Among the machines that marked the history of pinball during the “golden age”, some of them stand above all others. Some even say they belong in the Pinball Hall of Fame. Without a doubt, Monster Bash table is one of them, and the fact that this is the remake by Chicago Gaming doesn’t change anything. Because no matter what the old pinheads who are resistant to novelty say, the serial remaker, Chicago Gaming, offers this table a well-deserved return.
This re-release is an additional chance for collectors to integrate this mythical machine in their gameroom. Indeed, the original models are rare, often in bad condition due to exploitation in bars, and reach heights in terms of resale price. In short, hoping for an original Monster Bash machine, clean on the outside, with the original parts and card, and a clean board is a bit like hoping for a McDonald’s burger identical to the presentation picture: it must exist but we have never seen one!
And we speak with knowledge, the first pinball we got was an original one. It came with all the accessories: original card without the batteries leaking on it (a miracle), original cigarette smell, original smashed crate, original rusty feet, playfield with a hole as big as the Grand Canyon and all kinds of original failures. As the game went on, the sensors, coils, plastics and toys broke one after the other. We like to play, not spend our time and money on repairs. So when, in 2018, Chicago Gaming announced the release of its third remake (the first one being Medieval Madness, the second one Attack From Mars) and it was Monster Bash, we didn’t hesitate for a moment: we committed the crime of treason without any guilt and we sold our MB to get a brand new Limited Edition!
The big day arrived! We were especially excited when we opened the box because it was unbelievable to unpack a brand new pinball machine designed 20 years ago. Use to our old relic, the first impression we had was: so in real life it looks like this! It is clear that if we put it in the context of 1998, it must have really given the other machines of the time a run for their money.
Chicago Gaming, based on Stern’s model, released three versions of its remake: the CE (Classic edition), the SE (Special edition) and the LE (limited edition) versions.
The CE version (visual at the beginning of the article) is absolutely identical to the original model except for the DMD which has been replaced by an LCD screen simulating the original DMD. We also notice that the Williams (original manufacturer) logos have been replaced with Chicago Gaming. These are the only differences, nothing else (except for the wiring and electronics of course).
Special care has been taken to completely redesign all the animations. Obviously, switching to an LCD screen helps, you gain in definition and when you add the color you get a richer graphic palette and therefore more contrast and details.
From the Special Edition onwards, the differences become more pronounced to give way to the advantages of the new generation pinball machines. Indeed, the original size screen is replaced by a larger one (19¼”), the sound system is upgraded for a better quality, the general lighting of the playfield and the back board are switched to RGB led.
Two-tone LEDs are added to the feet of Dr. Frankenstein’s creature as well as in the hole and finally, the details on the monsters have been improved.
For the Limited Edition, we obviously go a step further. In addition to the improvements of the SE, we have
- a metallic blue glittery paint on the whole pinball machine (foot and body) of the most beautiful effect
- a laser silk-screened plate representing all the Universal monsters placed on the lockbar
- a metal plate with the serial number of the limited edition on the apron
- a plasma disc
- a really great lighted topper that perfectly finishes the front panel
- mirrors blades (always nice)
- a shaker.
The shaker is the only disappointing point of this remake because it is, in our opinion, under-exploited. On other models, it brings a real plus, here it is only anecdotal and not programmable, at least not by much…
So, you’ll always find someone to tell you the opposite because they are smarter than everyone else. Their feeling is a reference and they were there when the pinball game was released in ’98. But we’ll tell you again, there’s no difference in gameplay or rules with the original model. That’s why it’s called a remake and why Chicago Gaming Company, Stern Pinball Inc. and Planetary Pinball Supply joined forces to produce the first remake (Medieval Madness). So what we are about to explain to you is also valid for the Original Monster Bash.
The pitch: you are a crazy music producer who has set out to put on the most monstrous rock concert ever! To do so, you have the idea to wake up the most mythical monsters and to gather them in the same band for a hell of a jam (monster bash) and if the concert is successful, you will have to unlock their respective instruments to record an album with them (monster of rock). A simple and fun pitch just like this unusual pinball machine and has the luxury of having a fluid flow that we will call mid-tempo.
