Game Center CX Season 5 – Back to Contents
Enjoying the Night Air & Romance – "Youkai Douchuuki"
The last battle of season 5 begins! Arino introduces himself, or rather, the action figure Arino does. After that subtle advertisement, Arino begins this week’s challenge: Youkai Dochuuki (a.k.a. Shadowland), the PC Engine version of a Namco arcade game starring Tarosuke, a boy trying to make it through a land full of demons.
Arino begins with stage 1 and does pretty well early on. But then he runs into a giant toad, who challenges him to a gambling game. As he figures out the game, he ends up losing every single bit of gold that he collected. Um, ouch. At the end of the stage is the first boss, the Red Demon. Arino runs over to the adjacent shrine, and then instantly gains control of a ghost — the only way to attack the demon’s minions. He’s confused at first, but once he knows which character to look at, he does decently. But an enemy catches him in the end and he loses his first life. And gets a Game Over! Yes, Youkai Dochuuki is a cruel mistress.
Arino starts over. When he tries the gambling game this time, he does incredibly well, starting with just a few thousand "Money" and by the end of it, breaking 300,000! Arino quits while he’s ahead — it’s practically his lifetime peak, but his luck carries over to the boss fight. With just a few points of health left, he finally lays waste to the Red Demon. Then it’s on to stage 2. He enters a shop at the beginning, selling various foods. He checks the manual to make sure what each of them actually do. Strangely, there’s a mysterious item called the "Ben Johnson," named after the Olympic runner who tested positive for steroids. It’s only represented by a question mark, so Arino decides to avoid it.
The rest of the stage rolls on, but pretty soon Arino gets caught in a swampy pit and can’t get out. Dead! And back to stage 1! Fast forward to stage 2, where he manages to get out of the pit by a hair. He moves on to face a huge (and huge-headed) enemy. He thinks it’s the boss, but it’s not. He defeats it easily once he figures out how to charge Tarosuke’s shots. The level shifts, but still doesn’t end. Arino moves on and reaches a wide gap with only cloud platforms to guide him across. He steps on the first one, and stays there attacking enemies. It goes OK, until a second group swoops in from the bottom and shoves him off the platform! But he doesn’t die! Instead he lands right in front of the stage 2 boss, the Blue Demon.
Arino runs to the shrine and begins the battle. It looks tense, but he wins it in one go! He then begins stage 3 and swims through the little pools here. He submerges and goes down to a secondary area. He almost dies thanks to some crafty enemies, but he makes it out of the water… only to get caught and die for real. Game Over, again. Fast forward to stage 3 again. Arino takes the high road this time but falls down off an edge and lands right where he died before. But he makes it through, all the way to the end, where a floating turtle guards the entrance to the next part of the level. He wants a specific amount of money, which Arino just doesn’t have, so he’s instantly kicked back to the beginning of the stage.
AD Urakawa comes in at this point. He tells Arino he needs 30,000 in his pocket before the turtle will let him through. Arino goes back through the level, but ends up dying in the middle of the action. Ugh, back to square one… Arino gets back to the turtle with just over 31,000 in cash. The turtle then flies up to him and puts him on his back. From there, Arino moves on to meet a princess, who starts a funky light show and then gives him a special present. It’s a treasure chest filled with a bunch of money. After that’s collected, Arino is instantly sent to stage 4. He’s a bit surprised at his pace through the game so far. Famous last words? Yes.
He hops and jumps through stage 4, coming close to death more than once. He reaches what he thinks is the goal, with another miniboss. This one is a pile of rocks that collapses itself and regenerates. The rocks spread across the entire screen, hitting Arino every single time. So, as one might guess, he dies pretty quickly. Dude could use a continue code right about now. Once back in stage 4, Arino almost dies. He falls into another hole, but that takes him down to another miniboss, and then he dies. Right about then is when Inoko MAX steps in and asks to play for a bit. Arino, as usual, is wary of the boy, but lets him sit down for a bit.
Since he was the one playing the game before filming, Inoue does pretty well. He blasts enemies away with the charge shot and even finds a spring with a bathing goddess, who gives him a heart that acts as a 1UP. He gets Arino back to stage 4, where the baton is passed back. Arino makes it back to the rock enemy, and this time is a little more careful. Using the charge shot to attack it, he gets in more hits than usual. He takes a few himself, even losing all his health, but the items Inoko MAX got allow him to respawn right where he died. Before long, the pile is obliterated.
