UFO catcher

Must try harder: This crane game in Japan is laughably bad 【Video】

Crane games, AKA claw games or even “UFO catchers” if you’re in Japan, have always been a bit of a con. This much we know already. They’re designed so that the claws exert barely enough force to grip the trinkets we’re so lusting after, and the prizes are usually worth much less than it costs to actually win one of them to begin with. Even so, they’re great fun, and Japan’s arcades are chock-full of them, luring us in with their various exciting, and sometimes not-so-exciting prizes.

But this particular crane game, which asks arcade goers to attempt to pick up a what appear to be miniature moe-style figurines, is not so much tricky as plain lazy.

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Facing obscurity, Pikachu smuggles himself in a Youkai Watch UFO catcher bag

We’ve talked a lot recently about how Youkai Watch has now definitely overtaken Pokémon in the popularity stakes, at least among Japan’s young’uns. With Youkai Watch replacing Pokémon as McDonald’s yearly calendar stars and with Pikachu himself being shunted into the background on anime convention posters in favour of Jibanyan and pals, 2014 really hasn’t been a good year for all things Pikachu. Still, with Pokémon’s legion of worldwide fans and entertainment-world pedigree, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Pikachu would be taking this all on the chin. Instead? He’s exposed himself as a desperate has-been, clinging on to relevancy by whatever devious means he can turn a paw to, and that includes smuggling himself into some unsuspecting kid’s life by disguising himself as a Youkai Watch product! For shame!

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Japanese UFO catcher prizes just keep getting weirder…

“Oh shoot, I’m out of dish soap, let’s go to the game center.” If this sentence seems incongruous, you clearly have not spent enough time in Japanese game centers. Sure game centers have good old fashion arcade games, air hockey and photo booths, but a lot of the space is taken up by UFO catchers (adorably pronounced, oo-fo in Japan), aka claw/crane games.

Usually, UFO catchers are filled with cute toys or cool figurines, but sometimes things get a little too practical. Other times, the prizes are just a bit… off. Twitter users across Japan have shared their strange finds with us before, but they just keep coming and they keep getting weirder. 

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Yoshio discovers that lucky bag loot from a UFO catcher is spectacularly underwhelming

While our RocketNews24 Japanese team of writers has been having fun snatching up a variety of lucky bags during this first week of the new year, the contents of those bags have ranged from exciting to just plain meh. But the two lucky bags our Japanese correspondent Yoshio grabbed from UFO catchers (aka claw machines) have hit a new all-time low. We don’t think he’ll be going back for more next year…

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A funny thing happened at the game center: 10 strange crane game tweets from Japan

Game centers in Japan promise a treasure trove of riches for those skilled at coaxing small prizes from their crane game glass housings, but endless frustration for anyone who hasn’t had plenty of practice. If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ve probably played a crane game or two yourself, but we have a feeling you’ve never seen something like the following Twitter users captured. Let’s take a look at 10 strange happenings at game centers across Japan.

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Do actually useful prizes suck all the frustrating fun out of those UFO catcher crane games?

Japanese UFO catchers give the best prizes – if you’re talented or lucky enough to grab them. (Personally, I think it’s all about luck because after many hours and probably hundreds of yen down the drain, I’m still not any better at winning.) But the euphoria of a win is usually quickly forgotten, and you’re left with one more piece of tat to cram into your room. So what about if UFO catchers actually dished out useful goodies? Wouldn’t that be a real win-win situation?!

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Lobsters offered as prizes for claw game all found dead, foul play suspected

A tragic scene unfolded at the Inter World game center in Iwatsuki, Saitama this week. The lobster claw game, in which players get a chance to catch a live lobster became a grizzly spectacle as every single crustacean was found dead.

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Hurl Obscenities at the Crane Game from the Comfort of Your Own Home! Online Remote UFO Catcher Opened

Crane games, claw machines, UFO catchers, whatever you want to call them can be found scattered all across East Asia taking in reams of cash with promises of prizes ranging from giant stuffed phallic mushrooms to game consoles.

Oh, how I look back fondly on lining up my plastic pincers precisely over a PSP only to have them go limp at the last minute. The nursing staff and I had many a chuckle as they stitched up my knuckles from punching repeatedly into the Plexiglas window.

Thanks to Netch and their remote web browser operated crane game, instead of getting charged with destruction of property I can get enraged in front of my own computer screen!

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Expert Mode Claw Game Found in Russia

You know those claw or crane games that are usually found in the corner of a bowling alley or Chuckie Cheese’s? In Japan, they’re widely known as UFO catchers and are a huge industry. In most places you can find entire rooms packed with them offering prizes ranging from key chains to iPads.

A video put up on YouTube revealed the ultimate claw game found in Russia.  In this game, the prizes fight back.

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Eyes on the Prize: A Look at Japanese Pop Culture Trends Through Arcade Prizes 【October 2012】

One fun way to see what anime or game series are currently popular with kids and otaku in Japan is to visit an arcade and take a look at the prizes up for grabs in the crane machines, or UFO catchers, as they’re often called in Japanese.

Unlike North America, arcade culture is still going strong in Japan and UFO catchers are one of the main attractions. Always found on the first floor of arcades, these machines are stocked with the latest limited-edition figurines and plushies of popular characters, many of which can only be acquired as UFO catcher prizes (or on Amazon at obscene prices).

Japanese toy company Banpresto has announced their newest lineup of CRANEKING arcade-exclusive prizes, available this October. Check what toys are hot on the Japanese arcade scene below!

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