The country that gave us the real arcade classics of electronic entertainment has another secret up its sleeve for the Australian player. Pachinko does not need lightning reflexes, memorising long combinations of moves, or the ability to hammer buttons for hours on end: it’s deceptively simple, which may be what makes it so addictive, and so popular.

Described by some as vertical pinball, pachinko machine fires small balls from a hopper through a maze of metal pins, which can be laid out in a variety of ways, and which catch, deflect, slow or simply drop the balls on their downward path. Whichever ones don’t fall to the bottom, and disappear through the non-winning trapdoor, add to your reward, which pays out in more balls, or multipliers of these.

Skills Based Pachinko

The skill lies in the button at the bottom of the machine that regulates how hard the balls are released, or fired, depending on hard it is turned: too hard, and the balls simply disappear from the board without gaining any reward; too soft, and they never really make it out of the hopper. Find the sweet spot, and try and replicate that every time (easier than pitching a flipper on a sub-Continental wicket), to maximise your winnings.

But that is just part of the fun: getting a certain combination of balls in the correct slots activates the next mode of the machine, where it spins a number of video reels at the top. Just like a classic pokie, these are generally also themed, and allow a number of combinations and variations, usually with some form of animated storyline. Winning on these puts the pachinko machine into payout mode, where you will be rewarded for any number of balls that you manage to fire into the holes on the board.

A Hybrid Casino Game

So, it’s a pinball machine, it’s a pokies game, it has animated graphics as only a classic arcade game can deliver, and it allows for a combination of skill and luck, while being easy to play. There is a number of reasons that so many players find pachinko engrossing. In Japan, it is not uncommon to find entire parlours dedicated to the game, while in Australia, it is becoming more and more popular in casinos and other gaming venues.

Win with Pachinko

Load some credits, fire some pachinko balls, and cash them in. When you decide to collect your winnings, simply signal for assistance (dropping a large number of small balls on the floor in a gaming venue is a definite no-no) , and the balls are removed via another container, electronically counted and converted to cash: while in Japan this is an arduous process, since playing pachinko for money is technically illegal, and a loophole needs to be employed, here in Australia its probably easier than getting a buddy to shout you a round, and as much fun.