Game Center CX Season 12 – Back to Contents
Once More, the Desperate Struggle… "Ninja Ryukenden II"
You usually don’t see a sequel on GCCX unless it’s a sequel to a game that’s already been on the show — and if you know it’s going to cause Arino pain. Four years after tackling the original Ninja Ryukenden (Ninja Gaiden), our hero is forced to endure that game’s sequel: Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. It’s definitely no softer than its predecessor, but will Arino get far without the help of three ADs at his side, like last time?
The game is popped in, and Arino checks out the prologue cut-scenes, where we’re introduced to the new villain, Ashtar. And then, stage 1-1 begins. Arino cautiously runs through the city and grabs his first power-up, the giant throwing star — but, as last time, he can’t use any of those special items if he doesn’t collect magic points as well.
Soon after, Arino grabs the Bunshin (doppleganger) power-up, which summons a red ghost ninja who mimics Arino’s movements, and can be carefully "placed" in one spot to attack enemies from a different angle. Unfortunately, as he’s seeing how the double works, an enemy drops down and shoves Arino right off the edge of the building.
On the next try, Arino gets two doppleganers (the allowed maximum) and then properly goes down the building into the next part of the stage. The home stretch leads to the boss room, where Arino faces the rock-stupid Dando the Cursed. Despite being the easiest boss in the game, Arino manages to die, though in fairness, it’s because he had but a sliver of health left.
Attempt two: Arino has full health, so he should be fine. Well, almost — Dando still manages to ram into Arino a few times, leaving him with a dot of health once more. But that level of risk seems to be what smartens him up, as Arino quickly takes things slowly (if that makes sense). He only lets himself get in a couple of strikes, then runs to the other end of the room to avoid Dando’s next charge. Slow and steady wins the race — Arino finally finishes stage 1-1.
Another cut-scene introduces the mysterious agent Robert, and then it’s on to stage 2-1, which takes place on top of a series of train cars. Arino does fine on this section, grabbing two Bunshin along the way, and then enters the door to stage 2-2.
Things take an abrupt shift in 2-2, where the stage changes to a mountainous path ("this is the inside of the train?" Arino jokes). Here’s where the game’s true colors are shown as the stage features a periodically changing gust of wind that pushes Arino to the left or right — and some jumps are impossible without a tailwind. He survives for the first several seconds, but is eventually pushed right into the next bottomless pit. Game Over.
Already, the situation deteriorates: Arino struggles to make it past the first few jumps, though he does make it to the next section. But soon, gun-toting grunts kill him for the last time (again), getting another Game Over.
Eventually, Arino reaches the boss, Baron Spider. The Baron constantly tosses out huge tarantuals from a platform above, and whenever Arino climbs up to attack, the Baron just jumps down to the bottom, and vice-versa. Indeed, there’s barely an effective way to hit the Baron with just the regular sword attack, so Arino is utterly confused for a couple of minutes until he’s finally killed by a spider and, sadly, gets another Game Over.
Arino makes it back for a second attempt, still failing to stay safe from the spiders (and the wind), but getting at least a few sword slashes in on the Baron. But he dies again — several more times, in fact. Stage 2-2 has taken over 90 minutes alone. As spiders continue to rain on Arino’s head, he lucks out in some form, finding himself able to jump down to the bottom every time the Baron does and get in a few hits. This continues for a couple of minutes, until finally, with one dot left, Arino brazenly finishes off the Baron just after a spider nearly grazes him.
Stage 3 opens with a dark forest where the path is only seen when lightning strikes. Adding to the challenge are fireballs that slowly pursue Arino and red blobs that jump between gaps. Even with two bunshin, it’s no easier for Arino to try and make jumps that he can only make out for a second.
Soon, he reaches stage 3-2, a creepy castle with jerky enemies bouncing all around, including birds that shove Arino off of tiny platforms with little remorse.
Yes, the birds — bane of any Ninja Gaiden player, and one of the first big roadblocks for Arino when he played the first game. They’re back, and no less annoying. Arino’s repeatedly hit and pushed into pits, even soon after he enters the second section. Once again, progress comes to a crawl, but we fast forward to the third section, where Arino climbs up a wall to face the next boss.
Funky Dynamite (yes, the actual name of the boss) is a flying android that goes back and forth across the screen firing on Arino. It doesn’t take long to figure out how to beat him: Arino attempts to place the bushin ninja up near Funky and strike when he gets near. It’s not perfect, as Arino still needs to dodge the bullets. Amazingly, Arino lucks into a pattern where Funky jumps up and down in the middle of the screen while Arino repeatedly strikes, but Funky’s missiles end up killing the kacho.
