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 Season 15 – Back to Contents
#130
"Saint Seiya: Ougon Densetsu"

Chousen

Can you believe it’s been two seasons since Arino last played an anime game on GCCX? Well, you better reset the timer, because it’s time to challenge Saint Seiya: Ougon Densetsu, the first Famicom game based on the popular manga/anime Saint Seiya (a.k.a. Knights of the Zodiac). It’s a regular action game with some RPG elements (because every Famicom game after Dragon Quest had to), and loosely follows some plotlines from the manga.

Arino switches it on, and after starting, is presented with a screen asking for his birthday. This is "Knights of the Zodiac," after all, but one’s birthday also determines their stat distribution between the AP, MP, DP, HP, AS, CP, and JP points. After that, the game starts, with Arino playing as regular kid Seiya. Soon, he’s greeted by Marin, Seiya’s mentor. A short saparring match begins, and Arino is surprised as the screen changes to an RPG view. After decding on an attack command, Arino can tweak how many "cosmo" points he wants to put into it. He can choose from AP (attack power), DP (defense power), MP (move power; speed) or HP (heart power). Given that he just started, he absent-mindedly doesn’t use any.

Marin starts beating on him, and even though Arino figures out how to use the cosmo points, he’s soon defeated. Rather than dying, though, he wakes up at Marin’s abode, then heads back to the first stage. Back to the fight Marin, much to Arino’s dismay. This time, Arino uses up all his points in every power stat, and then with aflurry of punches, Seiya knocks down Marin. The game instantly flips back to the action stage, and Arino walks forward to meet Cassios, his next opponent, being observed by a woman who Arino thinks looks like Princess Tenko. The next fight begins.

Arino once again uses up all his points for his first turn and wallops Cassios in no time. His reward is the Pegasus Cloth, a piece of legendary armor needed to complete the game. But then it seems he can’t escape this area! After rubbing up against the walls for a few minutes, he presses Select, which brings up a menu that will help him along. He chooses the "Cloth" menu, which transforms Seiya into his Saint form, and suddenly, enemies swarm! He ends up defeated.

Arino restarts in the local hospital, and and can now explore Tokyo (sounds like Grand Theft Auto, though Arino likens it to Takeshi no Chousenjou).He wanders aimlessly, eventually heading back to where he began. There, he presses Up, and suddenly he’s where he needs to be: inside his own house (even though he was there at the beginning). After getting some exposition from Saori, his sort-of-adoptive non-sister, he heads back outside, and figures out how to move around town. Eventually he jumps to a colosseum, which is where the next plot point begins: the beginning of the one-on-one fights that make up part of the series "Galaxian Wars" arc.

The first fight begins, and Arino once again throws all his points into the mix. Unfortunately, the opponent — a green Saint-like warrior — wastes him in one turn. After starting that over, Arino is walloped again, but is left with one Damage point left ("Damage" is a misnomer for health). He uses it for a super attack, and wins! The only problem is he goes right into the next battle with the same damage rating. However, he’s free to leave, for some reason, so he heads back into town, gets healed, and jumps back into the thick of it. This game doesn’t seemvery, uh, faithful.

The second guy doesn’t kill Arino quite as quickly, but he eventually does! Arino gets wasted in about three turns. He goes through a couple more attempts, and finally wins on the third. Again he goes back to the hospital and returns to the colosseum, and does better with the next opponent, winning the entire tournament.

He heads back to the city and faces Black Phoenix, the Black Saint. Arino’s killed immediately, restarts, then dies as plainclothes Seiya from a rogue enemy. He goes back to hitting the streets, this time in full Saint getup, and levels up by repeatedly whacking on enemies and then going back to the hospital. That seems to do the trick, as he then goes back to Black Saint and defeats him in very few turns.

Arino goes back home and gets a hint of where to go next from Saori. After idly wondering how to prepare for the next fight, he checks the manual and learns about the game’s power sub-menu, where you can use earned experience points to upgrade the power stats however you wish! This is the key way Arino can win. On top of that, you can turn Damage points into Cosmo points so you can further power-up your attacks. Arino does that, then goes to the hospital, heals, and puts in all the Cosmo points he can.

Onto the next area: a creepy cave. Arino walks around, but suddenly reaches an area where he constantly falls into false floors that lead into pits he has to climb out of (shades of the E.T. game on Atari 2600…).The pits also drain his Damage, so after falling through a few, he eventually dies.

He heads back to the cave and gets close to another fight with Black Phoenix.. He pauses and spends some more experience points, makes sure to transform into Saint mode, but still gets beaten easily, mostly because of having low health when he got there. Another try earns him victory, but the cave continues to stretch on, including those stupid pits. Arino collapses in one of the pits once more.

The exploration continues, and he reaches another boss, Black Dragon. With over 100 Cosmo points, Arino knocks him down with one attack. After that is Black Swan, who also falls easily. When those bad guys are down, Arino continues his quest to suss out more Black Saints, but gets more lost than ever, spending an hour trying to figure out what to do and dying once or twice. Around then, AD Takahashi steps in to help.

Turns out the game came with a slip of paper in the box that has a map of this particular area. Not bad, but it seems to have some chocolate stains on it. Arino even sniffs it to be sure. It also has a couple of notes written on it by the previous owner, too.

