PachiPara 13: Super Umi to Pachipro Fūunroku is a pachinko simulator in the venerable Irem franchise released exclusively in Japan on the PS2. As is the case with many games in the PachiPara series, 13's simulation specialty is Sanyo's Umi Monogatari line of machines, with the M55W and M55X Super Umi Monogatari machines specifically being represented in the game. Similarly to most of the other PS2 installments in the PachiPara series, in addition to the simulation mode where players can play pachinko to their heart's content, the game also includes "Pachipro Fūunroku 5," a story-driven open world RPG mode whose events unfold according to various choices the player makes throughout the narrative. The latter mode was developed by prominent development talent at Irem such as producer Kazuma Kujo, who is best known for creating for the Disaster Report series and Steambot Chronicles, among other games.
Like pachinko machines in reality, the M55W and M55X machines that can be played in PachiPara 13 are designed with a mixture of strategic elements and pure luck in mind. The game starts by inserting money into the machine in order to gain a stock of balls with which to play, which can be paid for either with yen bills in the simulated mode or tama in the RPG mode; in the case of the latter, outside of competitions with AI opponents, the overall ball count is drawn directly from the player's wallet, with 1 tama equating to one ball that can be entered into play within the pachinko machine. The basic goal of the game, then, is to gain balls, ideally ending the round at a profit by possessing more balls than at the start. Running out of balls during the course of gambling, naturally, results in a game over.
Once balls have been purchased, they are automatically inserted into the machine and the gambling portion proper commences. By turning a gear, represented in the bottom-right corner of the screen in the game, the machine shoots the balls out, with the strength of the shots determined by how much the gauge is turned. The balls in turn hit pegs that are littered all over the playing field and influence their trajectory, constituting one of the main random elements of luck in the M55W and M55X machines, as well as pachinko in general. As playing conditions can change over the course of the game, skilled play relies on changing shot strengths in order to land balls in different areas of the screen in an ideal manner. During normal play, the only way to gain additional balls without having to pay for them is by having them land in one of two areas in the lower half of the playing field below the screen: either in a catching area denoted by red flippers that will occasionally open up at random or in a hole that's permanently open right above the flippers. Doing so will net the player the player a handful of free new balls. Should a ball also land in the grooved area below the screen, physics may be able to guide the ball into the hole that's always guaranteed to be open, although it can be knocked off course by other balls on the playing field. If a ball reaches the bottom of the machine without entering either of the holes, it is considered to be lost and cannot be recovered.
Successfully landing a ball in one of the holes will also trigger a slot machine minigame to play on the screen, which is won in the traditional manner of lining up a row of three of same type of marine animal in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line. Although small seashells can also appear in the slot machine portions, they have no effect, even when three of them are lined up, therefore making it more difficult to get a jackpot. Multiple attempts at the slot machine can be queued by getting successive balls into one of the holes, with a total of up to four attempts being reserved before another ball needs to be inserted in order to ensure more attempts, as signified by the lights under the screen. While individual reels will generally move at the same speed and stop automatically without any player input, on occasion, they will also either speed up or slow down when the game detects two of the same marine animal are already properly lined up in an attempt to slightly improve the chances at getting a jackpot.
Winning a slot machine by lining up three of the same animal type will therefore trigger a massive payout worth 1000-plus balls that lasts for several minutes and is significantly more generous than the typical method of gaining more balls by landing them inside holes, thereby constituting the main method of winning and making a profit. During this period, while a variety of flashy animations play on the screen featuring the Umi Monogatari series' cast of animals and attractive human mascots, a ball catching tray at the bottom of the playing field will open and close at varying intervals; successfully landing balls within the tray nets players significantly more balls than by inserting them into the usual holes and can overall result in them winning 1000 to 2000-plus balls within a matter of a few minutes compared to a few dozen during normal play. Some animals, such as the number 7 manatee, will lead to better jackpots by virtue of extending the period of time that more balls can be attained. Special events can also be triggered by racking up multiple successful jackpots, such as special fanservice-laden animation sequences that focus solely on the human characters every fifth time a jackpot is attained.