The secret of this machine? Its architecture and its rules. Both are simple. That’s why this pinball is a hit, because it’s for everyone, kids and adults alike will be able to spend hours of fun on it. If you want to introduce the world of pinball to a total novice, this is the perfect pinball to do so.
Let’s start with its architecture: the monsters you will have to wake up are spread all over the board in a homogeneous arc. There are only two almost symmetrical ramps (one on the left with a single entrance and one on the right with a double entrance). At the top right you find three bumpers. A little lower towards the center is the hole, which we will talk about later, and in the center is the lane with the moshpit spinner. So much for the main elements. We told you, it’s simple.
Simple as the skill shot at the beginning of the game. Yes, there is only one and it is almost impossible to miss. Indeed, this pinball machine does not have a ball launcher but an autoplunger. So you don’t have to gauge your starting shot. Just press the launch button and use the flipper buttons to light up one of the letters D.I.G contained in the little pyramid-shaped inserts at the top of the board when the ball passes by. Uh… I don’t know if anyone told you, but this pinball is simple.
“I am Count Dracula…and you’re not !”
On the left, under a green translucent plastic is the creature of the black lagoon whose only desire is to take a nice bath in a bubble spa sipping a little cocktail all surrounded by pretty girls. You will have to shoot several times in the direction of its lagoon to wake it up and then use the corridors to unlock its instrument: the saxophone.
The bride of Dr. Frankenstein’s creature is located at the top left of the board. To unlock her, you’ll have to go through the two ramps several times to turn on the inserts that inform you of your progress and then go through the same path again to get her microphone. This is personally the creature that I have the most trouble validating. The reason for this escapes me as the ramps are no more difficult than that.
Dr. Frankenstein’s creature, mistakenly called Frankenstein for short when it’s really the creature and not the doctor, is lying on his operating table waiting for lightning to come and give it life. But before that, you’ll have to help Igor and the doctor to find the creature’s parts in order to assemble them. To do this, you’ll have to shoot several times the retractable door that blocks the access to the second entrance of the right ramp (beware this passage is on the left). Once this operation is done, you trigger a very nice animation featuring the doctor and Igor giving life to the creature. The creature then stands up and you have to shoot it to take its instrument: the keyboard.
Incidentally, you also trigger one of the two multiballs in the game. This multiball is relatively easy to get. When your level increases with practice, we advise you to trigger it only when the other monsters are awake. This way, the multiball will make it easier for you to collect all the instruments that will open the way to the monster of rock.
The werewolf is the only monster that does not have its own 3D figure. It is simply represented on a backlit plastic in the background of the board. Go through the left and right lanes to cycle the moon up until it is full to transform him. Repeat the operation to retrieve the battery, the instrument of the beast.
As for the mummy, it rests in its sarcophagus in front of its pyramids at the top right of the board. Use the bumpers to help the archaeologists dig down to the burial chamber and pull this ancient pharaoh out of his thousand year sleep. Pull in the hole to complete the job, the sarcophagus then opens and then use the same procedure as for the werewolf to get his bass instrument.
The count Dracula
We save the best for last. The best part because it’s by far the funniest LCD and playfield animation. Slavic accented lines come out throughout the game, especially when you shoot the red rectangular targets that spell out the word D.R.A.C.U.L.A to wake him up. When you have finished spelling his name, shoot in the direction of the hole so that Dracula literally comes out of his coffin and goes back and forth, more or less quickly, sometimes remaining static or not, all in an arc in the hope of hypnotizing you: “I will mesmerize you with my semi-circular movement!”
The goal for you is now to successfully shoot this moving target to collect his guitar. You find this character particularly fun in the animation of the extra ball where he performs a devilish wiggle to make John Travolta jealous in the Saturday night fever. Unfortunately for him, the mirror ball comes to put a premature end to this dance certainly typical of the Carpathians.
