Game Center CX Season 15 – Back to Contents
A Ninja Fighting in the Future?! "Strider Hiryu"
For the third time this season, Arino takes on a Mega Drive game, and it’s another well-regarded title: Strider, Sega’s port of the Capcom arcade game (FYI, the Strider NES game wasn’t actually released in Japan). It’s a relatively short game — just five stages — and not as brutal as, say, Ghouls ‘N’ Ghosts, but it still has its moments.
Arino switches on the game, but checks out the options menu before starting. A staffer holds up a sign saying that he can change his number of lives to the maximum of five if he wants. He then jokes that the power of the former ADs is compelling him to go the easy route! But he overcomes it and starts the game. It begins in the (very) Soviet capitol of the future, and Arino adapts to hero Hiryu’s one and only weapon, the Cypher, his super sword. He gets through the first third or so of the stage before he dies trying to tiptoe past a gauntlet of moving spikes in the ceiling.
He gets past them on the second try (but still takes a hit), then drops down to meet the first miniboss, Strobaya the muscle man. Arino just keeps slashing, and the boss explodes in seconds. Onto the next half of the stage, where Arino does pretty well, but then meets another miniboss, Novo, a laser-shooting pod. He dies there since he had one bar of health left (out of three), but on the second try just keeps slashing again and continues onward.
Finally, Arino enters some sort of parliamentary hall, and all of the Soviet dudes leap up and form the big boss of the stage, the serpentine, sickle-swinging Uroboros. Arino hitches a ride on the creature, but ends up dying twice from staying too still and gets a Game Over. He makes his way back to the boss, and after some more concentrated slashing, Uroboros is down!
Stage 2 moves to the frigid Siberia. Wolves keep swarming in and make it hard to Arino to move forward, and one of them even plants itself above him right on top of a power-up. Eventually he grabs the power-up, but then dies right after. he tries again, and finds out the power-up is for the Cypher, extending the range of its slash significantly. Arino uses that to camp by a gate at the end of the section and slash at the wolves, but they just keep coming, and he dies again. He also can’t make it to the gate in time before it closes. What to do?
After another Game Over, Arino is kicked back to stage 1. Yep, there doesn’t seem to be any continues at all in Strider, and five lives aren’t cutting it. And he’s still stuck at that gate. He soon checks the manual and sees that Strider has a slide move that might help. He tries it out, but then slides right into a wolf and gets another Game Over. Ahem, well, after that, Arino does manage to slide under the gate and enter the base, only to be greeted by the first miniboss, Mecha Pon, a giant robot gorilla.
Mecha Pon falls easily as the other bosses, so Arino continues on, but then dies climbing up a shaft. He’s kicked back to the start of the stage, gets back to climbing, then gets another Game Over. At this point, AD Takahashi enters the picture. He tells Arino that there is a continue code in the game, and would he like to use it. Arino thinks about it, supposing that those former ADs would want him to, and so he accepts. Takahashi also wanted him to, of course. The code is A, C, B, C, A and Start at the opening scene before the title screen. That should take him right back to the stage he left off on. Simple enough.
Arino gets back to that climbing section and makes it out of the shaft. From there he jumps across platforms on rotating wheels and tries collecting a valuable-looking power-up on one of them. Unfortunately, it’s spiked on most of its sides, so when he jumps towards it, he’s killed. He decides to just keep going, so using some fancy jumping and climbing, he reaches the top of that section and escapes. But outside is the next miniboss, Solo, a flying mercenary who fires spread shots at Arino. He’s killed quite quickly, but makes it back to Solo, who still throws him off. He tends to stay too high up to be hit, so Arino jumps around and slashes to no avail. And then he dies from a Time Over!
On the fifth attempt, he destroys Solo, then runs down a mountain with mines exploding after him. He jumps off the ramp and heads to the rest of the stage, but it’s heavily electrified, and he’s killed in seconds. Game Over again. He makes it back to the scary electricity part, and while staying careful, grabs a 1-Up item. The stage then moves onto a sequence involving flying platforms, and Arino has to avoid enemies and falling bombs as well. Let’s just say… Game Over.
