Game Center CX Season 1 – Back to Contents
Arino enters Nintendo’s ivory tower in Kyoto to speak with Yoshio Sakamoto, creator of many early Famicom classics such as Balloon Fight and Famicom Detective Club. He’s also worked on Metroid and the WarioWare games. But before the Famicom, he also designed the Multi Screen Game & Watch — the precursor to the DS. Sakamoto talks about Balloon Fight in particular, and even shows Arino a design sketch from the game (with a player character that looks a lot like Mario). Sakamoto and Arino then play Balloon Fight together, but Arino ends up too humiliated by the end of it, so Sakamoto demonstrates his skill at the Balloon Trip mode instead.
Metroid is also discussed at length. Various points are brought up, but first of all is the fact that the name came from the combination of "metro" and "android." Other games Sakamoto talks about are Kaeru no Tame ni Kame wa Naru (the testing ground, you might say, for Link’s Awakening), Card Hero and of course, his then-latest release, WarioWare. Sakamoto also reveals some of his favorite games that aren’t his, including Parappa the Rapper and Furai no Shiren.
Arino has encountered many hardships during this first season, but now he faces the greatest of all — Super Mario Bros. 2, a.k.a. The Lost Levels. But before he begins, he tries Super Mario 1 to prepare. He reaches the warp zone in World 1-2, but stops short to do a kintamario. After that, Arino tries the World 3-1 1UP trick with the Koopa shells, but can’t quite get it down pat. He brings in AD Tojima, but even he doesn’t get it right. Arino shoos him away and starts over, this time warping to World 8. There, he fails miserably. He decides to give up on completing the game and shows a clip of Tojima beating it.
Eventually Arino moves on to SMB2. He quickly learns the significance of the poison mushrooms. He also learns of the 1UP loop in World 1-1. He ends up doing the trick right on the first try, and sits back and watches the lives roll in. Smooth sailing, right? Not quite. The next time Arino dies, his lives read "9." Another death: 8. One more death and… Game Over! Arino refers back to his strategy guide (actually for Super Mario All-Stars), which tells him of his mistake: due to the memory limitations, SMB2 on the Famicom resets the life count after 127 lives are passed. Despair crosses Arino’s face as he begrudgingly starts over.
He counts the lives in his head, and this time he’s below the limit. He continues on to warp to World 4, which is particularly nasty for him, especially the gap in front of the 4-1 flagpole. He pushes through and clears 4-3 with a stroke of luck. He looks down at his thumb, and shows the camera the rather well-defined B-button imprint on the bottom.
4-4, being a castle level, is also not easy for Arino. Death upon death leaves him exhausted. Will he give up!? Nah, of course not. It only takes him about two tries to get past Bowser — however, he takes the pussy way out and runs through Bowser as Super Mario. Things don’t get any better in World 5 when Arino encounters the wind sections of 5-1. In 5-2 Arino stumbles upon the warp zone and instantly skips ahead to World 8. By now it’s been about nine hours at the helm, and none of it particularly enjoyable. It takes multiple tries to get past the Hammer Brother in 8-1, but finally Arino passes the level. But 8-2 is where everything changes.
8-2 constantly loops until you use a lone Koopa Paratroopa to jump up and hit a vine block which will lead you to the flagpole. The blocks around the Koopa are so carefully placed as to make it hard to know when and how to approach the jump. Arino laughs at the absurdity of it, but perhaps also with a bit of fear as well. His first few tries, he doesn’t even touch the Koopa. When he finally does, he doesn’t hit the block, so the Koopa falls into nothingness and Arino is forced to retry.
This goes on for what seems like forever. Arino camps out on the opposite side of the blocks, but it gets him nowhere. His lives dwindle down into the single digits. AD Tojima and staff writer Kibe step in and advise Arino by drawing the situation on the whiteboard behind him. After a brief discussion of the Koopa’s movement pattern, Tojima proposes the path for Arino to take. Arino goes back to the game. The moment of truth is nigh! He gets to the point and stops. "God, this is scary!" He stretches out his fingers and attempts the jump.
In one fell swoop, he gets it! Applause all around, and a big handshake for Tojima. A few cloud platforms are all that’s left before the flagpole, and… well, Arino doesn’t get enough momentum; he dies right before the flagpole. By now, all he can do is laugh and give up.