Game Center CX Season 5 – Back to Contents
"Nice to Meet You, ‘Contra!’"
What’s next for Arino in the fifth season? Nothing but the touching story of Bill and Lance; the eight-stage saga known as Contra.
Arino begins the game and collects a few items, but the second he dies, the back panel from the TV falls off! Once that’s fixed, he picks up the spread gun in the game and continues to the end of the first stage. He perches on the top cliff and shoots out the gate turrets, and then slowly figures out to bust down the main door as well. Not a bad start! The underground base of Area 2 doesn’t start off too badly, either. Arino speeds through until he reaches the boss: another wall of turrets. He destroys them just fine until the real boss, the moving eye appears. He tries to be as clever as possible, but the boss’s projectiles are too much for him and he eventually dies. The second try’s a charm.
Area 3, the waterfall level, isn’t even half as smooth. It scrolls upward, which dreadfully reminds Arino of Kid Icarus. Before long he dies again and again and again. And it’s not the boulders, but regular enemy fire! He gets his last Game Over and is forced to start from Area 1. He rushes back to Area 3, but still keeps getting overwhelmed by bullets! A couple of lost lives later, Arino finally makes it up to the top of the level, but a rogue enemy gets one last hit in before he reaches the boss, killing him just as it appears. Game Over! Holy crap!
On the next try, he makes it to the boss properly. But now he’s just dying due to the alien gate and its flailing arms of death. Another Game Over. He surmises that he probably needs the "M" (machine gun) for that fight — he had been using the spread gun previously. On the next attempt he grabs it and keeps it until the boss fight. He loses one life (and the gun with it), but manages to blow off one of the alien’s arms. Amazingly, he destroys the other one and now goes straight for the mouth. Arino plants himself in one spot, away from the alien’s projectiles and fires up into the mouth. It’s slow, but it works. Onto the next tunnel.
As usual, the next tunnel is easy until the boss fight. Now the turrets are joined by soldiers that leap onto Arino’s head. More death ensues, followed by another Game Over. He continues to fail a few more times, until he’s reduced to one remaining continue. He puts on a cold pad and prepares for the seventh attempt. This time he survives with the spread gun, which does a much better job of taking out the turrets. Then the real boss appears, and Arino comes within an inch of death, only to prevail. Yay!
Area 5 is snowy and otherwise unfriendly. Arino grabs a power-up only to be shot by an enemy that comes up behind him. Game Over again. He makes his way back to Area 5, all the way to the end in fact, but then he pauses the game and reels. What’s happened? A tank has happened, that’s what. The Area 5 boss is a tank that takes a lot of shots. He pumps as much fire as he can, but he only has the normal gun, so he gets run over every single time. This seems like it could be the final straw. But is it!? Nah. On the sixth try, his timing is just right, and he pumps just enough bullets into the tank to blow it up when it’s within a hair of his body. There’s no celebration, just relief. However, the stage continues in the snowy field, and Arino dies once again. Game Over.
He goes back to Area 5, but by now has entered a hellish spiral. Another Game Over. He takes a moment to rest, then AD Urakawa comes over. He recognizes Arino’s trouble, and suggests using the stage select code to jump right to Area 5. Urakawa teaches him the code, and Arino gets to the screen. He teases Urakawa by selecting the final stage, but just sticks with Area 5. Another Game Over occurs, but of course this time he just uses the code. A bit of determination pushes him through the rest of the stage all the way to the real end. He expects a tank, but when he gets there all he sees is an unguarded gate. Wonderful! Oh, but then the boss appears. Annnd quickly kills him.
Arino jumps in for the next attempt. He fights hard, jumping over the enemy minions whenever the slide in, and after a minute or two, the boss is down, along with Area 5. But then there’s Area 6, and it’s not exactly a tea party. The jets of flame that shoot from the pipes above are tricky to get past, and constantly kill him.
Eventually, though, he manages to time his jump just right and then immediately jump after that to bypass the flame. He gets past the horizontal flames, too, using a nice rhythmic chant to time himself. From there he gets the Barrier power up and runs through the rest of the level. He comes up on the boss, the huge hulking action figure-type guy, and pauses immediately. He takes a moment to whine, then unpauses and gets run over. Oop. Arino blows through nine attempts without any progress. The boss’s size and idiotic jumping pattern is just plain crazy. On attempt 10 Arino comes in with the laser weapon, and now begins to successfully jumping over the boss. Insanely, this is all he needs to start shooting the boss more consistently, blowing it up in record time. Area 7 awaits!
And it’s a doozy. Big metal claws that jut from the ceiling, and mine carts that take you through them. Dayum! Arino creeps through the first part of the stage, and gets on the first mine cart. He jumps off too late and dies. Next time he takes the high road, but jumps right onto the trap spike-walls. He continues forth, but further spike-walls derail his progress. A gauntlet of claws ending with a wall freak him out and kill him, as well. Eventually, AD Urakawa steps in and asks to try it out. He dies pretty soon in the same trouble spot Arino was stuck on. Urakawa pauses, and suggests maybe AD Inoue should help out? "Inoue?" Arino asks derisively.
