I wasted around 3,896 on this stupid Japanese crane game app and learned nothing

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Someone else who managed to get Yeast Ken.

It all started as all pride stories do: with Yeast Ken, a Japanese stuffed animal who’s a dog and also a loaf of bread, and recently went viral on Twitter.

As someone easily captivated by all things Shiba Inus, and having recently been told by my significant other that “if you don’t get it for me, we’re done,” I began the search to acquire my own. Yeast Ken of the McKay family.

A few minutes later, I found out that Yeast Ken appears to be mostly available through Crane Game Toreba, a micropayment-based mobile game in which players remotely control a carnival-style claw machine to collect prizes. Yeast Ken’s Promise and the five free games offered to new users make it easy to get lured into Toreba’s clutches, especially if you’re stupid enough to believe that it is possible to acquire Yeast Ken in five free games.

And that’s how my fall began.

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Screenshot: Toreba Crane game

Here’s how it works: Users use the Yen to purchase an in-app currency called “Toreba Points” (TP). The exchange rate on this is horrible: 540 for 5,000 TP. By using exorbitant amounts of these Toreba points – thousands per spin – you can reserve the use of a real app-controlled claw machine, in which it’s virtually impossible to do anything other than push the price towards the chute drop at a speed of about one millimeter for two dollars (¥ 221). Crane Game Toreba creates an artificial sense of urgency by allowing users to reserve the same machine and thus compete for the prize.

If you actually win (which you won’t), Toreba says he will cover the shipping costs and send the prize to your doorstep. In other words, this is a brilliant machine from Rube Goldberg designed to empty wallets from suction cups and YouTubers. Luckily for the operators of Crane Game Toreba, I am a huge jerk who is effortlessly manipulated into pouring small amounts of money toward the eventual acquisition of a fleeting prize. Worse yet, I couldn’t even locate Yeast Ken in the app. Instead, I consoled myself with the pursuit of a Rilakkuma pillow which, as I racked up loads of TP, repeatedly informed me through friends that I could have simply bought on eBay.

Over $ 20, what I was really looking for at this point was not a pillow, but the victory over what I now perceived to be the corrupted Crane Game Toreba system – and so my descent into madness continued. As the bills went up I became convinced that the crane was actually pushing the pillow closer to the chute.

I knew I had to secure the plush even at the risk of being labeled an otaku. Here’s how my progress went:

Image of article titled I wasted around 3,896 on this stupid Japanese crane game app and learned nothing

Screenshot: Toreba Crane game

Image of article titled I wasted around 3,896 on this stupid Japanese crane game app and learned nothing

Screenshot: Toreba Crane game

Image of article titled I wasted around 3,896 on this stupid Japanese crane game app and learned nothing

Screenshot: Toreba Crane game

“They’re all the same photo,” observed a colleague from Gizmodo. “Any perceived movement is clearly the result of application-induced psychosis.”

This continued for a while.

Eventually, a stranger who deserved my eternal wrath – maybe one of the aforementioned YouTubers or a man inside Crane Game Toreba himself – booked the machine while I bought some more TP and got splurged dozens of rounds of credits, beat me to the fists and get the prize. It ultimately broke Toreba’s grim hold on my brain and also made me really angry.

Image of article titled I wasted around 3,896 on this stupid Japanese crane game app and learned nothing

Screenshot: Toreba Crane game

Image of article titled I wasted around 3,896 on this stupid Japanese crane game app and learned nothing

Screenshot: Toreba Crane game

Then I checked Paypal and got pissed off.

GO, TOM

GO, TOM
Screenshot: Pay Pal

Let this be an edifying tale: the road to hell is paved with micropayments. This does not lead to Yeast Ken.

Now I could absolve me of any wrongdoing in this matter and instead blame Yeast Ken or Crane Game Toreba. And I do, because this experience taught me absolutely nothing at all.


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