Animal Kaiser

Emerging Technologies and Edtech June 19, 2014

Country of Origin: Japan
Languages: Japanese (also Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, other Asian). 
Possibly English (unclear)
Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA
Year Published: 2009
Platforms: Arcade kiosk
Genre: Arcade CCG
Age Range: Teen
Subject: Science

Animal Kaiser is an example of a whole genre of games popular in Japan that are coin-operated cabinets placed in public areas such as arcades or convenience stores. Targeted at young children, the basic play of these games combines a collection mechanic (players collect cards or figurines) and stylized animated battles, which are actually straightforward rock/paper/scissors gameplay. The user input is traditionally three large, colored buttons.

The collectible items are used with the coin-op cabinets via either optical or RFID scanners that bring the players’ characters to life in the game. In the case ofAnimal Kaiser, the collectibles are fantasy animals on collectible playing cards, which carry characteristics of real animals, such as their nation of origin, and some characteristic in common with the animal (e.g. lions have strong “claws” attacks). Dinosaurs and completely fantastic animals are also part of the game.

As players form “teams” of three animals, much of the strategy of the game is to create a team that has the best possible chances of winning in a battle against the computer. These strategy combinations are relatively deep, and there is a comic published in Japan for teens to get information about stronger combinations.

Information about the animals is linked to National Geographic Kids (Japan), which appears to be mostly a branding partnership. The game is updated seasonally with new cards for teens to purchase, and software updates to correspond.

There is some learning content in Animal Kaiser around the characteristics of the animals, but this is confounded to a degree by the fantastical nature of many of the creatures. The strategy of learning to combine the animals into a winning team however represents complex thinking for a relatively young audience.