Game Center CX Season 8 – Back to Contents
One Strange Western Game, Again… – "Flashback"
It was just a few months ago when Arino defeated the French classic Out of This World, and now he’s ready to take on its spiritual sequel, Flashback: The Quest for Identity. Flashback looks and plays very similarly, but with a greater emphasis on puzzle solving… and firepower. The first thing Arino does before starting is make fun of the box art, which admittedly doesn’t communicate much about the actual game.
The game begins in the Titan Jungle, where the hero Conrad finds himself dazed, confused, but determined to survive. Arino gets to grips with the controls, and then moves into another screen where an enemy mutant stands below. Arino haphazardly rolls down to it, and tries to shoot it while he stands right in front of it. After a few seconds he finally rolls back out to where he can shoot the enemy down.
Arino then slinks into another screen with a locked door another mutant. But later, he finally dies after being shot by one of the mutants. He restarts, and then is killed by a stunbot. With the game giving five hits before dying, it’s better than Out of This World in that respect, but Arino is still going to have to be more careful. But then he finds a mysterious green beam, which vaporizes him once he steps on it.
He’s zapped again by an electric part of the ground. On the second try he attempts to leap over the beams, and luckily lands right on the power switch for the nearby elevator. Arino finds another elevator later on, and then gets a Teleporter item. Then he finds a human in distress. For some reason, Arino throws a couple of stones at the guy — apparently he doesn’t want to be tricked. But everything seems fine, and he gets an ID Card.
The challenge reaches the 3-hour mark when Arino finds an old man who’s willing to sell him something, but he needs cash. He goes elsewhere to pick up some credits, and then pays for the item: an Anti-Gravity Belt! Arino jumps down the shaft below and the belt is used, saving Conrad and taking Arino to level 2.
Arino makes his way through the level, arriving at the "Europa" block of New Washington city. There he has to complete a series of errands, from escort missions to cyborg assassinations. He gets all of them done quickly, except the last one, which involves shutting down a generator in only 90 seconds. He ends up failing the mission twice.
Just then, AD Tsuruoka steps in to provide help. He has a stopwatch with him, so he offers to count down the time for Arino as he runs back to the generator. Arino makes it to the generator room… but it blows up half a second later — noo! But then, with 40 seconds left, Arino makes it to the end and completes the mission.
The next mission involves wiping out a mutant colony. Arino tries, but keeps getting killed by suprise. Tsuruoka returns and offers to help Arino through this section. Please do! He manages to clear the entire mission in just a few minutes. That ends the whipping-boy part of the game; now on to level 3.
Or what’s shown of it: Arino blazes through the levels of the tower and quickly earns a ticket back to Earth to begin level 4. It’s a little harder, so Arino dies early and often, and before he gets too far, he decides to fish out a save point. Good thing, too, since he has to get through a corridor while a green beam of death chases him from the rear… and the door at the end is locked!
Arino tries jumping over the beam when it gets close, but it won’t work, and he won’t learn after the first two tries. Finally he just runs to the end and goes berserk on the flybot at the end, and miraculously, destroying it opens the door. Unfortunately Arino can’t seem to figure out how to crawl through the duct beyond the door, so the beam comes in and kills him anyway.
Eventually he figures out how to roll through the duct, and then everything’s jake from there as a cut-scene plays and ends level 4. Number 5 begins with a funny little puzzle: a death beam blips in and out around the platforms (think the disappearing platforms from Mega Man). Arino then picks up a Teleceiver to go with the Teleporter, and uses the Teleporter to warp himself down to the bottom of a shaft without incident.
Arino then fights with an alien that can turn into a jumping pile of goo. He dies a couple times, but eventually kills it and continues. Of course, another one is on the next screen, and Arino’s killed again. A couple more tries, though, and he makes it to the exit.
Two more levels to go. Arino lands on the alien homeworld and starts cleaning house… or, well, he’d like to, but a mutant early on keeps killing him. When he does get through, he speeds on and saves a dying earthling, who gives him an explosive charge. Arino then heads deeper into the alien base.
He then dies, and dies, and dies some more. Arino’s made it pretty far, but the challenge has already passed 13 hours. The producer chimes in and tells Arino he’ll give him 60 more minutes to get through this. At that point, AD Tsuruoka returns as a wingman for Arino when he reaches the sticking points. The producer even times Arino using the official Game Center CX desk clock (not available in any fine stores). Tsuruoka has Arino recharge his sheilds so he can absorb some more hits before he’s dead again. On top of that, Tsuruoka sets a teleporter between the shield generator and the room where Arino was at before — cleverrr!
Tsuruoka then has Arino do some more teleporter trickery to get past another mutant and down into a shaft below. Later, Arino lands in a room with a save point and a couple of four-legged freaks. He drops to the terminal and saves just in time. Soon after, he’s on the run from one of those gooey mutants, chasing after him even as he climbs platforms! Arino gets to the top of a ledge with the mutant shooting him, but Arino chokes and ends up rolling right off the ledge to his death! The staff screams.
Arino restarts, and his advisor AD gives him another reassuring tip in another section: he can safely jump down this long shaft and grab a platform at the end. Arino does it without fail, then stands up, and slips off the platform to his death once more. He gets so close to the end of the stage on the next try, but then… the clock starts beeping. Time’s up! But the producer lets Arino play through his current life before making him quit.