After the jackpot period has passed, the pachinko machine will enter one of two modes in an attempt to give the player another shot at a payout more quickly. One of these modes, kakuhen, occurs if the previous jackpot was achieved with an odd-numbered animal and simply increases the overall chances that any given spin of the slot machine will trigger another jackpot, ostensibly making it easier than previous instances to get massive ball payouts. During this period, the background is colored purple to signify that kakuhen is in effect. The other mode, jitan, is triggered when the previous jackpot happened via an even-numbered animal and results in the slot machine completing its cycle significantly faster for up to 100 spins. In contrast to kakuhen, the background in jitan is colored green. To even out the probability of landing an odd-numbered versus an even-numbered jackpot, the number 2 shark appears twice on each wheel in order for the number of even-numbered animals to make the number of odd-numbered ones since a number 0 animal is not present on the machine.
Pachipro Fūunroku 5 Mode
Pachipro Fūunroku is an entirely separate open world RPG story mode included with PachiPara 13. Having been previously featured by name in most of the other PS2 PachiPara installments in different genre incarnations, 13 thusly marks the fifth numbered appearance of the PachiPro Fūunroku mode in the series, although it's the second game to feature it as an open world RPG after PachiPara 12 and is the sixth game with it overall when counting the gaiden/side story version that was packed in with the Hammerin' Hero-themed spinoff game Pachinko Paradise 10: Gen-san, Okaeri. In this mode, players create a female or male protagonist in their image, including their personality via a pre-game questionnaire, and guide them in a self-contained story as they see fit when they find themselves facing an uncertain future after graduating from high school. From the outset, the protagonist is persuaded to take part in the world of pachinko by way of Sakurako Ogami, a former classmate who needs their help in order to win the rights back to her family's car repair shop, having lost it due to sudden debt troubles when her father, the shop's owner, is unable to fulfill his duties as a cosigner. Should the player win in a competition to see who can gain the most balls in a pachinko match against the lender's pachipro, someone who plays pachinko professionally, the shop will return to Ogami family ownership. Doing so, however, will brand their character a pachipro themselves, thereby thrusting them into the cutthroat world of Japanese gambling, garnering myriad rivals and tackling personal problems that make the act of reclaiming the shop ultimately pale in comparison. The ending is ultimately determined by the player based on how they decide to have the protagonist navigate the shady world within the game.
The gameplay in Pachipro Fūunroku mode is broadly split into two distinct segments: pachinko and the open world RPG. Pachinko mechanics in this mode remain generally the same as in the dedicated simulator with the rules for acquiring more balls and triggering jackpots remaining the same. However, one major gameplay mechanic that isn't present in the simulator mode is the ability to build up a meter that can be used trigger moves that supernaturally improve the player's prospects at pachinko, with the general aim being to greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to hit jackpots and amass large amounts of balls. Some abilities directly affect the playing field, such as being able to force the catcher to stay open for a limited amount of time or blow gusts of wind that bias the balls' trajectory, while others are more passive and operate in the background when activated, including the ability to raise the player's luck statistics, among other things. Moves are typically gained either after clearing major hurdles in the storyline or by defeating certain optional opponents that can be met during free time. In cases where the player is playing against AI opponents, the basic rules of pachinko remain the same, with winners typically decided based upon who acquires the most balls within a specific time limit, although variations on the basic rule set are routinely introduced throughout the game. Also exclusive to the open world RPG mode is the ability to take winnings earned at pachinko and exchange them for prizes that vary based on location, a practice that's consistent with pachinko as it's played in reality due to legal restrictions on gambling in Japan. While playing pachinko is required to proceed at certain junctures of the storyline, the majority of time can otherwise be spent engaging in the open world RPG mode where the protagonist can lead their post-high school life at their own pace within the bounds of a sprawling Japanese city.
With each day split into four segments, morning, afternoon, evening, and night, the player is generally free during the open world RPG portion to spend their days in-between plot beats as they please, engaging in a variety of activities that are broadened as more and more areas within the city are unlocked over the course of gameplay. Such activities include shopping, furnishing their housing in a manner akin to games such as The Sims and Animal Crossing, fishing, socializing with other NPCs and going out on dates with them, and more. While money can often be most quickly made by playing rounds of pachinko either solo or against AI competitors, Pachipro Fūunroku mode also allows players who are disinterested in engaging with pachinko outside of story events to reliably acquire cash through various other means that don't rely on gambling. Time moves forward when the player chooses to partake in certain activities such as eating or playing pachinko for extended stretches of time, either manually or via an automated fast forwarding option. Various sidequests can also be undertaken at the player's discretion that add more characterization and backstory to various NPCs that are encountered over the course of the main storyline. Completing them can not only net the player monetary rewards, but also items and outright gameplay feature unlocks, most notably modes of transportation such as roller blades and bicycles that speed up commuting within the game.
