UFO Catchers – Tricksters of the Japanese Arcade (part 2)

4) The Adjustable Giant Pinch
This is a large pincer with three movement options – one to control forwards and backwards positioning of the entire claw; one to control the left hook; and one to control the right hook. Once you finish your movements, the hooks will lower, pinch inwards slightly (approximately 2-3cm), then lift up and move towards the chute. Note that the claws will not move past their respective halfway points on the unit.

Bigger claw means easier prizes, right? Not necessarily the case - wide claws can be just as challenging as standard catchers.

These cabinets yield high value prizes. The prizes may be placed upon a number of extendable rods, or on a plastic shelf with a slight inclination at the edge of the chute for an extra challenge. Your aim is to attempt to drag the prize closer to the chute then eventually use the claw’s down force to push the prize off the platform.

5) The Giant Claw
This has a similar shape to the classic “Skill Tester” claws, except that they are much larger. From the looks of it, these claws have a slightly stronger grip force.

Bigger claw means a bigger price tag.

These cabinets will have high value prizes. They are also quite expensive – at my local arcade, it costs approximately ¥500 for 2 attempts. They are also notoriously difficult. The claw is not fixed and has a tendency to sway, which prevents precision movements. However, I suppose it is possible to get prizes – it’s just a bit too rich for my tastes.

6) The Scissors / The Pull
This is a game that doesn’t use claws or hooks at all, but instead uses a pair of razor blades to sever prizes from strings, thereby releasing them into the chute below. You can only move the cutter up then right.

Some games, such as the one pictured below, have a plastic widget which is used to pull a prize down and off its plastic attachment. As previously mentioned, you can only move the widget up then left.

You can only move the widget up once, then to the right once. However, once your muscle memory is set, you can easily build up some swag.

These games are actually quite straight forward and do not require any trickery – just line up your target and get your prize. It may take a couple of tries to get a feel for the depth and reaction of the actuating arm, but once you get it, then you can easily abuse a machine for several prizes.

7) Hole In One
These games reward accuracy above all else. One particular game requires you to manoeuvre a plastic rod over a hole with a diameter not much wider than the rod, and drop it down so that it fits inside. (Har dee har har.)

It's hard to judge the width of that rod, isn't it? The clear plastic is one of many factors to throw you off from succeeding.

Another variant is where you move a device up and down a rail alongside a row of buttons, so that a cone-shaped protrusion can press one in order to release a prize.

Same principle as the other game, but this time with buttons.

As with the cutter games, these games have no special tricks other than to simply hit the right spot. Some machines may slightly alter the machine so that the rod does not follow a perfectly straight line – watch out for these.

Closing tips

You, too, can win yourself a Rilakkuma arm pillow.

Finally, some general advice:

  • In practically all cases, the downward force of the claw being extended is far greater than that of the claw’s gripping force. Therefore, you should only be using the claw to reposition the prize so you can utilise that downward force to (hopefully) push that prize down into the chute. Think less in terms of “picking up” the prize and more in terms of “dragging” the prize along. Don’t forget that you can use the prize’s weight to your advantage.
  • Most machines will allow you to stop a claw’s descent by pressing the button again. Use this to your advantage for that precision manoeuvre.
  • You will very, very rarely get a prize first go, unless someone has already had a shot at it and has done half the work for you. Be prepared to invest a small amount of money at first to get a feel for the machine and to become familiar with the mechanics.
  • If you find yourself getting carried away, it can help to set a limit (variable to the value of the prize you’re playing for). Paying ¥2200 for a fist-sized plushie is not a great investment. Personally, I like to set a goal to be achieved within a certain number of credits (for example, I’m going to try and loosen that plushie’s arms in 3 attempts). If you’re getting nowhere when you reach your limit, don’t be afraid to walk away. Learn from the experience and play wiser next time.
  • As per the previous point, avoid getting emotional. Frustration and anger can lead to haste, mistimings and eventually errors, which means a credit down the drain. Take it slow. If you’re with a friend, you can try explaining to them what you want to do and getting them to have a crack at it if possible.

Good luck!

Back to Part 1


5 Responses to UFO Catchers – Tricksters of the Japanese Arcade (part 2)

  1. Clawcatcher says:

    Im in Sydney Australia and never seen so many different types of claw games.

    From what i see on the net, Sydney seems have it harder to win prizes in ufo catchers,a certain place puts barriers to stop prizes from falling in but also signs saying if it doesnt fall into the exit chute you dont win which is totally unfair,especially when some prizes look like they wont even fit in!!

    I totally agree with the giant claw,i have seen some wins but in general the claw is weak

    • Seong says:

      Yeah! Is it the one located in the city? Those UFO catchers are not easy to win but still winnable. Just need to use some techniques and tricks.

  2. azra113 says:

    I was with my nephew last week and we came by a simple Claw machine. He wanted to play but I told him its a ripoff, I spent so Much money in my childhood trying to win something but never could. He kept asking so I said I’d put money in and show him it won’t work. I set the claw up on this big plushie, the claw grabbed its head and lifted it up, it dragged along but slipped right by the exit chute. I got more excited than the kid and kept putting money to get it in, I kept going at the head but it was too big. So my nephew suggested getting its body, sure enough the claw lifted the body but couldn’t lift the whole plushie but dragged it enough for it to fall. I was happy as hell. Now I see what you ment by feeling the machine.

    I wanna try all the different UFO catchers in Japan.

  3. Bythebeach says:

    There’s a game where I live and it’s really hard to win. I live in japan.
    Do you know the game where you have to pick up a key with a claw then drop it into the chute. After you get the key, you open the box that has the number on the keys tag.
    If you know it do have any Tips on how to play it.

  4. Alana says:

    Also there’s tape cutter games, ping pong wok games, ping pong scoop games, ball drop games, double claw and ping pong games, Games where you take a hook off of a peg with a single claw, Ping Ping claw game with a ramp, claw games with round prizes where you pick it up then try to drop it and make it roll through a correct door, fishing game where several hooks on chains are used to try and hook a cage and if you do you win, and many others too. I win all the time on ping pong wok games and some double claw Japanese UFO catcher ones too.

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