April 10th, 2007 | Feature
The Game Center CX Episode Guide
The front-to-back tribute to the Japanese TV show that flies in the face of Nintendo's epilepsy warnings.

 

Game Center CX Special – Back to Contents
Arino’s "Takeshi’s Challenge" Challenge

Days before the premiere of season 11, Game Center CX celebrated the occasion with an all-new live broadcast special. After the incredible nine-hour Christmas show two years ago, this one is a little more low-key, and features a game that Arino’s played before: Takeshi no Chousenjou, the infamous Famicom game that was featured in the very first episode of GCCX almost six years ago.

After greeting the audience, Arino starts by meeting Kibe-kun in the "fax room," the large hallway that will likely be covered in faxes by the end of the show. When he gets back to the desk, he sees the whiteboard’s been filed in with the planned lineup for the show, including some archived segments if there’s time. Although the last live show went six hours over schedule, this one has to be strictly two hours, no matter how Arino does.

And then, it’s time to begin. The narrator chimes in and gives Arino his mission. A short recap to that very first episode is shown — can Arino complete Takeshi no Chousenjou again in less than two hours?! He picks up the game’s box, and slowly removes the cartridge, inserts it into the system, and — bing! — The challenge begins.

The game starts off with Arino’s salaryman protagonist entering his boss’ office. The game’s plot involves the salaryman leaving his life behind to go seek buried treasure in faraway lands. He’s given a stack of cash as a bonus, but after Arino collects it, he doesn’t know what to do next. But then he remembers that flashback clip a minute ago, and tries punching the boss. The boss moves into the desk a little, but that’s about it. Arino bumps and jumps around the room, but still nothing. Finally he moves into the next room, then back into the boss’ office, where he’s back in his seat and Arino can now ask him questions about what to do. Unfortunately, Arino asks the boss the wrong thing, and the cops are called in. Arino tries to punch his way out, leaves the room, then goes back, where again, everything resets. This time, he asks the right thing, and gets another wad of cash. Seems he has at least a faint idea of what to do so far.

Properly loaded with cash, Arino heads into the game’s town. First stop: Club Akemi, the bar. Arino orders a brandy, which is only 250,000 yen! After that, he heads next door into the karaoke club, and again gulps down a few drinks. After getting a few in him, he walks over to the karaoke mic, but he can’t sing yet — he just has to get drunk. After guzzling a few glasses of water (?!), he moves on to scotch, but all that does is summon another clingy hostess. He tries the last drink, and after a few more gulps, the screen darkens. Blackout!

The scene shifts to the salaryman’s home, where his wife and child attack him. A menu pops up, but here, Arino’s interrupted by the narrator. He tells the kacho to look under the desk for a "present." Enclosed in a bag that’s taped under the desk is the Takeshi no Chousenjou strategy guide! Arino yanks it off and has a look. After getting a hint, he goes back to the game. He chooses to have a divorce, but refuses to pay the wife any money, so he just get hell out of there and continues on through town.

Arino heads back to the karaoke bar and chugs a few more drinks. After going in and out, not getting the desired result, he finally gets enough scotch in him to get an offer to sing on the mic. At the mic, Arino must choose the right song to sing to move forward. He tries to find the right one, but the bar isn’t letting him — they prefer enka music. He goes to the enka category and chooses the "winning" song. It starts, but it takes Arino a moment to remember has to actually sing into the second controller’s microphone.

After one terribly inaccurate vocalization, the bar says Arino actually did well, and he’s offered to sing again, and so he does. He has to sing the song correctly three more times. The second time is louder and ever so slightly more in tune, and he nails it again! Unfortunately, he fails the third time and is forced to start over. So close!

By now Arino doesn’t even have to look at the lyrics, so he concentrates on a more soulful performance. But again he fails on the third time. The narrator interrupts Arino again and offers the support of the one man who can get Arino through the karaoke section: AD (now AP) Nakayama. And with him, an extra bit of support in former AD Inoue, a.k.a. Inoko MAX. Arino points out that they both happen to be wearing musician shirts. "Inoue, you’re a good singer?" Arino asks. Inoue gives a curt yet over-confident response. He also shares his Beat Takeshi impression, which seems to be part "old man" voice, part Tourette’s spasm.

