Game Center CX Season 4 – Back to Contents
Assistance is Here! "Ninja Ryukenden"
With another Mario game under his belt, Arino returns to good old fashioned hard-as-nails Famicom games. This time it’s the well-loved Tecmo game Ninja Ryukenden (Ninja Gaiden). With this season’s win-loss record at 3-4, Arino can still pull ahead if he beats this one. But you don’t have to be an expert to know that it’s not going to go smoothly.
Arino creeps through the first stage. A particularly funny part early on has him jumping between a ledge and a sign, and then falling down to be hit by a running dog. Repeat ad nauseum until death. He stops screwing around after that and starts to collect some ninjutsu magic, which causes some fiery effects. Soon after, he reaches the first boss, the Jason-ish Barbarian. He’s a pretty ridiculously easy boss, but Arino still manages to get his life down to one bar. So is Barbarian’s, for that matter. Arino panics a bit and rushes to safety by clinging on the wall. He’s just a few pixels above the boss, so who knows how this could end if he tries to jump off. Luckily, he does jump off safely and lands the finishing blow.
Arino heads through the first part of the second stage, and then heads outside to the next. The first enemy he meets is a cross-throwing ghoul. He leaps over the gap to try and get over it, but a cross hits him and knocks him down. He’s automatically grabbed hold of the wall, though it’s well below the platform. Arino tries jumping over, but just ends up dying instead. This pattern keeps up for quite a while. Over one hour, in fact. With the same enemy. At the same point in the game. After enough deaths, Arino finally leaps forward, ducks and slashes the ghoul to get rid of it. Wow.
Arino makes it through the rest of the level OK, and reaches the next boss, Bomber Head. His spinning sickle is fairly easy to dodge, but Arino gets hit when he hangs too low on the wall. He figures out that ducking and attacking is the best way to beat Bomber Head’s pattern, but by then he’s at one bar of life and gets hit. He’s forced to restart the stage. And the damn ghoul keeps tripping him up again! After 40 minutes he makes it back to the boss and defeats him.
Stage 3 also starts out well, but by the time Arino reaches the icy second half, those goddamned eagles keep getting the better of him. But eventually he gets to the next boss, the Berserker. It’s a tough one — its bounding around throws Arino off, and he quickly dies. On the second attempt (after dodging those eagles again), Arino ducks in the corner and slashes whenever the boss gets near, which also destroys its projectile attack. Another one bites the dust!
Snippets of stage 4 are shown leading up to Arino’s face-off against the boss — no, bosses! The twin Kerberos hop around just like the Berserker, and likewise give Arino hell. He stays alive for quite a while, but pretty soon they just plow into him and kill him. He tries ducking in the corner, but he doesn’t last long. Oh, the pain! On the next try he manages to get rid of one of them, leaving him to concentrate on just one. It’s much easier to deal with that way, so a few sword slashes are all it takes to be rid of the Kerberos. He reaches stage 5 after eight hours on the job. But even in the first part of the level it’s death after death after death. In the real world, the sun is coming down, beaming directly into Arino’s eyes and blinding him whenever he leans back.
He presses on in the level until he reaches a ladder leading up to the third part, preceded by a pretty big gap. The ladder’s guarded by more cursed birds, and no matter when Arino jumps, he’s always hit and falls down. At one point he ducks at the edge and slashes the birds as they come in, then jumps forward only to get hit again and unfortunately catch the side of the cliff to just delay the inevitable. He pauses the game and calms down a bit. But once he unpauses, he dies from a Time Over!
After one hour in this spot, Arino finally gets through by jumping over the bird as it comes in, then immediately jumping over to the ladder. A short run through the next area, and then up pops the next boss: Bloody Malth. Malth loves to summon lightning and toss it, and the shots hit Arino every single time. Once he dies, the entire room is disappointed to see he’s sent back to the beginning of the area. The second and third tries are just as fruitless, but at least he starts getting some hits in. Just as Arino starts the fourth attempt, Tojima jumps in. He has with him a Kacho’s best friend: the Joycard! Arino gladly takes it and challenges Malth once more. The turbo powers of the Joycard are as strong as ever, and Arino wastes the boss within seconds. Well then, onto stage 6!
It looks a lot like stage 5, and yet is even harder from the get-go. Arino struggles with the first section, quite amazed at how hard it is. He thinks it might even be harder than Takeshi no Chousenjou! Or Ghosts ‘N Goblins! After a lucky break, he makes it through to stage 6-2. More of the same ass-kicking goes on here — he gets stuck early on, caught in a hellish loop. After what seems like forever, someone steps in to visit Arino. "Huh? Who are you?" "Sasano, it’s Sasano!" The old AD has stopped by for some old-fashioned backup. When he asks to play, Arino refuses! Sasano incidentally pleads, and Arino thinks about it out loud. "…Yeah, here you go." Sasano takes a seat.
After a couple of false starts, Sasano gets into the groove and gets through the stage, leading Arino all the way up to 6-3 before relinquishing the controls. And in a string of blind luck, Arino pushes through the final area to reach another cut-scene before the next boss. The Masked Devil seems impossible: a bunch of objects all twirling around him as he paces back and forth. Arino hops on the walls and tries hiding in the top corners, but it’s futile. He dies.
…And restarts at… 6-1!? Oh, no! Now the entire hellish cycle begins anew. This is dire, and the staff knows this. Tojima enters the frame… along with Sasano… and Urakawa! And they’re all holding chairs! Tojima offers to get Arino through the level faster by trading off. Arino likes the idea, so he assigns each one to an area. "6-1 will be Urakawa…6-2 will be Sasano…" pause. "…6-3… will be Urakawa…" Everyone laughs, but you can see the pain in Tojima’s shunned face. Urakawa goes ahead and leads things off.
