It is fair to say that when it comes to self-promotion, Thunderkick are probably one of the least attention-seeking companies in the gaming industry. Publicity shy is an understatement. In fact, it is difficult to find out much about them at all. Their own website gives little away; being restricted to some vague, mission statement type blurb about how they are “driven by passion” for “quality not quantity” and for “enhancing the overall user experience”. Clearly written by the company’s marketing intern, it’s a masterclass of the modern day fashion for using the maximum number of business buzzwords to convey as little meaning as possible.
What we can work out from some basic research is that they’re a small gaming design company of around a couple of dozen employees. They produced their first game in 2012. They have offices in Stockholm and Malta. But short of hiring a team of forensic corporate consultants, not much more information is readily available.
So let’s just say that this company is happy to let its games do the talking. In which case, we’re more than happy to concentrate on the product too. And there is no doubt that their games are very good indeed. With around twenty titles in the roster at the time of writing, they certainly do live up to their proclaimed “quality not quantity” ethos.
Any self-respecting online casino will have some Thunderkick games in its line-up, and with good reason too. They may not produce a vast range, but the games they do release are among the most popular around. With a proven reputation of creating lively games with superb graphics and a trademark quirky humour, regular players in-the-know are likely to be impressed by this company’s innovative output.
Take their aptly named Esqueleto Explosivo. This unique game has the unlikely theme of the Mexican festival of The Day of the Dead, featured memorably at the start of the recent Bond film Spectre. Which was itself an unlikely event: although the Day of the Dead certainly is celebrated in Mexican culture, there never was a carnival procession in Mexico City. The very first was in 2016 – inspired by the success of the movie!
In this brilliantly conceived game, Enrico Mortis and his mariachi band are the focus of the game play, accompanying your “spins” with some impressive little ditties every time you achieve a winning combination. The scene is of a traditional Mexican village square, decorated for the festival. The graphics are beautifully rendered, with candles, bunting, lanterns and fireworks exploding in the distance, while the soundtrack provides some lively mariachi tunes and party sound effects. There are no spinning reels. Instead, three rows of five skulls drop from above onto Enrico and his band. Any matching combinations explode into a puff of smoke and are replaced by further skulls from above. With this process continuing every time you achieve a winning combination, with an increasing prize multiplier doubling in value every time you progress. Fireflies add to the atmosphere, illuminating the multiplier level for each “spin”. You will soon begin to feel in a celebratory festival mood too as the prizes build up.
In fact, it’s hard to find a conventional slot in the Thunderkick range: every title seems to have some kind of imaginative innovation. The games have a certain contemporary Scandinavian style. Impressive screen-filling graphics are the order of the day, with everything designed to suit all the varied devices today’s players use to access their favourite games. The big and bold reels and characters show up brilliantly on the more compact screens of your mobile or tablet, but are also visually impressive on a widescreen desktop monitor.
Take Frog Grog for example. Its colourful design and quirky back story provide a perfect demonstration of the style and humour which are the hallmark of Thunderkick’s output. The backdrop is of a beautifully lit Victorian apothecary. A shelving unit containing different vials of bubbling fluids provide the “reels”. Instead of the conventional spinning reels, the bottles simply drop through the shelves, with new replacements falling in from above. A little mouse scurries about the scene squeaking as it goes. Any matching symbols disappear in a puff of smoke, to be replaced by further bottle drops. The process continues, with your prize multiple also rising for each successive successful drop. Your wins appear to bubble out of the steaming cauldron below the shelves. This unusual game is made by the eponymous frogs though. The Wild animated little croaker really adds to the charm of this quirky title. When the frog burps, nearby vials and jars are eliminated to produce more potential winning combinations.
Sunny Scoops is another unique Thunderkick creation. This time, you are presented with three ice cream cones with three different soft ice cream flavours on top. In effect, this is a simple three row, three symbol game, but it is truly enchanting, with the sounds of the lapping sea shore and end-of-the-pier style swing band adding to the nostalgic British seaside holiday atmosphere. In this game, there are no spinning reels. The ice cream cones are simply swept aside, replaced with fresh cones as three colourful soft scoop ice cream flavours are plopped on top. Pay outs can result from the usual horizontal matches, but the real prize is achieved by getting identical flavours on the same cone: in effect a vertical winning line. Get this and bonus games and an unlimited multiplier are triggered, possibly resulting in some impressive prizes and lots of ice cream fun. Just how high can you build your cone?
But just about every one of their titles contains some kind of innovative idea or feature. Babuskhas is themed around the world famous Russian matryoshka dolls, where each wooden figure contains an increasingly miniature replica of the larger doll. Meanwhile, Arcader is a kind of nostalgic mash-up of an old school fruit machine with an 80’s Space Invader console.
With around twenty different games in the range at the time of writing, most reputable casinos carry a range of Thunderkick titles. So you can easily find out for yourself what makes these designs so popular with avid gamers around the world. They may not be the most prolific design house around, or the most outspokenly self-promoting. But behind that understated Scandinavian modesty lies a real talent for producing clever and entertaining titles with outstandingly realised graphics. Their games are just perfect for players looking for something just that little bit different.