Thanks to that map, Arino finds the next boss, Black Andromeda. Except he messed up and forgot to transform before fighting her. Naturally, he’s killed in one turn. It’s an easy trip back, though, and Arino, now transformed, is ready to fight. Except he screws up again by forgetting to use any Cosmo points on the next attack, meaning he might as well give Andromeda a love tap. Defeated again.

Third time’s the charm, and once Andromeda’s done, Arino just has to go find Black Pegasus and he’ll be done — and thanks to the map, he finds him easily. With one super attack, Arino defeats Pegasus and completes the Cloth armor. But AD Takahashi returns and says that while Arino defeated the five Black Saints, there are actually six battles to have in the cave. He points out the secret point on the map, and Arino heads there. The boss this time is Phoenix Ikki, who opens with an attack that halves Arino’s health, and despite a good counterattack, he’s dead on the next turn.

But the next try clinches it, and Arino finally wraps up that hellish chapter of the game. But there’s more where that came from: he heads to a forest where he is ambushed by Docrates, brother of Cassios. But Arino’s so powerful now that it ain’t no thing. Back home, a message leads Arino back to the colosseum, where Docrates wants a rematch! But once again, he’s down in no time.

After fighting another Saint, Arino is again visited by AD Takahashi, who strongly advises that he start leveling up more now that the game is getting closer to the end. With that in mind, he begins trolling the city for enemies to beat up, and then head back to the hospital and begin his original level-up cycle. After about an hour of this, Arino ends up with a staggering 736 Cosmo and 105 Damage. Plus, defense power that’s almost at 130. Surely it’s in the bag.

Arino is then assaulted by the Silver Saints, who he fights and defeats one after the other. He then travels to the Sanctuary area, where he fights to the top of a hill where a lone cabin sits. A message appears, and then Arino enters a fight with Cassios again. That’s a cinch (no duh), and so he continues through the area, heading to the summit, but then accidentally entering into a fight with Docrates without transforming! Arino manages to escape, giving him a moment to trasnform and continue. Docatres is waloped again.

Arino continues along the Sanctuary, and finds the Gold Saint Aldebaran, one of the 12 guardians of the upper echelon of the Sanctuary. Arino wins, but with only 38 Damage points, and there’s more Saints ahead! He decides to head back to the hospital… but he can’t! The game forces him to stay at the Sanctuary. The next boss is Gemini, and unfortunately he wastes Arino with one attack. When he restarts at the house and exits, the game takes him right back to the Sanctuary with no opportunity to go back and heal or anything. Uh-oh.

He grudgingly goes back up the steps of the Sanctuary, but then tries jumping over Gemini to avoid fighting him. It works! He continues up the steps and reaches a shrine to Athena that refills his Cosmo! Not bad! But then he falls off an edge and dies.

Arino goes back, but with the same amount of Damage, he dies just as easily as before. He keeps going back to the shrine and refilling his Cosmo until he has 400-something. He unleashes a big attack at Gemini, but the big guy just stands there. Is it all over? Not quite — for some reason, the game flips back to the Sanctuary with Gemini missing. Was it all a ruse?

He continues forward and engages Death Mask, another boss, and beats him with one try. The other bosses aren’t as easy, but he keeps up the pattern of dying and going to the shrine, which is an inefficient but workable method. Eventually, all the other Saints are defeated. Arino heads to the top, and the scene changes to the pantheon where the final battle awaits! But then he panics and goes back, only to fall off an edge and die right there.

Arino restarts with only 6 Damage points. Nevertheless, he heads to the top of the area and faces the Shadow Cloth. Needless to say, it doesn’t go well. Arino has a good feeling this is the last boss, so he keeps at it. The challenge has been eight hours so far. AD Takahashi comes by one more time and says he has a password that can help out immensely. Arino has to reset the game, though. He does it anyway, and Takahashi’s password takes him right to the pantheon with over 100 Damage and more than enough Cosmo.

The fight begins again, and this time it’s personal. Shadow’s first attack lowers Arino’s health to 75, but he’s not out of the game yet. He’s then hit and left with 48 health, but Arino counterattacks and yells with joy as Shadow’s sprite falls backward and the game is finished. Seiya rescues Saori, and all is well… for now.

Project CX

One of the goofier Famicom accessories is the focus of this installment: the Top Rider bike, an inflatable airbag with a motorcycle painted on it, and a spot to attach a handlebar controller to play the eponymous game.

It even comes with an air pump! But Arino’s not going to do this himself: he hands it over to AD Takahashi, who then hands it over to junior AD Egawa. I see, make the woman do all the work, huh?! Egawa dutifully steps on the air pump until the bike is fully inflated, and then it’s time to go! Arino squats his 40 year-old frame on top of the bike.

The game itself is a pretty simple bike game not unlike Hang On. But you can do a wheelie! Arino’s instructed to pull back on the handlebars, and indeed the bike in the game does a little wheelie. Otherwise, Arino struggles to keep himself on the road, even when Kibe shows him how to change gears. That lat least helps him get to the second lap, and Arino continues to lean the bike back and forth before comedically falling over.

Now, if there’s one GCCX staffer that knows bikes, it’s good ol’ camerman Abe. He hops on the airbag and puts some serious technique into it, learning all over the place, but eventually he crashes. Aw well. To wrap up, Kibe asks Arino how much he thought this cost when it came out. Hmm.. 9800 yen? Yes, actually, he’s exactly right!

Game Collections: 1992: December

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