Long queues snake around the new arcade machine. Boxes rattle with piles of playing disks. Relentless pounding threatening to break the buttons. Children pull their parents by the hand, hoping for a glimpse of the action. Some adults are even swept into the thrill of it all.
We’re talking about Pokémon Ga-Olé—the latest Pokémon-themed arcade game. Since its debut in Singapore in late 2021, it has attracted the young and young-at-heart. It’s the third generation of such games, following and effectively replacing predecessors Pokémon Tretta and Battrio.
Although Ga-Olé is making waves now, it has been in Japan since 2016. Launches outside the country only began in 2020, starting with China. Hong Kong and Singapore, among others, trailed behind. Regardless, the trend is here to stay.
With how widespread mobile and console games are, the popularity of Pokémon Ga-Olé and other arcade games surprisingly clings on. But why are kids (and some adults) swarming every Ga-Olé machine available? Let’s speculate.
What’s with the Long Queues?
Firstly, love or hate it, the Pokémon franchise is the biggest media property for a reason. Despite what the various discourses on Twitter may say, it’s still massively popular. From plushies to anime, there’s a lot for children to love.
Don’t forget about the sense of community. It isn’t as evident when looking at the grown-up fans but children still have their innocence intact. At various machines, it’s common to see kor kors (‘older brothers’ in Chinese) sharing their good disks with younger newbies. In COVID-times, such a connection is nice to have.
But most importantly, the game itself is addictive. Anyone that walks past the Ga-Olé machines will be hit with a barrage of intense mashing noises. Plus, winning a disk is a great incentive for many.
How to Slay Ga-Olé?
There are three modes, but most play “Get by Battle”. The Pokémon you face will depend on the course that you pick at the start. After the reveal, you’re prompted to use your Pokémon via inserting any disks you have.
The machine will read your Pokémon’s stats and other information through the unique QR codes of every disk. These QR codes can also be used in the Island Scanner of the Pokémon Sun & Moon 3DS games.
Don’t have disks or older brothers around? The game will provide rental Pokémon for you to use.
As the battle starts, get your hands ready because button-mashing is the main mechanic used. It determines the attack order, how much damage is done, and more. If you don’t want to numb hands for nothing, then get the enemies’ health bars to zero before yours faint.
When you faint the opposing Pokémon, you’re allowed to catch them. With a Pokéball-shaped lever, test your reflexes. From a spinning wheel of Pokéballs, you can get the basic yet iconic red and white one to a full-on Master ball. If you catch any of the Pokémon, you can choose to continue or collect its disk.
What are the Best Disks to Have?
Whether you’re winning or buying them, there are some things to note. Every Pokémon has a variety of disks as there’s a one to five grade system—with Grade 5 being the best. From typings to moves and stats, some disks are simply better than the rest.
As it takes a while for set updates, some disks will only be available online. And, depending on your country, the machines’ Pokémon sets will vary. But, for the basic set, Pokémon—like Lucario, Primarina, and Dragonite—are some of the better disks to have, outside of literal legendaries. This is primarily due to their typings that have great resistances and super-effectiveness.
What’s the Future of Ga-Olé?
Like most trends, Pokémon Ga-Olé will likely come and go. When a new generation is announced, a new game will possibly be developed. Eventually, Ga-Olé will be replaced like the previous versions. Regardless, it’s a fun time for everybody. And in these times, that’s all that matters.