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Lobstermania Slot Game Review

International Game Technology released 70 new slot machines in their 2002 fiscal year. Lucky Larry’s Lobstermania proved to be one of IGT’s most successful and enduring games, remaining popularwith players over a decade later.

The original game was released in a Game King cabinet console but several variations have been distributed through the years. The oldest version of the game only included one bonus feature, theBuoy Bonus Game. Later versions added the Great Escape feature. The online version of the original game (sans Great Escape bonus) was released in August 2013. A PC version of the game wasreleased along with many other IGT titles in 2011.

Writers who have reviewed the game through the years disagree on who Larry is supposed to be.

Is the lobster prominently displayed in the game’s logo or is he the fisherman?

The ambiguity of Larry’s identity is common to slot machine games, many of which are developed around loosely defined concepts. More attention is paid to the details of the animations in thesegames than to the animated characters themselves.

Older versions of the game use the song “Rock Lobster” by the B-52s. The song is about a beach party where someone stumbles upon a rock lobster.  These animals are better known ascrayfish. Former Beatle John Lennon heard the B-52s performing this song live in Bermuda in 1979 and he was inspired to record an album in open collaboration with his wife Yoko Ono, whosecontributions to his earlier work had been deeply criticized.

Larry (the Fisherman) only talks during the Buoy Bonus game. He speaks with a Maine accent and pulls lobsters from a bay. Ironically the song “Rock Lobster” is composed in the 1960s “beachmusic” style, which was developed around California and Hawaiian beach motifs and popularized by teen movies. But then, rock lobsters are freshwater creatures anyway, so perhaps the illogicalmatchups only make sense.

Rules of the Lobstermania Slot Game

Lucky Larry’s Lobstermania is a 5-reel, 3-row video slot game. All prizes are paid from left to right except for Scatter wins. The game uses 25 pay lines and some of the tiles play animationswhen they form part of winning combinations. There are three special symbols: a Wild, a Scatter, and the Bonus game symbol.

Wild Symbol

The Wild symbol is a lobster wearing sunglasses and holding a mimosa in its right claw. This symbol substitutes for all other symbols in the game except the Scatter and Bonus symbols. Fiveof a kind pay 10,000 times bet per line, four of a kind pay 500 times bet per line, three of a kind pay 100 times bet per line, and two adjacent tiles pay 5 times bet per line. This symboldoes a little dance when it contributes to a winning combination.

Scatter Symbol

The Scatter symbol is a lobster in a cage. Five scatter symbols pay 200 times total bet. Four scatter symbols pay 25 times total bet. Three scatter symbols pay 4 times total bet. In theonline game distributed by OpenBet there is no “Great Escape” bonus, which in other versions of the game is triggered by the Scatter win. The lobsters rattle their cages when a scatterprize is awarded.

Buoy Bonus

The Buoy Bonus symbol is the lobster dressed in a yellow fisherman’s suit and wearing a blue life preserver. Three or more of these symbols, when they appear on an active pay line, triggerthe Buoy Bonus game described below. The lobster in the symbol waves his claws at you when the bonus game is triggered.

Other Symbols in the Lobstermania Slot Game

There are eight other symbols in the game: four high value symbols and four low value symbols.

Lobstermania Logo

The Lobstermania logo pays 1000 times bet per line for five of a kind, 200 times bet per line for four of a kind, and 50 times bet per line for three of a kind. This symbol contains a smallred lobster sandwiched between “Lobster” and “Mania” and the lobster wriggles when this symbol pays a prize.

Buoy Symbol

The Buoy pays 500 times bet per line for five of a kind, 100 times bet per line for four of a kind, and 25 times bet per line for three of a kind. The buoys bob back and forth in the waterwhen they contribute to a winning combination.

Lobster Boat Symbol

The Lobster Boat pays exactly the same as the Buoy for all winning combinations. The boat chugs across the water when it forms part of a winning combination.

Lighthouse Symbol

The Lighthouse pays 300 times bet per line for five of a kind, 75 times bet per line for four of a kind, and 15 times bet per line for three of a kind. The lighthouse sweeps the harbor witha beam of light when it forms part of a winning combination.

Low Value Symbols

The low value symbols are the colorful “A”, “K”, “Q”, and “J” symbols that most slot games borrow from playing card symbols. Although not animated these symbols are designed withdistinctive colors and shapes that fit with the cartoonish style of the other symbols.

How to Play the Lobstermania Slot Game

All of the game controls are located below the playing reels area. The numbered striped fish emblems lining both sides of the playing reels screen are only there for reference. When a pay lineawards a prize a line with a matching color connects the fish to the symbols that form the winning combination. These emblems become dark and lose their numbers when their corresponding pay linesare deactivated.

The information bar below the playing reels displays how much each pay line awards when it pays a prize as well as the total amount of money won per spin. And as a courtesy it wishes you “GoodLuck!” when you click on Spin.

