TOKYO – A Japanese software maker says it's doing its part to help fight crime — by launching an online game featuring mug shots of Japan's most-wanted fugitives.
However, the country's police aren't so crazy about the game "Slot Detective," which has already been played by more than 100,000 people.
Software designer Famista Inc. said Friday that it introduced the free, slot-machine-style game to publicize photographs of suspects in high-profile murder cases, hoping to tap into Japan's obsession with games to help police catch killers.
The game is like a typical slot machine but with mug shots instead of cherries or lemons. When three of the same mug shot line up, the player wins. The jackpots bring details of the suspect and the crime, as well as how to give tips to police and the amount of any reward offered, company official Takashi Saito said.
"We thought this could be a way to contribute to society. If you play the game, you'll remember their faces," Saito said.
Players can access the online game via computers or mobile phones. Saito said an estimated 100,000 people had accessed the game site within hours of its launch, briefly stalling a server.
The National Police Agency said Friday that while authorities appreciate the sentiment, the game inappropriately uses police property for entertainment and could distress victims.
"The mug shots of the suspects should be used in a more socially acceptable manner," the agency said in a statement.
However, police stopped short of outlawing the game and Saito said he thought it might still help — and would also be a hit.
The only problem so far, he said, is that some users said they were "scared by the fierce look of the murder suspects."
"Pachinko" pinball games and a slot-machine-like variation called "pachi-slot" machines are popular in Japan and are played at tens of thousands of brightly lit and noisy parlors across the country.