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What are the Pachinko parlors of Japan?

Pachinko parlors are gaming arcades in Japan where people go to try their luck at winning more balls than they bought.

Pachinko

Gaming and playing games has been an integral part of the Japanese culture for almost a century now. As far back as the 1920s, the earliest form of a Pachinko-like game came into existence. From then to now, Pachinko and arcade parlors have become extremely popular in the country.

Fast forward to 2018, and the game is still going strong and even the biggest of the game developing companies have got into manufacturing their own Pachinko machines. Before we talk about the present, a little background on the topic. Pachinko machines were created first from a game called the “Corinth game”, which was an adaptation of a western game. Back then, this was just a children’s game.

And from there, the popularity of Pachinko caught on, and has not stopped since. During World War II, all the Pachinko parlors were closed, but re-opened soon after the end of the war. Pachinko soon emerged as a very popular adult game especially in the city of Nagoya, and it was here that the first commercial Pachinko parlor was set up in 1948.

With the massive influence Pachinko had on the Taiwanese, a lot of parlors were opened there and presently almost 80 percent of the Pachinko parlors in Japan are owned by the Koreans.

Pachinko machines, until the 1980s, were all mechanical with metal balls and flippers doing the job. But they have since become more advanced, and are now made by various companies. And with the ban on gambling in Japan, Pachinko machines now only use and reward players with balls that are unique to each parlor.

Pachinko machines are similar to vertical pinball machines, and the balls are the currency as well as the method of playing the game. The balls are loaded into the machine where on pulling the lever, the balls are launched on the playing field which is populated by cups and pins which knock the ball around. The objective is to get the balls in cups that have a higher reward. Some Pachinko machines come with flippers while other just let each ball traverse the length of the board twice.

WATCH: Pachinko parlors of Japan

A number of the most popular game developing companies of Japan are invested in the manufacture of Pachinko machines, including Sega, Capcom, Square Enix, and Konami to name a few. These companies use their popular franchises and incorporate these to make those glittering Pachinko machines, including Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Spider-Man, and more. And with the gambling ban, people don’t directly earn money by winning at Pachinko. Winning at Pachinko machines means getting more balls than the player started with, and rewards are usually items that can be exchanged for the balls.

But these rewards in turn can be sold for money at other establishments that provide such services. Pachinko parlors are hardly distinguishable from gaming arcades with their shiny colorful slot machines and bright lights. But the essence of the game is much different from the normal gaming arcades that we have seen growing up.

  • Published Date: September 7, 2018 9:09 AM IST