Game Center CX Season 8 – Back to Contents
Aiming for the 100th Floor! The 8th Season’s Sho-"Ki no Bouken"
Ki = kai; Shokai = first
Last time, on Game Center CX…
A nefarious game created from the DNA of Druaga arose from a 20-year sleep to terrorize Section Chief Arino. He thought The Quest of Ki was a 60-stage excursion, and was delighted when he warped past most of them in rapid succession. But looks can be deceiving, and soon Arino found himself having to conquer an additional 40 stages, with no ability to warp. It was just before the 80th stage when the horrors of the game became even worse, pushing Arino to physical exertion. He had to retreat, but vowed to complete the quest.
Which brings us to the present: the start of season 8. A month’s rest leaves Arino ready and willing to finish the game. He begins by telling us that season 8 will be nine episodes long this time, and in November (just in time for the DS game), GCCX will have been around for five years. "Five years," he says again with a strained face. He then pulls out the Quest of Ki and gets ready to begin. Oh, but before that, the staff wants to remind Arino what he’s up against by showing him "highlights" of the last episode. They put a second TV on the desk and have him watch the tape. Arino watches with a bit of pain, but also makes fun of the man messing up on the screen.
But after that, it’s finally back to the game. Arino starts where he left off, on the devilish floor 79. Once again he must dash ahead of a flying arrow, then up through a gauntlet of Pac-Man ghosts, then down a large stair-step corridor lined with spikes. He has trouble at the start, getting past the arrow section but getting cold feet before the ghosts and falling onto the spikes below. This goes on for half an hour as Arino almost-but-not-quite makes it past the ghosts and continues to get hit. A few more tries later, Arino manages to slip by both rows of ghosts. A staffer yells "yes!" But one second later, Arino hits his head on the ceiling and falls onto one of the ghosts. Jinx!
Right after that, though, Arino slips by the ghosts again and makes it to the top of the stairs. Cue applause! He takes a breather at that point and surveys the jagged steps. Arino will again try to delicately float diagonally down the shaft to the edge. Hesitation. Silence. He unpauses the game and moves forward. … Right into the spikes in front of him. That might be enough failures for now. Producer Kan gets on the mic and offers the assistance of the new AD to see if they can get Arino through the stage.
Arino agrees, and then the new AD, Tsuruoka walks in. He introduces himself, then walks out for a second to grab something for Arino. It’s a wooden diorama of floor 79 that Tsuruoka made by himself! Trying to impress the boss on the first day, huh? At any rate, it’s helpful in telling Arino what to do: rather than float down in a straight line, why not take things a step at a time, floating near or landing on the edge of each step? Worth a shot.
Arino restarts the stage and gets back to the top of the stairs. He jumps and begins the descent. It seems to be working, and in fact shows total success, until Arino lands a couple of pixels too short of the last edge and dies on a spike. On the next try, he slips off the edge. Another failure after that. This might need some practice. AD Tsuruoka comes back with another technique, this one regarding the controller. The camera pulls in as the AD shows Arino the timing pattern that can help him hit the "brake" button as soon as he lands on the edge.
Arino practices it a bit before unpausing, then goes for it. He floats down… and… makes it! A perfect landing! Finally! Now, to float up to the exit door. This is where he gave up last time, but now, Arino breezes through the section, past the Pooka and through the door. 79 is clear! But this, after all, is just the beginning.
Floor 80 begins, but ends quickly on the first try. The second attempt is speedy, though, and it’s onto 81. 81F features spiky creatures shuffling back and forth on tightly-spaced platforms. Arino tries to float past, but hits his head and falls on the very first one. Another half-hour passes as he continues to die at the exact same spot. Eventually he lucks out and slips through with just the right timing.
He dashes over to the exit door, but he doesn’t yet have the key — it is, in fact, directly below, hovering above a blue fire-spitting lizard. Great. Amazingly, he slips by it on the first try, and floats easily back to the exit. More applause!
