Game Center CX Season 15 – Back to Contents
From ‘Hiryu’ to "Hiryu no Ken"
After the adventure with a ninja named Hiryu (comma Strider), Arino’s challenge this time is Hiryu no Ken for Famicom, a simple action game from the company that would become Culture Brain (and Flying Dragon was the game’s name outside Japan). You play as a young man named Ryuhi (ah, I get it), martial arts master trying to recapture the secret scrolls of the Hiryu-no-Ken. The game alternates between platformer stages and one-on-one tournament battles, and Arino must finish the world tournament at the end of the game to win.
As soon as Arino starts, the game asks him to choose a difficulty: "kids" or "pro." He goes with "pro," and then the game opens in the first "journey" stage. After punching a couple of thugs, he meets a schoolgirl (?!) miniboss, whups her easily, then continues on. The enemies come from both sides, and seemingly never stop. It’s not them that kill Arino the first time, though, but rather his inability to jump over a large gap. You have to push Up on the controller to jump, you see, so it’s not the easiest thing in the world.
On the second try, Arino grabs a Stamina Drink, an item that replenishes his health significantly, and if nothing else, will become an important icon to look for throughout the game. He keeps punching on through the waves of dumb enemies, faces a couple more minibosses (there’s five in every stage), and grabs a fist-shaped power-up. From the third miniboss, he gets a boot power-up that lets him jump super-high, and then the game starts beeping. He only has a few seconds left on the time! As another miniboss appears, Arino soon dies from a Time Over.
The process repeats, and just before facing the fourth miniboss, Arino grabs another power-up that lets him shoot little projectiles with his fists. It’s a decent help, and lets him mow down more enemies. Finally, after defeating the last miniboss and collecting a key as a reward, he reaches a door at the end of the stage and wraps things up.
Following that is a training exercise from master Gengai, who teaches Arino the controls for the battle segments of the game. Interestingly, success in these segments is based on the dots that appear on each warrior’s body, either telling you when to attack (if the dot’s on the enemy) or where to block (if the dot’s on you). You have to be quick, though, or your chance is missed and you could end up punched in the face. The battle begins, and Arino seems to be doing well. He notices a power-up wiggling across the screen, but can’t jump high enough to reach it. Nevertheless, he defeats his sparring partner.
But the fighting continues with a new challenger! No sweat; Arino pulls through with this one too. And then, finally, Arino goes up against Gengai himself. Some expertly-timed throws help him win in a flash, and then it’s time for stage 2.
The process is much the same: more walking to the right and punching dudes. The scenery does change a little, but it’s still the same miniboss-slapping. Needless to say, Arino finishes it pretty quickly.
Now it’s time for the first real tournament! Once again, Arino will have to defeat three opponents, though obviously now it’s more important than a makeshift tutorial. His first opponent is the karate master Go Hayato. Using what he’s learned, Arino manages to avoid getting hit too much and defeats Hayato in a flash. Next is a Chinese warrior, Minmin. She uses a flying kick to knock down Arino when he least expect it, though Arino still has the advantage, and finishes her off with a throw.
The last opponent is Jungle Targun, a boxer. In the middle of the fight, Arino surprises himself by performing his own flying kick — turns out he can use it when a separate "KO" gauge fills up. Arino’s pretty much won, and a small lower kick defeats Targun. Or does it?! Targun immediately transforms into a Tusk Soldier, a demonic-looking fighter. What’s worse, his health completely refills, and is fairly fast on his feet. Arino tries his best to block attacks, but can barely get one in himself. He does get a few throws in, though, and before you know it, the balance of the life bars shifts, and Targun is defeated.
The third "journey" stage begins, but Arino is already getting rusty; he keeps falling into pits after missing jumps. The second try is perfect, however, and then it’s right on to the next tournament. Arino’s first opponent here is Zongelian, an odd wrestler type. He likes to get in close and stay there, but some well-placed flying kicks and throws from Arino seem to do the trick… until Zongelian grabs him and throws him to the edge of the ring, defeating him.
Subsequent attempts don’t go much better — Arino is whupped in minutes. He’s forced to start the third platforming stage over again, blows through it, then gets back to Zongelian. Same old gauntlet of hurt, though, and before long, an hour’s been spent on this fight. Arino decides to reset the game and try again on "kids" difficulty. You mean the "retro game master" isn’t much of one? Gasp!
Arino makes it all the way back to Jungle Targun, and nearly dies from his Tusk form, but uses a special power-up to restore some health, and then he lands a lethal kick. Fast-forward through the next stage, and back to Zongelian. He still pummels Arino, tossing him twice and leaving him at a disadvantage. It’s still too much! So much for "kids" mode! The total attempts cross over into the 30s.
Amazingly, on try 32, Arino lands some powerful kicks in succession, and Zongelian’s down in two hits. It wasn’t easy to notice, but rather than dots, a red star appeared on Zongelian, signifying a critical hit could be landed. Not bad. But of course, that was just the first opponent in the tournament.
Arino then faces Soldier X, another boxer type. Minutes pass as Arino tries to land hits, and turns the tables with a flying kick. That went much smoother, thankfully. The next joker is Koku-Un-Sai, a mean-looking martial artist. Arino keeps the kicks flying, and keeps his energy high. But then right as he lands the final hit, Koku turns into a Tusk Soldier! The real fight begins, though Arino is still caught off guard a bit.
He almost makes it, but some missed kicks get him killed again. The second try comes, and Arino has more health this time. Koku’s flying kicks hurt a lot, though, and Arino’s almost defeated again. He uses the health capsules he collected, but soon they’re all spent. Koku’s at one bar of health! All he needs to do is land one hit! After nearly dying again, with two slivers of health left, Arino finally lands the winning hit.
