Game Center CX Season 15 – Back to Contents
Hello! "Hello! Pac-Man"
Arino opens with a little anecdote about his new 3DS — He’s gotten several StreetPass tags so far, though most of them are coming from his own wife. Then it’s time to introduce today’s challenge game. And y’know, video games didn’t get much more interesting in the 16-bit days than Namco’s "Hello! Pac-Man," known outside Japan as "Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures." And now Arino must try to complete it. It’s a cartoony action-adventure where you guide good ol’ Pac-Man through a series of missions. You can only direct him using a slingshot to fire pellets at things he should pay attention to, or a secondary "look" command. There are only four episodes ("rounds") in the game, but this likely won’t be a jolly stroll for Arino.
He begins the game, and Pac-Man comes in and introduces himself. Then there’s a short tutorial-like part where Arino uses the slingshot and learns how to direct Pac-Man. Unfortunately, the first thing he does is shoot the hood off Pac-Man’s chimney, upsetting the little guy. Arino doesn’t know exactly what Pac wants him to shoot at, so he shoots Pac-Man. We’re getting nowhere already! Arino then shoots open the nearby mailbox, and a letter floats out. Pac-Man isn’t finding the letter that’s mere inches away from him, though. It’s there that the game tells Arino to use the "look" button to encourage Pac-Man to keep his eyes open. He finally picks up the letter.
Next is learning how to use power pellets. A group of ghosts fly in and terrorize Pac-Man, who’s begging for Arino to send a pellet over (he can only collect and hold three at a time). He lobs over a pellet, and Pac becomes Super Pac-Man and automatically chomps on all the ghosts in the area. Finally, Pac-Man heads inside to begin Round 1, where Ms. Pac-Man asks papa Pac to get a refill of milk for Baby Pac-Man. Arino sends Pac-Man east into town. He shoots a trash can right afterward, which sends out a wave of ghosts. He shoots over a pellet, and the menace is taken care of. They leave behind an ID card, which Pac-Man picks up (a little too triumphantly).
Pac-Man is sent in the other direction, out to the local farm. Surely the milk is here, though Arino sabotages Pac by shooting the rake in the sleeping farmer’s hand, which flies out on the ground and which Pac-Man steps on. Yeah, he’s knocked out cold, and Arino is forced to restart the area. This time he leaves the farmer alone, but he’s standing guard, and though Pac tries to sneak by, the farmer spots him and chews him out. Pac-Man heads back home utterly defeated.
But Arino then figures out what to do: shoot the bale of hay above the farmer, which plops on top of him and allows Pac-Man to happily continue on. Up ahead is a cow, and next to that is a free empty milk bottle! It’s in the bag, right? Not quite: Arino accidentally shoots the bottle too many times, shattering it. One more try, and Pac-Man tries to grab the bottle, but a crow dives in and terrorizes him, knock the bottle to the ground. Everything’s OK, though — Arino walks Pac over to the bottle, and then he immediately fills it up thanks to Bessie being right there.
Easy enough! Arino walks Pac-Man back home, and Baby Pac gets that desired milk. Our hero can relax for a moment, but not too long, because Round 2 begins. Ms. Pac-Man wants some flowers from the top of Athletic Mountain. She gives Pac-Man a ropeway pass so he can get there, and then it’s back to work! Arino sends Pac to the ropeway station.
At the mountain, Arino notices a sign that says "danger," and shoots it as Pac-Man approaches. The Sign flips over to reveal an arrow pointing up. Pac-Man looks up and then a boulder comes tumbling down and squashes him. Arino tries again, and sends Pac-Man to the other direction, where he encounters a rock wall keeping him from getting into the cave. Arino watches as Pac gets increasingly frustrated that he can’t get through the wall, and soon takes a few steps back and runs into it at full speed. Needless to say, he knocks himself out.
Arino tries the Danger sign again, and this time shoots Pac-Man just a moment before the boulder hits. Pac-Man hops out of the way, thankfully, though there wasn’t any point to that whole thing. Pac continues up to the next ledge, where a hangglider rests on a grassy hill. Pac-Man grabs hold and runs down the hill, but trips on a rock and tumbles off the edge. Arino didn’t knock it out of the way!
On the next try, Arino clears the path, and Pac-Man takes off! What follows is a gauntlet of trees and ghosts that Arino has to get Pac through by either telling him to lift up or shooting him to send him downward a little bit. Unfortunately Arino sends Pac-Man too high at the beginning and he crashes right into the first tree. And then on the second try, he’s knocked down by a ghost that lobs a boulder at him. Progress stays at this pace for a little while, as Arino’s timing is a bit off trying to shoot the ghosts. He gets past the first part, though, and enters a section with more falling boulders, some which stay on ledges that Arino has to get Pac past.
