Game Center CX Season 3 – Back to Contents
"Yume Koujou: Doki-Doki Panic" in Odaiba
Arino sits down with yet another Mario game — well, the non-Mario Mario game: Doki-Doki Panic, aka Super Mario Bros. 2. Since it was based on a Fuji TV lineup campaign, why not bring it on this Fuji show? As for the game itself, it has many Mario-like qualities despite the plumber’s absence, so it will no doubt drive Arino nuts. He starts the game, only to be informed that cameraman Abe is unfairly using a foot massager to get through this episode! Arino swipes it and then begins the game proper. He’s not sure which character to start with, so after checking the manual, he goes with Imajin (Mario).
Arino has even less of an idea what to do when he falls down the beginning of world 1-1. He becomes acclimated to picking up vegetables and throwing them at enemies, but is still surprised at things like the magic lamp (potion) that reveals the doors to Subspace. Eventually he makes his way through the level and reaches Birdo. He thinks it’s Yoshi, but the egg shooting towards him suggests otherwise. After a minute or two he accidentally hops on the egg, then picks it up — again, to his surprise. He tosses it at Birdo just as it shoots another egg, canceling each other out. Still, he has the hang of it now, so he soon defeats the pink thing.
1-2 moves a little more swiftly, and so does 1-3 for a little while, until Arino discovers a large jar at the end he can’t enter. He reaches back and checks the strategy guide, which informs him of the secret warp inside the jar. He heads into Subspace and enters the jar, which warps him to world 4. The icy landscape of world 4 throws him off completely, and pretty soon he gets a Game Over. Unfortunately, this starts him back at world 1. After the disappointment strikes him, he decides to try another character, Lina (Peach), but her floaty jumping also throws him off. Next he tries Mama (Luigi), but it’s the same jumping problem. Papa (Toad) doesn’t work out either, so he goes back to Imajin.
Some time later, he gets back to world 4 and reaches the end of 4-1. 4-2 isn’t much better, though. Arino tries and tries to get past the whales and their dangerous waterspouts, but that combined with the ice platforms causes more deaths and another Game Over. Arino starts over again, and gets to the slot machine bonus screen. Three cherries nets a 5UP, and Arino gets two of them. He hesitates. "Scaryy!" But… he gets a third! 5 extra lives are his.
He finally gets past 4-2 and reaches the boss there. He puts some drops in his eyes before going ahead, and then engages Birdo. This Birdo is red and periodically shoots fireballs, which almost throws him off, but he defeats it. Unfortunately the path to the exit is a couple of jumps away. Arino freaks out a little bit again, but attempts it. Miss. He gets it on the next one.
4-3 is the "trick" stage that starts out with a lone Birdo. Arino kills it before realizing he needed it to ride an egg out to the faraway island at the end of the level. He tries again and hops on the egg, freaking out again, hoping he doesn’t slip and die again. But he makes it safely. He gets through the indoor part of 4-3 rather well, and reaches the exit. He thinks he’s done, but on the other end of the exit gate is the main boss, Fryguy. Arino once again freaks and hits pause. He psyches himself up briefly and goes back to the game. He quickly understands how to throw the blocks on the ground at the boss, but his timing rather sucks. He keeps getting hit and eventually dies again.
Arino’s problem is that he can’t figure out how to throw the blocks forward — instead he just presses A and they drop at his feet. By the eighth attempt he scores the requisite three hits on Fryguy, but the boss immediately splits into numerous tiny Fryguys, which surprise him and kill him instantly. Each time he tries to pick up a block, one of the little guys leaps at him. After 17 tries, this doesn’t look like it’ll end anytime soon.
On the 22nd try, Arino is extra-extra careful, and manages to get rid of half of the minions. But when he very slowly tries to kill the others, he ends up throwing the block across the screen. He tries it again and only gets one of them, leaving one more to kill. He jumps down to grab another block, almost dies, and then gets back to his perch. He drops the block, but his timing is off again! By now he’s mentally wrecked: he tries a super jump for some reason, but veers right and lands in the middle of the room. In the of two hilarious seconds, Arino jumps with a block in hand just as the Fryguy comes down on him. He dies, but the block falls and kills the Fryguy as well, revealing the door, but of course, Arino’s already dead.
Take 23. This time Arino lucks out hard and manages to trap all of the Fryguys in one group, and then drops a single block down to kill them all. Onto world 5. The first level is lined with daring jumps, but he pulls through. The end of 5-2 is a doozy, with a long fall with spikes blocking his path. He makes it through the spikes, only to fall right through the gap in the bridge at the bottom and die.
