Game Center CX Season 4 – Back to Contents
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius!? "Doraemon"
Another day, another challenging Hudson game. The Kacho is back, and after the victory of Tonosama no Yabou, AP Tojima is there to welcome him. After all is said and done, Arino starts up the game: Doraemon, based on the timeless cartoon character. It’s a straightforward action game, so maybe he won’t have *too* much trouble.
Arino walks around the first round for a while, until he drops into a manhole and enters a small side-scrolling room. There he grabs the Shock Gun so he can actually attack the enemies. He walks around outside some more and eventually finds a Dokodemo Door, which only warps him to another place on the map a little ways away from the door. He enters it again, and this time is warped to a new part of the map. He continues and finds a vitamin bottle, and then…
…He stumbles upon a bug enemy that spews rocks whenever he comes near. Arino plays chicken with it and finally lands two shots to kill it. From there he enters another manhole and another underground stage. There he gets a candy that extends his life gauge. Once outside, though, he gets overwhelmed and dies. Game Over. He restarts the game, only to discover it places him right where he died! Laugher (of the relieved variety) erupts. Arino weaves his way back to the original starting point, and starts shooting the Dokodemo Door. He figures out that by shooting the areas where the door took him, he can reveal another door that will take him further. He does so, and pops out on another part of the map.
He pushes on for the next 30 minutes. He gets an upgraded gun, and then while trying to find another door, actually reveals a manhole. When he gets through the passage below it, he comes up in a rocky graveyard area! And there are enemies swarming everywhere. Arino dies more often than not here, continuing and re-continuing as he tries to find the way out. Eventually he finds a big blue building and a door that appears in front of it.
Another side-scrolling area is inside the building. Arino climbs up through the girders until the first boss, Bull Robo appears! Like the other enemies, he merely spits out a bunch of projectiles, but Arino camps on the level below him to remain safe while he plans the attack. He starts running out, jumping and firing, then running back to safety. This mostly works, but the random trajectory of the boss’s projectiles nick him one or two times, eventually killing him. He restarts the level, but gets hung up with a mouse enemy that drains his life down to a sliver before he even gets to the boss again! Needless to say, the boss fight ends badly again. But thankfully, on the third try he nails it. Nobita is saved!
World 2 opens with a shmup stage, which surprises Arino and also inspires a pun: "Doradius." The stage switches from horizontal to vertical and back to horizontal when it’s time to face the boss, a demonic-looking volcano. Arino dies on the first attempt, but on the second one he goes straight up to the mouth of the beast and starts firing. It works! The next area has more tough enemies, but Arino weaves through and eventually rescues Suneo, another one of Doraemon’s friends, who joins him as a secondary fire. Though, his time in the game is short, as he loses him after he gets hit too many times. But shortly after that Arino finds another friend: the portly Gian. Unfortunately Arino dies just as he enters the next vertical section.
After that, it’s just one failure after another. Losing Gian over and over; running into walls — it just doesn’t seem to end. It’s been an hour just on this one area. Eventually AD Urakawa steps in. He recognizes the difficulty (and the thumb pain) Arino’s having, so he procures the Joycard controller. Arino takes it, and the turbo powers of the pad help him last much longer. And then we come upon the next boss, the Big Robo Ship. It takes 32 hits before it’s down, and Arino comes close to death a couple of times. But the boss’s pattern is ridiculously easy to evade, and he dodges expertly within seconds. Before long, the ship is down and it’s on to the next area.
Area 3 starts off well, but ramps up in difficulty pretty soon. Arino keeps getting either caught in walls as the screen shifts or just plain marauded by enemies. After enough failures, Tojima comes in to tell Arino he has to get ready for some events on today’s schedule. One hour later, after Arino’s done some promoting for the DVD box, he comes back clad in a red Famitsu shirt. The hour-long break didn’t help much, as he’s still failing. Just then, Urakawa comes in with a couple of dorayaki as a gift (Doraemon’s favorite food, and an item in the game). He then offers to help Arino much like Tojima helped with Adventure Island: Urakawa does the dodging while Arino does the shooting.
The two get to the boss, and that’s when Urakawa has to let go and allow Arino to finish up — much to Arino’s dismay. But he goes for another kamikaze move, jumping right up to the floating dog head and pumping shots into it. A swift success! Arino throws his arm up in celebration as usual. But then he looks back at the screen. After the fight, the screen auto-scrolls, and he gets caught in a wall. He grabs the controller back and tries to float out, but it’s too late — he’s died right after beating the boss. Game Over.
