Creature from the Black Lagoon

Berzerk was the first arcade game I ever bought, and in October of 2003, Creature became my very first pinball machine. I took the plunge and had one shipped from Michigan after playing it constantly at Castles N’ Coasters in Phoenix. It remained in my collection until 2010, when I traded it for an upright Discs of Tron arcade game and an Exidy Crossbow machine with a 440 multi-kit.

From time to time in this hobby, there have been instances when I’ve sold or traded a game, only to regret it later down the road. While I thoroughly enjoyed Discs of Tron and Crossbow (both of which helped me land other games in future deals), Creature was one of those that I always hoped to have back one day.

Well, in the Fall of 2013, I got that shot when I traded my Simpsons Pinball Party machine to a guy in California for his very niceĀ Creature. We met at a truck stop in Blythe, CA and traded games right there in the parking lot. Interestingly enough, The Simpsons wound up coming back to AZ a year later, when it got traded to my best friend – just a few miles from my house. But I digress…

This one was already pretty tricked out when I picked it up: a green DMD, a custom shooter rod, light up Crown Victorias, a light-up speaker panel, and green powder coated hardware. I changed up the LED scheme (it was a little too green for my liking), built a topper for it, and swapped out the green DMD for a Color DMD (the LED version).

One of my favorite things about this machine is the translite (though the entire art package is phenomenal). I got to meet both Julia Adams (the female lead of the 1954 classic, who has since passed away) and Ricou Browning (the creature during all of the underwater scenes) at a convention, and they both signed it for me.

When I have guests over who are new to pinball, Creature is typically the machine I recommend they take for a spin. The rules couldn’t be simpler, but putting up big scores takes a lot of practice. It’s a really great game for learning pinball basics, as well as for learning strategy. Both ramps are fairly easy to hit (and the left ramp becomes a total blast during multiball), but with a large flipper gap, weak shots will send the ball straight down the middle.

The main multiball only features two balls, but it’s anything but boring. After spelling F-I-L-M, you search for a girl who has been taken by the creature. Upon finding her, you have to capture the creature, who appears as a pepper’s ghost effect from beneath the playfield. It’s pretty slick!

Creature from the Black Lagoon has one of the best art packages ever done, the 50’s drive-in theme is classic, and the game itself is a total blast.

This is my 2nd Creature machine. There won’t be a 3rd. This one’s staying put!