Game Center CX Season 10 – Back to Contents
The Last Samurai? No, "First Samurai"
The first episode of 2009 features what may be one of the oddest game choices for the show: First Samurai, a platform game published by Kemco, but originally made by Europeans (it started as an Amiga game). While it’s not particularly great, and only five stages long, the hope, as always, is that it will give Arino a good challenge.
Arino sits through the intro, then begins the game. To get to the end of each stage, he must collect five red symbols placed through the maps. He pushed through the level, slashing anything that gets in his way, but at one point, he starts getting hit too much and nears death. Suddenly, he’s automatically saved, but loses his katana in the process (complete with badly-digitized voice saying "OH NO! MY SWORD!"). That’s just how it goes: lose your health and you start to lose katana "Force" energy, and will have to survive with kicks and punches until the Force is built back up.
After finding the second symbol, Arino also picks up a Bell. Up ahead is a seemingly impassable path of fire. After a minute, Arino decides to use the Bell. It summons the spirit of the old wizard, who then creates a rainstorm that douses the flames. Success! Later, he finds the third symbol, then drops behind a waterfall. Thinking he’s stuck, Arino just jumps around a bit until he grabs a hidden food item that restores his life, and then he finds a way to climb out.
Arino then defeats enough enemies to regain his katana, though it’s not long before he accidentally falls on some more fire and loses it again after one hit. Eventually, he reaches the end of the stage and faces the boss(es): two giant serpents (or dragons, or something) that spit fire. Arino is already confused, but he just keeps jumping and punching (luckily he picked up a dagger item earlier). With but a sliver of life left, he tries to hold on, but a misplaced jump finally toasts him. On the bright side, he only has to restart at the checkpoint jar he found halfway through the stage.
Arino’s swordless again for rounds two and three, so on the fourth attempt, he makes sure to keep the sword around. He gets to the boss again, and starts slashing away, but after a couple of minutes, he loses the sword again! And the serpents seem to be getting more angry. Arino tries to punch them to death, but loses yet again. And then: Game Over.
The next attempt is golden: Arino learns to stay standing and just slash upwards, keeping him from jumping into the creatures’ fire. He keeps himself alive and the sword in his hand, and soon, stage 1 is completed. Finally.
Stage 2 takes place on a train shuttling through space(?!), and thankfully this quest is far shorter than the previous stage. Arino quickly collects the five symbols and makes his way to the boss: a samurai cyborg. Arino tries his best, but gets sliced enough to lose his sword, and then his life. This process repeats two more times, but wait! On the third attempt, Arino loses his sword, but then just keeps punching the robot, and soon enough it’s destroyed, while Arino hands on the edge of death. That’s luck.
Stage 3. Arino is quickly overwhelmed by enemies, especially little helicopters that swarm around him. He dies, and then it’s Game Over again. Unfortunately, he’s taken back all the way to the start of Stage 1. We only see a bit of the journey back, though.
The layout of stage 3 takes Arino through the sewers and back out to the upper levels of a futuristic-yet-feudal Japan. Some time later, he gets the fifth symbol, but has trouble finding the boss. He pushes on, and soon, at a seemingly random part of the sewer, the boss appears. It’s some sort of slithery alien thing, and there’s but a tiny space to fight in.
Arino tries to hit it, but with just a little bit of health left, he’s defeated quickly. Game Over once more. Arino follows after the ridiculous names on the scoreboard and inputs his name as singer Yui Aragaki. For the second attempt, Arino is well-prepared. He has a multi-dagger weapon that he can toss at the creature, and then jump at the edge of the screen when it gets near. The pattern works! Onto another funky part of the time-space continuum.
In stage 4, Arino is once again overwhelmed, as he quickly dies and gets another Game Over. But we go right back to the stage and watch Arino continue to fight through.. and then get another Game Over.
AD Nakayama appears a few minutes later, not bringing advce, but a tray of delicacies from the Toshi Yoroizuka bakery. They’re recommendations from Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai, who Arino interviewed in the latest issue of CONTINUE. Nakayama waits as Arino nibbles on a chocolate cake, then lets him know that the samurai doesn’t say "mondo" when he loses his sword (as Arino thought), but actually "oh no." That’s it for now — Nakayama disappears and leaves Arino to the game.
