Game Center CX Season 15 – Back to Contents
Slug? Gear? No, "Metal Storm"
Arino looks a bit out of sorts today: he’s got a pimple on his nose, and his hair’s been done up with just a hint of a cowlick. To make things worse, he’s looked in his new basket of treats only to find someone left a cookie wrapper in there. Well, today’s challenge game isn’t going to make things better: it’s Irem’s Metal Storm, the gravity-manipulation platformer that’s actually a pretty good game, but pretty tough, too. It’s also one of the games Arino was torn between on the New Year’s special — he went with Tower of Babel, as you know.
In Metal Storm, you control a walking robot that can walk, jump, shoot, and also flip gravity at will. Since Arino doesn’t look at manuals, you might think the gravity part would be lost on him, but he discovers it after his first death. He makes a quick trip through the first section of stage 1, but then seemingly gets himself trapped after grabbing power-ups, but all he had to do was flip to the ceiling and jump "down" through the platform. The power-ups include the G Attack, which turn him into a fireball when transitioning between gravity, and the Armor, which lets him take an extra hit (it’s a one-hit death game otherwise).
After that, Arino tries to be tricky by sticking to the ceiling, then jumping and shooting a turret over a wall, but the turret ends up winning that standoff. Arino gets a Game Over, but when he continues, he starts again at 1-2, so it could be worse. Eventually he reaches the end of the stage and faces the first boss: a giant green robot that exposes three pods from its sides while it fires beams at Arino.
Arino has to predict where the pods are going to come out, then shoot them before they retract (about six seconds). He dies the first time — thanks for the bad advice, cameraman Abe! — but clears the stage just fine on the second.
Stage 2-1 changes things already by taking place in a wraparound-screen level. So far, it’s pretty obvious, though he gets pinched by green pincer ‘bots when trying to collect some power-ups and continue forward. He has to act fast, but just keeps dying. He does get the hang of the pattern, though, and moves forward. A gauntlet of pincers are at the end of the stage, but he breezes by them despite some hesitation.
Stage 2-2 is the same setup, but a bit more confusing, requiring Arino to use some midair gravity shifts to avoid touching beds of spikes. And then there are doors that change position when he switches gravity. During this attempt to puzzle things out, the timer in the corner of the screen starts beeping — Arino has only 30 seconds left! He hits the proverbial gas, and is almost killed by an end-of-level gauntlet of enemies, but manages to get to the end with just seven seconds left.
But then it’s boss time. Bosses, rather — a handful of laser-shooting pods attached to the wall at the end of the screen. They waste no time firing, and Arino hurriedly jumps, but his toe touches the laser and kills him. Same fate on the second try, and a Game Over forces him to retry 2-2. The third try is the charm, as this time, Arino just jumps up and keeps firing, getting rid of the pods in record time.
Stage 3-1 is a change of scenery, one without as much color clash, at least. Big green robots run along a track in the middle of the level, making it hard for Arino to make headway. He makes it to 3-2 and it’s the same story, except now there’s big turrets firing lasers straight up. Arino has to go back to normal gravity to shut them off. And then he’s killed by the green bots over and over agian.
Halfway through 3-2, Arino mindlessly jumps down, only to hit a bed (ceiling, I guess) of spikes. That’s a small trip-up, though, and soon he’s on to the next boss, another disappearing/reappearing bot that’s surrounded by lasers crossing the room. Arino is relatively save in the four corners, but he eventually has to move to another corner when the boss approaches, and that means timing it right so he flies through the gaps in the lasers. Let’s just say it takes a while before he gets the timing down.
It’s not until the 21st attempt that he finally starts hitting the boss without pause, carefully jumping to the next corner, and then it’s finally defeated. But Stage 4-1 doesn’t let up: Arino starts in a stone cage of some sort that’s automatically moving forward, and enemies float in and generally make life hard. Arino dies several times, then manages to stay alive longer than a minute, but then the cage pauses and starts moving vertically! Each time he gets a little farther, then dies from some new enemy that pops up. Some more tries, and the cage moves in a stop-and-start fashion as turret enemies plant themselves in the corners and fire at Arino.
He makes it to the end of the line and faces the boss of the stage… or rather, again, bosses: four red turrets that circle around the cage, forcing Arino to jump whenever they get in his way. He gets the hang of it after a couple of tries, but then the bots pause to fire beams, and that just kills him again. The beams aren’t fast, so it only takes about eight attempts to finish them off.
But that was only the boss of that stage, so Arino is not pleased that the cage just keeps moving on into stage 4-2. It’s moving all over the place, now, and enemies are bombarding Arino left and right. One type of enemy erects a wall and heads straight for Arino, and he neds to jump and shoot it in the center to get rid of the wall.
Finally, Arino makes it to the next boss, but of course, is wasted within seconds. It’s a three-pronged assault: a red enemy bouncing around and two turrets on the top and bottom firing lasers. Arino can’t stay still for long, but after being pinched a few times, he manages to get rid of the turrets and finish off the red blobby bouncing thing. Onto stage 5!