The boys all do a wonderful job, and once they return to the boss, it’s time for some planning. Arino gets up and goes to the whiteboard. Urakawa suggests that hugging the wall is fine, provided Arino jumps off and over to the other side of the boss to attack the red jewel in the middle of the room. Arino goes for it, but his timing isn’t that great — he constantly falls right on top of the boss, getting caught and eventually dying. Back to square one.
Arino’s brought back to the boss, which is when Tojima informs him it’s been 13 hours and is almost time to go. D’oh! Arino goes in for the next attempt. Things go much better. He attacks the jewel with fire magic and hops across the room effortlessly without even losing one bar of health! He lands the final hit, and it’s celebration all around. Another cut-scene plays, and Arino has Tojima read the lines for Ryu’s dad, while Arino plays Ryu. Tojima blandly reads the screen, but Arino hams it up. A few short lines later, the screen fades…
…back to the same room to face Jaquio! Arino reels. Jaquio floats back and forth sending fireballs at Arino, and as usual, he’s wasted fairly quickly. Back to 6-1. Another 30 minutes pass as Urakawa gets Arino back to the boss chamber, and then he fails again. 16 hours have now passed. It’s almost too much to bear. But he won’t give up. He requests an extension from the producer. He and the ADs agree, and Arino has cameraman Abe push down the Reset button. Gulp! Arino takes out the burning hot cartridge and leaves for the night. And steps on Tojima’s foot on the way out.
Day 2 begins and Urakawa draws out the situation on the whiteboard. Since Jaquio’s fireballs are heat-seeking, it’s best to run in the opposite direction that he’s moving in. Arino jumps back in and gives it a shot, but it doesn’t seem to be working — he dies once again. Sasano steps up and offers to play for the rest of stage 6. Arino agrees and Sasano blazes through. Arino engages Jaquio again, annnd dies again. Tojima pipes up and suggests that Sasano show Arino how it’s done briefly without actually beating the boss for him. Sasano illustrates thusly: dodge, dodge, attack; dodge, dodge, attack, et cetera.
Arino claims he gets it, then takes over. He does get it! But in the excitement of things, he gets down to one bar of health. And then… his magic runs out! He pauses and yells. No more foolproof strategy if there’s no foolproof fire magic. He unpauses, but again, he’s just delaying the inevitable. The round-robin continues. Tojima speaks up once more and points out to Arino that the sun is coming in fast, and will pretty much hinder any progress. In a fit of bravery, Tojima offers to sacrifice himself to shade Arino from the sun for the rest of the game. Arino just kind of lets him do his thing.
The next attempt is intense, but works out very well. Arino has the pattern down pat, and though he takes a few hits, he manages to get Jaquio weakened… until he runs out of magic again. Annnd, pause. Sasano reaches over and provides some emergency advice. Arino’s reduced to jumping off the wall and then slashing when Jaquio comes near. The tension is palpable. Arino tries dodging the fireballs but doesn’t do too well. Even though Jaquio has 3 hits left, Arino gets down to one at the same time Jaquio does! Arino takes one more flying leap and strikes! … Jaquio’s finished! More celebration! Yay! And another cut-scene.
Ohhh shit, one last boss: the final Demon. And it’s a biggie. Arino dies without even getting one hit in. He calls Tojima back and the group reconvenes for some more strategizing. After some time with Urakawa getting back to the boss, Arino tries again. He busts the demon’s head, but that’s only one third of the fight, and he still dies. Tojima has a new plan, much like the earlier one: have everyone take on the demon in sections. Urakawa with the head, Sasano with the tail, Tojima with the and finally Arino with the belly to finish it off.
Urakawa starts and spams fire magic to make quick work of the head. Sasano follows with expert dodging to get rid of the tail section. Arino takes over, puts on a new cold pad, rolls up his sleeves, and unpauses. Like Urakawa, he spams fire magic, but isn’t as great with dodging the demon’s projectiles as Sasano was. At least, not at the start. Within seconds he gets the pattern down pat, and keeps shooting fire magic. It works, and quickly! Again, celebration! And it’s finally appropriate this time!
After 19 hours, the ending is achieved. Arino has Tojima once again help him act out the ending between Ryu, his dad and Irene. "Father… Father… FATHERRRRRRRRR!!!" Season 4 is now at an even 4-4 record. But will the finale change everything??
Arino heads to Ebisu to visit an oddly named and rather small game center called "Game in Asobiba 20." It’s got some character, as evidenced by the two steering wheels on the front of the building. Arino slides open the door to see a cramped space filled with various machines.
He starts by sitting in front of a kids’ janken game. He wins, but apparently the medal dispenser doesn’t work. Arino calls over the elder proprietor, but he can’t seem to fix it. He tests the game by randomly slapping the buttons, getting teased by Arino in the process. Nonetheless, Arino moves on. Next is a prize catcher called Super Scope (with no actual scope involved). He tries to get a plastic toy chef, but it’s no use. The old man watches over his shoulder, and the two trade a couple more barbs. Enough of that. Arino moves over to another catcher filled with plush toys. He has his eye on a Superman doll in the middle, and the heart-shaped crane almost gets it on the first try! But no luck. However, Superman falls in a prime spot to be caught on the second try, and Arino wins the man of steel. But wait, where did he go?
The old man comes over again and opens up the machine to try and retrieve Superman from the netherworld of the prize chute. Now Arino has the man of steel, no matter how ridiculous he looks. The next game he samples is a Gottlieb pinball machine called Title Fight. He and the old man play doubles: Arino on the left flipper, Grandpa on the right.
Game Collections: 1987: July