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Gaming

UFO Catchers In Japan

whysojapan ufo catchers prizes

UFO catchers

UFO catcher – or claw machines as there are also known as – are arcade machine that are very popular all over the world. The aim of playing the machines is to pick up the prize with the claw, It’s normally made up of two to four prongs, which will grip or move your prize over to the prize hatch and drop the price down, where you then claim the price through sort of a cat flap door in the front of the machine. The machines are usually see through from all sides, which makes it easier to play, or so you would think.

whysojapan ufo catchers prizeswhysojapan ufo catchers prizes

Playing claw machines 101

Is there any skill to playing the machines? Well, the claw machines that I’ve played here in Europe I’ve never had any problems playing. Getting the claw over and even pick up the prize is the easy part. The only real skill you need is being able to place the claw over the price in the right way.  After that it’s down to chance from there on. The machines in the UK are simple to play and once you’ve got the hang of the technique, you could win at them all day –  if it wasn’t for one thing. The only thing stopping you are the owners of the arcades who set the machines up. The machines are set to only tightly grip the prize for a longer period of time after machine has been feed a certain amount of cash.

One good tip is to try and go for prizes that are close to the hatch, because what happens is the claw becomes weaker the further it has to travel, and the price might drop before it reaches the hatch. Unless the machine is up in the quota it needs, only then will it stay strong enough to carry the prize all the way. You can also try and move prize bit by bit, until you have it close enough. That’s another good work around to getting the prize you have your eyes set on. I usually start with prizes close to the hatch, and the technique works good for me. Another good tip is to watch others play. If they have put loads of cash in the claw, it will normally hold the prize for longer before it weakens. This is giving you more of a chance on bagging the prize you want, if the previous player gives up.

The machines I’ve played in the UK have prizes that are mostly plush toys. One of my best wins as to date on a machine in the UK was a Minion, winning it made my day.

whysojapan ufo catchers prizes

UFO Catchers in Japan

Playing UFO Catchers in Japan is very different than playing the machines like I’ve played in the UK. You still have the element of the the settings by the vendor for how strong and how long the claw will grip the price, but there is so much more skill to it than the other machines I’ve played outside of Japan. First lets start off with the prizes, there are a lot more to choose from. Yes, you do have the plush toy machines, but you also have so much more. Some of the prizes we have won when playing in Japan for example are figurines that are only made as prizes for UFO catchers. There’s also food, bath towls, cutlery, small electrical devices, and so much more.

whysojapan ufo catchers prizes

Most arcades in Japan normally have at least one floor designated to UFO catchers. Usually it’s the first floor of the building. A couple of popular arcades we have played in are the Taito Game Station and Sega’s arcades. Most machines cost around 100 to 200 yen to play, and if you buy more games at once it can sometimes be cheaper.One great thing when you do win your prize is that the staff will usually see you win it and come over and congratulate you and give you a plastic bag to carry your prize away, which is great service.

Playing in Japan

The machines in Japan really do take it to the next level. Of course, you can find the normal claw machines there as well, but they have developed other ways to play, which requires a lot more skill to it, and a lot of the machines only have two claws to the pick up the prize with. There are a couple of different setups of UFO catchers. Of course the basic pick up and drop, but they also have other setups.

whysojapan taito game station archade hall

One being where the machines has got the prize laying across two metal bars with a gap big enough to pick up the prize and drop it between them. But that would be to easy. Yes, the gap is big enough, but you can’t just pick it up and drop, because mostly of weak claws due to settings. Also the way the staff place the prizes, laying them over the two metal bars and the bars are covered in rubber, which makes it even harder to just push and slide. The main trick is to ether pick it up one end and drop, and do so on and so on until it tips though between the bars.

