Stunning creative direction behind this pinball machine. (Photo: Victoria Kamila)

Pinball at The Silver Ball Planet

Get your fix of classic American pinball at this arcade

Stunning creative direction behind this pinball machine. (Photo: Victoria Kamila)
Victoria Kamila   - 3 min read

When it comes to the popularity of arcade games, it’s no surprise to anyone that Japan takes the cake. However for many pinball lovers searching for their fix, most arcades are lacking in supply of these classic machines, something that may come as a bit of a shock given that Japanese arcades are mostly known for their vast and sometimes weird variety of gaming options. Culturally, the origin of pinball is mostly American (pinball also sees some European origins, such as billard japonais, which is a traditionally French version of the game), pointing to their minuscule presence in Japan. And where they are found, they generally serve a purpose of celebrating a nostalgic corner of American culture. The Silver Ball Planet is a pinball arcade or parlour that does exactly this, and more.

Silver Ball doesn’t have any frills or fancy decorations to up the ante —the appeal is all in the pinball. A straightforward line up of pinball machines in a factory like space, it houses possibly the largest collection of machines in Asia, imported in their original condition from the United States. Described as an “icon for American culture” by BIGSTEP manager Yuske Namba, it’s only fitting that the arcade is located in none other than Amerikamura, an ‘American Village’ near the bustling neighbourhood of Shinsaibashi, and just a couple of blocks from the intensely fashionable ‘Orange Street’.

In case you’re a pinball newbie, don’t get too fazed about the complex strategies behind each game. There are both audio and visual cues on the machines, as well as instructions found on the sides. For those looking to understand how to maximise their points, there are booklets explaining how to get more points, credits, replays, and multi-balls. While these are written in Japanese, a quick scan with Google Translate will give you the inside edge.

The set up isn’t entirely at random; machines are grouped by themes ranging from Nintendo superstars to Star Wars chronologies and even Playboy models. Amongst a plethora of the fan favourites found here are Twilight Zone, Space Jam, Elvis, Batman Forever, The Wizard of Oz, Indiana Jones, Tales from the Crypt and many more.

Silver Ball Planet is located on the third floor of BIGSTEP, a shopping centre that also features a Starbucks, a concert theatre, and restaurants. The arcade also hosts a tournament every last Saturday of the month (beginning at 4:00pm and ending at 7:45pm) that is well contested, in case you wanted to showcase your talent or get a grip on how the Japanese do American pinball

Victoria Kamila

Victoria Kamila @victoria.kamila

Canadian student studying journalism in London. Editor of a student magazine for young opinions and creative culture called 'Unsettled'. Taking advantage of Europe's budget airlines every chance I can.