Back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Atlus was involved in a venture you wouldn’t expect. The company was a part of the Print Club fad. Though, you might recognize it as Purikura. This was a sensation where you popped into a photo booth, took some pictures, then added frames, words and accents to little pictures that would print out on stickers. (People who played Yakuza Kiwami may remember the Purikura photo booths!) It was a big deal at the time, but do you know how far it really went? Let’s review!
Print Club Machines
The Purikura phenomenon began with Atlus and Sega’s Print Club machines. These were the actual, physical photo booths that appeared in Japan. They were a fixture in arcades and made their debut in 1995. Though, it was not totally unexpected to see these machines appear in other countries. For example, I saw a few of these sorts of machines in arcades and malls in the Chicago area in the early 2000’s.
These were rather typical photo experiences. The most basic ones would have you choose from an assortment of frames, with people able to choose for their pictures. You would take a few pictures, so you had multiple poses. Then, you might have an option to decorate your pictures before printing. The number of frames, decoration options and stickers per sheet would vary, depending on the sort of Print Club machine you had used.
Multiple Print Club machines appeared in Japan. After the original Print Club, Atlus and Sega released Print Club 2 in 1997. This is the one that I saw in the Chicago area, back in the day, and other people might have seen outside of Japan. While Sega and Atlus would release other Print Club machines in the late 1990’s, the most notable was Print Club Pokemon B. This was a machine released in 1999 that included frames and icons inspired by Pokemon.
Purikura Video Games
While Atlus worked with Sega for the real-world photo booths, it handled the virtual ones without Sega’s input. The company has been tied to multiple video games inspired by Purikura. Unfortunately, the best ones were not localized, but at least we can learn about them now!
Atlus’ most interesting photo booth games were the Purikura Pocket line. These are Game Boy titles that were essential life simulations and minigame collections. You would create an avatar in all three of these games. Then, you would go around a virtual world, attempting to unlock new frames and accessories for taking your own pictures of this imaginary character. In the original Purikura Pocket, you can play all unlocked minigames and take photos with things you have earned. In Purikura Pocket 2, there is more of an element of scheduling, since you determine your character’s actions during a week and attempt to raise various stats. Purikura Pocket 3 brings in fame elements, as our avatar will take part in modeling minigames.
Only one Atlus Purikura game has appeared outside of Japan. It released Tobidasu Purikura: Kiradeko Revolution on the 3DS in 2011. This is a straightforward photography application that uses the handheld’s camera and lets people take pictures that they can customize. It was localized and released in other regions in 2012 as Sparkle Snapshots 3D.
Though, if you want to count a photo taking and decorating game Atlus only published, one that is not tied to the official Purikura experience, there is also Photo World. This is a DSi game that allowed you to take pictures, then add stickers and frames to it.
What about Yakuza Kiwami’s Photo Booth?
Okay. So. Atlus has nothing to do with Yakuza Kiwami. However, the Photo Booth activity in the game basically uses the Print Club booths that Atlus and Sega released years ago. This means someone could play the game to see exactly what these machines were like at the height of their popularity.
When Kazuma Kiryu heads into a booth, players get to choose three frames. They also have to take part in a minigame to have Kiryu pose properly. When it is done, he can put the stickers he gets into a sticker book. Also, if you are very lucky, you might even have Goro Majima photobomb it as part of the Majima Everywhere system! Since it is hard to find these photo booths in recent times, at least you can test them out in a game!