Anyway, Nakayama has Arino go back to the bar, where the AP will sing for him. A different song is chosen, and Nakayama hurriedly sings it. He fails halfway through, much to Arino’s amusement. Inoue is up next, and he sings another song with great inflection, but it doesn’t exactly match the melody, and he fails too. Now it’s just getting silly.

Arino cues up the proper enka song, and has Nakayama go for it. His touching rendition makes the grade. And for the next try, Arino offers the mic to Inoue, with some hesitation. But the young AP goes for it, and after another totally overdone performance, he passes! The third and final try is left up to Arino. He takes after Inoue, giving an even more overdone homage to the AD’s performance. And after a pregnant pause, he finally passes!

Now he must choose to start a bar fight, and knock out everyone inside, including the oncoming gangsters and the hostesses. But he’s not paying attention to his life bar, and he dies! The game ends abruptly. The narrator cues up an instant replay for Arino, but it’s actually a clip of one of his failing tries in Quest of Ki. Very funny, guys.

After continuing, Arino heads back to the karaoke bar, and has his trusted crooners do their job. Inoue goes for some sort of ’70s pop flavor this time, and Arino yells out another rendition filled with love. The bar fight begins again, and the way to success is to have Arino just duck in one spot and punch the gangsters as they walk in. After a few are killed, an old man walks in. He gives Arino an ancient treasure map, but it’s a blank parchment so far.

To reveal the map, Arino must either "expose it to sunlight" (wait an hour) or "soak it in water" (wait ~5 minutes). He chooses to expose it to sunlight, which of course will take a real-world hour to complete without touching the controller. But we don’t have that much time! The narrator suggests that Arino visits the fax room in the interim. And off we go!

After 45 minutes, the fax wall is filling up nicely. One fan’s fax asks for a GCCX movie, and another wants Arino to tackle an RPG on the show sometime. Before leaving, Arino gets a fax from a kid who writes "Kai, do it!" Just like the fan from last time. Arino scolds him for his attempt to be clever, then walks back to the challenge room.

The good news is Arino doesn’t have to waste an hour waiting for the game — Nakayama has a backup plan, which in this case, is a second Famicom with another copy of Takeshi no Chousenjou that’s paused right at the point where the map appears. Arino almost screws up the other copy by grabbing the wrong controller, but Nakayama stops him, and the correct system is used. He returns to the bar, and this time, he has to knock out the old man before he can continue.

After the bar is "cleaned," Arino sits down for some more drinks. He blacks out again, and returns to the apartment. This time, he gives the wife the money after choosing divorce, then heads back outside. Unfortunately he’s down to his last sliver of life, and is defeated when trying to escape from a gangster — Game Over again. But not to fear, for Nakayama has another failsafe: a password that will get Arino back to where he left off! It just takes a couple minutes to slowly input the password. The first hour ends.

Well, it’s not exactly where he left off: He still has to get drunk and divorce the wife again. After that, he goes back outside to be knocked out by a gangster again. Just then, Inoue passes Arino a fax from a fan that reveals the game’s instant continue trick, where Arino can instantly revive himself after being killed. Anyway, back to entering the password… Inoue helps pass time by doing his spastic Takeshi impression again. Back in the game, Arino deliberately gets killed by an enemy, then immediately inputs the continue trick. Voila! He’s back on his feet with full health! He tries it again for practice, and then it’s back through the divorce procedure. Now, Arino has to quit his job, so it’s back to visiting the boss and resigning. He gets another wad of cash as severance, then finds another in the potted plant in the entryway.

Next on the to-do list is to go the bank and close his account. That gets him even more money and then it’s on to the Culture Club to learn some skills for traveling, including learning the "Hintoba" language, taking a hang gliding course, and learning how to play the shamisen. With that bought and paid for, Arino heads to the pachinko parlor. He sits down at a machine and starts playing.

