Game Center CX Season 12 – Back to Contents
A Glimmering Gold Cartridge! "Dragon Buster"
After a few weeks of rest following the 24-hour special, Arino returns to his post, and for the start of the twelfth season, he’s playing Dragon Buster, Namco’s Famicom port of their arcade game. Arino must take the brave young hero through 12 worlds ("Rounds"), each dotted with dungeons, which are filled with monsters of all kinds. It’s not quite The Tower of Druaga or anything, but it may not be surmountable, either.
Each round has multiple paths leading to the final area, so Arino doesn’t have to go through every level. Round 1 has three levels before the end, and he takes the lower path to a cave. As he enters, he already meets a miniboss in the first room of the cave. After some haphazard attacking, he wins, and earns a Scroll item — that he can’t jump high enough to reach, until several seconds pass and he figures out how to super jump.
Arino breezes through to the boss level, and meets the huge Purple Dragon. Unfortunately, he’s toasted before he even gets a chance to strike, and then it’s already Game Over. He goes back through the motions and engages the dragon a second time, this time using a lantern item he picked up earlier, which sends up a few pillars of flame towards the dragon. Apparently that weakened it enough for Arino to run up and kill it. Good ol’ sweet, fast success.
Round 2 has a few more levels to it. When Arino enters the first one, he points his sword down as he falls to effectively land on the miniboss inside and kill it in one hit. A little bit later and Arino meets a second Purple Dragon. This time he uses an Amulet, which instantly kills the boss and clears Round 2.
In the first level of Round 3, Arino fights a skeleton which he pushes into the miniboss room, and subsequently gets thrashed around. He survives, though, and destroys the boss before the skeleton, funnily enough. But he gets worse as he travels through the cave, getting down to 5 points of life. An enemy appears from the edge of the screen, and Arino immediately pauses. Amazingly, he freezes it with an item and kills it, even though he didn’t mean to. And then he has to face another skeleton that’s very slash-happy. Needless to say, Arino bites it again.
Going back through Round 3, Arino picks up a Compass item that points to where the enemy hiding the exit door is. It definitely helps in the next few stages, and soon, Arino faces the third big boss… another dragon, except this one is orange! Arino has no helpful items by this point, though, so all he can do is slash at the dragon’s neck. But it works!
After Round 3, a short scene plays that sure looks like the ending. The princess approaches the hero, and then.. Round 4 all of a sudden. And Round 4 is insanely large compared to the map of the last few Rounds. Not ot mention, Arino no longer has the Compass. Back to the basics, then, as Arino continues to hack and slash through the mazelike stages.
As Arino rushes through one level, he’s sideswiped by a tiny enemy and killed once again for a Game Over. Around then, AD Emoto comes by and lets Arino in on a level that has a special item. It turns out to be the Super Sword, which lives up to its name by killing enemies in one fell swoop, and bigger bosses in less hits than usual. Not that it necessarily makes the levels any easier, what with some enemies’ unpredictable tricks, but still.
In one level, Arino kills a miniboss and earns a book item. When he checks the manual, he discovers it grants a continue! Finally, a way to ease the suffering! And it’s not long before has to use it, either. Dying and going back to the title screen reveals a new "Continue" option, but it’s not perfect, as it starts Arino at the beginning of the Round.
Nevertheless, Arino gets through the levels and reaches the fourth big boss, the Blue Dragon. Round 5 begins, and its map is also huge — guess he’ll have to get used to it. Arino dies again, continues, and then dies a second time without the book, meaning he’s headed all the way back to Round 1 again.
When he gets back to Round 2, AD Emoto returns and gives Arino a stack of hand-drawn maps for each of the Rounds, showing the best paths to take, as well as maps for the levels within that show item locations. Arino’s quite grateful, then goes ahead and puts the map for Round 5 up on the whiteboard.