Tsuruoka warns Arino of the next new room. Sure enough, when Arino steps in, it’s another small passage with a few green death beams moving around. Tsuruoka points out the gimmick: a mouse is moving back and forth upstairs, triggering each beam as it passes over their switches. Arino leaps over all three very patiently, and cries with victory afterward.
Arino then reaches the first "boss," the Auxiliary Brain. Not only does he have to take care of that, but a goo mutant guarding the place as well! Arino rolls back and forth, trying to be careful as he fights the mutant, and he actually kills it! Tsuruoka has Arino pause immediately to discuss the next step: the trick is not to shoot the brain, but have the autogun in the back shoot the brain when Arino enters its view. A few bursts of fire and the brain turns into a pink soup.
It’s not long before Arino finds the Master Brain. He has to shoot it from two upper platforms, switching each time. But if he dies here, it’s over for reals. As soon as he climbs the platform, more mutants come slithering in. He gets one hit in, but then is disoriented by a mutant. Arino escapes to the floor and tries to dispatch the enemies, but ends up surrounded. With one hit left, he activates his teleporter to run back and recharge the shields.
Arino recharges, saves and gets back to the brain. He gets a second and third hit in, but is weakened by mutants. He teleports out and runs back to the elevator, but just as he gets there, he’s shot in the back by a mutant!! Everyone screams in agony. The challenge looks to be over. But the producer softens up a little bit, and lets Arino tackle the endgame for a second day. The challenge ends here, but not for long.
Day 2 begins and Arino starts right where he left off. Arino hits the brain a few more times, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much, and he’s losing shield hits again! Arino recharges and comes back, shoots a couple more times and… well, there’s no more mutants, so that’s the end of that! Arino heads out to get through the rest of the planet.
Arino saves at another terminal, but when he walks off, a voice suggests that Conrad/Arino do something with that explosive he’s been carrying around. Arino lays it down, then walks back to the save point… where the platform behind him falls! In the inventory, the charge has now become a timer. And the klaxons are blaring. Time to get the hell out of there!
Arino hurries his way back through the corridors, but messes up and runs right off a ledge! Dead! Another big scream of pain. He has to do the whole sequence again. He lays the bomb again, and Tsuruoka’s back with the stopwatch. Arino’s more careful with the ledge, but by now Tsuruoka’s counting down "3… 2… 1…" kaboom. Game Over; again.
More retries. More deaths. More explosions. More leaping into pits. Eventually he gets past it, past all of it, and reaches the final elevator. Conrad lifts up and zooms out in the ending cut-scene. 16 total hours and no real boss? On that alone, Arino will savor this one, for sure.
Arino travels to Taitou-ku, yet another part of Tokyo, to sample the cuisine of Denkiya Hall, a nice little cafe there. This one wasn’t pointed out by a viewer, though; a staff member found it in a magazine, along with a photo of a cocktail arcade machine inside the place. Outside it looks a little too fancy for that sort of thing, but Arino nonetheless steps in.
Of course, that conception shatters when Arino sees the unorganized pile of books and comics by the front door. And sure enough, there’s two cocktail machines in the far back of the room. The one Arino sits down with has Namco Classic Collection Vol. 2, which features the original (and remakes of) Pac-Man, Dig Dug and New Rally-X. Arino orders his meal (from the pictures on the wall!) and plays a game of Rally-X.
He plays one stage, then moves on to Pac-Man. The last time he played it on the show was with the creator, Toru Iwatani, who showed him the "camping" trick, where the ghosts just swarm around Pac-Man indefinitely. Arino tries it out now, but ends up dying; he wasn’t in the right spot. He remembers it better on the next try, and it works. He watches things play out for a minute or two, then gets back to it.
But then his food comes! And the waitress puts it right in the middle of screen, along with piling all the condiments around! The staff laughs as Arino slouches and leans to try and see the screen again. He pulls the plate back, where he’s luckily parked in the camping spot again. A perfect time to eat. He’s ordered one of the cafe’s specialties: the omu-maki, a big ol’ omelet on top of a pile of noodles.
Arino decides to give Pac-Man a break and starts up Dig Dug in between bites. He plays for a couple of minutes when he gets another delivery that’s slid on top of the screen. It’s yudeazuki (red beans) in a glass, so at least it’s not obscuring everything. Arino tastes a couple of scoops before getting back to the game.
A NEW ERA BEGINS in the second Moshi-Moshi Daisakusen. Arino introduces the new "target," Championship Lode Runner. It’s a sequel to the original with much more challenging puzzles. Arino will surely need all the help he can get from the viewers.
But there won’t be any callers for now — Arino’s just getting things rolling for the first chapter. Apparently he knows a little bit about Lode Runner, as he figures out how to get the first treasure that’s surrounded by blocks: just clear a couple of blocks out, wait a few seconds, clear the bottom one, then drop down to the gold. But then he traps himself getting the next gold, forcing him to restart.
But after that, his keen insights help him collect nearly all of the gold. He gets the final gold that spawns the exit ladders, but he didn’t think far enough ahead, as an impassable block prevents him from climbing to victory.
He nails it on the next try, though, and victory is his. That’s good enough for now — Arino will continue to challenge the other stages next time.