Game Center CX Season 15 – Back to Contents
Battle On, Toad Warrior! – "Battletoads"
After 131 episodes, the time has come. In the long history of the show, there has been probably no other game that GCCX fans outside Japan have openly wished, and hoped and begged to see Arino take on than Battletoads (with yours truly at the front of the line). The NES action game became rememebred as one of the hardest on the system, but it’s memorable for other reasons. And it did come out in Japan, so putting it on GCCX seemed like a no-brainer. But hey, better late than never, and it marks the 20th challenge game of the year. Arino has to complete 12 stages of platforming hell, so let’s get mad, bad, and crazy!
Arino starts the game, and the first stage, Ragnarok’s Canyon, is a little slow and steady. He’s immediately impressed by the long jumping he can do, but then starts whacking on the enemy "psyko pigs", and using parts from the miniature walkers that are, uh, walking around. He gets to the end of the stage, fails to get the 1UP floating above a ledge, but is otherwise doing OK.
Then it’s time to face the first boss, the giant walker! The view switches to the walker’s cockpit, and Arino must try to avoid its lasers while tossing back the small boulders created by the lasers chipping away at the ground. He’s hit a few times, but manages to toss some boulders back and destroy the walker. Stage 1 is in the bag, but that was just the warm-up…
Stage 2 is the Wookie Hole, a rather long rappelling down a subterranean shaft. It’s not long before Arino discovers the "smash hit" move, where hero Rash turns into an anvil and whacks into things. The descent is paused when a weird sentry bot comes out and starts zapping Arino with electric bolts, and no matter what, he can’t seem to retaliate. A few hits later, and he’s dead — the first Game Over of the day.
When Arino continues, he goes back to the start of the stage, which isn’t so bad for now. But then he dies another way when the crow enemies swoop in and snip his rope. Another bot after that continues to make things difficult, but then Arino further discovers that he can hug the wall to "charge" the anvil smash, then jump off the wal for a faster and harder hit. That gets past the next two ‘bots, and then the drop continues. Another gauntlet of birds and other annoying obstacles only precede yet another fight with a robot, and this one is a little faster. Arino is killed again, but on the next attempt, finally whacks it and destroys it in one hit. Another little drop past some electric beams, and the stage is over!
Stage 3 opens with some normal platforming, though early on Arino watches as Space Invaders fly in and start snatching away his health blocks! He can attack them, but being caught off-guard, he lets them get away with their theivery. Following that is a checkpoint with a pair of hoverbikes. And so begins the first of many infamous parts of Battletoads: a high-speed obstacle course where Arino must dodge walls and jump over speed bumps before reaching the end. He immediately runs into the first wall.
He lasts longer the second time, but eventually gets hit by another wall. On the third try, he reaches the first checkpoint, and from there manages to stay in the game a little longer, leaping over ramps and such. But then enemies begin dropping blocks from above! This ends up doing Arino in, and he gets another Game Over.
He gets back on the bike and back to the bombing enemies. He tries watching their shadows this time to get a fix on where their blocks will land, and manages to succesfully dodge them and hit the next checkpoint. But the next obstacles are just as tough: floating capsules that zigzag up and down the track. Amazingly, Arino gets past those in two tries, and hits one more checkpooint, but then just keeps hitting walls and getting another Game Over. While upset, he puts on a brave face, saying that the bike stage is still pretty odd/interesting.
But the pain won’t let up, and he goes through a few more continues. After that last checkpoint he hit, the bike speeds up, and the course gets even more difficult as it requires faster reflexes. Eventually, Arino runs out of continues, and gets a decisive Game Over. Back to the beginning of the game for him.
Nevertheless, he comparitively blows through the first two stages and gets back to the bike stage. He gets to that crucial checkpoint, and finally starts getting the hand of things. He stays at the edge of the screen and just nudges himself up and down accordingly as the walls come flying past. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh… all goes swimmingly until two enemy bombers swoop in and drop a couple of blocks, undoing Arino’s streak. Once more, same as before. This time he leaps the blocks, and then it’s just a quick jaunt to the next checkpoint, which ends the stage! The nightmare is over!
But then it’s time for another one: stage 4, the Arctic Caverns. The icy floors of this stage are pretty slippery, of course, but that’s not as bad as the murderous snowmen Arino faces. They keep tossing snowballs right at him, or down hills that turn into larger balls. After getting past the first batch of snowmen, Arino jumps up only to get knocked over by a spiky yellow thing, which he immediately calls a potato. The "potato" slides back and forth between two posts, but Arino does get past it.
The next section is a small shaft leading down another snowman, who quickly kills Arino just as before. This time an ice block is next to the snowman, and Arino realizes he can pick it up and use it to smash the wall that blocks his way up ahead. The problem is it’s stuck in the snowball pile and he can’t get it out. Is he permanently stuck? Will he have to reset? Should he call the publisher like he suggests?!
Well, he does the next best thing, which is to look at the manual. There he notices a way to use another "smash hit" move that might help. He goes up to the ice block and watches as Rash headbutts it and sends it flying… right into him. It continues to slide back and forth, and knocks Arino down once more, killing him. Well, now he won’t waste so much time on the next try, right? No, because the potato kills him and gets him a Game Over again.
Once more, Arino reaches that troublesome ice block, and this time manages to carry it over to the little wall and bust it, only then he slips and falls in a bed of spikes right after that. As he continues to creep forward in the stage, more spikes and potatoes kill him until it’s Game Over again. He’s down to his last continue when he reaches the same spot he died the last several times, but he makes a precarious jump and finally moves forward, but more tricky jumps just do him in again and again. And so, the last continue is spent.
