Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Nintendo Magic Roulette (マジック ルーレット, ca 1966)

In the 1960s and 70s, Nintendo released many different Roulette sets.

Some of the many Roulette sets released by Nintendo

Most of these were traditional roulette games, with a standard spinning wheel and a single white ball.

Besides these, Nintendo also designed a couple of original games that are more loosely based on roulette. One example of this is Magic Roulette, shown here.

Nintendo Magic Roulette (ca 1966)

Nintendo aimed these games at an adult audience.

The picture on the front of the box shows a group of (Western) people in evening dress, smoking and drinking cocktails. Clearly a sophisticated bunch of folks. At the center of the party is the roulette game.

Magic Roulette (マジック ルーレット) cost ¥1.000 and was released around 1966.

The box art uses the 'grey band' design, which was a common style for Nintendo at the time. The first and last character of the katakana name on the side are red and black, a clear nod to the two colors one can bet on in a roulette game.

The Magic Roulette set contains a plastic playing field, an assortment of playing chips in various colours denoting different values, a bag with metal ball bearings and the roulette itself.

Instead of the 37 or 38 numbers that you find in regular roulette, in Magic Roulette a total of forty different card symbols is used, from 1 ('ace') up to 10 for each of the card suits.

And instead of a single ball, five balls are spun at the same time. With the five balls, five card values will be picked at random by the Magic Roulette, simliar to a draw in five-card poker.

The manual shows the five balls used in Magic Roulette

Players place chips on one or more of the various areas on the playing field representing the betting options. When they are finished, the five metal balls are put in the middle of the Magic Roulette and the plunger that extends from the front is pulled and released.

At this point the magic starts. The metal balls start swirling in wild patterns until they, one by one, drop into a hole in front of one the card symbols.

Take a look at the video below to see the Magic Roulette in action.

Seeing the balls fly around until they suddenly drop into a hole is a lot more fun than the spinning of a regular roulette. There is a clever mechanism at work here, involving magnets.

As you may have noted, when recording this video I got a bit overexcited, and started with a total of seven balls instead of the regular five.

Depending on where the balls end up in the roulette, winners and losers are announced and winnings paid out according to the bets placed.

This continues until somebody breaks the bank, or until it is time for another Martini.

Magic Roulette and sister game Extra 4

Some six years of the release of Magic Roulette, Nintendo released a second game based on the same principle, called Extra 4.


  1. My interest in playing casino games started here. This post is very nostalgic. Thanks for sharing it!


    1. You are welcome Joseph. Good to hear you like it!

  2. Sooo retrooo. Love this game's. Use to play in childhood.

  3. I recently found the Gold Nugget roulette complete at a local flee market, as a retro video game collector, it awesome owning an early Nintendo item before the video game era..Thanks for the blog,lot's of great info..