We’ve all played our fair share of claw game machines at arcades, but Sega Catcher Online steps things up a notch. Believe it or not, you can play claw games over the Internet on your PC or on an Android or iOS phone, win prizes, and have them actually mailed to your home.
The premise behind Sega Catcher Online is simple. Somewhere in Japan, there is a building with a bunch of different claw machines bunched up together and monitored by two cameras apiece. Most machines appear to use the standard two-button controls like the Trendy Game in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening: one button moves the claw forward and another moves the claw to the side.
Each button can only be pressed and held once, so it’s down to players to get the timing right. You’ll be aiming for a token (typically some kind of box) that represents a prize you’re going for. If you can manage to grab the token and drop it into the collection area, you’ll actually win that prize. The mobile app has just arrived for iOS and Android, so you can actually play this on your phone (along with your PC, if that’s more your thing.)
Watch Sega Catcher Online in action below:
Several questions immediately come to mind, the first of which is “How do I actually get the prize?” Well, Sega will mail up to one prize per week to anywhere in Japan or the United States. (If you don’t live in either of those countries, you’re out of luck for now.)
My next question was whether or not this actually works well. After all, I live on the Eastern coast of the United States and these claw machines are all the way in Japan, 6,000 miles away. I used my free credits to give it a whirl and there was a tiny amount of lag. Thankfully, there’s also a practice game that lets you get a feel for how it works at no risk, something I didn’t try first because I am an idiot.
Lastly, one might wonder how much this costs. Players signing up Sega Catcher Online can score 500 SP currency right off the bat, good enough for 2–3 attempts at winning real prizes. After that, you can connect your phone number and earn a measly 20SP every day for logging in. Prizes range in cost from 100–200 SP, but what do SP cost? Well, the prices are (rather unhelpfully) listed in Japanese Yen, so I did a quick conversion:
- 130 SP = ¥220 ≈ $2.01
- 330 SP = ¥550 ≈ $5.02
- 720 SP = ¥1,090 ≈ $9.95
- 1,500 SP = ¥2,200 ≈ $20.08
- 2,300 SP = ¥3,300 ≈ $30.12
- 4,000 SP = ¥5,500 ≈ $50.20
- 8,800 SP = ¥ 11,000 ≈ $100.41
Basically, it boils down to $2–3 per play, plus a charge in SP for any prizes you want mailed to you outside of the 1 prize per week limit.
It should also be noted that the English language text on the website isn’t too fantastic, and people are complaining in the Google Play reviews that the English language option doesn’t always work correctly after logging in.
It seems like a fun little diversion, although it could potentially get out of hand if you’re not careful. If you’d like to try out SEGA Catcher Online, you can grab the app for iOS via the App Store Preview or for Android via Google Play. You can also play it on a PC via the Sega Catcher Online website.