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
#134
Case Closed! – "Detective Saburo Jinguji: The Shinjuku Central Park Murder"

Chousen

After the thrill ride that was Battletoads, Arino’s next challenge is like a nice hot, relaxing bath in comparison. It’a an adventure game, and another well-regarded one: the first of the Detective Saburo Jinguji series, a long-running line of detective adventures starring the titular chain-smoking Jinguji (and you can find a remake of this game as part of the localized DS title Jake Hunter: Memories of the Past). This installment, the Shinjuku Central Park Murder, was a Famicom Disk System game involving the investigation of a murdered bar hostess. Can Arino solve the mystery before the day is done?

Before starting, Arino looks at the cover, which features a reclining nude woman. He wonders if it’s one of "those" kinds of games, but no — in fact, that’s probably the murder victim. The game opens with an RPG-like scene at the park, where Arino takes Jinguji around talking to people and gathering details on the crime. But he’s sidetracked by a woman looking for her lost dog, Pochi, in the park. Arino thinks he’s found it, but it’s a cat instead. After going down a rear path, he finds a dog that says it’s Pochi. Well, OK.

Arino solves that little mystery, and then the game moves to Jinguji’s office, where his assistant Yoko is waiting, along with the chief inspector of the police, Mr. Kumano. Kumano tells him of the murder in the park, and the adventure finally gets underway proper. But then, AD Takahashi comes into frame. He hands Arino a stack of cards with hand-drawn pictures of every character in the game, for him to use on the whiteboard along with any notes he takes — just like when he played Okhotsk ni Kiyu! He sticks some on the board, and in the middle he puts the murder victim, Momoko Takada.

Takada was a hostess at Bar East, so Arino heads over there to start the questioning after learning exactly when she was attacked, and her hours at the bar. But as he continues talking to Kumano, his dialogue choices end up angering the man, earning Arino a Game Over. Amusing, but not helpful. He continues, then heads over to Bar East.

There he questions a different hostess, Keiko, on any extra details about Momoko, and gets an alibi from the manager, as well. Further discussion leads him to the office of a Mr. Kashiwagi, a rich old man with a rather cold secretary, as well, but unfortunately, the old man isn’t available. Arino heads back to the bar, where he can know speak more with the manager, Mr. Yoyogi. Once more, he says he was at the bar when Momoko was gone, so there’s not much to get from him. Arino heads to the police station to talk to Kumano, but not much is going on there.

While walking around, Arino notices he can go to the Hotel KO, which is where Momoko was seen with two men thought to be Yoyogi and Kashiwagi. Yoyogi also borrowed a lot of money from an organized crime boss, Fuuin. Arino talks with Fuuin for a while, and learns that Kashiwagi is dead from cancer. After learning the facts up till now, Arino steps back to take a look at the chart he’s built on the whiteboard and make some hunches.

Later on, he takes Yoyogi in for questioning, but he sticks by his alibi. Arino goes back to the park and starts questioning some of the homeless men around the area if they saw anything suspicious the night of the murder. One such man mentions something happening shortly after midnight, which is when Momoko was killed, so Arino is audibly pleased at what’s going on. The game switches back to RPG mode, and Arino explores the park for any other evidence. He runs into a cop stationed at the park, who gives some crucial information about a certain car that night.

Immediately, Arino heads to Hotel KO and starts to inquire about the owner of that particular car. It left around 1 AM, which has Arino thinking it was used to pick up the killer at the park. He then goes to visit Kashiwagi’s secretary at her home, who reveals that Kashiwagi had rented a car recently. He also finds a pack of Lark cigarettes in the house. He goes back to the hotel and questions the bellhops, who inform him of a guest who’s a student of K University, and might even know the secretary.

So of course, Arino makes his way to the university. The whiteboard has filled up quite nicely over the past six hours, too, so progress is good. When Arino takes a snack break, in walks former AD Katayama, dressed in a policeman costume (hurriedly, too; his belt is undone) — again, just like the Okhotsk ni Kiyu. His tip is to simply go around the campus and intimidate anybody suspicious.