Bonus and Phantom Flip
To help you in your adventure, you will be able to count on bonuses that you can obtain randomly by going straight to the hole located at the top slightly on the right. Try to go there frequently as you will either get progress on the steps that separate you from the creatures’ awakening, or items that allow you to defeat the creatures faster (and other things). Each creature has a weak point and here are the items for each creature:
- the garlic clove for Dracula
- the hair dryer for the fiancée of Dr. Frankenstein’s creature
- an ancient scroll for the mummy
- a silver bullet for the werewolf
- a harpoon for the creature from the black lagoon
- the torch for Dr. Frankenstein’s creature
Once you have one of these items, the red “special” insert lights up in the outlanes. To use them you just have to press the launch ball button when you have woken them up. This will require one less action to unlock their instrument. You will notice on the picture that on the right of the “special” a blue insert is lit.
The only gadget in this pinball machine is unique. It is the phantom flip. A small “innovation” at the time which made (and still makes today) its small effect. The principle is simple (I think I use this word a lot), a small opto is hidden in the two inlane and when the ball passes through, a small ghost takes care of sending the ball to the ramp, the hole or the most relevant lane to your progress without you having to touch the pinball buttons. Nice, isn’t it? The only problem is that it’s not always 100% reliable.
Also, when your machine is new it will take a few games for the software to learn the speed and direction the ball should take before the feature is perfectly calibrated. You can reset this preset in the door menu at any time if you find that the calibration is poor. To activate the phantom flip, you have to shoot the small targets that surround Dr. Frankenstein’s creature in order to spell out the word “phantom”.
So, you’ve got it, you’ve figured out how the flip works? Great! But then what happens when you have woken up all the monsters? And what if you have collected all the instruments? We’ll see about that right away!
Just above the flippers you have, spread out in an arc in the order of the pinball layout, the insert portraits of each creature as well as their respective instruments below. This allows you to follow your progress and thus to prepare yourself for the mini wizard mode and the wizard mode. Simple isn’t it? (I have to stop with this!)
Once you have woken up all the monsters, the monster bash insert lights up and you have to shoot directly into the hole to trigger the mini wizard mode. During this multiball, all the monsters will play a wild concert and you will have to take advantage of this to chain crazy jackpots that will increase your score.
For the wizard mode (monster of rock), the operation is identical except that you must have collected all the creatures and their instruments. The multiball is then Dantesque and brings you an exponential number of points.
Oh yes! I forgot to tell you about a little mode that is easy to obtain, the monster moshpit. Very simple to obtain, you just have to shoot in the middle lane until the corresponding gauge goes up to trigger it by finishing in the hole as usual. You will then get a small multiball that scores slightly.
There you have it, you know everything or almost everything about this Monster Bash remake. This pinball game is a real success, both the remake and the original. If you are lucky enough to get one, you can go with your eyes closed but be careful: you never know if there are monsters around…
Manufacturer: Chicago Gaming Company
Date of production : october 2018
Processor : Stern Spike 2 System
Nickname: MBR (CE,SE, LE)
Units produced : N/C
Launch price : 7390€ CE, 8640€ SE, 9390€ LE
3D elements : the creature from the black lagoon (in its lagoon under the set), Igor, Dr.Frankenstein, fiancée of Dr.Frankenstein’s creature, mummy with opening sarcophagus, Dracula mobile out of his coffin, Frankenstein’s creature removable on its table, plasma disc (LE version only)
Gadget : phantom flip
ART AND DESIGN TEAM:
Design : George Gomez
Art : Kevin O’Connor
Animation : Adam Rhine
Mecanichs : Chris Shipman, Robert C. Friesl
Music : Vince Pontarelli
Sound : Vince Pontarelli
Software : Lyman F. Sheats Jr.
Note : easter egg “Totally” to launch the song Lyman’s Lament, before launching your first ball, press the left button 11 times, the right 1 time, then the left 5 times, the right 1 time then the left 6 times and to finish the right 1 time.