Arino runs out of continues — apparently you only get 20 — which means he’s going back through from the beginning again. We jump ahead back to the flying platforms, and here he manages to stay alive through the hard part, until it’s time to jump up to the giant flying battleship above and start slashin’ things again. But then it’s time to meet the final stage 2 bosses: the Kuniang girls, a trio of fierce martial artists who waste no time jumping towards Arino.
Arino manages to hide in the cockpit off to the right and slash away at the girls — except they’re not actually getting close enough. After that, Arino finally takes a step forward and repeats the pattern, and the last girl is defeated. Stage 3 is more battleship fun, with Arino heading inside and slashing the mini-mechs walking around. At one point, he must climb up two walls that are closing in, but he repeatedly dies from not being far up enough. No matter how far up he gets, he still dies. Well, until he finally figures out he should jump across the walls to make it up faster — but still gets pinched at the very top.
He does make it up and out, though, and makes it through the rest of the stage, along with a trusty "option" robot that hits nearby enemies. Once further in the ship, Arino meets the last boss of the stage, the anti-gravity unit, a large orb that circles around the room and pulls Arino in with its electromagnetic force. All Arino has to do, though, is aim himself towards the orb and slash, but some little drone flying around the orb keep hitting him, and he dies a couple of times, and once more when he’s finally flung against the wall.
On the fifth try, he finally hits the orb enough times to destroy it, but then the base starts blowing up and he has to escape!Arino makes a break for it, but then falls right off the edge of the bay doors and falls to his death. Turns out he has to climb up from the ceiling and make it out to the upper deck, destroy the enemies there, and hitch a ride on the next flying platform outta there.
Stage 4 is the Amazon, and it’s a big change of scenery. And a big pain in the butt — Arino keeps dying from falling off vines or getting hit by weird explosive plants. He gets a Game Over, and then, once more, forgets the continue code. Back to stage 1 with you! Arino says he still hasn’t become a pro gamer, but nonetheless he trudges back through to the Amazon, only to die once more, but this time by falling in the water and getting devoured by piranhas.
Later on, Arino keeps getting killed by the amazon women that fling axes and boomerangs at him. A few deaths pass, and he gets past those, only to run down a hill and right into the water again. A couple of minutes later (in show time), Arino makes it to a large stegosaurus that he hitches a ride on (and compares to an Adventure Island game). Once the dino stops, down comes the boss Lago Mechanique, who immediately kills Arino because he was too close.
And then he forgets to continue again! What a terrible streak this season! Another hour passes as Arino gets back to the stage 4 boss. As Arino munches on his dried squid, the boss comes down, and he immediately starts slashing. Seconds later, it’s destroyed without a fuss. The luck of the squid?
Stage 5, the last full stage, begins, but as usual, Arino dies right after starting it. He’s on his last continue here, so he’s got to do his best. Well, he dies quickly again, but he still has a couple of lives. On the next try, he grabs the option ‘bot, which does some of the dirty work for him, and then he enters a large shaft. He climbs down to the supposed bottom, and jumps off — and dies. He was supposed to go up, not down.
Once he does go up, the gravity flips, and he’s stuck to the ceiling. There’s a crucial jump up ahead, but he fails to make it, and "falls" up to his death. The last death, in fact. Back to the start as the continue counter resets. We jump ahead back to that reverse-gravity part, and Arino starts thinking hard about how to make that jump. He carefully approaches the edge, only to slip off and die again. And then get knocked off by an enemy the next time… and the time after that.
He does make the jump, though, but then there’s just another jump right after that, and it’s just as precarious, as a platform is expanding and retracting on the other side. Arino takes a moment, then takes a flying leap. It’s good! But then he lands right in a group of more extending spikes and dies.
He’s more aware on the next life, and makes it past the spikes only to head down into a chamber to fight another anti-gravity orb boss! Unfortunately he has to die once more before destroying it properly, but then dies again from failing to make a jump after the chamber blows up. This is clearly a game that requires practice.
The neighboring chamber Arino heads in contains another boss repeat, the Novo laser turret. With a powered-up Cypher, he destroys it easily, and then it’s on to fight Solo again. Arino once again dies from Solo’s spread gun, and gets another Game Over. No more continues left, which means another full restart. Arino finally pulls out a cold pad.
