Barb’s Best Bet: Starmania Online Slot Lights Up The Screen With Winnings
Are you stuck in the same old routine and eager to add some extra fun and excitement to your life? Decisions, decisions.
You love NJ online slots, but either you’ve grown tired of playing the same games over and over again or your luck has gone south, or both. So you’re more than ready to try something different.
One approach is to pick a brand new game, but that, too, can be hit or miss. Starmania isn’t new (it’s been around since 2015), but the fact that you’re reading this column tells me that so far this “out of this world slot” has eluded you.
You can remedy that oversight right now. Starmania is this week’s Barb’s Best Bet.
Which NJ online casinos have Starmania?
You can play Starmania either on your desktop or mobile device, whichever you find more convenient.
As of this writing, all of the following gambling sites offer it:
- Golden Nugget
- Hard Rock
- Mohegan Sun
- Ocean Online
What makes Starmania a Barb’s Best Bet?
No need to travel if you don’t feel like it or spend large sums of money. If you have access to New Jersey online casinos, all you have to do is log onto your favorite one. Then choose from up to hundreds of slot games and see where your next adventurous ride takes you.
But assuming you’re just as serious about having an excellent chance to win as having a great time, why pick any random slot?
Here’s what makes Starmania one of Barb’s Best Bets.
Think about the various online slots you enjoy playing the most. In all probability, they each have a readily identifiable theme. Even when you’re about to explore what for you is new territory, you prefer to be able to relate to the game and its symbols in some meaningful way.
In this case, the theme is the stars that light up the nighttime sky. Whether you’re already an astronomy buff or not, playing the slot game Starmania will give you a whole new appreciation for stargazing. Especially when you discover that this activity, besides being a lot of fun, can also be extremely rewarding.
From the second you open this game on your desktop or mobile device, there’s no doubt in your mind that Starmania is no ordinary slot game. You’re immediately greeted by the loud blast of a flashing laser.
Then, without further ado, except for a quick preview of the multiple ways you can win, the scene shifts to the screen where you’ll be playing. You can tell right away that you’re in outer space by the twinkling stars in the background and by the fact that all of the regular symbols on the reels are also stars.
Hit-and-miss soundtrack but the messages are clear
The one aspect of the game I thought could be livelier was its less than rousing soundtrack.
But just in case the overly relaxing music makes you feel like drifting off, simply look at the messages, like the ones below, alternating on the bottom of the screen, and you will be jolted back into action in no time.
“Is your future in the stars?”
“Will the stars align to make your lucky day?”
“Starlight, star bright, lucky stars I see tonight.”
“Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars.”
Many other NJ online slots also have an outer space theme, so obviously, it takes more than just that to make Starmania a Barb’sBest Bet. One feature that makes Starmania stand out from the pack is the unique way it seamlessly combines the simplicity of slots back in the day with 21st-century online slot technology.
When you first see that this game only has 10 paylines, you might mistakenly assume that it will quickly become boring. But nothing could be further than the truth.
Starmania doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of some recently released slots. For example, there is only one bonus round. Nor is the game tied to a big celebrity or superhero, and there is no progressive jackpot either.
Instead, the dazzling array of brightly colored symbols that light up the screen with winning combinations are the true stars of the show.
As such, every win in this game, from the smallest to the biggest, gets star-worthy treatment. Whenever you spin a winning combination, the winning symbols start spinning as a shooting star moves across the screen, bouncing off each winning symbol.
Many ways to win
Then add on a few special features like the ability to form paying combinations not just from left to right, but also from right to left, and a lucrative free spins bonus game with extra expanding wild symbols. That’s how Starmania gets transformed into a slot game like no other.
Except maybe the NetEnt game Starburst, as the two slots do have many features in common. Suffice to say, if you’re already a fan of Starburst, you will love Starmania.
Besides, with all those extra ways to win, and the frequency of those wins, and a maximum payout of $18,400, who needs a progressive jackpot? There’s even an optional gamble feature that gives you a chance to double or quadruple your win after every winning spin.
