It’s basically like a guy in a Cloud costume playing Final Fantasy VII.
From the consumer end, it’s easy to mistakenly assume that video game publishers’ only concerns are creating art and providing fun. The reality, though, is that like with any human endeavor, time and money are always limiting factors in game development, and while an abundance of one can sometimes help cover for a lack of the other, at the end of the day there are only so many resources to go around, and companies can’t greenlight every project pitched to them.
But that just makes it all the more heart-warming when a major publisher gives the go-ahead to a new installment of a fan-favorite. Remember how a few months ago Konami halted digital distribution of horror sensation P.T. and the associated Silent Hills, the daydream-come-to-life collaboration between game and film directors Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro? All water under the bridge, because there’s a brand new Silent Hill game coming in October, and it’ll cost less than a buck to play!
Konami is even being bold enough to take the franchise into an entirely new genre: pachinko.
For a country that doesn’t have any businesses officially classified as “casinos,” Japan has a ton of places to gamble. By far the most common are pachinko parlors, which you can find within a short walk of just about every major train station in Tokyo and Japan’s other large cities.
But with so many places to gamble, and many of them allowing customers to purchase the balls used to play for as little as one yen (less than a penny) each, it’s easy to get sucked into the siren song of the pachinko parlor. Seeking to help gamblers keep their wagers within their limits, one company is now proposing using facial recognition software to inform you, or your family, when you’re gambling too much.
What do loud noises, small shiny balls, and bright lights have in common? Pachinko parlors. Pachinko, which can be described as a cross between pinball and slot machines, is a favorite pastime in Japan, despite gambling being illegal (because it’s not technically gambling). The players, who often spend hours sitting in front of these noisy, bright machines, win shiny steel balls, not money, so it’s not gambling, right? Right. Enter loophole: They can take their baskets of balls to a neighboring, but “separate,” establishment to exchange the balls for cash prizes. How convenient!
Pachinko parlors are often huge, gaudy buildings, common even to countryside towns. If you pass one early in the morning, there will often be a line of people rounding the corner, waiting for the doors to open. Many people, especially men, love pachinko. Some members of the government, however, are starting to believe that their citizens love it a little too much.
Gotta find ’em all! should be the catchphrase for the campaign attached to the new The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya animated video. Even though it’s the first new Haruhi animation in four years, its creators aren’t just screening it for free–they’re making fans actually work to see it! That said, the campaign is actually more like a treasure hunt than anything else. Introducing “Haruhi Hunting,” in which the residents of Japan must work together to unlock the new promotional video.
Do YOU have what takes to find all 707 missing frames of the animation?
Perhaps one of the saddest things ever written is Hemingway’s famous six-word story: “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” Though short in the extreme, it’s amazing how much emotion and information can be packed into six small words. Of course, Hemingway isn’t the only writer known for brevity, and the last 1,300 years of Japanese poetry have been full of brief but beautiful and poignant verses. But when it comes to terse (some might say inelegant) narrative, Hemingway was certainly a master.
However, we may have found someone who’s outdone the old drunkard! Too bad this one seems inspired by utterly real events…
In Japan, pachinko – a game similar to pinball but with multiple balls in play and minus the flippers – has always been a big business. “Pachinkoten” (dedicated pachinko parlors) have become about as commonplace as temples and hot springs, and it’s not uncommon to see small crowds of men waiting outside such establishments early in the morning, waiting for them to open.
A phenomenon that is particularly noticeable in recent years is that of the large numbers of Koreans coming to Japan to gamble. Up until seven years ago, Korea’s pachinko industry was booming. However, when gambling laws were introduced to combat the recent rise in addictions, many players were left out in the cold with nothing to fill the gap. But with a thriving pachinko scene just a couple of hours away on the plane, many Koreans are heading to Japan to pick up where they left off.
Any owner of a large corporation would be proud to have someone like Tomohiro Kimura on their payroll. This selfless employee really took one for the team by getting himself arrested on 17 February in Wakayama Prefecture on suspicion of destruction of property. In doing so he helped to generate more news for his employer, Japanese media giant, Asahi Shinbun.
The city of Iwaki lies 30km south of the Fukushima Daiichi just outside of the evacuation zone created after the nuclear disaster struck. As such it has become home to approximately 25,000 displaced people from Futaba District, where the Daiichi reactor is located.
On 9 April, Iwaki Mayor Takao Watanabe had this to say about the evacuees: “With the compensation money they received from TEPCO, most people are choosing not to work. The pachinko parlors, however, are packed every day.” Pachinko is a highly popular game similar to pinball that is often used for gambling much like slots or video poker in other parts of the world.
Although this may sound like another case of a Japanese politician putting his foot in his mouth, it appears Mayor Watanabe is not alone with his opinion.