Game Center CX Season 5 – Back to Contents
A Second Helping of Freedom! "Salada no Kuni no Tomato-hime"
Riding high off the success of Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, Arino returns to work ready for the next challenge. From the dark and dreary hardcore sensibility of GnG, we come to … Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom. Well then. This cutesy NES graphic adventure presents a different kind of challenge: walking around figuring out what to do. Reading off a card, Arino says it’s the favorite game of blogging idol Kawori Manabe and Yumi from the band Puffy. It seems he’s truly in a league of his own.
Arino starts the game and gets the lowdown on the story. After that, he moves forward from the field (after figuring out the menu) and happens upon the thirsty tomato boy Percy. He wants some water, obviously, so Arino moves on to find some. After some trial and error moving around the screens, he finally comes upon Lake Quench. He acquires some water and goes back to give it to Percy. Success! Arino continues onward and checks around a fence to find Prince Lettuce. He goes down the list of commands until he gives the prince water, which starts him talking. He tells Arino about the rest of his friends, and a few steps later he finds them, gives them water, and from there he manages to get his way into Saladoria!
Arino starts in Orange Park and runs across the Garlic Wanderer. As he checks out the rest of the town, he figures out how to give the Wanderer what he wants: coffee (actually cigarettes in the Japanese version). From there Arino enters Cabaaret Celery to get a donut for the Wanderer. He goes back outside and there’s another sad little kid. Turns out it’s the child of another Wanderer, the Soursop Wanderer. Fast forward a bit, and Arino ends up captured by the farmies. He wakes up in prison and soon meets his cellmates. He’s eventually taken to the interrogation room. His actions just get him into more trouble and he’s sent to the torture room, where water is rushing in from the wall!
But he gets out rather easily, and goes on through the halls of the prison and runs into Sergeant Pepper. Arino tries what’s in his inventory, but nothing really works until he tries the fake grenade he collected, followed by the rope, which instantly ties up the sergeant! Ohoooh! Fast forward to level 4 where Arino meets one of the evil Farmies. He’s challenged to a janken game and wins. After that, Arino enters the Parsley Forest, which sends the game into full-on 3D dungeon mode. Arino has no idea where to go, but eventually he stumbles upon a shovel and tin can and picks both up.
A little while longer through the forest until — bam! Up pops the big tree leading to Saladron’s lair. Arino awakens Saladron and is sent to another janken match. Long, but easy. He continues to the fifth area, the Resistance Base. Inside the base, Arino comes across Lisa, the scary non-vegetable girl who is somehow sister to the princess. He also meets General Cantaloupe, then chills outside for a bit, grabbing some Nut Bombs, and then we head to the sixth area, the Carrot Plateau. Here lies the Peanut Village, home of– yeah, the peanuts.
Later on, Arino enters the Bananda Cave — another dungeon! — and meets the evil Banandas. Instead of janken, Arino simply tosses a nut bomb their way to get rid of them. With that he frees Nutty, daughter of the village chief. But his job isn’t done! He’s forced to go back to the cave to find a contraption called the Dice-O-Matic. The maze inside the cave starts to wear on Arino. You can see him almost nodding off! At this point, Inoko MAX steps in and finally hands Arino a simple printed map of the cave. It works! He makes his way to the Dice-O-Matic. From there he’s taken outside and is forced to fight a group of robotic enemies. With janken, one after the other. Arino succeeds and continues.
Fast forward again to area 7, the grungy Sopville. After speaking with the locals, Arino learns of the underground passage that will lead him to the castle where Princess Tomato is being held. He finds a cave, digs through it, and ends up inside the castle. Area 8 begins! He roams the halls looking for the princess. When he’s told she’s in the shower, he heads to the bathroom. He takes a moment or two to assess the situation, then knocks on the shower door. It’s not Princess Tomato, just a nude orange. Orange tells him the princess is in the garden. Hohkay.
Still nothin’. Time passes, and Arino makes his way though the halls until he finally enters Princess Tomato’s bedroom! There’s a figure on the bed, and it’s… an old tomato woman. Whaa? Not so fast: he uses the Chameleon Grass item he acquired earlier, and the old woman transforms into the true form of Princess Tomato! Yay! But it’s not over: the princess only gives Arino encouragement in defeating the evil Minister Pumpkin. Arino continues down the hall until he reaches the final door, which is guarded by an eggplant soldier. Another janken battle ensues. He wins, and heads into Minister Pumpkin’s bedroom. He checks out the bed and the shelves nearby, until the bed slides back to reveal a hidden passage! Arino is then shoved down the passage by a mysterious figure.
