Game Center CX Season 15 – Back to Contents
F-1? Nah, "F-Zero"
Some time ago, Arino played Paris-Dakar Rally Special, which he thought would be a racing game, but turned out to be much more. Today, though, the challenge is a racing game that’s nothing but — Nintendo’s Super NES classic F-Zero. Back in the day, Arino was really into the game, and pretty much mastered it — but will history repeat itself here?
After selecting the main Grand Prix mode and picking his race craft (the Wild Goose), Arino shows his confidence by playing in the Expert class. Well, it’s his choice. The game begins at Mute City, and Arino seems to know what he’s doing. but by the third lap (out of five), he’s lagging behind in 7th place. On the next lap, he’s slowed down by weak opponents that he bumps into, which throws him into the rough parts of the track, slowing him down more and eventually causing him to lose the race. And that’s a Game Over that goes right back to the title screen.
He restarts, still on Expert, but this time playing as the Golden Fox. He starts out in 1st, but continues to bump into other crafts and lose again, partly because of the craft’s handling. On the next attempts, he tries the other crafts, but they’re not winning anything for him, either. Arino finally wonders if he should bump the game down to Beginner class… but nah.
Arino goes back to the Wild Goose for another go-around. By the fourth lap, he’s in 5th place, which is in the "safe zone" for the lap (every course has a different "safe" rank that can keep the player in the circuit if they keep that rank or better on the laps leading to the final, but narrows afterward). But a last-second slip-up causes him to lose the place and fail once again. At one point he hits the jump ramp and steers himself off the course.
The failures continue to mount, but eventually, Arino lucks into a shortcut by going straight through a rough patch, earning him 3rd place in the home stretch and eventual goal. It took forever, but he’s finally completed the first course.
Big Blue is next. It’s a fairly wide track, but an icy zone before the goal can undo a potential victory. At one point Arino starts bouncing around the track like a pinball before blowing himself up. After losing all of his lives, he of course gets a Game Over that takes him right back to the beginning of the game. He pushes ahead to Big Blue once again, but then loses out once again.
Arino is interrupted by producer Kan, who kept wondering why the kacho was putting himself through this on Expert. After being talked through it, Arino swallows his pride — a little bit — and restarts on Standard, the middle difficulty. To no surprise, he completes Mute City and Big Blue in first place.
The next course is Sand Ocean, a fairly narrow track all around. Arino gets stuck in 5th place, which is the safe rank until the final lap, where he has to get 3rd or better — and he has uet to catch up to a rival. He loses within one rank. This repeats itself a few more times until the next Game Over.
We jump ahead to Sand Ocean again, and Arino is tossed around until he blows up, just like before. But on the second try, he manages to make it to the goal in 2nd place, despite some stressful turns and bumps just before. The catalyst? Arino remembered how to use the turbo boost function.
The fourth couse is Death Wind I, which lives up to its name by starting off with a strong gust that pushes Arino to the right. It eventually mellows out, but it still makes it hard for Arino to hit the boost strips that are peppered along the middle of the track in some spots. Remarkably, he qualifies in just one try.
Then it’s on to Silence, the last course in this circuit. Right-angle turns keep Arino moving whether he likes it or not. He makes it to the final lap within the safe rank, but was suffering a bit of damage since then. Despite scraping against the track borders that adds to the damage, he makes it to the goal and finishes in 3rd, completing the circuit. But he’s far from over — two more circuits remain, and he goes right into the Queen League.
Mute City II opens this circuit, and Arino wins it easily in one go. Next is Port Town, and the big annoying gimmick here is a short series of magnetic strips that pull Arino to the track borders, raking away at his power level. He makes it through the first lap, but is killed on the next, then kills himself on the next try, on the final lap. On one try, he’s shoved in mid-air and thrown off the track again. Just for that, the shover, Samurai Goroh, now becomes Arino’s arch rival (who he calls "Auntie" because of his bright pink craft).
Emboldened, Arino blows through the course and places 3rd, moving on to Red Canyon. Unfortunately he loses in the first attempt, but clears it in 2nd place on the second try. Next is White Land, with more twisty and turny narrow parts. It’s a constant back-and-forth between him and Goroh, but the first attempt ends in a loss. With one life left, Arino tries hard to stay in the lead. After one lap, he seems to purposefully drive right up against the track border and stay there. Has he given up?! No — he just didn’t realize that wasn’t the final lap.
That blunder costs him the last life, forcing him back to the start of the circuit. He gets back to White Land, but just loses over and over. It’s officially a slump, and it’s unclear if Arino can get out of it — Goroh’s just too swift. But soon enough, Arino gets really lucky, hitting multiple jump ramps at top speed and flying ahead of the pack. He places 3rd, but he edges out Goroh by a nose.
White Land II is the next course — yes, so soon, and with so many hairpin turns. A giant jump ramp needs to be hit at top speed or else it won’t be cleared, and Arino repeatedly falls short of the other end of the track. In such a dire strait, AD Takahashi steps in to present a hand-drawn map of the course, and teaches Arino a special technique: by holding down on the D-pad, his craft can pitch up slightly, gaining enough altitude to clear the jump. Sure enough, it works, though Arino places out of the running.
On the 18th try and another last life, Arino makes it to the final lap within the safe 3rd place, but Goroh is still on his tail. He’s whipped around the track just before the big jump, and that’s enough to push him back far enough to lose. But the 20th try is miraculous, as Arino manages to stay out of the line of danger, and finish up in 1st place.
But the challenge will end for this episode. In the next, we pick up right where Arino left off and watch as the challenge continues into the night. Will he make it to the winner’s circle?
Arino’s adventure this week takes place in Adachi-ku, and "kids’ store" the Miharashiya Pastry Shop. The small treat shop has about six game cabinets in a corner near the front, and Arino heads there first.
He starts with one of the six games, a flipper game called The Mutant Robot, and after giving it a few tries, a boy comes by. Arino offers him one of his coins, with which he wins the game. By now, a group of other boys have gathered behind Arino, encouraging him.
Turning around, we take a look at the video games, starting with Metal Slug 4. Arino asks if any of the boys want to join him, and they push one of them, Yasui-kun, up front. Arino dies early in the first stage, but Yasui continues alone for a little while until he dies too. Arino slides over to the next game, In The Hunt. Yasui walked away, but he’s called back for this one. The same outcome happens as in Metal Slug, weirdly enough.
From there, it’s Wonder Boy in Monster Land. Arino gets a different kid to join him, Shinigami, and he starts spitting advice at the kacho. Another kid keeps bugging Shinigami by butting in. At this point, it looks like every boy and girl in the neighborhood has crowded around Arino.
Finally, Arino walks inside the shop and talks to the old man who co-owns the place. He hands out little prize drawings to kids who buy things, but he doesn’t let Arino have one at first; this is a kids’ shop, after all. But he softens up, and Arino picks out a couple of the tickets. If he gets the right number, he wins something, but his first picks don’t get him anything. But he’s given an olive branch and is allowed one more try, on the house. And it’s a #1! He wins a freezepop.
To cap off the visit, Arino gets everybody around for a group photo.
Arino and Ms. Nishiyama read a key scene from the original Fire Emblem between Roger and female fighter Shida, where she asks him if he believes in love, which eventually leads him to join her side and fight with, if not for her.
Game Collections: 1991: September