How to enjoy playing the UFO Catcher Machine

What do you come up with when you hear “UFO Catcher?”  It’s not people who geek about unidentified flying objects, it’s a kind of amusement machine that consumers play for fun. You might see the photo above here and there in Japan. You might think that is full of cheap stuff. Today I’m going to share about this amazing machine. After reading my article, you might change your mind about it. Let’s get started!

UFO Catcher  is a trademark created by SEGA, one of the most famous video game companies in Japan.It is a crane game that consumers play in order to get a prize. In my book, this machine is the best thing since sliced bread, like the space invaders game, karaoke, and purikura. As common people don’t know about the backstory, these machines are generally called “UFO Catchers;” not only young people, but older generations are also familiar with this machine. 

According to Wikipedia, this kind of crane game invented by TAITO,  one of the famous Japanese video game companies, in 1965. At the end of 1960s, many businesses competed in this market. As for me, looking back in the 90s, it was popular for many people to hang out at amusement places called Game Centers in Japan. People would often boast about their result of getting stuffed anime character toys.             

1. Places Where You Can Play

These machines were at amusement places here and there all over Japan in 90s. They were one of the popular places where teenagers hung out; unfortunately they’re now dying. Now shopping malls have it. 

2. How to Play

*After you push the second button, the UFO crane automatically moves down to get an item.

* You can find a change machine.

It seems like a breeze, but it’s not easy. First of all, you need to find the change machine to change your bills to coins as the machines only accept coin currency. Second, you insert a JPY100 coin in the slot where the sign  shows how much it costs. And then, push the first button to decide the position of your crane from left to right; after that, you push the second button to decide where to place it from front to back.  

*another version of machine
You pull a lever to decide the position of your crane, and then push the button to decide to catch a item.

3. Amazing Prizes

*Pokémon wall clock photo. If you’re lucky, you can get it for only 100JPY!!

*These figure toys are limited edition for Demon Slayer.

*You can tell which anime characters are popular for Japanese people.

* This is a chocolate called “mugi choco” because it looks like mugi (麦) which means “wheat.” You can’t buy it at ordinary grocery stores.

These prizes are only available for this machine, and many prize companies are bending backwards to make new prizes that consumers want without compromising the limited budget. I have to take my hat off to them for their effort. Why don’t you go to get prizes for your friends as souvenirs next week? You can tell intuitively which anime characters are trending in Japan by looking at the prizes in the machines. Last but not least, watch out for spending too much money because it seems too addictive. Thank you for taking time to read my article to the end. See you!

3 Comments on “How to enjoy playing the UFO Catcher Machine”

  1. Hi, Kazu san!
    I didn’t know “UFO Catcher” is a trademark created by SEGA.
    It is so kind of you that you explained from the get go, how to exchange money.
    Your article reminded me of a Winnie The Pooh sponge that my late husband got for me.
    I can’t remember where the UFO Catcher was, but yes, it was when we hung out before marriage.
    He was very excited when he got it, and later, he said he was actually very nervous doing it because he never succeeded before then.
    It is one of the heartwarming memories with him.
    Thank you^^

    1. Hi Akiko san, I glad to hear that. I also didn’t know that SEGA had the trademark. The more you write the article, the more you know about Japan. That’s why I keep writing. You might want to start writing this journal.

  2. Thank you so much for the interesting article, could you please let me know which branch did you go for this review? is it in tokyo, shinjuku or shibuya?

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