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 Over, Kacho Off

It all started so innocently: In early 2006, I found out about Game Center CX, this Japanese video game show that was immediately interesting and seemingly no one else knew about, so I decided to buy the DVDs and download all the episodes I could, and a year later, start to form a full episode guide on Crunk Games. It was fun and insane and generally unnecessary; things I strive for when writing long-form things. When I thought the show was ending, it didn’t, and work continued apace, and the guide became a hub for GCCX information.

But as the show enters its 16th season, and this episode guide almost reaches its fifth year, I’ve decided it’s time for me to step away. It’s not about the show — I’ll continue to watch it as long as it’s on, no worries there — but it’s becoming harder to justify working on this guide when I have bigger things to worry about. So instead, I’ll justify why I won’t be working on it.

· No one really knows about it anymore. Some of my friends have often told me that I’m responsible for GCCX having the international fans it does now, but I wasn’t so ready to believe that. While it may have been true around the first year of the episode guide (where I also got to spread the word by acting like a doofus for the site I worked for), the effects quickly faded. It’s only natural — it’s not like anyone can search for a Japanese TV show they don’t know about. As the fansubbed episodes starting spreading around, people went from linking to this page to linking straight to videos, and it’s not like I’m going to say that watching the show isn’t the best way to get into it. In the end, there’s a dimension of this I brought upon myself: I didn’t link to places you can watch or download the show online, because I didn’t want to entertain even the slightest possibility of getting in trouble when the episode summaries and the extra info was the real point.

· No one really used it. Search for GCCX on Google and you’ll see that this guide is stil a top result, but so is the Wikipedia entry, and that’s also something I noticed gets more links than this thing. I have all the evidence I need when I see fans ask things like “Did Arino ever play Bonk’s Adventure?” when the big list of games is right here, but it’s not nice to just go “Yes!!” when they just didn’t know about the page (tempting though it is). And the sheer volume of it all is probably a little daunting for people who just want info at a glance, not paragraphs of play-by-play commentary.

· A lot of it is wrong. I didn’t have a great knowledge of the Japanese language when I started, and I just barely do now. The episode pages are mostly summaries, with little explanation of jokes or other details that may help the enjoyment of the show. Several factual errors have since been corrected, but I don’t need them pointed out to me to know there’s dozens more. Granted, I never once claimed that this was all perfectly accurate to begin with, but I didn’t say the opposite, either.

· It’s not super complete. At first, I voluntarily didn’t write about the DVD-exclusive challenges, because at the time I figured I’d just get to them after the show was over. It would make a nice bonus, and in the interim, it might encourage people to buy the DVDs for themselves. Well, the show never ended, so I didn’t get around to the DVD episodes. There’s also a few GCCX specials and spin-offs like the web series GCCX Tokumeika, and a second New Year’s comedian gabfest that I just skipped because they were mostly boring. It’s a bit of a regret, but I’d argue no one’s missing anything, considering how many real episodes they’re missing because they’re not translated.

· It became a thankless job. It always sort of was, which is perfectly fine, though there were periods where it was linked more than a few times and audibly appreciated. But as the years went on, updating it really started to drag. “But Ray,” you say, “It can’t be that hard to take screencaps of an episode, write about it, and then compile all that in an HTML template.” Well, yeah, that’s right. But soon after starting, I began planning weekends around working on the guide, and I couldn’t stop doing that. Saturday was for writing, Sunday was for compiling, and while I thought it was a way to better manage it, it just took over. I started the guide when I had a job, and as I write this, I don’t, but I also have other big crazy projects I work on, and y’know… I’d like some time to play video games.

· The file is HUGE. Because this is a paginated WordPress post, I have to put every single page into one big load of raw text/HTML and then publish it. At last check, that load weighs at 2.3 MB. In the past few months, it got too big for even WordPress, so I had to manually dig into the database, find the post, and re-paste it all in that way. That’s actually a minor annoyance once you know what to look for, but it’s still ridiculous. It’s like watching the start of Weird Al’s “Fat” video.

· It’s not my best work. Not knowing Japanese was bad enough, but what about English? The episodes were written up in a first draft, except that was the only draft. Aside from visible typos I noticed from going through again compiling screenshots, the rest of the writing is fairly rickety. The grammar stayed spotty, mostly because writing an episode as it plays is one notch removed from a liveblog. (And yes, I’m my own grammar nazi, thank you.) Being known for the GCCX guide is nice, but I dunno about being remembered for it, especially with all its blemishes.

· Dreams have since been realized. 2011 was a turning point for GCCX fandom. Towards the summer, the efforts of a new band of fansubbers rose up to give the show a much better translation treatment than in past years. Around the same time, the previously-dormant English version of the show, Retro Game Master, debuted on the web. It flopped for several reasons, but what that did was give the show’s staff incentive to bring Arino to America for a special California adventure, including a fan meet-and-greet where I tried to rally the troops and ultimately appeared on the show myself, in costume (see above). Months later, the show featured the one game I always wished Arino would play: Battletoads. As the fansubbers continued on into 2012, Retro Game Master resurfaced on DVD, with new translation support from one of those fansubbers. All of these were awesome contributing catalysts to my decision to take a break. Why not go out on a high note?

All of what’s been listed so far feeds into my final, by-now-totally-obvious point:

· It’s obsolete. Who needs to really know about Game Center CX when they can just watch it? They heard it was awesome, then they agree it’s awesome, and we all have a good time talking about it. What’s now valuable to the fans is not knowing how many episodes there are, it’s knowing how many aren’t translated yet. And at the rate things are going, maybe even that won’t be important anymore.

As I said at the start, I’ll still be a GCCX fan and continue to support it and the pockets of fans that exist all over the internet, so maybe you’ll see me gushing about the show somewhere else. I’ll admit, though, that using the term “obsolete” isn’t really fair, because the episode guide — and the rest of Crunk Games — isn’t disappearing. I intend to keep it up a long as possible, to serve as a potential launching pad for anyone who does still find out about the show this way and wants to learn exactly who AD Emoto is, or whatever. But if that doesn’t pan out, it’s also possible that it may show up in another form, too. For now, you can always follow me on Twitter or check out my other site, scroll.vg for any possible GCCX news that comes down the line. See you next show?

–Ray

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