After a few more tries, he does get past, but then it’s time to duck under more trees while ghosts are also around being A-holes — Arino just barely gets past the second gauntlet of trees only to have a ghost drop a boulder just late enough to throw Arino off and make Pac-Man lose again.
Arino goes back, but keeps crashing Pac into the boulders. This entire section takes more than an hour, and on the 28th attempt Arino gets closer than ever to winning, but loses thanks to that same boulder-dropping ghost again. It’s not until the 33rd try that Arino finally shoots the ghost before he drops the boulder, and would you believe it, that was the last obstacle before Pac-Man crosses the goal line just seconds later.
But there’s still the matter of getting the flower. Pac-Man continues through the forest. He spots a balloon that’s floating away, but just misses it. That makes him really angry, and he stomps past the flowers and almost off a cliff! Arino tries to stop him, but it just pauses him for a little bit. Pac-Man continues seeing red, and walks right off the cliff, falling off Wile E. Coyote-style.
On the next try, Pac-Man still isn’t looking at the damn flowers, and starts to get depressed. Arino starts pelting him, which just depresses the little guy into burying his head to try and forget it all. Later, Pac-Man finds a rabbit in the forest, and follows it around, but Arino is still trying to get him to move to the flowers. Pac-Man then pulls a vine in the forest that reveals a hole in the ground, and then the bunny shoves him into the hole! Pac-Man falls to the beginning of the area, and that’s when Arino really groans — he has to go back through the hangglider course.
This time though it only takes two tries to get past the hangglider part, and then Arino finally manages to get Pac-Man to finally look at the flower bed at the edge of the cliff. He grabs a flower, and that means the mission is complete, and the worst is behind us. Arino gets Pac-Man to stop looking around and just head home already. There, the flower is given to Lucy, a neighborhood girl, but it’s Ms. Pac doing the presenting, while Pac-Man can only look on and shrug.
Round 3 begins, and this time Pac-Man must go get back Junior’s guitar, which was taken from him by rowdy ghosts in the middle of the city. Pac heeads there, and Arino directs him to an arcade, which has a Pac-Man machine. A fully-functioning one, in fact — once Pac takes a look, the game switches over to Pac-Man. Arino’s a bit surprised, but plays the first stage anyway. Of course, the game continues, so he just backs out and gets back to the real game.
Pac-Man enters the park, and finds an apple that fell on the ground. He eats a couple, then eats a weird yellow one. He then freaks out and get all… weird, waddling around until he sees a balloon stand. Pac-Man gets a mischievious grin, pulls out a pin, and pops the balloons. But the attendant is understandably mad, and fills Pac-Man with helium, sending him up to the rooftops.
It’s not so bad, as Pac-Man just needs to leap across the buildings… with Arino’s help. Pac runs to the edge, and Arino deftly shoots him, making him leap farther and across the rooftops. Pac makes it to a bunch of girders, but ends up standing on a loose one and falling back down to street level.
As he walks on, Arino notices the weird blue security guard is actually holding the guitar! Arino shoots the guard in the face enough times, and he explodes to reveal the three ghosts who were incognito. He tries to send over a power pellet, but Pac is knocked out by the ghosts, and by the time he wakes up, they fly off. Arino leads Pac out and back in to the screen, and this time he gives Pac-Man a pellet right after the ghosts show up. The guitar is retrieved, and Junior’s happy as ever!
And now, the final round. Pac-Man sees on TV that ghosts are running amok in the city, stealing chewing gum from the citizens. Then the Ghost Witch appears on the tube and announces that she’s creating a gum monster that will destroy all. Pac-Man must now infiltrate the ghost headquarters.
AD Takahashi then walks in holding a pizza. "Part-time job?" asks Arino. No, Takahashi took a slice out of the pizza — the legend of Pac-Man’s origin — and besides that, underneath the pie is a bunch of clues to help Arino through the rest of the game. Arino pulls off a slice and looks under it, but Takahashi then shows him the clue is on the plate. And it simply reads "waterfall." Ah yes, the one at the mountain next to that "danger" sign. Arino then takes another slice, but pulls too hard and reveals a couple of other hints, ruining Takahashi’s clever activity.
Arino continues eating, then Takahashi asks for a slice, along with director Inoue (indirectly). Soon, all the hints are revealed. They’re all in a certain order, actually, and they all make vague elusions to where and what Arino needs to do. Basically, he needs to stay around the mountains to find the other cards.
He takes Pac-Man further down the mountain trail, and encounters a group of small wooden platforms that he needs to hop across. Unfortunately, Pac-Man always jumps too short on the top one, sending him down to his doom. Arino needs to first shoot out certain platforms so Pac-Man can jump safely. As it turns out, he must shoot out the top one while Pac-Man is on it, then guide him over to the cliff.