Controls

  • The Lines widget on the left side of the screen allows you to activate or deactivate pay lines. You must use the Plus and Minus buttons to scroll up or down through the numbers. Youcannot arbitrarily select individual pay lines.
  • The Bet / Line (bet per line) widget is below the Lines widget. Use the Plus and Minus buttons to scroll through the coin values, which range from 0.01 to 25.00. The currencydenomination is clearly indicated by its symbol in the information display.
  • The “Total Stake” or “Total Bet” information widget displays the product of the number of active pay lines and the current bet per line amount. This can go as high as 625 currencyunits, thus making Lobstermania an expensive Max Bet game.
  • The Winnings window is an extra display area in the center of the bottom of the screen. The game counts up your total win in this window.
  • The Spin button is shaped like a rock but all it does is initiate a single paid game at the cost of the current Total Stake/Bet amount.
  • The Auto Spin widget is positioned on the far right of the screen. Use the Plus and Minus buttons to adjust how many spins you want the game to play for you. You click on the Spinbutton once to initiate the automatic spins. Each spin costs the Total Stake amount and the game deducts that amount from your balance before initiating a spin. The auto spinning continuesuntil you exit the game, interrupt the spin, win a bonus game, or your balance drops below the amount of the Total Stake.
  • The Pay Table button is a rock sitting below the Auto Spin widget.

The Buoy Bonus game begins when three of the Bonus symbols appear on an active pay line. The game prompts you to choose one of the symbols, which reveals how many picks you’ll get in the bonusgame. You may receive 2, 3, or 4 picks.

You are then taken to another screen where Larry the Fisherman stands in his lobster boat. There ten buoys floating in the water near the rear of the boat. If you wait before picking you maysee something jump out of the water on the left side of the screen. Larry will eventually start grumbling about your inactivity, advising you to pick a buoy. Don’t wait too long because thegame may time out on you.

You choose 2, 3, or 3 buoys as directed. The selected buoys change color and Larry starts unloading lobster traps. He makes a comment about each lobster he pulls out of the trap and everylobster pays some sort of prize.  He may go on pulling up lobsters for quite a while. Once in a while he may say a lobster almost looks like a crab but it’s just a random comment.

When Larry has finished collected lobsters from the trap the game tallies up your winnings and you return to the basic game.

In the Great Escape bonus you help lobsters escape from their traps and win prizes as they do so. This bonus ends when the last lobster cannot escape. This bonus game is not available in allversions of the game.

Conclusion

One of the unusual things about Lobstermania is that the soundtrack plays continuously. In other words, even though the music dies away as the spins wind down, the song picks up where it left offwhen you click “Spin” again. Of course, this feature times out so the song begins again for the next player. But if you choose to use the “Auto Spin” feature then the song plays withoutinterruption.

Fans of the B-52s undoubtedly enjoy listening to the full song when they play 25 spins in a row. There are no incidental sounds except for when the game pays a prize.  Some slot games use aclicking sound to let you know the reels are spinning, perhaps as an audio aid for vision-impaired players or players who get up while the game is playing. Of course, anyone else sitting aroundalso knows you are spinning the reels. The song is sufficient.

The little Lobster Larry at the top of the screen occasionally shares tips in the form of voice balloons, a comic book style that doesn’t really fit well with an animated game. He really doesn’thave much to say except “For maximum action: play all 25 lines!” and “3 [bonus] on a paid line initiate the buoy bonus”. While these hints may save people some time looking at the pay table theydo become a little annoying.

OpenBet’s version of the game uses a browser-style window with a gear icon in the top right-hand corner. Click on that to toggle the sound on or off and to enable or disable Turbo mode. Unlikesome “turbo modes” you will find in other games, this option appears to only slightly adjust the speed with which the reels spin.

Below the top bar you’ll find your Balance, Stake (total bet), and a prize window that shows how much you were paid in total for the last game.

If you are stuck in a blizzard somewhere and long for the warm California beaches and don’t mind finding yourself trapped in Jessica Fletcher’s fictional town of Cabot Cove, you just may be ableto bundle up warming and find yourself enjoying imaginary lobster in the bright warm sun by playing this game. Or you could win some money and take a vacation to the warm sunny beaches of Mexico.Either way, Lobstermania appeals to the beach buff and crustacean aficionado in everyone.

IGT made a fun game with a goofy concept and they probably had no idea at the time of just how popular Lobstermania would prove to be. Of the other 70 games they released in 2002 how many arepeople still playing and talking about over a decade later?  The average expected lifespan of a slot machine is about 7 years. Lobstermania is on the verge of going into its third lifetime(and the game has been officially updated with new numbers at least twice).

This series will probably be around in another 10 or 20 years in some form. The original Lobstermania may even still be sitting side by side with its descendants in casinos of the future, if onlybecause people just love to chase lobster even if only in their imaginations.

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