What exactly Is Pachinko?


Many in the Western World have probably heard about the game of Pachinko, but still aren’t exactly clear on how it works. First and foremost, Pachinko is by far the most popular form of gambling in Japan, and is more or less equitable to slots in other parts of the world.

Although, Pachinko machines had a more subdued design in the past, and were hence less eye-catching than slots. These days, however, Pachinko machines have become gradually more colourful and been given a vast range of themes, with some being so interesting and elaborate as to be considered works of art.

As with slots, Pachinko machines also used to be entirely mechanical. But more modern iterations have gone fully electronic, and entered into a new era of complexity. Modern machines may use integrated digital screens, elaborate sounds, and even built-in animatronic figures.

Though, all Pachinko machines still use small steel balls as the core of their system.

The Meaning Of Pachinko

Interestingly, the name Pachinko is far more revealing that would be thought. ‘Pachin’ refers to the sound the game makes when it is in operation, with the added suffix ‘ko,’ which means little.

Meanwhile the name is also linked to the popular term ‘pachi pachi.’ This refers both to the sound of two hands clapping together, as well as a small, fun explosion, such as fireworks.

As such, the name Pachinko is explaining that the game makes a fun sound when played, and is also exciting enough to make players clap their hands together.

How Does The Game Work?

A player inserts money into a Pachinko machine, which will purchase them an amount of steel balls. How many balls are purchased, and for what cost, depends on the machine, with different games having a different value placed on each ball.

Once steel balls have been purchased, the player pushes a button. A number of the steel balls will be launched randomly into the game, and will fall from top to bottom. Balls that are caught by a catcher count as a win, while those that fall through, and out the bottom, are losses. Captured balls are returned to the player, and may be exchanged for special tokens. The tokens can them be exchanged for prizes or cash.

Different machines will use different steel balls, each distinctly unique in size and design. As such, a single ball may have a drastically different value.

Themes And Designs

As with slots, there is a stunningly vast range of themes and designs used for Pachinko machines. This can range from popular characters in films and movies, to themes based around bands, music, romance, and much more. It is not uncommon to see Superman themed games in many parlours, or the faces of local and international celebrities.

Though regardless of the design, the game always functions in the same way. Steel balls are shot into the game, and are either caught or fall through the play area. However, some small variations in the game rules may apply, though these additional rules will be minor, and easy to understand.