After that, Arino backtracks to reengage the tree miniboss from earlier. Once again he tries the charge shot, but he has no more life-saving items. He hangs back in the corner and tries firing as many shots as he can, but it’s not enough. Dead again. He retries. And tries. And tries. It’s now been four hours on stage 4 alone. The ADs come back and present Arino with a handmade map of stage 4 that Urakawa posts on the whiteboard. Time for a three-pronged attack. There’s three minibosses in stage 4, and Urakawa suggests him, Inoue and Arino go after each one. Inoko MAX will start off, followed by Urakawa, and of course Arino will finish up. Inoko MAX sits down and begins.
He’s not so lucky against the rock boss — he gets hit from behind multiple times and uses up one of the recovery items. But he beats the boss, and that’s what’s important. Urakawa is up next, and his approach is more proactive, going right up next to the boss and constantly firing. It’s crazy, but it works! Arino’s shocked that it’s his turn already. He jumps down the hole to face the third boss, but instantly pauses and yells. One look at that thing and he can tell it’s too hard! There’s bats ‘n things flyin’ around… it’s just too much. He tries his best, but still ends up dying. It’s like one train wreck after another, now.
Time to get serious. Arino breaks out the cold pads and hands some to the ADs as well. The game starts over, and Arino makes it back to stage 4. The cycle continues, with Inoko MAX starting off with the first miniboss. Oh, wait, his phone is buzzing. He takes it out of his pocket and sees there’s a text message. Who’s it from? His mom, of course. She asks him how work is going and all that other mom stuff. Arino has a good laugh, and Inoue continues the game. Eventually Arino gets the controller again, and by now it’s been 14 hours. He starts the battle with the third miniboss again, this time with at least one recovery item. He keeps up the firing, but he’s taking too long! Enemies start coming in from the rear! The room erupts in yelps of terror! Arino can’t get out! Health keeps dropping! It’s… it’s…!! Another death!
Arino bows and apologizes for that one. Time for another attempt. This time Inoue wastes all the recovery items, forcing Arino to fight quite dangerously. He starts using charge shots immediately, and pretty soon starts getting ravaged by enemies. But amazingly, he finds a break in the pattern and manages to land on the ground safely, with a sliver of health left. He lets loose with two more big shots. It works! The boss is down! Arino pauses and looks at the map. What’s next!? No more bosses, but a path leading to the next warp.
Arino clutches his chest. The pressure is too much. He has one sliver of health!! He continues on, shooting very carefully, and pausing often to let Urakawa double-check the map and tell him what’s coming up ahead. He triple-checks to make sure he’s about to fall in the right hole. He takes the jump. It sends him back to the beginning! And then he gets hit! The entire room screams. Holllly crap. With 15 hours on the clock, the producer chimes in. After a discussion with Arino, the best course of action is to take a break and tackle the game the next day. And so the first night of hell ends.
Arino arrives for the second day, and is told by Urakawa that he has a time limit: finish the game in 5 hours. Eep. We begin where we left off, with Inoue opening stage 4, then Urakawa, and then Arino. The two ADs do another speedy job, and leave the two recovery items for Arino. He goes for the third miniboss. This time he defeats it without wasting either of the items — a good night’s sleep is all he needed, I suppose. He jumps through the right pits to warp his way through the stage. He finally reaches a new area, but again, his heart is going a mile a minute. He ventures forth to the end of the stage, but there isn’t a boss to fight, just a demon statue. The screen fades and Arino begins stage 5, the last one!
Stage 5 has another gauntlet of cloud platforms, but they still are too much for Arino. Actually, he ends up dying by stepping on the wrong enemy. So once again, it’s time to start completely over. And this time he dies again in stage 4. And again. The madness has yet to end! He makes it back to stage 5, but dies in the exact same way. He makes it back once more, but by then the producer hands him the clock. He has but one hour to clean house before Fuji needs him for the show Mecha Ike. He plays through stage 5, but the biblical nature of the stage (raining frogs and all) ends up doing more harm than good. Arino gets hit by a frog once or twice, ending his life once more. He gets back to stage 5 with just half an hour left!
