Game Center CX Season 15 – Back to Contents
The Curtain Rises on Season 15! "Gimmick"
Though it came just a few weeks after the last, Season 15 marks a few changes for Game Center CX: For one thing, we’ll apparently be getting 20 episodes, Arino has a new widescreen TV, and Inoue is directing the show for real. First thing’s first: Cover the TV in GCCX stickers.
The game that opens this new season is Sunsoft’s Gimmick! (or "Mr. Gimmick" to you Europeans). This platformer came at the peak of the Famicom’s life, and is a fantastic production iboth visually and musically. And though it may look cute and possess only six stages, it’s designed for platforming pros; a nice send-off for a system that more or less made the genre.
Arino fires it up, and immediately learns of Mr. Gimmick’s (real name Yumetaro) attack method: a big star that must be charged up before being tossed at enemies. However, he keeps mashing on the B button without actually charing the star, and soon, enemies gang up and kill him. On the second try, he understands how it works, and having played Mega Man 4 recently, he relates the attack to the Pharoah Shot.
Heading down into the underground section of the stage, Arino is surprised by the slopes that Gimmick slides down quite quickly. Combine that with quick screen transitions, and the risk of slipping up and dying is great. Unfortunately, even when he’s being careful, Arino manages to jump right on spikes or get attacked by falling bombs. Pretty soon, it’s Game Over time.
Arino pushes through that trouble spot, but then that leads right to more of them, and slipping and falling onto spikes is once again the name of the game. This game wastes no time in showing its true, devious colors. Eventually, after more scary jumps and slides, Arino makes it out of the underground and reaches the boss, a big black blob that shoots out the little black blobs that were tormenting him earlier. They come quickly, so he’s killed in a flash, but on the next try, he finds a power-up that turns his stars into bombs, and that’s the silver bullet that finally destroys the big daddy blob.
Stage 2 is next, of course, this time taking place around a big pirate ship. A cannon on the top fires cannonballs every so often, and Arino needs to hop on one at just the right moment to be carreid over to the next part of the stage. But first he needs to push the cannon down a step, then carefully time the cannonballs. His first couple of attempts are failures, but he gets it on the third try.
Not long after that is the second boss, a swashbuckling furball. He’s aggressive, too, so Arino has to stay on his feet, but even that isn’t always enough to keep from dying. At one point, Arino’s killed, but then the boss runs off the edge of the stage, killing himself. The game’s score shoots up, meaning the stage is techincally cleared (thanks, camerman Abe!), but since Arino died first, he’s bumped back to fight the boss again.
Many more attempts go by, and it’s not until attempt 25 that Arino manages to stay alive long enough to bonk the boss with just enough stars. Stage 3 moves to the forest, and it, too is suitably perilous. Once at the second part, another cave, Arino is assaulted by falling stone blocks and cannons that fire arrows in his general direction. With a lot of slopes, Arino dies often from falling into spikes, when all he wants to do is avoid everything else!
After a few more misses, Arino makes it to the end of that section, but then must find a way to make it past four falling stones. He dies there, but the game still kicks him back to the opening of the cave. On the next try, after being extra careful, Arino gets Yumetaro past the stones, but then drops down into the next section and right into the water, dying again.
If that weren’t annoying enough, the boss is a shellfish who climbs up a slope, which is the only hard surface in the room. Bouncing Yumetaro’s star to hit the boss is tricky, and Arino is repeatedly hit and pushed down into the water. The hard part is knowing when to fire the star, and on the 16th try, Arino finally jumps and fires enough times to hit the boss and kill it for good.
Stage 4 is in the desert, and Arino makes it to a miniboss with just one life left. He kills it easily, but there’s more stage to go through. He makes it to the real boss, which is a giant chick, and inarguably the cutest of all the bosses. Cute though it may be, it’s still a difficult SOB who loves tossing clumps of projectiles at Arino. Once again, he defeats the boss at the same time he dies, but THIS time, he actually gets to progress to the next stage.
In stage 5, the enemies launch homing missiles at Arino, which makes jumping across tiny platforms naturally harder. He makes it to the second section, but then it’s conveyor belts and falling bombs that make his life hell. On the next try, Arino bypasses the missiles at the beginning and enters a "secret" room with a lever. Hitting the lever seems to do nothing, so he exits the room.
At this point, AD Takahashi steps into frame and offers his help to Arino. Takahashi begins drawing a diagram on the whiteboard (with an insane-lookng Yumetaro; a Takahashi trait?) that shows the kacho how to make it through the conveyor belts. The AD then asks if Arino wants him to play through that section, but he proudly declines. Instead, Arino does it himself, and hops down a pit that doesn’t kill him, but takes him to the next part where he needs to go — this is what the lever opened.
