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Moon Festival Pokies

Pokies take their inspiration from a huge number of sources: the ancient world, Hollywood, sports, music, fictional freedom fighters… As far as we know, Moon Festival – developed by world-renowned Aussie pokie manufacturer Aristocrat – is the only title to be based on the Chinese Moon Festival.

Many westerners will be entirely unfamiliar with this traditional festival, but it works much like Thanksgiving or Christmas: families and friends gather together to gorge on cake (specifically mooncake), swap stories and sing. They also gaze at the full moon, hence the festival’s lunar theme.

Symbols in this 5-reel, 50 pay-line pokie include a geisha, flower-garlanded head bowed, a bone-white full moon, in the foreground of which is a swaying palm tree, a rabbit, a poker symbol, a pink lotus flower, a banjo and an orange lantern. The usual playing card symbols also occupy windows. The simplistic sound effects, such as they are, are more commonly associated with generic casino pokies than anything related to the Far East.


Unlike the vast majority of five-reel pokies, Moon Festival features four symbols per reel instead of the traditional three. The 5x4 grid is easy enough to comprehend though – especially if you’ve had any experience playing Pelican Pete or Miss Kitty. Moon Festival is more or less an identikit of those titles, with only the symbols and theme being replaced.

With all 50 pay-lines in play, the stakes are certainly high. Gamers can elect to wager line bets of between 0.25 and 10 coins, with total bets of between 12.5 and 500 coins per spin permitted. Thus, high rollers are certainly catered for. The Autoplay function, meanwhile, allows you to take part in as many as 25 games without having to press a button.

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Moon Festival

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Moon Festival
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Full Moon Wilds

The full moon symbols act as the wild in the game, and it can be used to substitute for all other symbols excluding the Chinese lantern scatter. Use wilds to configure winning combinations of three or more matching symbols.

Geishas are the highest-paying symbols in the game: land five and you’ll win 100x your line bet. Five golden banjos, meanwhile, will net you 75x your line bet. The playing card symbols offer humbler pay-outs, but they still provide between 5x and 50x your line bet.

Full Moons and Sticky Wilds

Pokies require an eye-catching USP if they want to attract gamers, and Moon Festival understands this well. The inclusion of ‘sticky’ wilds certainly makes the game stand out in an increasingly congested marketplace. More on that in a sec.

In the base game, you’ll be looking to hit three or more scatter symbols (Chinese lanterns) from left-to-right, starting on the first reel, to unlock the bonus round. Landing three scatters will win you an additional 2x your total bet, but you’ll be awarded with ten free games.

During the free games, any wild moons that pop up will substitute for other symbols to form winning combinations. These then become “sticky” for the remainder of your free games. What’s more, if a scatter symbol lands under one of the wild moons in question, you’ll be gifted an additional five games. Players are only allowed one re-trigger during the bonus game, though.

Although your first few free games might pass without incident, with each wild moon you hit, the chances of winning big increases. Aristocrat’s inclusion of a sticky wild feature really is a masterstroke, as the sight of frozen wilds on the screen spurs the player on; it seems that a win is constantly within reach. When a bonus is re-triggered, the wins are quite often lucrative.

Worth Howling About?

Aristocrat have spent years putting together a solid library of pokies. In the grand scheme of things, Moon Festival is better than some and not as good as others. The developer has done a stellar job of taking a Chinese tradition and turning it into a fun pokie. It has succeeded in underscoring the essence of the peculiar Moon Festival by utilising relevant symbols and incorporating a clever bonus feature. Sticky wilds are certainly better than non-sticky wilds, after all.

If you want to get a feel for Moon Festival, have a few turns playing for free and decide whether it’s worth plugging some coins into the machine. Who knows, your luck might just be in…

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