He makes it down safely on the third try, and then busts up the next Birdo with ease. When he enters 5-3, he sees another jar above him. He can’t jump up there with Imajin — or can he? He positions himself just right and manages to get up there. But there’s no magic lamp around, so he has to get back down, find the lamp and jump back up to the warp. The warp takes him to world 7; the final stretch! But he dies fairly quickly in 7-1 thanks to Bob-Ombs and receives another Game Over. Since he skipped world 6, the furthest he can continue from is world 5, so it’s back to 5-1. He warps back to 7 and… Game Over again.
Eventually he gets to the end of 7-1, but notices it’s a dead end. He tries hopping a ride on an Albatoss, but it flies through a column and pushes him off to his death. The next part of the level has a devious block puzzle where Arino must build his way up while avoiding dangerous sparks. After a while he gets it and continues on to the boss: an exclusively fire-breathing Birdo. He dies once while fighting it, and is down to one last life before the Game Over. Arino tries to be careful but ends up walking straight into the fire. But he doesn’t die! He takes his time and eventually defeats the Birdo.
7-2 is next; the final level. But it’s also pretty big and confusing — it starts on a conveyor belt, even. Arino gets close call after close call, dodging sparks and flames and Phantos and everything in between. He finally reaches the final room before the last boss. He picks up the lone jewel sitting there to open up the mask gate, but the show cuts away and a musical jolt plays. We go back to the game to see that the mask has come alive! Arino and the staff yell in fear. He quickly picks up a block and tries tossing it at the mask, but it touches him before he has a chance and he dies. Game Over!
Arino makes his way back to 7-2 and the mask boss. He stockpiles two blocks next to the jewel to prepare for the fight. He scores the first hit easily. The second is a miss. He’s already been hit twice now (with three life points total). He lands a second strike. He grabs another block, and in a crazy close call, he defeats it! The mask opens up, except it was positioned inside the columns, making it impossible for Arino to enter. He tries to, but it closes back up and reanimates, killing him instantly.
On the next try Arino has it down to a science and clears the room in record time. Much applause! He thinks it’s the end, but of course, it’s not. He enters the final room with the boss, Mamuu (Wart). The constant stream of bubbles Wart spits psyches him out more than anything before. He tries throwing a vegetable at Wart, but it just disintegrates. Eventually he lands one hit and already the staff is applauding! Obviously he needs to throw a vegetable when Wart’s mouth is open. Arino grabs another veggie and takes a breather, but when he heads back in, a bubble grazes him and he dies.
He tries again. First hit; applause! An easy second hit; more applause! He’s ultra-scared now, and has one life point left. He runs in with a third vegetable, but — he doesn’t make it! The attempts start racking up. Four, seven, 11… the 12th try is as close as he’s come since the second. He misses a few times, but amazingly manages to dodge the bubbles on the rebound, freaking out himself and the staff. He manages to land a third hit! The staff goes wild! But Wart isn’t dead, and Arino runs straight into a bubble! He negated the hit by running off and scrolling the screen too far.
AD Urakawa rushes in to provide some support, but the 14-hour mark has passed, and the producer says this is Arino’s last chance. Urakawa gets one hit in, then hands the controller to Arino for the next. Arino takes a point of damage, but afterward makes a second strike (and is careful not to run too far this time). He hesitates on the next throw, but he tosses the final veggie and — Wart flashes crazy for a second. Arino doesn’t know what to do, but eventually the boss turns gray and falls off the screen. Success!! He shakes hands with Urakawa.
The game asks to set side A. Arino expects the ending, so he flips the disk. The game loads, and… goes to the title screen. Laughter echoes through the room. Urakawa tells Arino that he needs to beat the game with the other 3 characters before being able to see the real ending (something that thankfully was not carried over to SMB2). Arino pauses. Now’s a good time for Urakawa to finish the game for reals while the credits roll.
Arino’s stack of phone numbers is larger than ever now. After spending another 20 minutes with the game, he stumbles on a warp zone that puts him in the middle of nowhere (then again, the entire game feels like that). He’s stuck, so he tries calling the 11 year-old from the last episode again, but he’s still not at home.
A few failed calls later, he happens upon a card from Akita-kun, the kid that shamed him in Super Mario 2 in season 1! He calls him up and asks for a bit of help. Akita tells Arino he can find a warp zone if he first waits for day to turn to night in the game. Arino thanks him, then tries it out. Night comes in the game, but he walks around the perimeter of the area with no warp in sight. He gives up for now.
Game Collections: 1985: November-December