The cliff has a mine cart, so you know what this means — time for a ride! Pac-Man gets in the cart, and the following sequence is similar to the hangglider course: Arino has to shoot the cart to make Pac-Man jump out to avoid obstacles. That, or he needs to speed up. Nevertheless, Arino enters the failure zone, missing jumps, jumping unnecessarily, and just generally injuring Pac-Man in every which way.
The ghosts are no help: one in particular stays on the track and extends some sort of crusher that Pac-Man needs to speed past at the right time. Arino takes a few tries, then gets past it… only to run right into another ghost doing the same thing. Fortunately, it’s not too hard, and he gets Pac-Man on the right track (pun unintended).
And for the rest of the time, Arino does pretty well! He slows down to make it past another crusher ghost, deftly shoots one trying to drop a boulder, and soon hits the goal. After that is more exploring, though. Arino shoots a box and reveals another gang of ghosts, but it’s all good — when Pac eats them all, they leave behind the third and final ID card! Arino has Pac-Man book it back to the ghost HQ.
At the security doors, Arino must shoot the numbers in the correct order so Pac-Man can insert their cards. Except he doesn’t know the order, so nothing happens. Arino and Pac-Man further explore the ghosts’ lab. At one point, Arino has Pac-Man remove some skillets from the wall, and so he does, and knocks down the rest of them. Behind them are the numbers 4-1-5. Hey, 415! The goroawase number for Yoiko! Nice coincidence, and also the correct sequence for inserting the cards.
Sure enough, once Arino has Pac-Man insert the cards in doors 4, 1 and 5, the main chamber opens. Inside is the dreaded gum monster! Pac-Man is immediately freaked out, and ghosts start swarming in. Arino gives him a power pellet, but as soon as Pac turns into Super Pac, the gum monster grabs him and slams him into the ground. Subsequent tries aren’t much better. Arino holds the "look" button to keep Super Pac-Man in place and then strike when there’s no threat of the monster’s hands, but it’s not working out.
Arino starts shooting at the monster, which is definitely doing something, but he also needs to keep Pac-Man safe. He has Pac-Man carefully fly back and forth across the room, eating ghosts when two of them appear, but after 10 minutes straight of this pattern, Arino slips with the timing and lets Pac-Man get grabbed. On the 17th try, Arino is more frequent with shooting the mosnter, and it starts to visibly shrink. This is the actual winning strategy, but of course, he can’t let up on Pac-Man.
Finally, the monster is hit enough that it stays down in its pool of goo and Arino wins! (Though producer Kan and camerman Abe tell him not to let go of the buttons, just in case it’s a ruse). The challenge is complete after just nine hours, which is always nice. Goodbye, Pac-Man!
It’s been a while since Arino’s checked out a bowling center, so now seems like another good time. For this adventure, he’s visiting Fuji Bowl in Irumashi, a town in Saitama. The 22-lane center has a game center with almost as many arcade games.
Arino begins there, and with a UFO Catcher at the entrance. A sign on it says that you can get 60 seconds of play for one 100-yen coin. A full minute can be valuable in a crane game, but when Arino starts it, he realizes there’s no way to tell how much time is remaining. He tries valiantly to get one of the goodies inside, but then the game just stops. Time’s up, I guess.
He puts in another coin and tries again. Another loss, and another desperate quest to know how many seconds are left.
Arino gives up on that one that moves on to the video games. First is Konami’s Handle Champ, a minigame fest that uses a steering wheel and foot pedal to control the various games (the wheel is called a "handle" in Japanese). Nifty idea! It’s two-player, so AD Takahashi is called over to join in. The first game they play is a kind of Arkanoid-ish game where they move a paddle bouncing a ball towards waves of flying cars. They’re neck-and-neck, but Arino pulls ahead by 10 points.
Next is a game where the wheel is jerked back and forth to power up the rocket-powered giant soda can attached to each player’s car (I didn’t say it had to make sense). Takahashi wins that one. The next game involves tilting a vertical maze to lead a car to the goal, and then one where you "drive" a hand around a floor to spray oncoming cockroaches.
Arino then enters the lanes, and sees a familiar figure: it’s Tani! Naturally, he met Arino the last time they were at a bowling center, in season 12. Tani’s looking for revenge, since last time the bowling pro performed a tragic whiff right in front of everybody. So it’s time for a quick frame.
Tani goes first, and scores a 7. He goes for the spare, but a lone pin remains. Well, it’s not as bad as his gutter ball last time. Arino follows, and hits a strike. Ahem… revenge has not been served.
In this final installment, everybody — Arino, Nishiyama, Tani and Nakayama — read a small scene from Kamaitachi no Yoru (see last season), where everybody introduces themselves and realizes their names are all variations of "kamai." See, cute double meaning.
Game Collections: 1992: July – August