He gets back to stage 5, makes it past Solo, and then faces another Mecha Pon boss, who also has a miniature T-rex coming up in front of him. Arino dies once, but then goes crazy with attacks on the next try, defeating Pon. He runs forward, only to see another Lago coming down from above. In a fleeting panic, Arino steps off the ledge he was on and falls to his death. He continues, and this time gives Lago some clearance. Without the height advantage in the Amazon, Arino is a bit screwed — Lago keeps jutting out its claw, which Arino keeps getting hit by, and of course, keeps dying.
The death loop begins anew as Arino runs out of continues once more and goes back through the entire game. Once he gets back to the ape boss, he already on his last continue again. And then is killed by Lago with a quickness. Lago also spits out little fire dragons that slither in the air towards Arino, so that’s just another obstacle to get killed by. On the seventh attempt against Lago, Arino finally keeps the correct distance away from the claws, lets the fire dragons slip away, and then jumps forward to land the killing blow — only to get killed himself by touching Lago and once more running out of continues. Things are looking dire, and it’s not even dusk yet!
Four more hours pass. It’s the 21st attempt when Arino manages to act slow and careful enough that he barely gets hit. At one point he accidentally jumps forward, but Lago’s claw extends at the same time, giving him a gap to land safely in. He jumps back out of the way, calling the maneuver great, but cameraman Abe snaps back with "not great!" Humbling. Arino is then killed by the claw normally
On the next life, he finally destroys Lago. But there’s still no time to sit still, because out comes Uroboros. Arino hops on its back, and the screen fades to black as Uroboros keeps moving. Dialogue from the main villain appears on the screen, and Arino tries to stay stable on the slithery boss… but doesn’t. He dies and respawns right at the start of the Uroboros section. He falls off again and spends another last continue.
AD Takahashi is called in to play through the game for Arino in an attempt to have more continues ready for stage 5. Thankfully, Takahashi only takes half an hour to get to the Uroboros section, and he then leaves Arino to the hard part. And of course, he falls off Uroboros over and over again. Arino’s jumping to try and stay on top of things (har), but isn’t quite doing it at the right moments. A couple of deaths later and he finally nails the procedure. He rides Uroboros up to the top, destroys it, and then… plummets to his death again. The final boss briefly appears before the Game Over screen flashes.
He continues, and wouldn’t you know it, that was the checkpoint! Arino starts right in the middle of the stage for the final boss fight against the Grand Master. And so the Grand Master swoops in, knocks Arino off the platform, and dies once more. He now has four more lives until he runs out of continues again. For the love of Sega, this has to work.
Arino jumps on top of the stage and starts slashing at the boss, but he’s too close and keeps getting hit. Two lives are lost, and with two left, Arino tries moving around more. Not good enough; killed again.
The last life is the decisive attempt. Arino jumps around a little but more, but then lands in the center at the same time Grand Master does. He immediately starts slashing (thankfully he has the powered-up Cypher), and by the gods, he does it! An incredible comeback on the very last life, and a very relieving happy end.
This is simply a minutes-long recap of the GCCX in USA special, so you can read all about the whole thing here if you haven’t yet.
For this first installment, Arino is presented with the Famicom Gun, the Japanese version of the Zapper, which looks like an actual revolver and even had a holster (sold separately). It was in a set along with Wild Gunman, to boot.
Arino unwraps the gun, but of course, he has to wear the holster, too. Luckily, it fits an adult, and he practices drawing the gun… except it won’t come out. It will, but the holster has to be secured with a couple of strings that Arino uses to tie it to his leg. Oh, and the TV has to be moved back a few feet.
Wild Gunman is, of course, an old-fashioned Wild West duel game. Arino starts the game, but immediately loses the first match because his opponent fired first. He wins the next time, and even defeats the next two rascals, but is then killed by the fourth.
Wild Gunman isn’t all there is — who can forget Duck Hunt?! Kibe grabs the cartridge and puts it in, and instinctively blows into it beforehand, perhaps out of turn. Arino then begins the game, and like many of us, mostly fails to shoot the ducks, though holding it out and looking down the sight seems to be best for him. Hogan’s Alley is the third Gun game, but there’s no time for that one today.
Game Collections: 1992: September – October