How the game works.

The game is simple.

Typically in Japan where the game is from, the vertical machines are mounted in walls, or cabinets. The gaming hall or parlor is fairly smoky and the sound of excitement is in the air!

Some people refer as this to "Japanese Pinball" or a "Japanese Slot Machine"- which, its really not. At least the way I see it. It's more of a skill type game, with lots of random action and excitement added in.

Its not like pinball because - you cannot control the outcome of the balls landing point. No flippers or "shock" bumpers move the ball. The ball is always moving downward. However, LIKE pinball, you do move a spring-loaded lever that sends a ball over an arc pattern. And by adjusting the pressure on the lever, you can control (to some extent) the arc of the balls. Pinball is horizontal, pachinko is vertical, and has to be!

It's not like a slot machine - because slot machines "think" about payoffs. Pachinko machines will always give you the same payoff no matter how many times you play it. And the payoff is about the same every time. In theory, you could "win" with every ball - every time you play! Exciting!

Players pay for an amount of balls to play with the machine. The balls are perfect 11-mm ball bearings, shiny chrome or polished steel, often stamped with Japanese text from the parlor. The player has a lever that they retract and a small spring pulls the lever upwards and contacts the player's ball, and then they are "launched" up onto the playing field.

At this point gravity takes over. The balls arc over the playing field and then fall and bounce their way down to the bottom of the playing field. The ball bounces over nearly 500 small nails, small spinners, in and out, and hopefully land in a "winning pocket" where the player receives about 10-15 more balls to play with. If the balls do not land in a "winning pocket", they end up in the back of the machine where the parlor owner collects them and recycles them for the next round of play.

The machines are gravity driven, and only have simple lighting circuits that alert the parlor owner that the machine is out of balls (like a slot machine being out of coins), or tell the player that they have won. The "empty ball tray" light is usually on the top left side of the unit. The "you win" light is in the middle of the right side of the playing field. This simple mechanical clock like machine is what I love about it! It's the
Rube Goldberg of arcade games!

Each machine has two trays mounted on the front of the unit. The top tray is where the player loads the balls. These balls are then launched up onto the playing field. A small lever can then "eject" the balls from this top tray to a bottom tray where the balls can be easily scooped up by the player and traded in for prizes or sometimes…. illegal cash! This lower tray is also where balls that do not make it up on the playing field end up to prevent jamming of the machine by the player.

At home there are a few ways to play the game.

Give players each 20-40 balls and see who can win the most. Chances are that 1 ball in 12 will go in. Go ahead let the kids play, as long as you watch.

"Time Attack" - Give each player 100 balls, and 30 seconds to see who can win the most, or have the most balls left over in 30 seconds. copyright (C) Dan Reed

"Time Attack 2" - Give each player 100 balls, and see who can play for the longest! Or who can make the "Winner Ball Tray Empty" light come on first!

Of course, there is my personal favorite, which is to just sit down, relax, and enjoy the game!

Wikipedia link

Tulip AKA Pocket



copyright (C) Dan Reed


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copyright (C) Dan Reed