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Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Look Back to the Poker Ladies of Mitchell Corp.

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - ...No, contrary to your belief, I haven't played every strip poker game out there.

Talking about the women of the 2009 WiiWare game Sexy Poker three years ago made for a great Women's History Month article. In 2018, let's talk about some even more obscure poker-playing ladies. I'm talking about the 1989 arcade game, Poker Ladies, from the now-defunct Mitchell Corp. (They were also responsible for developing Tokyo Crash Mobs for the 3DS, another female-centric game.)

In many respects that I will get to in this article, Poker Ladies is the predecessor to Sexy Poker. Interestingly, the user interface is better, at least according to this Let's Play that I won't embed because it's NSFW (not safe for work).  (I'm citing a Let's Play because, I haven't, you know, played it.) Still, I guess I can provide some pictures.

Poker Ladies gameplay MAME arcade emulator Mitchell Corp straight lipstick
The user interface of Poker Ladies.
I'll be referring to this screenshot throughout the next two paragraphs, so study it well.

What ends up happening in Poker Ladies is that there are different “steps”, which refer to how many clothes a woman has on her. The ladies actually end up becoming naked by “3 Step”, unlike Sexy Poker where they just get close to naked. You need a certain point threshold, as dictated by the handy-dandy points chart on the centre-top of the playing field (which abbreviates poker hands you can have, like RF is Royal Flush and TK is Three of a Kind). The stages refer to there being nine women, and each stage is a different woman. Your score count stays with you as you progress through the stages, so it's really one continuous game.

In Sexy Poker you're playing on a money basis — you and your opponent each have a certain amount of money, and the woman sells her clothes when she gets bankrupt, so then she can continue to play until she doesn't have anything more she can pawn off. You lose when you run out of virtual money. Compare to Poker Ladies, which is an arcade game, so there are real quarters at stake. Observe the phrase “MAXIMUM 2 HANDS” in the above screenshot. That counts down. When you lose the hand to your opponent, that number is subtracted by one. When you get to zero, you need to put another quarter in to keep playing, but your accumulated score stays the same. I think that's pretty genius, from a quarter-munching perspective. It backs up my implied stance that arcade games were the parent to today's free-to-play micro-transactions.

Poker Ladies the Orient Mitchell Corp Arcade Asian women
“9 ladies from The Orient will play the game with you.
They are all absolutely gorgeous. Believe me!”

I think Poker Ladies shows just how far women have come if you track it to Sexy Poker. In Poker Ladies, everyone is Oriental. They briefly mention the women's names at the start of the round, and then you just see their picture for the actual gameplay. In Sexy Poker, the six women are of many races...except blacks, and progress on that is still waiting to this day — hence KoopaTV this year once again doing nothing for Black History Month, and proving Black Ninja Koopa's point. It's that progressive notion, “DIVERSITY IS OUR STRENGTH”, at play. You're constantly shown the woman's name in Sexy Poker, along with her unique personality shown in their unique dialogue and catchy, unique music. In Poker Ladies, every woman has the same spoken dialogue (and voice actor), and the only differentiation between them is how they pose while naked.

Unlike the trail-blazing, strong, independent women of Sexy Poker, it's clear to me that the women of Poker Ladies are probably playing against their will for some sick mastermind's end. The women aren't even allowed to play full poker games with you, just up to whatever point value they have. Then they're stripped and discarded for the next woman. In Sexy Poker, you can play full poker games (AND blackjack!) with anyone you want at any time, provided you have unlocked them. There is nothing more feminist than treating women as individuals.

20 years of hard-fought progress made that happen. Let's keep it up with a really forward-looking strip poker game made in THIS decade! (If there are any that KoopaTV should write about for Women's History Month next year, let us know in the comments!)

Women are advancing in many ways outside of the poker perspective. Ludwig just may or may not be obsessed with this genre. (If you ask him, he'll deny any sort of obsession.) They're even appearing as protagonists in games, like Varya in Soviet Missile Run which you can play on KoopaTV for free from your browser!

However, if you wanted to play Sexy Poker and don't already own it, then you may be out of luck since you can no longer add Wii Points to the Wii Shop Channel as of a few days ago.


  1. Throwing Grace from Tokyo Crash Mobs is as progressive as female protagonists come. She's so empowered that while other video game protagonists are killing people in the name of self-defense, she's killing people just so she can be first in line to the mall!

  2. After using up the words like ‘Historical’, ‘ground breaking’ and ‘inaugural’, the fact that the reports were on a series of anonymous screen names began to sink in.

  3. Good article. I'm dealing with some of these issues as well..


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