Adventures In Mario UFO Catchers


Japan is one of the few places in the world where arcades still thrive, and this is largely due to UFO catchers, or what we in the States call crane games.

Most arcades dedicate at least one floor entirely to the machines, which can range from simple and relatively easy candy prize dispensers, to incredibly difficult/nigh impossible yen sinks that withhold a variety of amazing surprises.

I pretty much avoided these things the first six months I was here. I thought they were too damn hard, and I rarely saw prizes that I wanted. That was, until I discovered that many feature Mario and other Nintendo-related goodies. Then I was hooked.

Just check out some of the sweet shit I’ve scored.




I’m pretty stoked about these. They’re just the perfect idiotic thing, striking a great balance between almost practical while still being entirely useless. Display material for sure. They were also incredibly easy to win.


This is a weird little Yoshi statue that also functions kind of as a night light I guess? I dunno, you put the apple on and it lights up. However, getting that freaking apple to stay on Yoshi’s tongue is nearly impossible, I tried to leave it on but it seems to tumble off if I breathe too hard from across the room. I can’t imagine it would do well in an earthquake.


My interest in Dragon Quest is passing at best. I don’t think I’ve played any since the NES days, and I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about them. Except for Slime! Slime is cute! I love Slime! If I could buy a giant Slime bean bag chair I would, despite the fact that bean bag chairs give me lower back pain. I just want to live with a giant-sized slime, okay?

These little slime trinkets are the next best thing. They actually have the plushies in multiple colors, but I wanted to dedicate my efforts on the pink and purple ones, as those are me and my boyfriend’s favorite colors. Ditto for the solar toy. There’s a blue one, but I had limited funds and time so pink only it was.


Kirby is kawaii and double Kirbys are doubly so. The small one plays the level ending theme music when you squeeze it, and the bigger one rolls around or something, I’m not entirely sure as I have yet to buy batteries for it. The smaller one is one of a set of six, each of which features Kirby in a different pose and a different jingle. I was only able to get the one though.


Yoshi! I like Yoshi. I got the pink one on my first try, which is madness, and I got the green one pretty quickly as well. So when I saw the yellow one (which from what I could tell is few and far between) I pretty much had to go for it. Sadly the money I saved in my quick successes for the previous two was canceled out in the yen sink that was the yellow Yoshi. But I got the little bastard. If they ever put out a blue one I’m in trouble.


This is a horrible, horrible stuffed Mario. I didn’t realize the full horribleness of it until after I spent too much money on it and won it. In addition to its lack of a mouth, overall cheap feel and dead stare, it has two right hands! What the fuck Nintendo where’s the quality control?


On contrast, these mushrooms are amazing (he said, not referring to a mushroom’s psychotrobic power). They re-create the look of the game mushroom’s perfectly, and they’re so damn soft they even work great as end pillows for my couch. I’m glad they’re great because they were an enormously huge pain to win. I still don’t know how I got either, just dumb luck.


This is a “portable’ Famicom that requires a TV and batteries. The buttons are shit, the plastic is shit, and the entire thing feels like it would break if you sneezed near it. Not only that, the picture is analog out only, so it looks like garbage.

That being said, it’s called “Handy.”

Hehe. Handy.


Hey, guess what? I went to Shinjuku and got a handy. In fact, I got two handys. They were really cheap and easy to get too, cost me less than a thousand yen.

Handy means handjob.

I am shockingly immature.


This is an alarm of some sort? I think it just plays noises when you push the buttons. Don’t really care about that, I care more about how fucking dope it looks. There’s a Luigi one too, but I sadly couldn’t win that one and it appears to be gone from the arcades now, which is a drag.


This Boo may have been the easiest thing I’ve won in a UFO catcher. I don’t know what they were thinking put these in the claw machines, once you get the claw around one, it’s a sure thing. I think I got this in less than three tries. It’s great, but I have no damn place to put the thing since I can’t really put holes in my apartment wall.

You can get more than Mario swag in UFO catchers, in fact, most of the stuff I see in them isn’t game related at all. The overwhelming majority is anime figurines, of which I have zero interest in. You do see the occasional oddball item though. I’ve won two portable cell phone chargers; a Monsters Inc. clothespin; and some really horrible headphones. I even saw a cheap vacuum cleaner robot in one, although I couldn’t get it.

That’s okay though, because I got a gun.


It just shoots rubber bands, but it does look pretty rad. I wonder if I could use it to off this second-rate Mario…


Full stupid gallery of pictures below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One Response to Adventures In Mario UFO Catchers

Leave a Reply