Playing darts is surprisingly popular in Japan, and a big reason why is coin-operated darts machines. With on-screen guidance and automated scorekeeping, they’re fun for beginners and veterans alike, and the ability to crate a profile and upload your score to leaderboards linked with other machines gives you a sense of friendly competition even when you don’t have someone in the same room to play against.
You can find darts machines in video games arcades, pool halls, bars, and other entertainment facilities in Japan, but those looking for a more Japanese-themed test of thrown weapon prowess will be happy to know that from September you’ll also start seeing shuriken machines.
The machine is a joint project between video game/arcade machine maker Sega and fellow Sega Sammy Holdings company Dartslive, Japan’s most popular darts machine brand. Called Ninja Trainer Arcade, the machines have been in testing for several months, but they went into official service on Sept 1.
On the surface, the object of the game is pretty similar to basic darts: toss throwing stars at the board and try to hit the center. However, that’s just one of several ways to play.
Because the board is lit by LED lights, the playing field can be quickly reconfigured, allowing for game variations that involve capturing on encircling your opponents’ territory in matches with two, three, or four players. Some rules even require you to hit moving targets as a light flashes across the board.
While players can use the machine’s loaner shuriken, the unit also doubles as a shuriken vending machine, in case you want your own personal set to take home and use in future matches.
The shuriken are made of a material that’s rigid enough to stick into the target board but pliable enough that you won’t kill yourself or others with an errant throw. As a matter of fact, the Ninja Trainer system is certified by the Japan Ninja Council, with council member Jinichi Kawakami saying “The shuriken has the proper feel as they hit the target, and are made with safety considerations in mind, so they are perhaps the optimal equipment for those starting down the path of the shinobi.”
Sega/Dartslive plan to install Ninja Trainer Arcade machines nationwide, and it’s already available to play as part of an early launch at Tokyo’s Sega Akihabara Building 5 arcade.
Related: Sega Akihabara Building 5 website
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