82F is a little odd: Arino grabs the key while avoiding some gold cloud-looking things, then dies soon after! Time is up… already? A second look after restarting shows that the stage is only 15 seconds long! Arino tries again, but fails. After that, he heads in the opposite direction from the entrance and sees a treasure chest guarded by some more fireball-spitting creatures. But he seems to just be scoping out the area, as he lets time run out again. Er, OK. The next time, he grabs the chest and finds — whaddya know — a clock that adds 60 seconds! The easy part’s over.
Arino then grabs the Wing item — letting him float indefinitely — in order to complete the stage. He uses it to grab the key, and almost dies after hitting his head and falling right next to a set of spikes. By then he only has 8 seconds left, but with 1 second left he makes it to the door and celebrates. But… he dies? Apparently, landing at the door wasn’t enough, as you have to nudge the D-pad for Ki to actually enter it. Arino clears it on the next try, with a few more seconds to go, even.
83F’s gimmick is just as bad: two treasure chests at the start contain poison that speed up the clock, ending Arino’s life quicker than on 82! He attempts to jump over the chests in the first couple of tries, but the hall is a bit narrow and he keeps hitting the ceiling. He soon lucks out, hitting his head and landing right in front of the second chest, letting him get through the rest of the stage without as much pressure. We’re quickly shown the next few stages before stopping at 88F.
The spiky creatures from earlier are back, but this time they’re on the sides of a narrow vertical shaft. Arino tries floating up through it, but ends up grazing one of the enemies and dying. With a spike ball at the top, it’s hard to squeeze through. Strangely, on the winning attempt, the spike ball has disappeared, letting Arino go right up to the top and over to the exit door. For once, programming flaws save the day!
Outside of a weird coneheaded enemy on 89F, the stage is pretty normal. Arino passes it in two tries, and then there’s only 10 more stages to go. 90F gives Arino 110 seconds to complete it. Arino walks in to discover several columns next to one another, with speedy fireballs bouncing up and down in between them. Arino walks right into one, dies, and then tries again. Grazed by a fireball again. It’s not that they’re too fast, but once Arino’s in between them, it’s hard to align himself so he’s not hit again.
Once he gets up to a safe spot, Arino tries dashing across the gaps below the columns, but the game’s ahead of him there, placing spikes at the end for him to fall right onto. Still, he keep trying the dash strategy, hoping he can stop in time. It doesn’t work, one attempt after another. Arino spends over 90 minutes on this one. And then, finally, a beacon of hope: AD Tsuruoka returns and offers to play this section for Arino. Arino agrees, and the AD sits down.
Tsuruoka’s approach is very swift, yet delicate, hopping over one gap after another until he safely reaches the end of the line and up to the top of the columns. But Arino still needs to get the key, which is being guarded by a fireball. Impossible, huh? No, of course not; Tsuruoka says the item Arino needs is on the east end.
Arino begins to go the other way across the columns, but again, he’s over-cautious and is killed before he finishes the first jump! Tsuruoka restarts and gets Arino back to the top. Arino dies a couple more times in the exact same way. At one point he gets within two jumps of the chest before dying! But eventually his caution pays off and he grabs the chest. Inside is the Ring, allowing Arino to pass right through the fireballs and grab the key.
The key is grabbed, but now he has to fly by two Pac-Man ghosts before reaching the door. Arino pauses and tries to mentally draw out the path to go down, but his timing is off in practice and he’s killed. Another scream of agony. After a couple more failed attempts, Arino finally drops past the ghosts and reaches the door. He gives Tsuruoka a thankful handshake and continues on to 91F.
91′s gimmick is an invisible wind that pushes Arino back whenever he tries to jump, and it happens to be right over a series of smaller columns with spikes in between. Arino safely gets to the end of the columns, but jumps and starts getting pushed back again, panicking a little. He gets up to the next platform, but hits his head. Ki ducks just as a fireball comes by, and she stands up right as it passes above her! Arino dies again. And then it happens again! He does get the pattern down, though, and before long he’s made it past the fireballer. The challenge passes 10 hours when Arino exits the stage.
