September 10, 2018

Pachinko Challenge

Changing fundamentals of Pachinko

Pachinko is a luck-based game. This is part of the gambling mechanic of Pachinko. In Japan where the game is popular is gambling banned. They figured a way out to give you tickets. These tickets can be exchanged in another building and it won’t be called gambling anymore.


Enough with fun-facts

The challenge here is to change the game mechanic to make the game skill-based instead of luck-based. After a few moments, I figured out that adding a game mechanic would work better instead of replacing the pure luck factor.

With the older versions of the game, there is a clear vision on where the balls go. Here I thought what if there’s an actual way to control the ball like you’re able to do with pinball games. Also, I tried figuring out if it could be a way to drop the ball(s) with a crane game arm. This would change the game by a lot and would need another design for the ‘ball pit’.

I’m convinced as a frequent gamer myself I wouldn’t want my games to be changed too much. And be more skeptical with this game since it is borderline gambling. This is why I went the route of the more pinball game. I also think from an aesthetical point of view this matches the bright neon lights of the modern Pachinko games.


There are a lot of changes within the pinball scene. But the computer version is one that I’ve played a lot. I picked this version here since it’s clear and simple. You’ll understand the game within seconds. Comparing the pinball computer game with the Pachinko original strikes familiar mechanics.

In both games, there is a launch pad for the ball (in modern ones there’s a drop zone). There are multiple objectives where the ball can go through and fall. Both games have a score. This is fundamental within Pachinko for the gambling game mechanic. The scores are slightly different, within pinball your score means almost nothing. Within Pachinko your score is measured with balls to play another ball. So, you either win more balls to play more or lose them. Both games have a controlling mechanic, Pachinko has a speed dialer and pinball has a launcher and of course the option to shoot the ball right back.

One of the most important differences I found while comparing the two is that pinball is skill-based and has most of the time an active player playing it. While Pachinko is played in longs row next to each other played with very little player interactivity.

So, I figured why not take a closer look at many different Pachinko and similar machines. This didn’t end up very useful. Until that lead me to watch a documentary about Pachinko machines. Here I discovered that within these Pachinko halls the players were sitting still and focused on the screen with the bright flashy lights. Often with 1 arm rested and the other arm on the speed dial.


I didn’t like that aspect of the game. So, this confirmed my bias to combine it with a pinball game instead of the crane. To get a little more action into the game. Because of previous research on looking at the Pachinko machines, I create a visual to see where to implement the option to make Pachinko more skillful.

I’ve replaced the original speed dial to a button with speed dial. If you would press the button you would shoot the ball. If you turn the button it would change speed like normal. It shouldn’t matter which button you turn to increase or slow down the speed. The triggers of shooting the balls should be fast since there are a lot of balls coming your way. This makes it more challenging and requires an active player positioning to complete a successful round. The next question to answer why this is not pinball? Well, there are a lot more balls involved, the scoring system still stays the same to Pachinko and there is a speed dial.

Would like to develop this idea further but since it is a challenge I won’t till further notice. I think the concept of combining both classics can work great and should create an intense game with high reaction time.

September 10, 2018