Hissatsu Pachinko Collection

Hissatsu Pachinko Collection
Game Name: 必殺パチンココレクション (Hissatsu Pachinko Collection)
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): SunSoft
Developer(s): SunSoft
Genre(s): Puzzle
Release Date: January 1996
Serial Number: T-1503G
Region: JP

I’m a bit of a sucker for games that give me a glimpse into Japanese society. I got this because I wanted to see what pachinko is all about – and also because it was going for next to nothing on eBay.

HISSATSU PACHINKO COLLECTION SCREENSHOTPachinko is a Japanese arcade game that seems to be related to the old game bagatelle. I had a bagatelle board when I was a kid in the early 70s. Bagatelle is itself clearly an ancient ancestor of pinball in which you use a plunger to shoot a ball bearing into a scoring area made up of little areas marked out using nails in the board. Each area has a score allocated to it; designating the points scored if the ball comes to rest there.

There wasn’t much skill involved – the only control you had was how far you pulled the plunger back and you might have been able to guide the ball some by nudging the board – but these were the days before Pong remember – a much simpler time when mechanical games like this (and the classic Crossfire) were de rigeur.

Anyhow, pachinko appears to have the same element of skill that bagetelle has – you basically fire ball bearings into a board – with much more elaborate layouts than my bagatelle board – and you score depending on how the balls fall. The main difference with pachinko is that you fire lots of balls into the board in quick succession. Players buy buckets of balls and they are fed into the machine instead of being fired in one at a time. In Japan this is a gambling game and points scored get you tokens which are officially exchanged for prizes but are unofficially exchanged for money too.

HISSATSU PACHINKO COLLECTION SCREENSHOTPachinko boards stand up vertically instead of laying on a slope the way pinball and bagetelle machines do, and ball bearings are fired into the scoring area by a control that you twist like the temperature controller on an oven. The balls are automatically fired in by the machine at a rate of slightly faster than 1 per second and the controller position dictates how hard they are propelled – so there is some control. The layouts are quite complex and parts of the board in some machines have rollover targets – some of which activate electronic displays embedded into the board.

Some machines just keep spitting balls into the play area until you run out while some seem to send them in batches of 16 with a short pause before the next batch. With these machines there are 16 slots at the bottom that light up if a ball hits them. They reset after each batch – you would be fortunate to hit all 16 in one batch!

Pachinko Collection for Saturn emulates a set of pachinko machines – but there seem to be a couple of different ways to play.

This game is by far the most import unfriendly I have ever come across -there is no way you can figure out what is going on from the manual. There is the odd word of English in the menus but it really is hit and miss trying to navigate through the game. Though the mechanics of the simple pachinko play are easy to figure out, I haven’t a clue what is going on and what the significance of certain targets are. Its all wonderfully confusing. I actually scanned the manual and sent it off to some kind soul who was running a Japanese import gaming forum a long time ago. He was kind enough to send me back some in-game menu translations.

HISSATSU PACHINKO COLLECTION SCREENSHOTYou can basically play a pachinko machine in isolation much the same way a slot machine is offered up in casino sims , or what I call a companion piece to this game ,a pachislo sim (see the Universal Museum review). You buy balls with an infinite stock of credits to put into the machine and play away. With this mode you can set the difficulty level and there is another option with 3 settings – I have no idea as to it’s effect on gameplay.

There is a “Nifty server” mode. With this you select an event (defined by a 2 character code giving 256 combinations) which involves playing 1 or a selection of machines. You start with limited credits and you can save your status in one of 4 save slots. Your status is also saved with a password that is displayed on the save screen – the purpose for which I have no idea – maybe there was a website to submit these to for competitive play?

There also seems to be some sort of adventure or story mode which involves hanging around pachinko parlours speaking to bored staff and trying to build up enough money to achieve goals. Its pretty hard to make any sense of this mode as it is all in Japanese but you can certainly play it and stumble your way through it – which may frustrate some people – but there is some entertainment to be had.

HISSATSU PACHINKO COLLECTION SCREENSHOTWhen in a pachinko parlour (both in Advenure and Nifty modes) you can select not only the type of machine (there are 6 different machines) but actually which machine in the row of that type of machine you want to play at. My understanding is that machines are set differently so its a case of trying to find the ones that are easier to get money from.

In the Adventure mode there are statistics kept for each machine in the whole parlour for you to study. These are also avalable in Nifty mode for the single machine you are playing. These statistics are displayed as graphs.

In the adventure mode there is also a mah-jong game hidden among the game’s menu options. This is a tile matching game played not unlike Gin Rummy for 4 players with the Saturn providing 3 opponents for you. It appears to have little features like allowing you to select tile back colours etc. Again, it is all in Japanese and without any rules for this game its pretty hard going to figure out what to do.

Graphics are clear and do the job but it’s hardly ground breaking stuff. Given the limited interactivity there’s hardly a need for slick control but it works well. You can zoom right in on the machines’ boards usign the shoulder buttons if you like but things get quite pixellated when you do this. I’m guessing that the ability to zoom in and out is there for a good reason though – maybe to study the way the balls bounce around?

Sounds are just plinky plonk spot effects but the music has some hilarious vocals that sound as if they were recorded after 1 too many saki. You can play in silence or with just the limited sound effects.

I honestly can’t see anyone getting a great deal of entertainment out of this but there’s something there for the curious.

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