92 is odd — Arino flings himself down into an opening flanked by two eagle statues, and the entire floor is covered in spikes. After a couple of deaths, he lands right below one of the eagles, and from there tries to figure out how to finish. He takes a flying leap, but dies. Despite there being a treasure chest not far from the entrance, Arino ignores it and decides to try and do a "U-turn" jump to get up and over to the other side. He fails on the first few tries, but after one more, he quite amazingly makes it, and flies right to the exit door.
Following that, Arino is given a present: the kid who sent a postcard of himself in Arino cosplay last season has something new: a golden Arino business card. Arino puts it on the desk and tackles the next stage. 93 is a cinch, and 94 practically is, though Arino gets tricked by a jumping rock enemy. He floats through to the end, but only gives a blank look of success.
95 has a section similar to the start of 79: having to run ahead of a fireball while hopping over patches of spikes. Arino should know how to do it by now, but he must be getting pretty exhausted, as he spends 40 minutes here. He gets it, though, and luckily the trip to the exit is short and sweet.
96 isn’t much better: now he has to leap over two crisscrossing fireballs! He can’t seem to get enough momentum to leap across the room and avoid them. When he does, his timing is just off enough that he slides right into a vertical fireball guarding the enemy. On the next try he hits his head, but falls at the right moment so as to duck the upper fireball, but he’s then hit by the lower one — nooo, so close!
The next attempt is golden, and Arino grabs the key. Oh, but wait… he has to go back down to get back to the door. Crap. He attempts a run, but ends up hit by the lower fireball coming in from the left. He starts over, anda couepl of deaths later he gets the key again. Another attempt brings the same death. And again, and again, and again. Amazingly, right after we’re told the challenge has been 14 hours, Arino makes it past the fireballs a second time and moves up to the exit door ledge. Painful, but wonderful.
97 has more ghosts, and an item chest on a short ledge below. After a few deaths, Arino decides to go for a U-turn again. But the platforms are uneven! He does it anyway, and dies. But on the second try he jumps a little farther, then loops back and makes it! And inside the chest is a Wing, which should make this a little easier. Well, it would have been if he didn’t bump his head right afterward. But he does it again, and makes it to the exit.
98F has three tiers of spike patches and a fireball keeping Arino from the key. Like earlier, Arino will have to use the bump-and-duck technique to make it out alive. But it’s easier said than done, and getting the key is easier than going back the other way. Arino’s timing just isn’t connecting. Another hour passes.
Arino’s handed the clock to be shown that it’s past 1 AM. There’s only one thing that comes after that: the question. Will he? Won’t he? After two days and two nights’ worth of hardship, will Arino give up here, with just three floors to go?
Technically, yes. Though, as Arino himself says, "I want to clear it someday," so he puts this challenge on indefinite postponement. We may just hold him to that.
In the full report from Tokyo Game Show 2007, Arino greets us "backstage" at the Retro Game Awards presentation. He jumps up behind the partition a few times to jazz up the crowd, and then the show begins. Arino, along with his co-hosts, present achievement awards to the creators of some of the most memorable retro games, including Hideo Kojima for Metal Gear and Koji Toyoda for Takeshi no Chousenjou (more "on behalf of").
A special prize was given to Ghosts ‘N Goblins, and creator Tokuro Fujiwara also played a bit of the game, trading turns with Arino. Arino messed up as usual, but Fujiwara impressed the crowd (especially Arino) by beating the Red Arremer swiftly.
The grand prize winner was, as you might guess, Super Mario Bros. Accepting the award in a surprise appearance was Shigeru Miyamoto. He also tried his own game, exhibiting quite a bit of innocence, as if he truly hadn’t played it since 1985.
For part 2, we follow Arino as he vists both spaces on the floor dedicated to GCCX, along with his "bodyguard," AP Tojima. The first is the merchandise booth, where he steps up and says a few words to the crowd.
Then it’s onto the Bandai Namco booth to check out Arino no Chousenjou. Naturally, he gets to the front of the (2 hour-long wait of a) line, surprises a nerdy player, then tries out the game for himself (for the billionth time?).
As Arino no Chousenjou gets ever closer to release, we check in on a group at Indies Zero focus testing the game and hunting down bugs.