The next setup is where the prize is hanging on underneath a little piece of plastic, which is balancing on a little rubber ball. At first it seems easy, but then you learn that the plastic rubbing on the rubber ball is a real pain. It can be done, but you have to move the piece of plastic from side to side until the plastic and the prize finally falls from the ball.

whysojapan ufo catchers prizesThe final setup is were the prize has a sort of a plastic ring stuck to the box of the prize. What I found was a good way to win at these sort of UFO catchers is to hook and try to lift it, which can be possible. Another technique is to bring one of the claws to side of plastic hole, so you use the power of the claw closing to drag the prize closer to the hole, which is a good way of winning at this sort of UFO catcher.

My last tip is, if you find one prize you just can’t win but really want (mine was a Super Sonico figurine) is to look around the shops in Akihabara, because there is a chance you find it for sale. They might have one or two available, since they’re not really made for retail. I’m guessing someone has won it and sold it on to the shop and then the shop sells it on – which was great for me, who really wanted it.

 

It is great fun playing the machines so I really recommend playing them at least once while in Japan.

Check out Taito Game Station homepage to find your closest arcade hall while in Japan: http://www.taito.com/gc

 





Posted on by Paul in Gaming 2 Comments

Taiko no Tatsujin Arcade Game

whysojapan Taiko no Tatsujin

 Taiko no Tatsujin 太鼓の達

whysojapan Taiko no TatsujinThe Taiko drumming game gets its roots from playing the musical drum, which is a popular thing that is played in Japan. The arcade version of the game is a 1-2 player game consisting of two big taiko drums and a large screen. Each player has its own drum and two drum sticks. The game can also be played as a one player game where you use one of the drums. I have seen people that are really good at this game using both drums to play, there may be a setting for the game which allows one person to play two drums at once. It’s nothing that I have ever looked for since the menus are all in Japanese. We normally just keep to the basic game play, of one vs. one mode. A typical game consists of three songs, with most songs having different grades of difficulty. In two player mode you both can choose your own difficulty level while playing the same song.

Object of the game

The drum has two parts that can be hit with the drum sticks, the main section of the drum and the outer rim of the drum. On the screen you will see symbols moving across the screen and when they go past the left handside of the screen you hit the drum in the way that corresponds to the symbol. Small red faces mean one hit of the centre of the drum and the small blue face means you the outer side side of the drum. The drum strikes will go in rhymthm to the music that you’ve chosen to play to. There are also other variation of symbols, like a big red or blue face, which means you hit the drum with both sticks at once.

Versions of the game

whysojapan Taiko no TatsujinThe game has been released on many different platforms, like Playstation, Nintendo wii and iOS devices. A review of the iOS version of the game will becoming soon to the blog.
There have been many releases in Japan with updates, like new music etc. The game has also been released once in North America, going by the name of  “Taiko: Drum Master” and is available as a Playstation 2 game, which came out 2004. The nature of the game being you are playing a Japanese drum makes the main market target of the game is Japan.

whysojapan Taiko no TatsujinThe main mascots of the drums is Don who has the red face icon and Kat that has the blue face icon. There are also other colourful face icons that appear, like the yellow one and the red one, but the main mascots are the red and blue face icons. Products in the shape of drums with the colourful faces are available, like Happy Meal toys, plush toys and so on.

The music is normally a mixture of j-pop songs, classical music, children’s songs and songs made just for game use.

One day maybe I will be this good…

The official site for Taiko no Tatsujin is here: http://taiko-ch.net





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Video report from super potato Akihabara

Super Potato Akihabara

This was a great video report about the retro game shop Super Potato, which is in Akihabara (electric town). The shop sells all sorts of retro games and console games and a lot more. It’s well worth a visit if youre into retro gaming. This report is in Swedish, so sorry to anyone that can not speak Swedish. But I still wanted to share it here in the blog.

Here is also a link to Super Potato website: http://www.superpotato.com





Posted on by Paul in Gaming, Shopping 2 Comments

Jubeat – the arcade game we love

Jubeat is my favourite game

Jubeat is my favourite Japanese arcade game of them all. I first found Jubeat on our first ever trip to Tokyo. What I had read everywhere was that you must visit the video game arcades in Japan. They’re something that you will never have seen before . Floor after floor of ultra modern looking video arcade games to play and prices to be won. Before I had ever played Jubeat, the only real music based arcade game I had played was Dance Dance Revlation, which lets say I was not great at. I think I was born with two left feet.