Wide betting range
The minimum bet per spin is only 20 cents, and the maximum is $40. While the top bet falls a little short of what some high rollers like to wager, the range is certainly wide enough to accommodate most bettors.
Outstanding return to player
All of the above features are consistent with what I look for in an online slot to help me decide if it might be worthy of Barb’s Best Bet status. But one additional criterion is also a must — a superior return to player.
After all, it won’t even matter how action-packed and entertaining a game is if its return to player (RTP) is mediocre. By that, I mean insufficient to be likely to keep a player in the game for a reasonable length of time without the risk of depleting one’s bankroll.
Of course, anyone can get lucky in the short run even on a relatively low returning slot. Conversely, playing a high returning slot does not guarantee that you will win by any means. But you will definitely fare better in the long run if you stick to slots that are in the upper echelon with regard to their theoretical rate of return.
That is why the minimum RTP for me to consider a slot as a Best Bet is usually 96%.
The majority of NJ online slots have a lower RTP. In fact, many have an RTP of about 94% or even lower. While you could win playing those slots, why chance it when you can give yourself a better chance to win playing a slot with a higher RTP?
You might not think that a difference of one or two percentage points in either direction is significant, but it is. That’s why when I played Starmania in demo mode in three separate sessions and quit a winner all three times, I wasn’t the least bit surprised.
The published RTP for Starmania of 97.87% is so far above the norm that it is out of this world!
More about Starmania
Developed by NextGen Gaming
Starmania is a video slot by NextGen Gaming consisting of five reels, three rows, and 10 fixed paylines. NextGen Gaming is a subsidiary of NYX Gaming. The company dates all the way back to 1999, so it has a long, impressive history in the slot development business.
NextGen Gaming currently makes online slots for markets all over the world and is a significant contributor to NJ online slots.
Loaded with special features
It would seem that a slot machine with only 10 paylines would not create as many winning combinations as you might get from a machine with a lot of paylines. Actually, having fewer paylines means less likelihood for a given spin to come up empty. But that’s not the only reason Starmania pays out as frequently as it does.
On the overwhelming majority of slots, winning combinations are formed in only one way — with three or more matching symbols from left to right. But Starmania also pays you when three matching symbols line up from right to left. This feature alone greatly increases the number of winning combinations.
Other features (described in more detail below) which give you even more opportunities to win include the following:
- Wild symbol (frequently appearing as stacked wilds)
- Scatter symbol, three or more of which activate the Free Spins bonus round with extra wild symbols added
- Gamble feature
Exceptionally high RTP combined with low medium volatility
Granted, many of the payouts are small, but you can count on enough big ones, too, for a very good chance to win. Meanwhile, the smaller payouts serve a purpose, too, especially for bettors on limited bankrolls. They help ensure, even when you’re not winning, that you never fall very far behind.
Besides having an RTP that is one of the highest of any NJ online slots, Starmania is a game with low medium volatility. Together, it’s the perfect combo for a winning slot game.
As mentioned above, all of the regular symbols are stars. While their payouts vary, what a welcome relief not to see any distracting low paying playing card symbols added to the mix as an afterthought.
The lower paying symbols are plain stars of a single color, while the higher paying symbols are stars set with gold jewels. But you’ll really thank your lucky stars when you land a winning combination of bejeweled stars that are red and yellow combined, as those are the highest paying regular symbols.
Three or more matching symbols on a payline either from left to right starting with reel 1 or from right to left starting with reel 5 will form a winning combination. Here are the payouts for five of a kind:
- Plain purple, blue, or green stars: 50 coins
- Bejeweled blue or green stars: 75 coins
- Bejeweled purple stars: 100 coins
- Bejeweled red and yellow stars: 500 coins
The wild symbol is simply a big gold square with the word WILD on it. It can appear either alone or stacked, but on reels 2, 3, and 4 only. The wild symbol is capable of substituting for all other symbols except the scatter symbol to help form or add to winning combinations.
Its increased presence in the free spins bonus game is a big contributor to the large amount of money you can win at that time.
