UFOs Spotted in Japan
Arcades may be dead in america but they thrive in Japan. Known as “Game Centers”, they include a variety of games from traditional joystick-controlled action games to dedicated unique-controller games like Cho Chabudai Gaeshi. But one type of game that can usually be seen from the first floor of any game center is the UFO catcher, or as we know it in the US, crane game.
UFO catchers are notorious for displaying large stuffed animals that are bursting from the seams with so much cuteness that you can hear schoolgirls screaming “Kawaiii”. The objective is to move the crane/UFO into a position above the prize and then hope that the claws will grab the item to you. Some machines will change the way you try to get the prize, either by pushing or pulling it rather then completely grabbing it. But all the machines have one thing in common, they are out to get your money.
People in the US will often picture the crane game as a machine stuffed with tiny prizes, but in Japan your focused on only one or two prizes and they are usually very large. There is a lot of luck and a little skill involved, as items are placed by the game center staff into a position that has been determined to be difficult but not impossible.
Usually the games will cost ¥100 but will have a bargain play of 6 plays for ¥500. Also if you win and still have credits left, depending on the game center, the staff will ask if you want to put the credits on a different machine rather then using your remaining credits on the same prize.
Games like these are what keep the arcades alive in Japan because they create experiences that you can’t get at home and, in the case of UFO catchers, the prizes are usually hard to find anywhere else. For Hamu-chan and myself, we managed to catch a giant bucket of potato chips and a doraemon dorayaki pillow. I’m still trying to figure out how we’ll get these home on the plane.
Written by Bryan