A Trip to the Arcade!
Japanese arcade culture has expanded beyond the unique in-arcade experience within the past years! In fact, arcade fans can even play crane games and win exclusive Japanese prizes from their pc and cell phone. Two of the most popular online crane game websites are Toreba.net and netch-jp.com (known as Akiba Catcher).
The concept is straightforward: drop the prize, and it’s yours. However, the penny-pinching strategies surrounding Japanese online crane games is what makes the game a grueling battle for the prize.
Types of Crane Game Stations
While the crane game is the most popular, there exists a diverse potpourri of prize games depending on which station you choose to play at.
1. Crane (aka Claw or UFO Catcher)
The most common configuration. Rather than picking up items, players often use a number of plays to nudge, tilt, or grab the object to drop it through the bars or off the edge.
(Figure box from Fate/Grand Order in the crane machine.)
Some cranes will have scoopers to pick up capsules. Others have wider claws that can lift plush toys.
2. Crane arm
This variant uses only one arm, often to hook prizes attached to plastic loops or move plush prizes into a hole. It is also used to turn the loops in order for a prize to drop.
3. Takoyaki (or Tabletop Takoyaki)
Players grab a ping-pong ball with a scoop-ended crane, and the rest is left to the machine, which moves back to a takoyaki tray and drops it. The goal is to drop the ball into a red slot, fill up all the other holes except for the red one (Akiba Catcher), or add enough weight to open the trap door (Toreba Crane Game). And no, it’s not all about luck! There’s a strategy to this one, too.
4. Many, many more styles!
There are countless other configurations, which involve cutting paper loops with knives, dropping small metal hooks to fish for smaller prizes, or using a traditional crane to bounce prizes off a field of balloons or rubber balls, to name but a few. The possibilities really are endless!
Toreba Crane Game vs. Akiba Catcher
Both crane games have their pros and cons. Playing Toreba Crane Game costs TP, which is purchased with a minimum limit of 5000 TP at $5.00 USD. However, Toreba is quite generous with the free play tickets offered throughout the month. It really is the more inexpensive of the two.
Over Akiba Catcher, play points called NP are more expensive, with a minimum purchase limit of 6000 NP for $10.79 (TOM Shop premium members) or $11.99 (non-members). TOM Shop premium members do receive 1200 NP daily and 2400 NP on Fridays (JST), but Non-premium members receive only 1200 each Friday.
Shipping is free for all prizes won at Akiba Catcher, and the same goes at Toreba where single or multiple prizes can be shipped together free of charge each week. Any prize that is won in Toreba can be held in the shopping cart for up to 14 days from the time it is won, so you generally won’t ever need to pay for prize shipping.
As a fair warning, both websites require a computer with high processing speed for smooth playing experiences. Both platforms can lag, costing your play points, though Akiba Catcher has higher risks of this happening. The Toreba mobile app also works fairly well on the tablet as another option.
Lastly, Toreba has a wider variety of prizes that changes very often. As a bonus, all of your replays are saved at Toreba so you can post wins, study previous plays, or dispute prizes.
The wide variety of prizes ranges from tabletop grills to anime plushies!
Toreba Crane Game and Akiba Catcher are definitely worth trying, especially when new members are given the first 5 plays free on Toreba and the first 4 plays free on Akiba Catcher!
Here are a few tips for new players:
1. Save free plays (but check their expiration date); you can practice different games with them or go for an opportune prize.
2. Play for conveniently set prizes. Sometimes, they will be moved to different stations, which can make them easier or more difficult to win.
3. Play smart. Observe how others are playing. Is the crane jammed, or is the prize almost impossible to move? Don’t spend more than the prize is worth!