Pinball Dave's Pachinko pages.
Pachinko is a very popular game in it's native Japan, with the turnover of the pachinko industry far surpassing the Japanese automotive and consumer electronics industries. At the time of writing it is the only form of gambling legally allowed in the country, though this is due to be changed in July 2008 when new laws will be introduced to allow western style casinos to be built in Japan.
Officially pachinko (and the closely related Pachislo 'Skill Stop' slot machines), are not considered to be gambling, as winnings can only be exchanged for goods and prizes (in the same way as the ticket dispensing 'redemption' style machines are in the west). But the parlour owners get around this restriction by exchanging winnings for special prizes, which can be sold back for cash (usually through a small window in a seperate business local to the parlour).
The game is played by propelling small steel balls onto the vertical playfield of pins, hoping that the ball will drop into one of the winning pockets on the playfield. This will cause the machine to pay out more steel balls into the shooter tray.
On modern 'Fever' style machines one (or more) of the pockets is designated a 'Start' pocket, which will cause three slot machine style reels to start spinning. These reels may be mechanical slot machine reels, large 7-segment LED number displays, or animated virtual reels on the pachinko's main LCD display. If 3 symbols match, then the machine goes into a Fever mode, where the player is likely to win a payout of thousands of balls.
PinballDave has been involved with imported pachinko machines since 2005, and during that time has built up a substantial amount of knowledge about how they work, and what can go wrong with them. We hope to be able to share this knowledge on our Pachinko Technical Information pages, which will be updated whenever time allows.
In our quest to have a more authentic pachinko parlour playing experience in our own homes, we have also developed the Card Reader Emulator Unit, a small unit that can be connected to many pachinko machines, and will control the dispensing of balls, and allow the player to keep track of how much it would have cost to play if the machine was still in a Japanese pachinko parlour.