That was quick: he finds the guy he’s looking for, Tsunohazu, a kid who was apparently working with the secretary, because he just happens to smoke Lark cigarettes. AD Takahashi appears at that moment and hands Arino a pack of (candy) cigarettes, for no real reason other than to "help" him "think things through" as he evaluates the whiteboard chart again. Tsunohazu also enjoys hanggliding, and after thinking about it hard enough, Arino wonders if the kid took the corpse of Momoko on a ride on his hangglider by jumping from the top of the hotel, then dumped her in the park. Insane, sure, but that’s the fun of manga-style murder mysteries.

Tsunohazu is taken in for questioning, and basically confesses to that exact thing. He and the secretary both tell the whole sordid story. And that closes the book on the case of the Shinjuku Central Park Murder. The game gives "MANY THANKS" to Arino for solving the case, and that’s about it. After seven hours, our master detective can take some time off.

TamaGe

Arino heads out to Chiba to check out a large amusement center, Daikeien. There’s go-karts, billiards, batting cages, and a sizeable game center. Arino starts there, in the crane game section, to play a "Triple Catcher" machine filled with toy basketballs and NBA imagery. Naturally, the crane is larger than usual, and Arino thinks he’s grabbed a ball pretty easily, but the crane’s grip sucks, so he barely gets to see it lift up.

But right next to that is a more unorthodox crane game: a Sega UFO Balance Catcher, featuring a platform you stand and lean on to guide the crane (think a Wii Balance Board). Inside are little bags filled with treats, and Arino grabs one pretty successfully, but on the way to the exit, foam posts knock the bag out of the crane. Pure evil!

Up next is a rather odd machine called Funky Circus Big. It’s a variation of Happy Piero, a game that tortured Arino years before. Balls are sent down into a row of ducts with different point values, and if you get 300 points by the end of the session, you win! But just like with the other times he’s played Pierro, Arino gets insanely close — 290 this time — and loses spectacularly.

Perhaps it’s time to take out some frustration at the batting cages. Arino heads out to the plate and readies his bat, but the balls are shot out a little too fast for him. Needless to say, he hardly hits one. He leaves the cages and looks for something else to try, and finds a little self-serve cotton candy machine. He puts his stick in the bin of fast-moving sugar, but barely gets a tuft. Will anything go right today? Well, we’ll find out when this visit continues in the next episode.

Project CX

A rather interesting artifact is the subject of this installment: the Hori Game Repeater, a gray block with a few switches on it that attaches to the front of the Famicom and records game playback. Though it does so very simply. Let’s have Kibe and Arino discover why.

The demonstration game is Mighty Bomb Jack, the game that confounded Arino forever ago. He’s just asked to play the first level for a little bit, while AD Takashahi comes in and presses "record" on the Repeater. After that, Takahashi has Arino stop, and then he stops recording.

The game restarts, and Takahashi presses Start on the Repeater. The game then plays itself! Indeed, the Repeater doesn’t record video, but button presses, at the exact intervals Arino pressed them. As such, the game plays exactly the way he did, and gets all the same items and avoids the same enemies.

Kibe then asks Arino to play through the stage again to once again demonstrate the Repeater. In the middle of the next replay, Takahashi turns off the Repeater, leaving Arino to pick up where it left off. Pretty clever stuff. Kibe says the Repeater stores up to 40 minutes or so of input, though because it’s still rather simple, it doesn’t store it like a hard drive or anything (you just have to leave it plugged in). And its true worth is revealed when Kibe shows Arino the price tag of 96 yen, marked down from 6,500.

Game Center CX News

For the recent release of DVD Box 8 this past Christmas, the GCCX staff put on another stamp rally on the streets of Akihabara as participants tracked down a bevy of false kachos.

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