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Adventures in Recounting Adventures

September 5, 2009

So, not only had I not been able to make it to the crane games for the first run of Mr. Saturn plushies, I have also never played a crane game in Japan in my life. They are daunting–those oversized flashing-light midi-music-spewing two-armed monsters. So I felt a little intimidated by the prospect of taking a one hour trek to a place in the countryside I have never been before. The arcade wasn’t even near the train station, so I had to hop on a bus and ride to the place in fashion, surrounded by apathetic high schoolers (with girls that talked like Yakuza), and a little old grandma. We were all going out to party hardy in our own way, I’m sure. I mentally prepped myself–mentally ate a chocolate bar sideways–for the prospect of spending over fifty dollars on something that I may or may not walk home with. I realized I should have brought some ladylike oil absorbent sheets for my face lest I leave smears all over the glass when I press my pig-nose against it in despair.

I had no idea whether the machine would have guests or not when I arrived. It was, after all, the first day of its appearance. And this was, after all, my first time visiting a UFO Catcher on purpose. But after a run through the entire arcade, not knowing when the glory would show itself to me, I finally found it amid everything else, blending perfectly in, with no visitors to be seen. It was pretty anticlimactic, aside from my scream. Naivety will do this to you.
I was feeling confident up until I reached the machine. I had spent tens of minutes on YouTube prepping through instructional Japanese UFO Catcher videos. “Gravity works for you, not against you! You need to roll it into the hole, not pick it up!” Well, this machine had a big fat wall around the drop area. And three pansy-looking arms, ready to swat their wrists half-heartedly at my spoils like a man in a girl fight. It was like I was back in America, faced with the task of probably having to just pick the dang thing up.
(Click on images to enlarge.)
Complete with poster and a barcode, where you fill out a survey for a chance to win PRIZES! Prizes! prizes! (echos off)
Come and get me!

Come and get me!

Luckily it was 100 yen a pop and 6 tries for 500 yen. Needless to say I went for the long haul and popped in 500 yen at a time without another thought. Eighteen tries later, Mr. Saturn gets sucked into the arms like it’s the most natural thing in the world, and gets nonchalantly plopped into the drop hole, as if to say, yeah, what of it? I was jumping up and down like a school girl–or not, I suppose, judging from the girls on the bus–and was interrupted by a tap on my shoulder from an attendant who gave me a plastic bag to put it in (you’re so proper, Japan) and opened the machine window to move the dolls around before I even finished celebrating. I decided to give it another shot, figuring a second run wasn’t going to be too obnoxious, but had no luck until I took a few walks around the arcade to clear my mind and return to the battleground. Naivety will do this to you.

OMG Its outside of the machine!!!!

OMG It's outside of the machine!!!!

Thankfully, in only two tries I managed to nab my second Mr. Saturn. I still had no idea what I was doing at that point, but got some applause from a young couple next to me. I didn’t know what to say to them, because the entire night felt awkward for me as it was, so I just kind of nodded and hesitantly used up the rest of my four remaining tries, failing at the rest of the impossibly-placed Earthbound creatures and failing at impressing my small audience. I gave up at that point, let one of them get a turn, and watched for a moment. He stuck in 100 yen, failed to budge his target, gave up, and left with his girlfriend. Hah! I thought. What a novice. You must not even be a member of an online Earthbound community.

I was so excited about my spoils that I took some Purikura with my new friends. After all, it’s really embarrassing taking Purikura by yourself!
All in all, it was a great night. I rewarded myself with a 20 yen purchase of spoiled bananas at the grocery store while waiting for the shuttle bus back to the station, and managed to dodge some travelling river-like vomit from a drunk man sprawled full-bodied across the floor of the train home.
Some more shots from the arcade:
The live beetle crane game next to the Mr. Saturns.
The live beetle crane game next to the Mr. Saturns.
An enormous 360-degree Rube Goldberg-like game. Pretty incredible.
An enormous 360-degree Rube Goldberg-like game. Pretty incredible.

Pods. Vagely eerie.

Pods. Vagely eerie.


From → Events, Japan

  1. Wow.

    I knew they were more impressing than our Arcades filled with 90s Shoot Em’ Up Machines.

    But, EarthBound and Live Beetles?

    They’ve got it all!

  2. Adam Green permalink

    Hello, I just read through your blog post and found it through EB Central. Very nice haul!!

    I was wondering if you knew where these arcade crane games were located? I was interested in trying to find one.

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