It’s the third try that’s the charm, as Arino fools Funky enough to finally destroy him. In the resulting cut-scene, Ninja Gaiden hero Ryu is ambushed by Ashtar, but is saved by Robert. From there, stage 4-1 begins: it’s a dark cave with lots of fire around, and of course, really annoying enemies, including Mario-esque fireballs shooting from the flames.
Soon, the stage becomes another gauntlet of tiny platforms to jump across, and Arino goes as carefully as he can, dodging fireballs and birds on his way to the exit. He makes it through alive, though he’s upset that the next section isn’t the boss, and he has but three bars of health left. The only thing as bad as blowing wind is moving water, and stage 4-2 has enough of that to be yet another nuisance in this challenge.
Charging enemies and bullet-shooting blobs just add to the hurt as Arino tries to dodge or defeat all of them while being sure not to fall off the watery ledges. And then the birds come back! Hoo-freakin’-ray!
But it’s not the birds that drive Arino insane, it’s the hopping gremlin-looking things that pursue him all up the tiny platforms, hitting and pushing him off to his death more times than he can count. But then the birds start becoming a real problem, too.
4-2 is downright torturous, but Arino manages to rush his way to the final screen and meet the boss, Naga Sotuva. Naga is basically a giant head pouring water from above, but also lets out two flying hands that become the real threats for Arino. He’s killed, but easily makes it back for another try.
The water-covered surfaces make it hard to Arino to position his two bunshin — it takes so long, in fact, that he dies from a Time Over. In the real world, though, time keeps increasing. Arino’s been at this stage for over two and a half hours now, and he’s passed 10 attempts trying to beat this boss, consistently failing to make a sizeable dent in its health bar.
Somehow, he gets closer than he ever has, but just as he’s ready to make the final two hits, another hand comes out from the side and kills Arino for the 10th time. His thumbs are hurting. On attempt 12, he gets Naga down to one bar of health while he has plenty — but that’s also the exact moment he runs out of enough magic, making his plan to toss throwing stars at the head now impossible!
One final sword swing will decide this fight, and after taking a few moments to right himself, Arino leaps up and makes the hit. Finally, Naga is defeated.
In the game, Ryu comes closer to Ashtar, but just as stage 5 begins, this episode ends and we’ll catch up with Arino next time.
Game Center CX News
For the recent release of GCCX DVD Box 6, the show’s staff held a fan rally in Akihabara where people go on a scavenger hunt for "Happyman," a jacketed Inoko MAX who who appears at the end of the line to hand out the prize, a GCCX stockholder receipt.
Arino is in Taito-ku again to check out a certain restaurant located in a covered outdoor market street. The first thing he spots is a senbei shop, and sambles the selection before buying himself a back of the crunchy snacks.
Further down the road, Arino spots today’s destination: the Nakaya Yogashi (Western sweets) Shop, which is supposed to have some games in it, but it just looks like a small pasty shop with a lone elderly owner. Confused, Arino wonders if he has the wrong place, but then the old man points Arino next door, the shop’s tea room, which has a couple of seats with tabletop video games inside.
After looking at a filthy old prize machine, Arino finally steps inside the other room and spots the game tables, right there in the shop. Three games are available, but Arino sits down at Cosmic Monsters II, a Space Invaders clone by Universal. The game is unique for its use of a dial instead of a joystick to control the ship.
As Arino plays, in walks AD Watanabe, who sits down across from Arino with a cofee and a giant roll cake. The game’s UFO enemies are also unique, bursting from the top and unleashing extra rows of invaders. After a couple more tries, Arino loses, and decides to enjoy his coffee. And, as usual, Watanabe feeds him a bit of cake.
A Waste of Color
Arino picks out another quiz game this time: an Irem one featuring Gen-san (Hammerin’ Harry). Nothing too special about this one, but Arino does ace thee "human body" category.
Next is Dodge Boy from Tonkin House, a rather rudimentary dodgeball game. Arino plays the "death match" mode, and fails to grasp the controls, constantly passing the ball and never really hitting the opponents.
The next one he fishes out is Seaside Volleyball, which is also from Tonkin House and pretty much looks like the same game from the label. At least it looks pretty goofy, with Arino playing as a Brazilian team against a couple of homely-looking Japanese. And yet he manages to lose 9-0.
Arino chooses Seaside Volleyball to draw a doodle of — a simple one, at that.