One of the many neat things about living in Australia is the range of interesting things you see over here that just aren’t available in other Western nations. Even though AU isn’t in the spotlight on the news or in international affairs like the US, it has many perks due to its proximity to East Asia. Because of this, the population is quite ethnically diverse, and all sorts of interesting cuisine, clothing, and technology make their way over here (like MOS Burger, for example!). Animal Kaiser is just that–a Japanese arcade game that has seen relative popularity in many Asian countries, and is even available in New Zealand and Australia, though it is noticeably absent from arcades in the United States and Europe.
Animal Kaiser advertises itself as a card battling arcade game featuring real animals for children ages 4-10 (well, I play too, but I’m young at heart!). Kaiser means king in German, and your goal is exactly that: to become of the animals by defeating all those who should stand in your way. The mechanics of the game are pretty simple, and though you’re meant to start with at least one of each type of card (animal, miracle, and strong), if you don’t have any cards a default setting will be selected for you, making it easy for anyone to pick up. During the battle you and your opponent are given two roulettes, one to choose your attack type and the other to select a number. If the number you select is higher than your opponent’s, you get to attack that turn. It’s quite simple, yet extremely addictive! Each game, whether you win or lose, nets you exactly one new card of random selection; so even after your very first game you can start your collection of upwards to 80 cards available every generation.
|Some of the Animal Kaiser cards we’ve collected. Notice the bar code on the bottom right–that’s how the machines read them|
Each animal card has three different attacks, a strength stat and a health stat, and can be enhanced with the help of a strong card and a miracle card. A strong card will increase the attack power of each of your animal’s three different attacks (guts, technique, and power) to varying degrees depending on the card. Miracle cards influence the power of the special attack available to all animals, aptly named a “miracle attack.” They have a strength stat that will determine the power of the miracle attack, and, if its type is the same as the animal it is paired with, will result in a “perfect match,” causing your animal to be even more powerful. Finally, miracle cards have a special ability attached to them such as lucky break, which, based on its star percentage value, has a chance of aiding your animal in battle.
What really grabbed me about Animal Kaiser was its campiness–here you have two realistic-looking animals (well, apart from the purple lion and the new line of “white knight” albino animals) fighting each other with some of the goofiest-looking attacks and special moves in all sorts of random settings. Think shark vs. vampire bat in the middle of a paved city road, with things like giant hamburgers materializing out of the sky to crush your opponent. Just watching a battle play out is sure to garner a few laughs from anyone who’s never seen it in action (my husband and I are still thoroughly amused by some of the attacks, even after seeing them numerous times).
|Shaun giving it a go!|
Unfortunately, Animal Kaiser is the kind of card-based game that can be easily swayed to your advantage if you’re willing to fork out the money to buy certain rare cards on eBay. Though there is an element of chance involved, and certain card combinations require a little foresight to be effective, there is virtually no way a common animal card like the orangutan will win against the ultra-rare Siegfried card (turquoise tiger–I guess special animals are on a first name basis) when playing a real opponent. I have no idea how rare “ultra-rare” cards are, but suffice it to say that my husband and I have played about 50 games so far and we haven’t seen so much as one gold rare pop out of the machine.
Nevertheless, Animal Kaiser is a fun and addicting arcade game, and is the first game I’ve found since I was living in Japan that has actually made me want to go out of my way to visit an arcade. I highly suggest anyone living in Queensland, Australia to try to get to one of the 3 arcades that has the machines! Sadly, QLD is the only state in Australia that has these machines right now. International readers, you can check the English Animal Kaiser website to see if there is one in your area. I would love to see this game gain more of an Australian following!