He hops along the clouds again, this time getting past his trouble spot, but falls off and has to start from the beginning of the stage. The pressure is maybe too much. He misses once again, and then leaps onto that same enemy as before, getting another Game Over. He restarts, with the vice of time tightening ever faster. He returns to stage 5 with 15 minutes remaining. And then five. Arino jumps up around the clouds again. This time he’s farther than ever. He makes one jump to the last cloud. A few frogs fall, and he waits for them to stop. They do, and he takes one more flying leap.
It’s good! He lands and meets the giant gold god-whatever. But, it hasn’t yet ended? The god asks Arino a series of questions that are moral in nature. Once they’re over with, Arino continues forward, and then the ending scene appears. It’s… anticlimactic. Urakawa then steps in. He tells Arino that there are five different endings in the game, and he got the bad one. "Bad!?" Well, as bad as it is, it is after all, an ending.
And so season 5 ends… on time! Arino excuses himself from the room. We then see Inoko MAX’s post-show playthrough in an attempt to get the best ending. After 12 hours he does it. That’s a wrap!
Arino visits Kita-ku to track down a little grocery store named Daily Mart Imaya. He starts walking down the road and spots a little girl. He says hello and asks her if she knows where Daily Mart is. She pauses, says she doesn’t know, then runs off. Arino has a chuckle, walks a few more steps and — buh! — there’s Daily Mart just up ahead! Crazy kids.
Arino tries on one of the sun hats outside, then spots that same little girl inside the store. He calls her over, then asks her if she knows where Daily Mart is. "It’s here." Ah, there’s hope yet for our youth. He follows up by asking her where the games are. Again, they’re right in front of Arino’s face.
A line of machines are in the alleyway, some covered with tarps for protection. Arino peers inside one and sees SNK’s Shock Troopers. It’s only 20 yen a game, so he gives it a go. Or does he? He tries the buttons, but nothing happens. He jiggles the coin release, but still nothing. Uh-oh. On a whim, he plugs a couple more coins in. Something registers, and the game begins. Oops, he started a 2-player game.
Arino calls over one of the little boys hanging around to join him. The rest of the kids gather around, but pretty soon the boy dies, and just decides to leave. Arino eventually does the same. He checks out the rest of the machines, including the old medal flippers. He lifts the tarp on one to reveal Car Race — the same one he played with at Ishida last episode! He tries the technique he learned from the kids back then, and it works! He wins a prize ticket, so he goes inside to redeem it. The clerk lady says he can have any 20-yen item, so he checks out the snack rack and picks out two 10-yen ice pops.
Arino heads back outside and watches another kid win at the pachinko machine. Not bad — he gets a 30-yen prize. Arino hands him one of his pops as an extra reward. From there he walks down the line to see two little boys playing a machine, with the tarp draped over their backs to block the sun. Arino teases them by lifting the sheet, but then he has a look at the game…
Oh for god’s sake, it’s Metal Slug X! This is now officially the theme of this season. Arino stays to watch the two kids play, but when one of them drops out, he takes over. He plays for a little bit, but then the other boy comes back to reclaim his spot. He has no choice but to give it up and continue watching them play.
Hard no Ace ga Detekonai
What fantabulous piece of machinery will be profiled for this final segment? The one, the only… Pyuuta, a home computer made by Tomy in 1982. The name is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of "computer," which sounds kind of kiddy. It was released in the west as the Tutor.
Enough history, let’s get down to business. Arino pulls out the manual, which is huge compared to your garden-variety console. He has it hooked up and then calls over Kibe-kun. Kibe recommends Arino start with Traffic Jam, a "car action" game. The point of Traffic Jam is to drive down the roads and "paint" the black streets with your own player color while avoiding the enemy cars, much like Crush Roller. It’s ridiculously basic, and Arino almost wins the first round before crashing into another car. Doh! Let’s try something more familiar…
Scramble! Well, the name’s familiar, but you couldn’t tell what the hell it is just by looking at it. Arino struggles to play it with the tiny, disc-pad controller. It’s not made for human hands, let alone an adult’s. After Arino dies, it’s time to pack up. For a system that touted "16-bit" rechnology, it couldn’t have been a bigger liar. But that’s 1982 for you!
Game Collections: 1987: November