Takahashi returns, warning Arino that this is going to be a little hard from here on. This time, Arino lets the AD sit by him and take control. Takahashi slips and falls off a platform, which earns mocking laughs from Arino, but on the next try, the AD expertly jumps from platform to platform to grab a bonus item; a magic lamp.
Arino goes back through the stage and reaches the boss, a black blob firing lasers from a pod on the ceiling. Each time Arino hits it, its rate of fire increases, and soon Arino is pinned by the rapidly-moving laser. Still, he manages to finish it off just by tossing a bomb at the laser, which blows up and sends the blob retreating.
But this isn’t over! A second boss, a metal walker, appears and fires its own beams at Arino.More than 13 attempts go by, as Arino is tripped up by missiles or something else unpredictable. Nevertheless, he just can’t seem to bounce that star correctly — the boss’ head is its only weak point. Finally, on the 15th attempt, Arino slips under the boss and delivers the final blow.
Stage 6, the final quest. More one-block platforms and other precarious jumps start killing Arino in no time. He tries his best, but with Yumetaro being ever-so-slippery, it’s quite a challenge. More than 90 minutes of attempts go by in stage 6.
Eventually, Arino makes it to a miniboss, a bubble-tossing wizard of some sort. The bubbles latch on to Arino and prevent him from firing stars, so he has to creatively bounce stars along the walls. Really, that boss isn’t so hard, but right after it is another wizard, this one tossing ice beams. Arino is killed faster, and is kicked back to the first miniboss. And another Game Over passes.
AD Takahashi returns, and sits down to play through stage up to the minibosses. The kacho takes this time to learn a bit about Takahashi, like what kind of girl he likes — the young man has a soft spot for "Korisu" from the band AKB48. After having a laugh about it, Arino is handed back the controller
He blasts the two minibosses away, then heads to the final encounter against the head wizard, who moves fast and tosses bubbles and ice beams the entire time. Arino seemingly has no chance. He repeatedly dies, but barely manages to hit the boss. Takahashi sticks by to get through the stage quickly when Arino gets a Game Over.
With three lives left, but just one orb of health, Arino manages to deal the final blow without getting hit once more, knocking off the evil wizard. That clinches it! After hours, Gimmick! is completed. Yumetaro enters the screen, has a thought about the young girl that’s missing, and then is thrown back to the title screen. Seems anticlimactic.
And it is — Arino got the bad ending. To get the good ending, he had to collect the bonus items in every stage — remember that he only got that magic lamp thanks to Takahashi. But the AD saw this coming, and so, before the show, he spent up to 30 hours completing a second copy of Gimmick! on another Famicom.
The second system is delivered to the challenge room and hooked up to the TV. Arino hits Start, but… nothing’s happened. We cut to the game screen, which is stuck on the map screen just going "bnnnnnnnnn." It crashed! Takahashi’s work was for nothing!
The staff has a laugh, but even though Takahashi laughs politely, he knows what has to happen. The AD stays behind anf completes Gimmick! all over again, getting the bonus items and reaching the secret seventh stage, which has a special boss that will finally reveal the good ending when he’s defeated. As morning rises, Takahashi completes his duty, and bows to the camera. No better way to kick off a new season.
On the last TamaGe, Arino visited the Tokyo German Village, but there’s still plenty of footage left from the trip! So we pick up where we left off — Arino finds a big ball-toss machine called Pitch In 2.All he has to do is throw the fasted baseball he can, but his best pitch is a pitiful 55 km/h — the top score is 120!
Arino calls over AD Katayama to try his hand at the game, and Katayama uses proper pitching form to pitch a 72.1-kilometer ball, then follow it with a 110, getting him #2 on the board.
Next is Tsukan de Pon, a game that Arino’s tried before — you fit your arms through two of the three holes in the window to try and wing balls into a pig’s mouth. Arino scores high enough to get a prize — a voucher or a treat from the prize counter nearby. The attendant lady brings Arino a paper bucket filled with candy, and all he has to do is scoop as many of them as he can with a ladle. "I’m 38, you know," he says a little shamefully.
Arino leaves the village’s arcade and heads out to the archery field. The archery attendant is very encouraging, saying "nice!" every time Arino hits the target — except for the last time, when he hits outside the target.
Down the way is the bazooka game, where a row of ball-shooting guns is posed in front of animal-shaped targets — if you manage to get a ball inside the hole on the panel, you win. This isn’t new to Arino, who played a similar game back in the show’s Fukuoka special. Despite coming very close to slotting the balls almost every time, he still doesn’t quite make it. They’re rigged, I tells ya! Arino buys another bucket of balls as we say goodbye.
Game Collections: 1991: August-September