I’m a huge fan of claw machines; my first good tattoo was of Pookie Bear caught up in one. Recently a friend told me about Round1, which he described as “Dave & Busters, but with better prizes.” He showed me a big haul of plush animals that he and his wife got from the claw machines.
Last night, I visited Round1 for birthday of that same friend’s wife. What I didn’t realize is that a majority of the claw machines at Round1 are not what I’m used to. In my mind, a claw machine is three or four metal tongs that you use to try and snag the toy you want. However, most of the machines at Round1 are UFO Catchers. In this case, each machines features a number of plastic tongs that end in a metal scoop like the wedge on a BattleBot.
On top of the different claw, the UFO Catcher machines only let you move the catcher side-to-side and forward-to-back one time. There issn’t the opportunity for fine grain adjustments before pushing the “drop” button.
By and large, the UFO Catchers at Round1 come in one of a few varieties.
In the first, most familiar version, you use the claw to pick up something like ping pong balls. Each machine has instructions for the win condition; in the game pictured above, you have to transfer two orange balls from one bowl to the other. Once the machine meets the win condition, you seek out an employee and claim your prize.
This is neat because it allows you to play multiple times and any successe counts collectively towards the goal.
In this variation, the tongs are replaced with a single “Captain Hook-esque” hook. The goal is to use this hook to pick up an item by an attached loop. This greatly increased the difficulty because both the hook and loop were only about an inch big.
I never got the hang of this variation, but it involved using a single tong to shove a prize towards the opening in the machine. In some games, this involved sliding a box across a flat surface. In others, a plush was perched on a stand and needed to be tipped into the hole. In either case, you could play multiple times and make incremental progress.
Why It’s Neat
I dug the UFO Catchers at Round1 for number of reasons. Foremost among them was that these machines were different than what I’m used to. I spent more than I normally might have but a large part of that was on learning about the machines and their mechanics. Aside from that, the prizes were larger than most claw machines. Finally, the incremental nature of the machines meant you could occassionally find a machine where someone had made some progress but then given up. This provides an opportunity to “clean up” after them and finish the game.
They had some really good prizes, which was a pleasant change because most game places we go to have pretty cheesy prizes…
– Karin L
Our Rating: Neat!
Official Link: Round1