Bonus Features & Mini Games



Over the decades, slot machines have evolved to the point where added extras can boost your payouts or unlock prizes in their own right. Naturally, the slot bonus features we see today weren’t always in place. They had to come from somewhere – and that somewhere is nudges, holds and wilds. If you head back to the ’60s and ’70s, nudges and holds started to appear. They quickly became popular and, by the ’80s, they were seen as an integral part of video slots.

There wasn’t a single company or innovation behind these features. However, Barcrest introduced a new MPU3 microprocessor in the ’80s. This technology allowed many of its leading titles, including Nudges Unlimited, to offer automated bonuses. Barcrest’s creation gave rise to Auto Hold and Auto Nudge, two features that captured the slot community’s imagination and started a trend.

The next major innovation on the slot bonus scene came courtesy of WMS Industries in 1996. This technology pioneered the use of mini games (i.e. action that took place away from the reels). Again, this changed the game and made video slots more engaging. So, before we get into the nuances of modern slot bonuses, let’s talk nudges, holds and wilds.


Nudges are a type of slot bonus that can be activated at random. The mechanics of nudges are fairly simple. When this feature is activated, you’ll be able to move symbols into view by nudging them down. For example, let’s say you’re playing a three-reel slot and two cherries are visible on reels 1 and 2. These cherries make up two-thirds of a winning combination, so you need one more to unlock a prize.

With enough nudges, you may be able to turn this into a winning combination. In other words, if the game awards you some nudges, you can move the symbols on the reel that’s not showing a cherry. If you can bring a third cherry into view, you’ll create a winning combination. The best way to think of nudges is that they allow you to move a reel manually. By nudging symbols, you have the opportunity to bring new symbols into view and, potentially, complete combinations.


At random times, you’ll be given the option to hold symbols in place – i.e. you can stop a specific reel from spinning. You can hold reels on an individual basis, which means you’ve got the opportunity to improve your chances of making winning combinations. 

Going back to our two cherries example, you could hold reels 1 and 2 to keep them in view. Once you’ve held these reels, you can hit the bet button and only reel 3 will spin. The chances of making a winning combination are greatly increased as two of the three symbols needed are already in position. 


The evolution of the slot bonus can also be attributed to wilds. These symbols are still used today, mainly online. The benefit of wilds is that they can substitute for all other symbols. The only symbol they typically can’t replace is the slot’s scatter. However, everything else is fair game, which means wilds can, like nudges and holds, help turn non-winning spins into wins.

Standard wilds are single symbols that will spin into view and substitute for something else. However, when you play video slots online, you’ll also find wilds with extra powers. Let’s take a closer look at these. 

The Evolution of Wilds – Slot Bonus Features Go Wild

From around 2010 onwards, wilds evolved. Modern video slots at LiveRoulette now feature standard wilds and the following special symbols:

Expanding Wilds

This type of wild has the power to expand. Initially, an expanding wild will roll into a single spot on a reel. Then, depending on how the game is flowing, it can grow in size to cover two or more spots. In many cases, expanding wilds can cover an entire reel or multiple reels, thus turning a larger section of the game board wild.

Stacked Wilds

Stacked wilds are symbols that can substitute for others and, importantly, stack on top of other wilds. In other words, stacked wilds can create one giant symbol. For example, if a 7 symbol was a stacked wild, the bottom section of the 7 might roll into view and sit in one spot on the reels. On a different spin, the entire 7 might be in view and cover three or more spots on the reel.

Sticky Wilds

Sticky wilds are another slot bonus you can use to make more winning combinations. In fact, these often appear in slot machines with bonus games as part of a free spins round. Sticky wilds substitute for other symbols, just like standard wilds. However, instead of disappearing when a new spin takes place, they will hold their position – i.e. they will stick in place. The length of time they remain in view is decided at random.

Wandering Wilds

Wandering wilds do exactly as their name suggests. Firstly, they will fall into a spot on the reels. Then, instead of disappearing, they will move across the game board to another spot. Depending on the game and the type of bonus features it offers, the wild can wander for multiple spins until it disappears from sight.

Multiplier Wilds

Multiplier wilds is a term that can actually cover two types of wild. The most common example of a multiplier wild is one that splits and multiplies. This makes them similar to expanding wilds in the sense that one can become many. However, in this instance, the additional wilds aren’t connected to the original. Instead, the symbol can split into multiple wilds, which scatter themselves across the game board.

Multiplier wilds can also refer to wilds that multiply wins. For example, video slots such as Cleopatra will double your prize each time the wild contributes to a winning combination. Again, like any slot bonus, multiplier wilds are a way for you to turn standard payouts into something potentially more lucrative.

