins.
When spinning the reels, if it does not result in a win, then you may randomly trigger the Shuffling Reels feature. Here, an alien will make an appearance above your reels and then he will proceed to start shuffling them around. The alien will carry on doing this until a winning combination is formed!
Pick Me Bonus
The Pick Me Bonus is activated by landing three or more scatter symbols on your first, third and fifth reels. The scatter symbol has BONUS across it, so you cannot miss it. You will then be presented with three symbols and you can choose one. You will either be presented with a multiplier or you will get to move on through to the exciting Asteroid Bonus game.
You will be presented with a screen filled with asteroids in this bonus game and as you choose them you will reveal multiplier values or aliens. You do not want to find the aliens as they will destroy other asteroids on your screen and so you could be missing out on getting more multipliers! Here, you may also uncover the Planet Bonus.
This is a fun, additional bonus where you will watch planets whirl past the window of your space shuttle. As they do so, one will grind to a halt and unveil a big bonus for you!
• RTP – 95.09%
• Volatility – Low
• Minimum Bet – £0.10
• Design – As you would expect from the title of this game, players will be transported into outer space when spinning the reels of Cosmic Cash. The graphics are colourful, but quite basic and there is a limited number of symbols on your reels, with the two most interesting being the alien and the game logo.
Cosmic Cash is a fun 5 reel and 10 fixed paylines game that we think players will enjoy with its big range of bonus features that will help to bring in big cash prizes. While the graphics are quite simple and there is no wild, the bonus features are great and quite different to what you will find in other slots.
• Theme – Norse Mythology and Vikings
• Special Features And Bonuses –
The Valkyrie Fire slot game keeps things simple with a wild and free spins bonus round.
The wild symbol is the Valkyrie character on your reels and she will replace other symbols to form new winning combos and create bigger cash prizes! Not only that, when this wild symbol is part of a win, the win is doubled!
Free Spins Bonus Round
To activate this round, players must land three or more scatter symbols, which in this game is the fiery shield. Players will then be awarded 10 free spins. During this round, we will see the introduction of the cool Fire Stacked Wilds which will stack on all positions on the reels and help you get some big winning combinations.
• RTP – 94% – 98%
• Volatility – High
• Minimum Bet – £0.10
• Design – Valkyrie Fire is not the most exciting slot game for graphics, but it does a good job of showcasing the Norse mythology theme. The 5 reels and 10 fixed paylines are encased in what appears to be the front of longships. On the reels, you will see symbols such as a wolf, Viking longship and Odin.
Valkyrie Fire is a simple but fun slot game and we love the different take on Norse mythology that it focuses on. Although the graphics in this slot game are not the most exciting that we have seen, it does offer a really good wild symbol that doubles your wins and a fantastic free spins bonus round that will keep you entertained. Join the Norse Gods in this cool slot game and give its reels a spin today.
The Bottom Line
In truth, Barcrest have struggled to match the success of their real-world ventures with their online slots output. The company could be forgiven for attempting to capitalise as much as possible on the runaway success of Rainbow Riches, but a little more diversity and a lot more inventiveness would not go amiss.
There are still many decent Barcrest titles for you to explore though at all your favourite online casino that carry Barcrest’s, or rather, SG Digital’s titles.