Ah, more lasers. At least they don’t move, but it’s still a tricky layout to get through, especially when the big beam starts chasing after Arino. Nevertheless, he makes it to 5-2, though it’s literally more of the same. At one point the stage turns into a maze of sorts, and Arino ends up at a dead end with no obvious way out! But then he remembers he can jump up through certain platforms, and he goes on just fine. Uh huh. Timing is everything, and most of the time, Arino doesn’t have it. But he does make it to the next boss, and it’s here where things fall apart.
The boss is one of the meanest yet: Atlantis, a blue hovering mech that fires tricky diagonal laser patterns, and quick ones, too. The boss changes color to indicate different firing modes, but neither of them are easy to dodge. Arino is killed quickly agan, and again, and again. He tries to jump and shoot and avoid the beams, but they’re always hitting him. Even putting on a cold pad isn’t helping. On the 62nd try, Arino at least lasts a little longer, but then Atlantis uses its new green firing mode to fire wall-sized lasers that try to "wipe" Arino away.
Arino tries to concentrate, focusing on dodging rather than atacking. He gets past the first green firing mode, but then dies when Atlantis switches back. The attempts continue to stack and stack. Arino has now spent over four hours trying to beat this boss for a staggering 120 times. It’s certainly a GCCX record, but definitely not the kind you celebrate.
It’s right around then when AD Takahashi finally appears. he has advice that amounts to a sheet of paper with just three tips on them, the last being "concentration." Arino then starts the 121st attempt, but still ends up caught by the wiper laser. Ten more attempts go by. Arino finally seems to be in the zone, moving when needed. He unfortunately loses his Armor once, but it’s only a few seconds later when he finally destroys Atlantis! Only took 131 tries. With no one next to him, he’s forced to double-high-five the wall.
If only the game was actually done. There’s one more stage to get through, unfortunately, and it’s a doozy: stage 6-1 and 6-2 feature a series of constantly rising platforms, bordered by a force field on the top and bottom of the screen that will kill Arino if he touches it. It’s not obvious to see which platforms are coming next, and of course, laser turrets keep things difficult.
Arino takes a while to get the hang of things, usually forgetting to flip gravity before landing right on the force field. The route gets more treacherous as small spike platforms dot the landscape, and then Arino comes upon a seemingly impossible jump. Takahashi rushes in and shows Arino that all he needs to do is do a gravity flip in mid-air so that he lands upside-down on the platform across the gap. He hasn’t done it before, though, so he checks the manual to make sure he knows what he’s doing.
He steels himself for the decisive maneuver. He unpauses… and jumps straight up into the force field. Right, well, he was too far up. Thank god he can laugh about it. He goes back through the stage and reaches the same point, but oddly, he falls through the floor at the right time, wrapping him to the top of the screen. He moves forward, and then he’s completed the stage. Well, that works too, I guess.
And now, the last boss! Three big bots, of course; block-shaped jerks who also have dangerous force fields above and below them. He’s killed, of course, and gets a Game Over. It’s then that Arino’s handed the clock. This will have to be his last session, but he’s allowed to have AD Takahashi come in and get him to the boss faster. Takahashi then hands Arino his cardigan for good luck.
Arino starts the fight again, but loses his first and second lives. He has one chance left, and he needs to make sure jumps lightly, dangit. … But he doesn’t; he just leaps up into the ceiling like before. Unfortunately, that will have to wrap it up for now. Arino fails, but of course, Takahashi is left behind to finish things up. It’s there we find out that the game continues to a seventh stage that climaxes in a boss gauntlet before finally ending. And then, you have to beat the game a second time to get the good ending. Yeah, Arino didn’t really stand a chance.
Today we go to Iseki, a shop in Minami that’s part cleaners, part snack shop. And would you believe it, they don’t actually have video games. But that’s OK, because Arino can still have some fun with the 10-yen flipper games, of which Iseki has a couple, including good ol’ "Car Race."
Arino then heads inside and does some shopping, including getting some soft-serve. Back outside, he notices the gachapon machines — one of them dispenses AKB48 keychains! You know what this means. Arino calls over AD Takahashi, and invites him to try and get a keychain of his beloved Korisu. His first try is… not her.
Arino gets a capsule, but his prize is a Mayuyu keychain. Still no Korisu. Takahashi’s next try is… also Mayuyu. A third one — nope. Takahashi gets one more… and it’s her!! And once again he yells it out. Arino gets one more… and it’s a different Korisu! Takahashi just grins and slowly holds out his hands.
Arino also got a mini-picture of Korisu, and he waves it front of Takahashi’s face for a bit, then puts it in his mouth. The AD is devastated.
Arino and Nishiyama read from the Detective Saburo Jinguji game, The Dangerous Pair. Arino is Jinguji and Nishiyama is his assistant, Yoko.
Game Collections: 1992: January – February