“Game Center CX” Review
by William “Blissey” Raymer
The series follows the “Kachou,” or deputy chief, of a fictional company as he plays hard old-school video games. For each game, the Kachou must accomplish a certain task, which varies from game to game.
Protagonist-The Kachou, Arino Shinya. He has a problem with playing shooting games such as “Galaga” and “Gradius.”
Allies-The assistant directors, hereafter referred to as “ADs,” whom Arino calls upon to assist him in accomplishing his tasks. The AD changes from season to season.
Villains-The games Arino plays. They are the most difficult video games ever developed, whether through level design, control schemes or Arino's own ability—or lack thereof.
“Kachou On!”-Arino says this when he turns on a video game console to begin his challenge.
“ending footage”-the final scene in a game. Most often used when the goal of Arino's challenge is to simply beat the game (i.e. “Of course, my goal is this game's ending footage.”)
Show Special Features:
In addition to “Arino's Challenges,” there are a number of other segments that vary from season to season. Since this review, by regulations, only covers episodes subbed by TV-Nihon, I cannot review any segments that do not appear in these episodes.
“Tama-ge,” short for “You should go to this game center sometime,” has Arino visiting various arcades in order to partake in some of the old-school arcade machines. Sometimes, Arino wins prizes from crane games and similar machines that he gives away in a lottery to viewers at home.
“Collection” features brief looks at a collection of games based on a single topic, such as games produced by a particular company, games released in a particular year, “talent games” (games based on a famous celebrity, such as the first game ever challenged on the show, Takeshi no Chosenjou [Takeshi's Challenge]) or games for a specific console.
Sometimes, if a featured game in “Collection” has a notable cheat code, a separate segment called “Urawaza” (or “Secret Move”) begins, showing how to activate the code and its effects.
“I want to meet this person” has Arino interviewing various luminaries in the gaming industry. This can vary from noted game designers such as Hideo Kojima (creator of the Metal Gear franchise) to Kuboken, a man who owns virtually every Famicom (Family Computer, or the Japanese Nintendo Entertainment System) cartridge ever created.
“Urawaza (Secret Move) Jetstream” has Arino going into a recording studio to read fan's letters on their favorite cheat codes/secrets and then execute them himself.
“Can't Ignore It-Game And Watch” has Arino playing old—yet expensive—Game And Watch ( early '80s Nintendo hand-held games) games.
“Game Version Project” focused on the creation of a Nintendo DS video game based on the show, entitled “Game Center CX-Arino's Challenge.” (The game was released in the United States under the title “Retro Game Challenge.”)In this segment, Arino would visit the company that developed the game in Japan (Bandai Namco Games) and suggest ideas for the game.
On occasion, special episodes are produced, such as the “Northmost Tip Game Journal,” in which Arino traveled to the island of Hokkaido in order to find the northern-most game center in Japan, or the “Hot Springs Game Journal,” in which Arino travels to various hot spring inns to find games.
Also, special “Arino's Challenges” have been created exclusively for the show's “best-of” DVD box sets, such as Arino challenging the Famicom game Transformers: Comvoy no Nazo (“Transformers: Mystery of Convoy”).
Trivia (Translator's notes):
“Kachou” (Arino's title on the show) translates as “section chief.” This means that Arino is the leader of his division within the fictional “Game Center CX” company. The suffix “-dairi” used in some episodes translates as “Acting.” So, the full title “Kachou-dairi” translates as “Acting Section Chief.”
“Urawaza” translates as “Special Technique” or “Special Move.” The word is used here to mean a cheat code or a special move that can help the player during game play, such as the infamous “Konami Kommand” (a/k/a the “Contra Code”).
Reasons to watch:
The main appeal in watching “Game Center CX” is in watching Arino's performance (or lack thereof) in playing these difficult games from the past. Every time Arino dies, his reactions tell the story. These, combined with every little success he has makes the challenge segments entertaining to watch.
The non-challenge segments have their appeal too. The Tama-ge segments allow us Western viewers a chance to see some of the weirdest games ever created. And again, the reactions of Arino whenever he wins (or more often, loses) these games adds to the appeal of the show.
Also, getting to see the legends behind some of these games (“I want to meet this person”) allows us to understand the thinking behind the legends of our pastime.
All in all, I believe that if Fuji Television (the network airing the show in Japan) is able to license “Game Center CX” outside of Japan, then they'll have the biggest Japanese TV show to hit America since “Iron Chef.”
William “Blissey” Raymer
Yuma, Arizona USA
18 July 2009
Read and write spoiler-free reviews of TN shows
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