Fully stocked with a continue and the Super Sword, among others, Arino makes it to the Round 5 boss and handily defeats it. Round 6 goes by just as quickly. Round 7, however, is only one level long, which is curious. As he explores, Arino runs into a little enemy that leaps up at him and steals the Super Sword! That’s no good, but thanks to Emoto’s map, Arino gets another Super Sword and finishes the level.
Round 8 starts off okay, but once again, Arino meets the little thief monster and has the Super Sword stolen. But this time, he can’t get another one on this level. He dies and continues, again with the Sword, and is now more acclimated to the speed of the thief monster and deftly destroys it whenever it runs by. Arino makes it to the boss of Round 8, but is once again killed.
Then he has the Sword stolen again, and the bad luck piles on, with multiple deaths and Game Overs. The whole Round 8 "saga" has now taken over 90 minutes. Finally, he defeats the boss dragon and continues to Round 9.
Unfortunately, more pain is in order, and Arino is walloped early on by assholish wizards. He loses his continue, and has one last chance at Round 9 before he loses it all again. He retrieves the Super Sword, but his health is dropping in chunks as he rushes through levels. Another enemy kills him, and then the familiar visage of Round 1 appears once more. Six hours have gone by at this point, and it takes another two to get back to Round 9.
A stroke of luck enables Arino to get through to the end, beat the dragon, and similarly blaze through Round 10. This time, the boss dragon uses homing fireballs, making for a much hairier battle, but Arino perseveres, to the delight of him and everyone else.
Round 11 is another long grind, but here, patience makes perfect. Unfortunately, Arino only has 7 HP when he gets through half of a level, so he dies soon after and restarts the Round. He gets back to the level, but only gets a little bit further before the Super Sword is stolen again, and then again right before a miniboss room which also takes Arino down to 1 HP. There’s no way he’s coming out of that alive.
Another two hours pass in the journey back to Round 11. In one level, he acquires an Ultra Super Sword, which is quite a boon, as it hits enemies for 50 points of damage — pretty much guaranteed one-hit kills. Arino’s spirits are high as he makes it to the boss, blasts it with fireballs, and fells the demon.
The final Round awaits, but wait, there’s no map for it from Emoto! Arino gets up out of his chair and walks into the office to find Emoto sitting there, scrambling to finish drawing the final maps.
Round 12 is massive, but Arino now has the maps, not to mention the Ultra Super Sword, so it’s more or less a breeze. Wizards fall at the drop of a hat, and Arino scrapes by the last level with just 50 HP. But that’s not really enough to face the final Purple Dragon, is it?
Arino blasts the dragon with magic as he sits in the corner, but just as he’s ready to deliver the final blow(s), he’s killed and must continue. His next attempt ends the same way, and now things are getting a little sour.
On the third attempt, Arino uses the same techniques, but gets down to just 12 HP. He goes kamikaze, jumping in and slashing at the dragon with the Ultra Sword. Well, that seems to be enough, as Arino defeats the dragon and receives a round of applause. And as for the ingame hero, he saves the true princess and, of course, saves the land.
Tokyo Game Show 2009
Arino’s presence at Tokyo’s yearly trade show was limited to the role of host for an onstage talk show with some game creators, as well as visiting the GCCX merchandise booth. There, he checks out some of the GCCX cell phone games, and his regular deliverance to the fans crowded around the booth.
A Waste of Color
For the first edition of this new segment, Kibe-san comes in to give Arino a bag full of Game Boy games for the kacho to pick through. His first choice is Super Mario Land. Kibe then hands Arino a Super Game Boy to try it out on.
After that is Bomber Boy, Hudson’s first Bomberman game for Game Boy. Arino mostly does okay on the first stage, but the tricky ice blocks in the stage (you have to bomb them multiple times so they’ll melt) throw him off and kill him.
The final game is Heiankyo Alien, an updated version of the ancient arcade game where you dig pits to trap aliens who have invaded feudal Japan. Arino chooses that one to draw a picture of.
Game Collections: 1989: December