Tales from the Crypt Pinball Review

Tales from the Crypt Pinball flipper actionI’ve played the majority of pinball machines that hover within the “top 50” and without question I feel Tales from the Crypt not only belongs there, it could very possibly deserve a top 25.

Looking over the machine, the playfield artwork is truly amazing. Even if you’re not a fan of the gore or overall strange and slightly disturbing images, it’s difficult to not appreciate all of the details and small touches. The cabinet is done well also, my only complaint there would be the way they lay the “Tales from the Crypt” over top of the book background – the font doesn’t look right just sprawed straight across the book instead of flowing around the curves or just being on the cover of the book instead would have probably looked a bit better. Other than that, the rest of the playfield art and cabinet design make up for this small oversight.

Special touches I particularly appreciate about this machine would be the door handle ball launcher – which also rings a door bell when you “lock in” a creature feature.

Creature Features progress you through the game and if you complete all 12, then you get to the end of the game, or “Crypt Jam” which is a special multiball mode.

Tales from the Crypt pinball Creature FeaturesThe Creature Features include a “Door Prize” video mode style mini game, an “Entra Ball” (called “Axe-Tra Ball”), and “Super Crypt Kicker” which gives you a good 10 reprieves if the ball goes in the left gutter. Very nice to have with multiball as it helps make the Monster Jackpot more attainable. “Skull Crackin’” gives you the opportunity to add additional balls to the playfield.

“Electric Chair” is an instant 6 ball multiball, different from the main game multiball. There’s “Thunderstorm” which is a ramp challenge, “Frightmare” which is a spinner challenge, “Psycho Pops” which is a jet bumper challenge, “Robbin the Crypt” which is a challenge to hit the crypt 5 times, “The Werewolf Countdown” which is a countdown jackpot you score by hitting the left spinner and “Super Keeper Targets” which scores points for the eyeball targets and “Super Guillotine Targets” which is a drop down target points challenger. Speaking of the “Keeper” (eyeball) targets, lighting all of those lights the “Super Crypt Kicker” to give you a rebound back out of the left gutter.

Some people mention the Crypt Keeper’s laugh getting annoying. I think it’s insanely hilarious, and as long as you don’t miss a lot of shots, you won’t hear him laughing much. In reality, it seems as if he gets into the game the more you annihilate it. The sayings like “the morgue the merrier”, “axe-tra ball”, “you’ve made a killing” and plenty more add to the whole experience.

Tales from the Crypt full playfieldYou can get a really good flow with this game, and if you try to play through the 12 Creature Features, you’re bound to get at least one regular multiball on top of the “Electric Chair” 6 ball multiball. When you have regular crypt multiball, you can add balls by hitting the captive ball on the playfield, which is another nice touch. The left and right orbits can get moving quick and you can also get a nice flow on the ramps. There’s a third flipper in the upper left corner which makes the scoop shot (for collecting Creature Feature) more attainable as well as making the Crypt and resulting Multiball shot much easier. And there’s also 2 backdoor routes you can take to start multiball early in the game, and if you do bad, you also get the opportunity to restart multiball sometimes. And later on in the game, if you didn’t get monster jackpot, sometimes it lets you pick up where you left off on the last multiball. (This is all with the latest 3.03 ROM).

In addition to the door handle, this game features a shaker motor and it’s synched to come on at the most ideal times during game play and modes. It really makes this already hauntingly fun game feel a bit more possessed. There’s also a nice 360 left ramp, which starts multiball jackpot, and then the right ramp features one of the more challenging shots in pinball with narrow lanes. If you only make it half way up the upside down loop the right ramp features, you’re land in the tail end of the left ramp and score a “trick shot” which is also nice.

I really can’t think of anything at all I don’t absolutely love about this game, aside from the trivial issue I had with the outside cabinet art and the game title over the book the way they have it. It’s got spinners, captive ball, 6 ball multiball, a shaker motor, a great theme, great artwork, it’s extremely fun, entertaining, and the ruleset and game is easy enough to understand, most anyone can learn what they need to do to beat it. But that’s the real challenge – this game is difficult to beat! Especially if you’re going for a high score along with beating all 12 Creature Features. It’s extremely difficult in that aspect, yet easy enough for kids to play and have fun with. You can turn down the gore on the DMD if you want, but I personally feel that it’s fine the way it is and unlike anything you’ll see on any other machine from this era. Truly ahead of it’s time.

tales-scoopWith carefully chosen LED lighting, you can really enhance the spooky factor of this game. I literally have the crypt keeper looking like a glowing ghost popping out of the lower playfield. And the “Scared Stiff” bone flippers work good in this game, and the clear bands really enhance the look. I’ll include some pics of the what I ended up going with as far as bulb choices go, there’s still a few tweaks I’d like to make but I’ve been content for awhile.

The sound is also great – so much so that I’ve added a 5.1 surround sound system installed inside the cabinet. Even just a sub would be fine but I tend to go a bit overboard when it’s something I really love. If you do a subwoofer install, I recommend finding one you can fit in the cabinet instead of putting it on the floor. It just makes the whole machine feel that much more alive.

I don’t know if I can ever sell this machine, I have never enjoyed playing any other pinball machine quite as much as this one. Overall, it really just has absolutely everything I’ve been looking for all this time. I could go on forever about it.

Tales from the Crypt was manufactured by Data East in 1993 and there were an estimated 4,500 machines produced.  The number remaining is uncertain.

Be sure to check out the new unofficial v. 4.00 code update thanks to Chad & Dan – learn all about the improvements, previously recorded but unused crypt keeper callouts, better scoring, reward vs. risk & more over at http://www.pinballcode.com/tftc4

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