It’s a quick trip to the next tournament, where Arino faces the Masked Boxer. He’s a pushover, natch. The next dude is Beast, another menacing wrestler. That means he has the same grab-n-throw as Zongelian, and so he defeats Arino quickly and repeatedly. Will this take another 32 tries? Arino tries to maintain a stick-and-move pattern, using flying kicks when he can, and sure enough, by taking it slow and sure, he defeats Beast — and in only three tries!
Finally, there’s Lion Kid. Arino makes quick work of him, but of course, he’s the last opponent, so he’s also a Tusk Soldier. This one’s pretty mean, too, and finishes off Arino with a flying kick. Back to it, then? He restarts the match against Lion Kid, defeats him… and that’s it? No Tusk transformation? Nope; it’s onto the fifth journey stage. (It’s not mentioned in the show yet, but getting opponents to turn into Tusk Soldiers requires using certain moves at certain times. Arino didn’t "luck" into doing it on the next try, so he just defeated him normally. Unfortunately this means he doesn’t get a special scroll as a reward.)
No surprise; this stage isn’t worth talking about, either. We jump ahead to the next tournament, which is the decisive World Tournament! If Arino wins this, he wins the game, but there’s more opponents to face. First up is the kickboxer Thornram, but he falls pretty fast. After that is the karate master Mugen Shiro, who is pretty fast, but Arino wipes him in one try too. Next is Wolf Morgan, a crazy martial artist who has a move where he runs along the ropes and jumps down. Arino’s ready for him, though, and he falls just as easily.
Onto the next round of opponents. Arino fights Demon Kabuki, another wrestler. Given that, he has to stay on his toes or risk getting tossed to the mat. Well, things couldn’t go much better, and Arino kicks his butt without too many scratches taken. The boxer Geiger Bruiser is next, and he’s a real fleetfoot. Arino just keeps the flying kicks coming, though, and once again wins in a flash.
The final opponent is Hu Zhu Hu (not to be confused with Hu Hu Zhu), an old kung fu master that matches Arino at every turn — not literally, he’s just really fast. He puts up a good fight, and Arino pulls ahead, and after a few tense moments, manages to land a defeating blow. But… no, not really. As soon as he falls, he takes a beat, and then rises in the form of the Tusk Leader. He shoots big deadly fireballs, and gets Arino down to one life bar. It’s over as soon as it began.
The next attempt; Arino doesn’t even make it to the Tusk form before dying. One Game Over later, he’s forced to go back through the journey stage and go back up the tournament from the bottom. Once he gets back to Hu, he gets him to Tusk form, and the two trade leaps back and forth ("yay!" goes Arino). But it just delays the inevitable, and he’s defeated again.
The deaths stack and stack. On the 21st try, Arino surprises himself by throwing a projectile of some kind, but can’t seem to repeat it. He’s defeated in the middle of trying to figure out how to use it again, but it’s no go.
After what seems like an eternity, Arino accumulates an audience: the entire staff is in the room to try and cheer him on, though he jokes it’s a pretty small company to begin with. Nevertheless, he goes for another try; the 31st to be exact.
He’s once again clipped by fireballs and is defeated once more. On the next try, he manages to shoot that projectile again, and figures out it had something to do with the B button (you press Up and B to fire it, actually). As the match goes on, Arino gets the boss down to mere bars of health, though he’s a bit too careless and lets him get a couple of hits in. Arino has literally no more life left, but he’s still alive. As the yelling grows in the audience, he tries not to panic, but sadly, he steps right in the path of a flying kick, and dies. Spectacularly.
Another try. The staff yells out several commands, but all Arino can do is trust himself. He spends all of his energy capsules as he gets the Tusk Leader down to a fifth of his health. He kicks when he can, and jumps out of the way of the fireballs. He’s one kick away from winning, but is clipped by a fireball again. This could be doom again! But Arino keeps his resolve, and kicks the Tusk Leader where it counts, and he’s finally down. Applause fills the room as the challenge concludes after 11 hours.
Except not. A message from Gengai suggests the worst: the adventure begins anew! Indeed, Hiryu no Ken needs to be finished twice in order to see the real ending. Arino is asked if he’ll keep going for a second half, but he wonders if he’ll still have the same amount of people cheering him on. Nah, about four, says producer Kan. Well, as tough as it is, Arino decides to give up.
AD Takahashi cleans up, and shows the rather unremarkable ending screen showing Ryuhi holding a trophy, and then a victory message from Gengai. Yay?
Game Center CX News
As is tradition, it’s time for the recap of GCCX at the 2011 Tokyo Game Show. Arino was there to present the CESA’s Game Awards, though he wasn’t the kacho this time; just a regular comedian in a suit.
However, he was the kacho for his regular visit to the GCCX booth. This year, cameraman Abe set up his own udon shop nearby, where you could seriously buy your own bowl right from the man himself. Arino has a taste, and of course, it’s great.
Today we look at the Power Glove. Originally made by an American technology company and then sold to Mattel and a Japanese company called PAX, the Power Glove offered (or tried to offer) motion controls in Famicom/NES games, and of course, it also became infamous among NES fans. And now Arino gets to try one on.
As he slips his hand in the glove, Kibe pulls out a game to try with it. There was no Super Glove Ball that supported the Power Glove, so Arino plays Mappy instead. Arino swings his arm left and right to control Mappy, but he doesn’t know how to "push" the A and B buttons. Kibe shows him that it’s done by flicking his fingers.
The next game is Ninja JaJaMaru-kun. Arino tries to get JaJaMaru to jump by waving his thumb, but it’s not too accurate. He wonders if this looks cool at all, but nah, not so much. It’s a nice workout, though. Kibe wraps up by reading a tip from the manual.
Game Collections: 1992: November – December