Mini Games and the Modern Slot Bonus

From the evolution of nudges, holds and wilds, we get the slot machines with bonus games we see today. Although the previous features still exist, they’ve been supplemented with two additional extras:

Free Spins Slot Bonus

Free slot spins are self-explanatory. When you roll in the required combination of symbols, you’ll receive a pre-set amount of free spins. The spins are played at your current stake, which means the prizes will be the same as if you’d won them under number conditions. However, because they’re free spins, the value of each spin won’t be deducted from your balance.

In some video slots, free spins are accompanied with modifiers such as multipliers. For example, Cleopatra slots feature a bonus game that gives you 15 free spins. If you make a winning combination with Cleopatra (the wild) on any free spin, the prize value is tripled. This game also lets you trigger more free spins when you roll in enough scatters. This is another way to get more value from this type of slot bonus.

Free spins can also incorporate a variety of additional features. One game might add sticky wilds to the mix, another could activate giant symbols or mystery prizes. Of all the slot bonuses out there, free spins are the most diverse because they’re a special feature in their own right, but they can also bring other modifiers into play.

Mini Games

Mini games are one of the main reasons video slots have become so popular in recent years. Because online slots aren’t mechanical devices where the action has to take place on a single set of reels, developers have been able to get creative. Mini games are a result of that creative process. Like any slot bonus, you need to roll in the right combination of symbols to unlock a mini game. Once you’ve done that, the game will start.

Almost every video slot will have its own unique mini game. However, in general, they fall into the following categories:

Instant-Win Mini Game Slot Bonus

This is a simple slot bonus that many older online video slots will offer. When you roll in the required symbols, you’ll be given a prize or some type of multiplier. In reality, this isn’t much of a mini game. However, because this feature will take you away from the main action, we’re classing it as one.

Mystery Pick’em Mini Game Slot Bonus

This type of mini game requires you to select mystery prizes from a variety of options. In these types of slots, a new screen may open during play. On that screen, you might see treasure chests or other icons that relate to the theme. When you choose one, the boxes you select will open and the prize inside – free spins or a multiplier – will be added to your balance.

Pathway Mini Game Slot Bonus

Pathway slot bonuses are some of the most entertaining because they take you on a journey. The journey will vary depending on the slot’s theme and rules.

For example, the Rainbow Riches slot bonus game will take you on a journey towards a pot of gold. Why a pot of gold? Because of the old saying that there is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

The main concept you need to keep in mind when it comes to this slot bonus is that you’ll move along a pathway lined with prizes. To take a step forward, you’ll need to complete a small task such as rolling a dice. The outcome is random, and the further you make it along the path, the more prizes you’ll collect/the bigger the prizes will be.  

How Do You Unlock Slot Bonus Features?

There are two ways to unlock almost any slot bonus. The first is symbols known as scatters. These can be anything, but the point to remember is that you’ll have to roll in a certain number of scatters (usually three or more) to activate a bonus game. The second way is to wait. Certain slot machines with bonus games will trigger special features at random. This means you can continue to spin as you would normally and still unlock the bonus round.

The Progressive Jackpot Conundrum

There are some people that categorise progressive jackpots as bonus features, and there are others that don’t. In this slot bonus guide, we’re going to define them as something else. However, it’s worth noting that progressive payouts are often separate from the main game too. This means they often drop at random in the same way slot bonuses do. Additionally, there are certain progressive jackpots that are triggered via a mini game such as a spinning wheel. Therefore, if you want to classify progressive jackpots as bonuses, you can.

We want you to get the most from your time online, and that means playing slots with the best bonuses and mini games. Almost every slot on will have a bonus feature of some type or another. However, we think that the following games contain some of the most interesting and engaging mini games. Take a spin on them to discover the wealth of gameplay that online slots at their best can offer!

Rainbow Riches slot – This slot bonus takes you on a journey towards the end of a rainbow, where jackpots can be worth huge sums of money.

Sherlock Holmes: The Hunt for Blackwood slot – Trigger this slot bonus and you’ll be asked to pick mystery items, uncover clues, and solve a crime in order to win cash prizes.

Big Bad Wolf slot – Three moon symbols in this game will bring out the wolf, who will blow on the reels and scatter symbols to reveal mystery prizes.

Battle Royal slot – This slot bonus is a hybrid that fuses mystery pick’em and pathway elements. Your job is to pick mystery symbols and help the king escape from the dungeon.

Ted slot – Fans of bonuses will love the Ted slot game because it has five. As you spin, you can climb the prize ladder to access new features such as free spins, the bar crawl pathway bonus and a wheel of fortune.

As you can see, there are plenty of fantastic slot machines with bonus games inside our slots lobby. Now you know the added extras you can unlock when you spin, the best thing you can do is go out and see what you can unlock by playing at LiveRoulette.

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