Inoue walks in all preemptively apologetic, then sits down at the game. Another instant fail. He asks for one more try, and Arino goes ahead and gives him another chance. During this, he asks Inoue more about his interests. He was a pro wrestler in school, under the ring name Inoko MAX. Arino and the staff chuckle. Shortly after, Inoko MAX dies again, and Arino’s almost flabbergasted by his incompetence.
From there, Inoue and Arino decide to play together to try and get past Area 7. The two do a pretty decent job, getting past the spot that hung both of them up, but eventually getting overwhelmed by more spike-walls and getting a Game Over. They try again, and despite Inoue blowing up a mine cart before Arino lands on it, things are, again, moving pretty decently. Arino even helps the AD get a spread gun power-up, which begets a ridiculously limp high five.
And then they reach one last gauntlet of claws. This apparently really racks their coordination, and they die again. Eventually, Arino decides to make the next chance the last one for the AD. Inoue agrees, and the two continue. Another failure. Inoko MAX over-politely excuses himself. The kacho’s all alone now, but he gets to the end of the stage this time! And all that’s there is a door and a couple of turrets. Amazingly simple — almost too simple. Area 8 is up next, and will hopefully bring some much-needed closure. Area 8 practically starts off with a giant alien head shooting some sort of projectile crap at Arino. He wastes it in record time. He thinks that’s it. He waits a minute or two before finally inching forward and discovering it’s not over yet! Dah! Eventually he dies and gets another Game Over.
But on the next try, he just goes kamikaze and blasts through every alien he can see. Before long he’s finally reached the last boss. Unfortunately all he has is the normal gun, but that doesn’t stop him. He carefully dodges the enemy minions and goes straight for the big brain-thing. He loses a life in the process, but on his last try he just keeps pumping fire into the thing, and… boom. The mission ends after nine painful hours.
The place? Shibamata. The target? The Shibamata Haikara (Stylish) Yokochou — a candy and treats shop that also features a few amusement machines. Greeting all visitors is a giant red robot outside. Arino’s impressed with the metal beast, but the real fun is inside. The first item that catches his eye? Cocoa candy cigarettes. Next to that is a shelf with bromides — photograph postcards of famous people and idols. Arino’s particularly impressed with a 1974 picture of treasured band THE ALFEE.
Arino keeps looking at all the crap, but he’s pushed to check out the games. He starts with a machine that prints out customized spirit seals. Arino places one on his Famicom business card case, thereby protecting it from any demons. After that, he walks over into the corner and spots… A fully functional Space Invaders cocktail game! In good old black and white! Arino sits down and gives it a go. He doesn’t do too well — he misses the UFO on the first try, but shoots it down on the second, only to die right after.
From there it’s on to the cork-gun shooting gallery to try and shoot down a dinky prize from a small carousel. Arino spots a figure of the idol MEGUMI, but doesn’t even knock her down when the gun’s an inch away. He tries a couple more times, but all he ends up winning is a green trinket as a consolation prize. He then goes outside and upstairs to the antique toy floor. More robots are here behind glass in a funky exhibit. He pushes a button on the outside and the robot starts spouting electronic gibberish. Quite freaky, since the room is dimly-lit to begin with. He tries deciphering the robot and his friends’ moon language, but it’s just not happening.
Onto some real fun: slot car racing! Woo! Arino and AD Urakawa set down their cars and get ready to race. All right, time for some real hot rodding ac–oops, both cars fly off the track. They reset themselves on the problem curve and continue. Urakawa’s the unlucky one, spinning out while Arino speeds past. After all is said and done, Arino grabs a tiny basket and loads it up with all sorts of snacks before leaving the shop.
Hard no Ace ga Detekonai
Arino rips the tape off the package for this week’s system, but takes a bit of the cardboard with it. Oh well. So what’s inside this one? Why, it’s the mythical, the magical… Cassette Vision.
The Cassette Vision was a primitive game system from 1981 made by toy company Epoch, with funky knobs built right into the plastic. Not exactly a step up from the Atari 2600. Arino gets it set up with the help of engineer Suda, and then shoves in the first cartridge, Pakpak Monster. Hmm, what could this play like?
Arino fumbles with the game like a caveman, but soon gives up trying to figure out how to win and tries another game, Monster Mansion. You can’t tell from the name, but it’s a rip-off of Donkey Kong. The goal is to rescue Hanako-chan — the pink blocky blob in the corner next to the blue blob. Arino hangs on a ladder as a "barrel" falls down on him. It’s only then he realizes this is like Donkey Kong. Yeah. Next is Kikori no Yosaku. Arino calls over Kibe-kun to help explain this one. It involves cutting down trees while jumping over animals. Thrilling! Arino comes away impressed, but only in that the system and its knobs could be great for an H game! Right, well, back into storage it goes.
Game Collections: 1987: September