Oh boy, another dungeon! Arino’s less than happy, but he pushes on until he’s ambushed by a monster. More janken fighting leads to a couple of losses, but Arino eventually wins by luck. He gives an exhausted celebratory pose. But the dungeon continues, and more monsters appear. He gets progressively worn down.
But after the third monster fight, he’s taken back to the bedroom to face Minister Pumpkin himself! Is this the last fight?! Arino begins. He has to win five rounds of janken this time. He eventually gets down to the final one and carefully studies the positions of his opponent. He waits. And waits. And waits. Laughter erupts in the room. And finally… hah! He nails it. But of course, it’s not over quiiiiiite yet. Minister Pumpkin gave the treasured Turnip Emblem (basically the king’s license) to his son, and after that bit of news, he leaves. Arino heads back to Princess Tomato, who says the two should escape through the garden. He then enters Orange Park in the middle of a victory celebration. After he talks to his friends, Junior Pumpkin appears and grabs the princess! He’s stopped cold, but he still engages Arino in a janken fight. Unlike before, he has no hints to go by, so it’s up to pure predicition.
The number of rounds randomize after Arino loses, but he lucks into a 3-round match and manages to succeed. Junior Pumpkin still won’t go down, though, as he still has the Emblem. Arino uses a caterpillar he picked up earlier to scare Pumpkin, making him drop the emblem and send him home crying. After that, the kingdom is saved! The ending scene follows, showing Sir Cucumber and Princess Tomato’s wedding. The producer then teases Arino with the season’s final game: a Namco title.
Arino’s in Adachi-ku to check out a place called Ishida. It’s another tiny all-purpose shop. He heads down the street, points out the huge bottles in the vending machine, and then — hey! There’s the video games! Two small cabinets on the side of the building. And a little beyond those is a covered area with the medal machines. A few young boys are playing. Arino greets them, asking them where Ishida is. "…Here!" One of them even asks Arino where his comedy partner Hamaguchi is.
Arino heads inside and has the manager lady show him around. He looks at all sorts of snacks and collectibles. The lady seems to like to collect things, as she soon shows him. She pulls back a screen to reveal her… bedroom! Arino’s humorously shocked at that one. The lady pulls down a folder filled with all sorts of stamps. Even cameraman Abe gets into it, asking her about the value of some of them! Arino has no idea what to do.
Finally he heads back outside to check out the games. He peers under the top of one cabinet to see what’s inside. Metal Slug 2! The sequel to the game he played with the little old lady at the start of the season. It’s obvious what to do now: Arino gets the proprietor to join him in a game. She barely knows how to play, and even though Arino dies once before she does, he continues on after she finally dies. And she’s still mashing the buttons…
After that, Arino scoots over to the covered medal machines. There’s only a few, and they look pretty plain. He starts to play "Catch Ball," a baseball-themed one, while the group of boys hover over him and give him advice on how to perfectly push on the flippers. Eventually one of them reaches over and shows Arino how it’s done, clearing the board in seconds and winning.
Arino tries the adjacent "Car Race" game and tires a little harder based on the advice he was given. After some trial and error, he shoots his coin from one end of the board to the other, instantly winning! With his prize tickets,he grabs a few snacks and bags them up. He then shares his winnings with the kids out on the front step. Aww.
Hard no Ace ga Detekonai
More Sega "love" for this edition: it’s the SG-1000 II, the low-rent alternative to the Famicom that came out after the Famicom! Good old Sega!
Arino’s got two handfuls of games to try. As he peers up from the box, Kibe-kun is right in front of his face! Agh! The games are, in fact, Kibe’s personal collection. To start off, Kibe hands Arino Star Force. Ah yes, a fond memory of season 1. Unfortunately the SG version is several notches below the Famicom one, and Arino dies twice as much as he did on this version. But when he gets to Lalios, he miraculously manages to shoot the core and get the special bonus! He’s still got it!
Next is Girl’s Garden, Yuji Naka’s debut game. It’s not easy to figure out the first time through, so Kibe tells Arino what to do. After some time, he manages to clear the first stage. After that, it’s time to wrap up.
Game Collections: 1987: October