How to play Pachinko (A Foreigner’s View of Pachinko)
This is all written from the viewpoint of a person who has never played actual pachinko. The pachinko machine in this article was free-play and you got to refill your own bucket of balls. In Japan, balls cost money, so don’t take this article seriously and go Japan or local pachinko parlor and lose all your money due to erroneous information.
I got to play with a pachinko machine the other day and thank goodness it was free or I would have no more money considering how much and how long I played with that accursed machine. What’s pachinko you ask? Well, little Billy (or insert your name here if your name isn’t Billy. If your name isn’t Billy, though you should be ashamed) let ME, someone who’s not Japanese, tell you about this extremely Japanese arcade gambling machine/game.
First, there are a ton of tiny little balls. You would be surprised at how many balls one can go through after only playing for twenty minutes. They’re really well-made, tiny alloy balls as well and if you wanted to be a jerk you couldn’t totally pocket some without anyone noticing. But enough about tiny metal balls, let’s talk about the game.
Pachinko machines have a knob that you turn and this releases the balls that you put into the machine. The balls fall down from the top of the machine and hit tiny pegs that randomizes where the ball ends up. There’s also a seemingly impossible hole in the middle of the machine that has some indication that it’s the goal of where you want your balls to go. How hard you twist the knob determines how fast the ball exits the top and if you just twist the knob all the way, your ball immediately ends up at the bottom of the machine resulting in a lost ball. It’s best to turn the knob gently so that your ball has more of a chance to enter the goal. I feel like there’s some super apparent innuendo going on with how the knobs work that no one is addressing; if you ever play with a pachinko machine you’ll know what I mean.
The best thing I can compare pachinko to for people who have never seen or heard of it is Japanese slot machine. It luck-based like a slot machine, but with it being Japanese and all there’s some cool stuff going on in the background while you play. For example, the pachinko machine I was playing with was an Evangelion-themed machine and portraits of the series’ characters would pop up in the middle of the screen. From what I understand, the “goal” I mentioned earlier results in a chance to spin the slot machine within the game. So what pachinko really is is a super convoluted slot machine that’s super flashy and amazingly fun for incomprehensible reasons. However, it’s not just a regular slot machine that has rolling numbers, getting three of the same numbers results into a super amazing cut scene that makes no sense unless you understand Japanese. This is where I get lost because all I see in front of me are flashy characters doing amazing things. Thus, all my knowledge of pachinko has been expended. Apparently you’re supposed to win more balls that you trade in for prizes but since the machine I played with was free-play, I didn’t get any prizes and ended up twisting a knob for an hour and gaining nothing from it. Yay.