How To Win At Playing Smart Ball

15 May 2016 Shohei Fujita Pop Culture
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My grandad used to tell me how to play a thing called Smart Ball (スマートボール). When he was drunk on Sake, he loved to tell me tales of past, and Smart Ball was mentioned from time to time. According to him, when you play it you have to “Understand the pattern of nails” and “Perceive the trajectory of balls”. I didn’t know what that meant, but his voice sounded serious when he said that I would encounter it one day, and to seek the sacred hole number 15.

That time did come, quite suddenly,  in the old part of Osaka city called Shinsekai (新世界).

So… this is Smart Ball.

Image: ume-y,flickr

I researched about it online. According to my random research, Smart Ball is a Japanese hybrid subspecies of pinball and billiard. I think that’s a correct description, as neither pinball nor billiard. It’s an oddball version of both, or just simply Smart Ball.

Balls (which are coincidentally blue) shoot down and you can pull and release the lever to shoot them. If you successfully  shot into the hole, you will be rewarded with more blue balls. So I think the name of this game should at least be put in plural form as you treat multiple balls.

The builder company’s name and emblem are carved into the side of the machine. Rumors say that the company doesn’t exist now.

Here are some tips about this game from when I tried it for the first time:

Understand the pattern of nails

The Smart Ball machine is certainly old and is somewhat handcrafted, so the pinned nails are patterned, but are actually slightly different individually. You should seek for better machine that seemingly has nails placed further apart. If you successfully shoot into the hole, you will be rewarded with more balls, equal to the numbers printed above the hole.

Follow the trajectory of balls

It is completely your responsibility to shoot balls with the lever on the lower-right corner of the machine. If you made a successful shot, try to keep pulling at the same strength.

Seek the way to the sacred hole numbered 15

The hole numbered 15 is in the center of field. After inserting a 100 yen coin 10 times in a row, I realized that the way to the hole is something… disguised. You are the luckiest person on the planet if you make a successful shot to the hole numbered 15.


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