Bonus scatter symbol
The bonus scatter symbol is equally easy to identify since it has the word “BONUS” written on it. One or more of these symbols can appear anywhere on the reels on any spin. But in order for good things to happen, you need three or more to show up at once.
The amount of time it will take for that to happen can vary from the first few spins to many spins. As in many other slot games, two scatter symbols will show up simultaneously quite often, at which point the soundtrack builds up to a loud crescendo in anticipation of the needed third symbol.
Much more often than not, it’s all for naught. But sooner or later, you will get the result you want and you’re in business.
Starmania bonus features
Even though getting three or more scatter symbols to land on the reels simultaneously might be a long time in coming, it’s worth the wait. That’s because this valuable symbol then becomes capable of performing double duty. First, it serves as a win multiplier. But that’s not all. Even if that spin is not itself a winner, you earn a minimum of 10 free spins, where you will definitely win.
For starters, if the spin is otherwise a winner, the scatter symbol will multiply the amount of your winning line bet as follows:
- Three scatter symbols: 20x
- Four scatter symbols: 100x
- Five scatter symbols: 200x
Free Spins bonus round
But wait — the best bonus is yet to come. Three or more scatter symbols automatically activate the Free Spins bonus round where, at the very least, you’re awarded 10 free spins. However, if you’re lucky enough to have three or more scatter symbols land again during the free spins, you can retrigger this feature one more time and receive another 10 free spins.
Not every free spin will be a winner. But this is the point in the game when your winnings can mount big time. That’s because, on every free spin, an extra wild symbol is added.
So altogether, with 10 free spins, you get to play with 30 extra wilds, or with 20 free spins, 60 extra wilds. Expect to get lots of stacked wilds on your free spins, too, which will further increase your winnings.
Upon completion of the free spins, the screen will display the total amount you have won. Then you will be returned to the base game to continue playing as before and maybe activate the free spins bonus feature again.
Starmania also comes with a gamble feature. This option becomes available to you immediately after any winning spin. You will find the gamble feature just above the Spin button. It’s tempting because it gives you the chance, with the correct guess, either to double or quadruple your winnings.
Here’s how it works. You can either guess just the color of the next playing card or the suit of the next playing card. If you guess the correct color (red or black), you double the amount you just won. If you guess the correct suit (clubs, spades, hearts, or diamonds), you quadruple the amount you just won.
The catch, of course, is if you guess wrong, you lose your winnings entirely!
If you win your first gamble feature bet, if you wish, you can press your luck and try again up to five times. But keep in mind you would be taking a big gamble. One wrong guess in the sequence, and you wipe out your entire win. The gambling feature might be fun to try once in a while, but don’t make a habit of it.
How I fared playing Starmania
Before deciding to call any slot game a Best Bet, I need to try it out for myself, and Starmania was no exception. I played the game in demo mode, in three separate sessions, betting a hypothetical $5 per spin each time. As mentioned earlier, in all three instances I concluded the playing session a winner.
What helped me get over the hump each time more than anything else were the 10 free spins. However, as soon as I completed them, rather than return to the base game, I ended the session.
The first time I managed to activate the bonus round on only my third spin. However, my win from the free spins was only $37.50. The second and third time it took a lot longer before the three scatter symbols finally showed up, so I needed a bigger win to get back in the plus column. No problem. My second go-around at the free spins gave me a $181 win and my third gave me a $191 win. Not bad at all for a bet of $5.
In addition, just for the fun of it, I decided to gamble one of my larger wins of $36 in the base game. I correctly picked red as the color of the next card and doubled my winnings from that $5 spin to $72.
Time to give Starmania online slot a try
Starmania is a great option for anyone looking for a superior NJ online slot game. Far from just another slot game you may decide to try once or twice before moving on to something else, Starmania will have you so hooked on its spectacular features that you’ll want to return again and again.
But there’s nothing wrong with all that because this game can be as rewarding as it is entertaining.
Are you ready to reach for the stars?
- Five reels / 10 fixed paylines
- Bets: 20 cents to $40
- RTP: 97.87 percent
- Outer space theme
- Wild and scatter symbols
- Free Spins bonus feature