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Medal games are a type of game commonly found in arcades, especially within Japan. In order to play a medal game a customer must first exchange their cash into medals (metal coins, much like an arcade token). The rate of medals versus cash varies from arcade to arcade, but usually the cheapest range is from ¥300 all the way up to ¥10,000. While many of the medal games simulate gambling, the medals cannot be traded back in for any prizes or cash, so there is no chance to make back any of the money that has been traded into medals, only the chance to play more games with won medals.
There are many types of medal games, but the two main ones are the gambling type and the pusher game type.
The gambling type of medal games has two types of games, those that simulate a Las Vegas style casino (Electronic/Mechanical roulette tables, video poker, video blackjack, slot machines, are all very common).
The other type is video horse racing these are often set up in a quite lavish lounge set up, each player has a personal screen, with a usually padded chair, an ashtray and cup holders. All of these personal seats are in front of a very large screen displaying the virtual horse race.
In the Philippines, video horse racing is also known as "video karera." These games are often raided by police as some proprietors try to evade taxes.
Pusher Game Type
These games are characterized by multiple levels filled with medals. Behind these platforms are mechanical "brooms" that push the coins forward. When a coin is dropped in, it falls onto one of the platforms and has the chance of pushing some of the other medals off of the edge and to the player. Timing in dropping the coin is a skill factor in the game.
Pusher games are often much more complex, often involving a plinko style drop in which there are different slots the dropped medal can fall into, causing various in game effects. Some slots may have the machine drop in more coins, others may initiate a video slot machine built into the machine. From the video slot machine more coins and other bonuses can be awarded. Many pusher games are connected to one another, some even with shared platforms, to form mega jackpots, sometimes as many as 1,000 medals. Sometimes a video mini game can be activated, in which coins must be dropped/rolled to hit specific targets, or buttons on the machine must be pressed in order to play. (For example, a mini game could involve pressing a star shaped button to make Mario jump and hit coin blocks, which could very well literally give you coins).
Another interesting aspect of the pusher games is that they are often themed on things that would be targeted towards children, such as Mario or other video game and cartoon characters.