Arino gets back to stage 4, though he gets stuck at one point, trying to figure out where to go next. He’s right next to the fifth symbol, but can’t reach it! Surely the wizard can help, but Arino has no Bells. He curses Kemco as he goes on to find a Bell. He finally does find one, hidden in a box, and goes back to the trouble spot. The fifth symbol is his, and Arino knows exactly where to go to find the boss. Too bad he lost his sword at the last second.
The boss is… a demonic home theater setup!? Indeed — it looks like a plasma TV and stereo, and it has a bunch of green pods flying around it, which kill Arino in one hit. Game Over! Arino moans and goes back through the gauntlet.
On the next attempt, he has full health and a healthy sword. Too bad, though, that the pods come together to form an extendable arm that tracks Arino and hits him at every point. Things are getting frustrating. Arino knows he must destroy the stereo, but he keeps getting hit as he camps in the corner. On attempt five, with a full sword, Arino hangs in the corner and starts bashing on the stereo. He smartly jumps when the pod-arm comes near, though by the time he has to destroy the demonic monitor, he loses the sword again, and is killed at the last second.
Arino acts more kamikaze on the sixth and seventh attempts, which obviously isn’t the best strategy, especially when the monitor starts raining grenades. He starts entering double-digit attempts. On try #13, he lucks into a spot where the pods just hang out in a far corner for a bit, letting him wail on the monitor. Arino moves away when it’s necessary, and then continues bashing the boss. With the pattern locked in, he finally defeats the boss, and moves on to the fifth and final stage.
Stage 5 is the "Demon Palace," a creepy alien world with all sorts of winding passages. Arino uses Bells frequently here, though not quite solving any mysteries until much later, when the wizard creates a series of stairs that will take Arino further up. He gets to what seems to be the top — the boss room, that is. But he still needs one more symbol. He takes a flying leap off the top and goes down to continue the hunt.
Another use of a Bell enables Arino to go up and grab the last symbol, then goes back up to the top room. As expected, the boss appears: a giant demon head on two legs! Arino immediately likens it to AP Tojima, then attempts to fight. Unfortunately, he’s squashed within seconds and gets a Game Over.
On the next try, Arino ducks more often this time, and properly evades the boss’ rain of sparks. And then, after enough hits, its eyes fly out and head toward Arino! And its firing pattern is more deadly! Arino tries his best, but just ends up losing his sword and another life.
The eyes seem to be invincible, so he’s just going to have to bear with them. On the fourth attempt, Arino stays alive long enough to finally get rid of the boss’ legs. And then it seems like there’s another phase to the fight, but no, everything’s fine — the samurai is warped out of the area, and the ending screen appears. Arino’s done after 13 hours, and later thinks maybe that demon looked more like Producer Kan.
DVD Box 5 Event
By now, it’s an Akihabara tradition: Arino makes a special appearance to promote the release of the newest GCCX DVD set. This time, several stores in the area were involved, each part of a GCCX "stamp rally" (an activitiy akin to a scavenger hunt where you must collect stamps on a card from multiple locations).
But there’s also the meet-and-greet stage presentation, where Arino receives gifts from fans, including a little boy’s rendition of his Quest of Ki struggle, and one man who went to South Korea and met the same shop owner that Arino did.
The Game-itization Project 2
Arino sifts through a pile of postcards from fans who sent in their responses to an Arino no Chousenjou 2 contest: the Arino character in Kacho wa Meitantei asks another character if they like games, and all you had to do was send in what their reponse would be. Arino chooses five winners.
And then, two new games! First is GunDuel, the sequel to Star Prince, and the 1991 (!?) RPG Guadia Quest Saga! There are also two-player modes for Mutekiken Kung-Fu and GunDuel.
Singing About Whatever the Hell You Want
For the final installment, Arino sings along with the Final Fantasy II Chocobo song, the Makaimura death melody, and the Mega Man pre-stage tune.