Back through the game, and back to that final section of the stage, where Arino makes it past the last of the potatoes and finally slips through to the exit. But then it’s time for stage 5! This one opens right on another dangerous obstacle course, but with little surfboards instead of bikes. This time, Arino can’t jump, but instead must dodge logs and whirlpools that dart all around the watery course. After a couple of deaths, he makes it to shore, but then more Space Invaders swoop in! He whacks a couple and saves some health, though.
More enemies appear on this little stretch, though, including a taller-than-usual walker, and ultimately Big Blagg, the big fat rat who hits pretty hard. He hops around the screen, and Arino almost catches him in a pattern, but it’s not to be. He tries to stay light on his feet, but it’s Blagg who catches him in a pattern, repeatedly flattening him and taking his lives. Arino stays in motion, but gets caught one way or another. He dies and is pushed back to the beginning of the stage, makes it back to Blagg, but is killed again and again, once more running out of continues. And this is arguably a simple part of the game!
Arino engages Blagg one more time, and is a little more proactive in attacking him. He still gets caught, though, but manages to stay alive long enough to whack Blagg just enough times to finally get rid of him. But the stage is far from over: surfboards are up ahead, and that means it’s another river run! And of course, Arino runs right into the first mine that comes up to him.
Fortunately, one extra-long jump off a ramp ends with him collecting a 1-Up, but after a few seconds of nothing, he runs into another obstacle and dies. He continues to die before reaching that 1-Up point, and eventually is kicked back to the beginning of the stage to re-encounter Blagg. Though he’s much quicker with beating him, it’s the same painful game of repetition on the surfboard course after that.
On one attempt, Arino earns a 1-Up just from getting 10,000 points (points are automatically earned as the surfboard travels along), and then catches that one off the ramp again. That eases the pain somewhat, and after subsequent deaths, he picks up the one after the jump again. But he won’t need it here, because he makes it to the end without a scratch! Holy moly. If that were only the half of it.
No, the half of it would be the literal halfway point: stage 6, the Snake Pit. Here, gigantic mechanical snakes protrude from holes in the wall and float up, down, left and right in certain patterns. Arino has to stay on them without falling off — unsurprisingly, it reminds him of the little snakey platforms from Super Mario World. He repeatedly tries to ride the snakes as they go back into the wall before another one pops out above. Multiple rooms of snakes are ahead, and the first one is fairly easy since there’s just solid ground below and Arino just has to maintain some trial and error.
He makes his way up into the second room, and this time there are clumps of spikes on the floor and precariously placed in the air. Arino makes several close calls as he jumps over spikes just in time, but eventually slips off and falls. But it’s still a fairly easy trip to the next room.
The spikes are harder to avoid in the third room, and Arino quickly dies and gets a Game Over. On the next attempt, he continues to be dumbfounded by a long strip of spikes he can’t simply jump past. But all he has to do is be patient for the snake to loop back around so it can create a nice little "platform" for him to land on and continue climbing. Well, he does, except he then slips off the backside and back down onto the spikes. It’s not until he’s on another last continue that he finally makes it past that snake and onto the next three, and in fact he’s within inches from the exit — even grazing it during a jump — only to dash right into a spike. Miraculously, after another climb back to that room, he finally reaches the exit.
But not the exit! There’s yet another room to get through! Arino is surprised, panics, and falls right onto spikes.
This is where the challenge will end, though not entirely. Next time: the heart-pounding conclusion! More stages, more insanity!
We’re back to checking out honest-to-goodness arcades again, specifically Game Fuji, a little arcade just off the JR Ichikawa line in Chiba. It boasts around 250 different game machines of all kinds, but we find Arino going up to the floor with the retro games. There he spots Makaimura (Ghosts ‘N’ Goblins), his old nemesis.
Arino goes through the first stage and quickly hits a wizard who turns him into a toad (what a coincidence!), and then manages to kill the Red Arremer halfway through, too. But he slips off the ledge before the first moving platforms.
Elsewhere, Arino spots Gussun Oyoyo, another game that was featured on the show.He begins the first stage, but seems to have forgotten how to actually play it (you build piles of blocks that Gussun can climb across to the goal). He gets a Game Over, then asks if he actually beat it before. Yeah, dude.
Continuing the nostalgia trip is Densha de GO!, or in this case, Densha de GO! 2, though it’s essentially the same game as the original. Once again, Arino is pretty rusty, and fails to stop the train properly. He then gets assistant Fukawa to play, since he was the one who was so good at it last time. Arino holds his light for him as he watches Fukawa carefully slow the train to a stop, but a little big short of the goal.
First up for this installment is the Hudson Joy Stick, a pretty normal but well-built joystick that was endorsed by Takahashi Meijin because it was designed so that the B and A buttons could be easily hit with his special turbo-finger technique. Arino gives it a go with Super Star Force, which has a special miniboss that needs to be before he completely forms, just like in the original. Arino’s not quite as fast as Takahashi, so he misses his chance to beat the miniboss.
The next artifact is the Joyball, a contraption from HAL from 1985 that has a dome-shaped control stick; no, it’s not a trackball. Either it doesn’t work right or Arino is doing something wrong, because it tends to make his little ship stutter as it moves and shoots. As a result, he doesn’t even get close to the miniboss.
1993: February – March