As the protagonist goes about their daily business in the open world, their actions affect various RPG statistics that can in turn influence how lucky they get during rounds of pachinko in different ways, particularly when playing against rival characters. These statistics include hunger, cleanliness, health, and intelligence in addition to typical experience points that are doled out after pachinko matches and used to determine the protagonist's overall ranking as a pachipro. Generally speaking, higher numbers in each of the stats lead to better results at the pachinko parlors and can be tended to in realistically intuitive ways; hunger can be addressed by going out to eat or buying food to take home at a store, for example, while cleanliness can be taken care of by bathing. The protagonist also has a personality chart that changes over the course of the game. Various decisions made both during general gameplay as well as story sequences affect the readings on the personality chart and in turn influence the reputation that they attain as a pachipro, as well as how other characters respond to their presence.
Dialog choices that the player can make are numerous and diverse in Pachipro Fūunroku mode, affecting narrative proceedings and character relationships at both subtle and obvious levels. Like some of Irem's other games, especially the Disaster Report series, the statements players can make and actions they can take around characters are extensive, allowing for a wide spectrum of roleplaying beyond the usual moral dichotomy. Most situations in which the protagonist is forced to make a decision give several options from which to choose, often ranging from what's considered to be sane and socially acceptable on one end to completely ludicrous and humorous on the other end. Notably, not only do these systems extend to the ability to romance various characters in the game, including Sakurako as the main heroine, but they also allow the player to freely play as a homosexual or bisexual character, should they choose to do so.
Unlike many of its other open world contemporaries at the time of its release, players can seamlessly enter most of the buildings that they see in the game world without a major loading transition. Each of the buildings has uniquely designed interiors and is populated by different NPCs. Given the urban setting of the game, many of the buildings are shops that sell optional clothing items and equipment, but they also include restaurants, police facilities, dating spots, and apartment buildings, among other things.
Pachipro Fūunroku 5 Cast
Anzu Murase (Female Protagonist)/Ginji Shiina (Male Protagonist)
Voiced by:Komatsuna Sakato (Female)/Shōgo Kawashima (Male)
An 18 year-old Japanese kid fresh out of high school, the player's character at the beginning of the game feels distinctly lost, having yet to decide upon a particular lot in life. Right as they find themselves pondering what to do next, Sakurako shows up with a proposal that's set to give them just the direction for which they're longing and then some. The protagonist may either be female or male at the player's discretion when beginning the game and have a different name of their choosing.
Voiced by: Emi Kobayashi (formerly Megu Ashiro)
A classmate of the protagonist who's also just graduated from high school, Sakurako is the first character introduced in the game. The daughter of a repairman, her dream in life is to work alongside her father and inherit his garage. However, when financial hardships hit the family and they lose the shop and their only home, she turns to the protagonist to become a pachipro so they can retake it from their cruel lender. If she's treated well at various points in the game, she can become the protagonist's lover.
Kamiya (Front)/Lillie Matsushima (Behind)
Voiced by: Tomohisa Asō (Kamiya)/Kanako Tateno (Lillie)
Kamiya, known only by his last name, is the pachipro hired by the Ogawa family's lender to ensure they don't get to retake their shop. When things head south and the match is cancelled, he quickly becomes the protagonist's top rival as they strive to become good enough to be worthy of a rematch. Lillie is his mysterious handler, appearing occasionally to give the protagonist advice as a budding pachipro, although her ties to the city run deeper than she initially implies.
Voiced by: Yoshihisa Kawahara
Inui is the secret reason behind the protagonist's first match with Kamiya being cancelled, having cut the power to pachinko parlor to prevent them from encountering a grave defeat at the hands of one of the pachinko masters during their first match ever. A sly person who lives according to the beat of his own drum, in exchange for his intervention, Inui places a 100,000-tama tab on the protagonist that has to be repaid over the course of the game by any means necessary. He also serves as an occasional mentor, keeping a close eye on pachinko developments around the city from his home base in a parlor across the street from the Ogawa family's old repair shop.