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User:Umeko/Battrio, the red-headed stepchild

< User:Umeko


The Pokémon Battrio arcade game has been quite neglected in the English-speaking side of the fandom. Granted, there is a very good reason for this: the game isn't actually available outside of Japan. To most English-speaking fans, the game is little more than a mystery. What is it? How does it work? What makes it special?

Until fairly recently, I was just as clueless as mostly everyone else. I had been asked at one point to import the game to figure it out (oh, how I wish that were possible!), so when I traveled to Japan this past March, I promised myself that I would try to play Pokémon Battrio. It was, in fact, one of my priorities - right after eating parfaits, crepes, and taiyaki.

The Pokémon Battrio game machine. Note the big yellow button.

My first hands-on experience with the game was a few days into my trip, when I located a Battrio machine at the Kiddyland toy store in Harajuku. Excited that I could finally figure out this mystery of a game, I gleefully fished out a hundred-yen coin, received my Scyther puck, and prepared myself for the Battriotasticness.

Unfortunately, I had no earthly idea how to play the game. With the Dragon Quest theme blaring in my ear from the game on my left, and some sugary-sweet music from the girly princess game on my right, I couldn't make out any instructions the game's announcer might have been giving. At a loss, I just smashed the big yellow button repeatedly, hoping it would do something.

I mean, it's a big yellow button, it's bound to do something, right?

Somehow, I managed to win that first attempt, but I still had no idea how to play the game - except that the big yellow button probably did something.

A couple days later I visited Namco Namja Town in Ikebukuro. I had actually gone there for parfaits, but I did happen to spot a Battrio machine in the corner of a game room. There were already two boys, about 10 years old, playing the game.

Well, who better to ask to explain a video game than little Japanese boys?

Hoping that they wouldn't be scared off by the strange foreigner lady, I approached them, and asked how to play the game. Luckily, they were all too happy to show me how to play, and enthusiastically walked me through the game. While their instructions weren't exactly clear - "You go like this, then go like this, then go like this, then ORYYYAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! *furiously smashes the yellow button*" - their walkthrough did in fact help me get a better idea of some of the aspects of the game.

After playing myself a few more times, I felt like I had finally grasped the basics of the game, though I was still smashing the big yellow button probably more than necessary.

My first puck, Scyther from the Challenging the Myths expansion.

So what, exactly, does the game entail? I've seen some people imply that since it's just some arcade game, and so little information can be found on it, there must not really be that much to it. On the contrary, the game takes a surprising amount of strategy and concentration - though of course not so much that you can't snag a lucky win by blindly hitting a button repeatedly.

Starting up the game is easy - in goes a 100 yen coin (about $1.25 USD; a quick Google query will get a conversion to other currencies for those who want it), and out comes a random "puck," a small disc used to control Pokémon in the game. The rarity of the puck is indicated by the design on its back, ranging from Normal rarity (a Poké Ball design) to Master rarity (a Master Ball design). There are also special and promotional pucks which may use different designs, such as a Quick Ball or Luxury Ball.