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I've been a big fan of Novomatic's Katana slot since I discovered it online around a year or so ago. Since then, I have found two different Katana slots in B&M ('Bricks and Mortar') casinos in London: one a progressive jackpot version, the other similar to the online version, albeit with one major difference I'll come to in a bit.

Novomatic make the Book of Ra, Dolphins Pearl and Katana slots and they are usually found tucked away on the games menu of the Super or Multi-Gaminator machines. The online version of the Katana slot is only at a very few casinos and even then it's a relatively recent addition. Why? Largely because it's been around a lot longer in B&M casinos badged as "Shogun" but due to licensing issues, had to be re-badged. For the record (and I had to look this up!), a "Katana" is a traditional Samurai sword, which ties in with the scatter symbol in the game itself.

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The main difference between the online and B&M version of the Katana slots is evident when you hit the bonus feature. In the online version you get 10 free spins with expanding wilds on every reel. In the B&M version you get 5 extra free spins. But although the B&M version sounds better, don't let that fool you! The pay-table isn't quite as good and also, the machine is much higher variance (or more volatile/streaky) and - as I found out at London's Empire casino recently - you can go hundreds of spins without the free spin feature. In fact, I went for 3 hours straight without it!! That's no guarantee that other online casinos have the same RTP though - most don't publish these figures - but most online slots are around this mark so it would be logical to assume Katana follows the trend.

Like most Novomatic's Gaminator slots, Katana doesn't often pay much in "normal" play. Only 5 scatters really give you anything decent (200x) and even 5 wilds doesn't pay much more than 5 of the Geisha symbols which is the top-paying "normal" symbol. You need the free spins and you need the wilds dropping during those free spins to win big on Katana!

But this is where the Katana slot gets interesting. You get the free spin feature when 3 or more Katana scatters appear in view. The reels are then altered slightly for the free spin feature and more scatter symbols are added making it easier to re-trigger the feature. This is a trait of most Novomatic slots: it's hard to get the feature but when you do, chances are it will re-trigger and pay well.

Katana's free spin bonus throws expanding wild symbols into the mix which is why the Katana slot can be so lucrative at times. But be aware that getting to the free spins is the hard part - you need to be prepared to have a decent bankroll and also that you will invariably hit some long old mean streaks on this game. But the potential for a big hit is pretty evident when you see the expanding wild symbols in action.

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