Well, it shouldn’t be that ba– oops. He starts all the way back at area 3! Laughter and groans fill the room. Urakawa leaves the desk. Time for one more run through this hellish level. It takes a couple more tries, but finally Arino gets back to the boss and defeats it in even less time. And naturally he’s extra-extra careful finishing out the level. After eight hours, the final world is upon us. Arino starts in the water this time. This world is a whopping 64-screen map that he has to get through. Early on he finds a magical bag item, but can’t jump out of the water to reach it. He moves on, finds another item that he can grab, and tries taking it back to the bag, only to have the special item stolen by a ghost.
As soon as Arino gets deeper into the water, he dies. He tries again, gets farther and reaches the boss, and runs away upon sight. It’s a big pink octopus, and it’s not happy. He goes back to face it, only to get instantly tangled in its tentacles and killed. On the next try he stays farther back and keeps firing, eventually killing it. Except then he gets killed when a school of skull fish appear and swarm around him. Another try, and he gets to the treasure the octopus leaves behind, but he can’t open it without a key. Of course! Back out we go in search of it. He finds the key a few screens back, has it for a little while, fumbles, and once again a ghost steals it. Good lord! He gets the key and takes it to the chest, except there’s a damn dragon in the chest! A few deaths later, Arino finally destroys the dragon.
Later, Arino finds another key and a chest, and this one contains Nobita! After that, he goes back to get the magical bag. He manages to grab it, and then with that, a hula hoop and a key, he opens up the next section of the world. Here he grabs Gian again. He takes the items through, hoping they can be used for something. He stumbles upon a rock formation that looks like a monster, but none of the items are working. He goes back and finds a new chest. Using the key, he opens it and finds Suneo again. With the three boys saved, Arino goes back to the monster rock, and the wall below it disappears. Now we enter the final area.
It’s a short maze leading up and over to the boss chamber where Shizuka-chan is being held captive. The boss, the giant floating head of Poseidon, wipes out Arino within seconds. Same result with the next few tries. The attempts pile up, and not even turbo fire is doing any good. Poseidon seems to use Arino’s old tactic against him: nudging right up against him and attacking. Arino starts to smarten up and get a little creative by circling around the room to keep Poseidon chasing him while avoiding his fire at the same time. A few more shots, and that about wraps it up.
DVD Event report
A short piece on the release event for the first GCCX DVD Box at AsoBit City in Akihabara. AP Tojima, Director Sasano and AD Urakawa are joined onstage by Arino for a short talk show, and then a stamp rally afterwards. A gaggle of fans come up and get things stamped or to give Arino gifts, including a Cream Lemon fan magazine and the marked-up copy of Yoshi’s Cookie that Arino held at the Chiba Kanteidan visit. …Creepy.
Time to hit up Akihabara again and visit one of the area’s well-known game shops: Messe Sanoh CHAOS, a store specializing in import games from Asia and the West. Arino goes up the stairs to enter the shop, and one of the first things he notices is the Game Center CX book! After that, he hands a business card to the clerk. He then asks to see the doll behind the clerk — one of those hideous American Mario dolls that were so prevalent in the late ’80s.
Chaos also stocks a bunch of Western game merchandise, including tacky Nintendo shirts and the like. Pretty soon Arino goes and looks at the games, starting with the Xbox section. He looks at such jewels as MX World Tour, Playboy The Mansion, and then he calls Tojima up to the shop. Since he’s been in America, he’s got to know enough English to help Arino read these game boxes. He’s not a phenom, but at least he knows what the Playboy game is about. On the next game, not so much. Arino has the clerk describe the game (Dead to Rights on PSP) for him instead. Same with Riddick, The Punisher, Predator and Evil Dead (which Arino only recognizes as a "zombie game"). And then…
Arino pulls out The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. This one, however, is the Chinese version, and the kanji subtitle on the box comes out to something like "The Green Giant Hirokatsu" in Japanese. Arino jokingly takes this to mean that the Hulk’s name is Hirokatsu-kun. He has to try it out now, so he goes over to the dilapidated Xbox kiosk to give it a spin. Arino watches the intro movie and makes fun of the Hulk’s action onscreen. "Hirokatsu PANCH! Hirokatsu JAANPU!" He starts the game and asks Tojima to come over and describe the control instructions in the tutorial level, as well as what the Hulk and the bystanders he grabs says.
After that bit of fun, the next game is the Korean version of God of War. Arino asks for some help for Tojima for this one, too, but he just can’t provide it. Arino bungles his way through the first level before giving it up. He looks through the manual, which is also in Hangul, of course. He figures Sonim could help him read it, though. "Hey, AP, try booking Sonim, please." Tojima plays it straight: "Seriously?"
Urawaza Jet Stream
The classic "small Fire Mario" trick from Super Mario Bros is requested.
Game Collections: 1987: May-June