In the Great Kills section of Staten Island a new neighborhood bar, Dugout Pub South, has become a big hit. It isn't just the 15 flat-screen televisions, the local bands that frequently play at the bar, or the large menu of burgers and wings, but a new game has attracted the attention of patrons and Staten Islanders.

The Lobster Zone is a unique twist on the classic crane game. The player deposits $2 into the machine. Then, a player uses a joystick to navigate a claw over the desired lobster. The claw is then dropped into a lobster tank in order to capture a live lobster.

 The word is really getting around, said Robert Renaud, the owner of Dugout Pub South. People are coming in to see the lobster tank.

Renaud, who is also the owner of Dugout Pub and Grill on the North Shore of Staten Island, saw similar games in Las Vegas, Nev. and Key West, Fla. As he began to plan for the opening of his new bar at 4029 Hylan Blvd, he immediately called his machine and game broker to track down a Lobster Zone.  After searching for the game, Renaud said one was tracked down in Boston. He said Dugout Pub South is the only bar in the Tristate area to have a Lobster Zone and has become a staple to the bar's popularity.

People love to take pictures with their lobsters, he said. Renaud said that customers have been going crazy over the game since the bar opened about a month again.

 It was great!  I got a free lobster, said Erica, 25. It's fun.

Where can you free lobster? asked John, 23, Erica's friend, who won a lobster the same night.

However, the game does have some detractors. Some patrons thought the game was cruel to animals. In fact, last spring a PETA protest led a Chicago bar to yank its lobster game. Bar patron David Balzer, 21, understood that point of view. I think the bar is cool, I saw a lot of people I know, I thought the lobster tank was cruel though, he said.

Renaud, however, stressed the game was humane. The tank that the lobsters rest in is filled with salt water. Unlike other crane games, the claw that captures the lobsters is specifically designed with a pneumatic system that allows it to close beneath the water and preventing electrocution to the lobsters.  

Renaud said the game is a major money maker for the bar. He even said one individual spent nearly $50 attempting to win one lobster. He said people feel a sense of pride after winning their own lobster.

It's the thrill of the catch, he said. It's the feeling that they earned it.