How to play

jubeat whysojapanJubeat is a game where you use your hands to push on the alighted squares that are set out in front of you on 16 buttons in a 4×4 grid. Jubeat is developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Japan and object of the game is that the squares light up to a song as you play and its important to hit the squares to the time of the beat before the light goes out to gain any points. You can also get more points if you hit it on the exact second before the square fades away from the beat. Sometimes you only need to hit one square at the time, sometimes you have to hit more than one. This depends of the difficulty of the level you have set the game to. There are a lot of songs you can choose from to play and each song normally has a different choice of difficulty to play it at. You can also choose between fast songs and slow ones.

Jubeat is also a network game, which means it will try and pair you up with somebody else in Japan that is about to play the same song as you. Sometimes it can be the person next to you, if you both have chosen to play the same song. Sometimes it can be someone on the other side of Japan.

The game regularly gets updates of songs and sometimes the the way the graphics looks get an update as well. Sometimes an update can be part of a name change, like the latest version which is called Jubeat Saucer.

One game costs 100yen and for that you get to play 2-3 songs. There are a lot to choose from. Most of the songs are Japanese but there are a lot of different genres to choose from like rock, pop, hip-hop, classical and more. There are also coptetitions in playing Jubeat that are very big with a great following, mostly played in Japan.

Jubeat has also been on trail both in the UK and the US, but as far as I know it has not yet been made widely available to the market as of yet.

Save your game scores with E-Amusement cards

To play a game you pay with coins, but Jubeat also uses the e-Amusement card that costs 500yen and are normally available to buy from a small vending machine in the arcade hall. you can pay for your games using this card, after you have set it up via the game and also online. Keeping this card allows you to save your scores and save points towards unlocking new songs. On our second trip to Tokyo we both got our own cards and after using Google Translate we got the cards set up online and on the machine at the video game arcade. So before you start a game you just place your E-Amusement card othe card reader and it will save your scores. The Jubeat game is partly in Japanese, but for a person with no Japanese language experience its not that big of a problem to start a game. Also after some trial and error you can also figure out how to use the E-Amusement card too.

Jubeat on iPhone and iPad

Jubrat has been made in to a iOS game called Jubeat Plus and the international version of the game is called Jukebeat. Both versions of the game are free to download and you get some free songs with them. The main difference being if you download the Jubeat Plus ,which is only available in the Japanese iTunes store, you get Japanese songs, and if you download Jukebeat from the other stores you get English songs. Both version have in-app song purchase, so you can download more songs. I find that the game is more suited to play on the iPad being a bigger screen. There will be a review post of the iPad version of the game coming up soon.

I started off by playing most of the easiest levels. I think we ended up going to the arcade almost every night to play Jubeat. I can say I’m definitely hooked on this game to say the least.

Official site for jubeat http://www.konami.jp/bemani/jubeat/saucer/index.html

So whats your favorite music game?





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Video game arcades in Japan

arcade why so japan

The Japanese love their gaming

Video game arcades are hard to miss while in Japan and especially Tokyo since theyre everywhere. In the UK and Sweden there are some video arcade centres, but nothing that compares to the size of centre, the amount of games and that most of the machines are very new and up to date games.

In Japan gaming is different in general. Its big business. The Japanese love to play games. If theres not a video game arcade they will be playing some sort of hand held device, like PSP or 3DS.

So the need for the video game arcade is big. Its quite common that you will find a video game arcade that is a multi storied complex. I think the ones that I played in, a lot where at least five floors of games.