The trick here is to use up all the pachinko balls you paid for (you must buy 100), then just before launching the last one, shout into the microphone — the point being to summon a gangster who gets pissed at your yelling. As Arino shoots balls, Inoue is at the mic ready to shout. But they keep failing multiple times — even Inoue yelling in a Takeshi voice isn’t working! Well, on about the fourth try, it does work: a gangster says "shut up, asshole!" and a throng of them enter the parlor. Arino has to kill at least one of them before winning. He’s given 5000 pachinko balls as a mercy payment, and then redeems them at the prize counter for a shamisen.

Now to head for the airport! Arino walks down there and heads to the South Pacific. We see the plane take off and fly across the ocean accompanied by a jaunty tune, and then Arino enters the airport on the other side of the world. Now he must go to the local bank and exchange his money. After that’s done, he heads to the hotel gift shop to purchase an embroidery set.

Next is the "EQUIPMENT" store, where Arino must buy a canteen and a gun. And as one last errand, Arino must go to the hotel and rest up, which restores his life. Now, finally, he can go off and hang glide to the mysterious treasure island. He heads to the Resort Club and chooses the hang gliding course. Just then, Nakayama interrupts, and tells Arino that the next section is especially treacherous, mostly because the hang glider can’t move up, so he’ll have to be extra careful in dodging enemies. (Gusts of wind can raise Arino up when he flies into them, but they can also be inexplicably shot down.)

Arino takes to the skies, and Nakayama tries to coach him through it. Unfortunately, he dies within seconds. Blank stare. Nakayama pulls out the password sheet again…

Meanwhile, Arino meets with Kibe again to partake in a late dinner. Like on the lastlive special, president Ishikawa of Bandai Namco games sent over two large sushi platters, with the face of Ultraman fabricated in rice and fish in the center (because of Bandai, you see). There’s also time for some news updates, including a GCCX home page for cell phones (including a camerman Abe-themed minigame) and places where you could catch the "Space Invaders CX" game. Related to that, Kibe gives a copy of the Space Invaders arcade unit for Arino to sign as a future giveaway prize. After that, it’s back to the challenge room to attempt the hang glider again.

Arino jumps right into it, and lasts a little longer than last time, but flies right into the first bird enemy he sees. It’s password time already! Nakayama hurriedly puts it in. It takes Arino back to the island, but all he has to do is take the (long) walk back to the Resort Center.

The third attempt is a bit better. Arino finally starts shooting down the birds, and survives longer. The point of the hang gliding is to pass by four islands before reaching the one you need to (crash-)land at, but by the time the first one appears, Arino runs into a bird again. He puts on a cold pad as Nakayama re-enters the password. Attempt #4 ends as quickly as the first one. #5 begins with 20 minutes left in the broadcast, but also ends within seconds. More downtime follows, and then it’s on to try number six, which is another short session.

The narrator comes in again. A decision has been made to extend the broadcast! Arino will now have an extra three minutes to play! I… oh. Well, take what you can get, I guess. On the next attempt, Arino makes several very close calls, and gets to the first island! … And then dies immediately once again. A pattern is emerging. After the eighth attempt and death, the music becomes more suspenseful as Arino reads the password back to Nakayama. The ninth attempt, as you might guess, doesn’t end well, either.

Arino has 10 minutes left as he begins try number 10. Amazingly, he makes it past the first island! He tries his best to hang back and shoot birds from afar, and before long he makes it to the second island! The tension rockets, but, it’s too much — Arino crashes into a bird just as he flies over the top of the second island.

Five minutes left. Can he do it this time? Unfortunately, no — once again, Arino dies just as the first island comes into sight. Time is ticking fast, but at this point, it’ll be a miracle if Arino sees the third island. The 12th attempt is another false start. Nakayama rushes through the password screen, and Arino tries to rush back to the Resort Center.

With less than two minutes to go, this will have to be the final attempt. The pressure is really on, and Arino seems impatient as he tries shooting everything that moves. But once again, he’s just not been doing it enough to get the hang of it (pun not intended). A bird hits him before the first island once more, and there’s just no time left to even put in the password. The narrator breaks the bad news: the live show is over.

Arino vainly tries to put in the password himself, but Kibe and AD Tojima come in to join the crowd. Kibe shows off a few more faxes, and then it’s time for the credits roll — literally! But what about the challenge? Arino says he’ll try to finish Takeshi no Chousenjou some other time. So be it.

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