A cousin of pinball, pachinko has its earliest roots in 18th centuryFrance where a game called bagatelle was developed from modifying billiards. Its true history, however,began in the 1920s.Corinth GameChicago gaming manufacturers were the first to introduce what has come to be knownas pachinko. Originally packaged as the Corinth Game, the product was created as a children's versionof bagatelle. The creators of the game redesigned the bagatelle plunger to accommodate larger balls.This modification to the game eventually paved the way for pinball, a game that enjoyed decades of popularityin the U.S. before falling back into cult status.
Once the Corinth Game introduced brass nails to replacethe wooden pegs, the stage was set for the evolution of today's pachinko machines.Korinto GemuKorinto Gemu, which means "Corinthian Bagatelle" in Japanese, found a home in theFar East in the mid 1920s. It enjoyed an initial burst of popularity as an attraction for children inlocal candy stores. Shop owners would put the games out on the counter, drawing children in to play andperhaps buy some candy while they were at it. Some owners would even give out pieces of candy as rewardsfor high scores. By the end of the decade, Korinto Gemu had become a candy store staple. Children calledthe games Pachi-Pachi, making reference to the machine's unique cacophony of sounds.
The Circle of PleasureWhile Korinto Gemu was enjoying its Japanese success, the British wereplaying a game called the Circle of Pleasure. A close look at the game reveals many of the characteristicsthat would later become part of pachinko. Racing, flippers, and scoring pockets made the Circle a popularpub game, and its smaller size persuaded Japanese gaming manufacturers to modify Korinto Gemu to savespace.
Pachinko , as a game unto itself, made its official debut in 1929. Upright in design,pachinko was an undeniable descendent of Korinto Gemu, the Corinth game, and the Circle of Pleasure.The following year, a Nagoya gachinko hall opened for the first time, taking the game out of the candystores and into the hearts of adult Japanese gamblers. Since then, the game has evolved several timesto become the gambling device found around the country today. The Masamura gage was added in 1948 tointroduce better odds. With the video game craze of the 1980s, pachinko sloughed off its electro-mechanicalroots to become much more digital in its presentation.Today's Pachinko Unlike pinball, which has been relegated to hobbyists and collectors, pachinkoremains a popular game in its home country of Japan.
Though the vast majority of today's machines areelectronic in nature and have been since the 1980s, the core gameplay remains basically the same. Approximately40 million residents play the game each year, drawing more than 30 trillion yen into the gaming economy.The Japanese equivalent of a $270 billion industry, pachinko enjoys a popularity that seems destinedonly to grow in the coming decades.