Smoking and gaming

arcade 2 why so japanEach floor was dedicated (some time even two floors) to a certain sort of game genre. For example, on one of the floors you would find the cabinet games, where there were a lot of fighting games. What was normally different with this floor was that you are allowed to smoke while playing, which is something we did not notice on the other floors of the video game arcades that we visited. If you was to go to an arcade in the day time around lunch time, you would find this floor normally filled up with Japanese men playing a game and having smoke while sitting there in a suit and tie. I guess this might help to relieve some of the stress before going back to work.

Music games

arcade 3 why so japanThe next floor would be dedicated to music games. Some games were very popular to play and sometimes we had to wait our turn. The sort of games you could find would be games like Jubeat, an up beat game where you have to push buttons in time to music. A very addictive game! We will do a full review of this game in a later post. Another game called Taiko no Tatsujin where you either play against someone, or your own. The aim of the game is to hit the big drums in time to the music. We will also do a post about that game later on. You could also find games like DJ Hero, where you use the DJ decks to control the game. And of course there would be some sort of dancing game. This floor was the floor we could easily stay there for hours and probably did some days.

Loyalty cards for dedicated gamersarcade 3 why so japan

For dedicated gamers there are club cards that can be purchased. Depending on what company that game is made by you have to choose the right card for it. We played Jubeat a lot so we had the card from Konami, who are the makers of the game and their card would work on all of their games that have the card reader function on it. Each time before you start to play you could register your card so you can save over your points and earn extra stuff, like new songs. You can also register the card on the game site which would allow you to log in and see how good you are playing in ranks and stuff, which is another way to get people back into the arcade to play again.

Purikura photo bootsarcade 4 why so japan

There would always also be a floor for the photo booths “purikura” photo club. Those floors are always busy with loads of girls running around deciding which machine to use to take the photos. This is  another reason game arcades are still big in Japan. The photo machines are very Japanese, something thats not seen in many other countries on this scale and its also bringing in girls to the video game arcades, which sometimes feels like a very man dominated place. I’m sure Vega will have a more in depth review about the photo booths in a later post.

Gambling for money

Some arcades also have a floor for the gambeling machines, but since its illegal to gamble for money in Japan you end up playing for prizes. When you win you can choose a prize at the arcade, or you can choose for that prize to be a money token that shows how much you have won. You bring your money token to a little store somewhere outside of the arcade to change it for cash. The most common gambling game is called Pachinko where you shot metal ball bearings around inside a machine to win points. This game is very popular. Ssome places only have this sort of game there, normally called Pachinko Parlors and can found a lot in Tokyo.

UFO catchers

arcade 5 why so japanThe other floors, normally the first floor, would have the UFO catchers, claw machines. In the machines you could find a plush toy of your favourite character, candy, anime figure or even electrical goods like MP3 players. The claw machines are a bit more advanced in Japan compared to what Ive seen elsewhere. Normally you just have a normal 3 fingered claw, but in Japan it can be just one big scooper arm and the prizes might look easy to move but they have stacked the prizes in a way thats hard, so theyre hard to move but not impossible, and the good thing is whenever you win a prize the staff will give you a bag to carry it away in so you don’t have to walk down the street with a big cuddly toy under your arm unless you wanted too.

Play early to avoid the crowds

The video game arcades in Tokyo are open till late, at least till 24:00 or so, most of them later than so. One of the arcades that we played at a lot was Tatio Game Station, which has a lot of arcades and not just in Tokyo. They can also be found in other cities in Japan. Another one that we played at was in Akihabara. Its a video arcade run by Sega where a lot of the prizes in the UFO catchers are be different Sega character, like Sonic.arcade 6 why so japan

We found it easier to go to the video arcades early in the day time, rather than late at night. There were a lot less people earlier in the day, which means you don’t have to queue to play some of the more popular machines and you also don’t feel like a fool when you are trying to understand the Japanese part of the game which most of the time we ended up guessing.

If you like video arcades I really do recommend you to visit one while in Japan. You will be blow away by the choices of games to play.

Have you been to an arcade in Japan? What was your favourite game?

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Posted on by Paul in Gaming, Visiting 3 Comments