Game Center CX Season 6 – Back to Contents
Since getting a Wii for his birthday last episode, Arino starts the show by recalling some of the fun his wife and baby had with it over the break. But now, it’s back to work with the old guard. The game this time is Septentrion (Vic Tokai’s "SOS" in America), a Super Famicom action-adventure taking place on a sinking cruise liner, the Lady Crithania.
Arino starts the game and is faced with a few different characters to play as. He goes with the stately Jeffrey Howell, then watches the intro. After bidding Jeffrey’s friend goodnight, Arino explores the ship a little bit, until it starts rumbling! The screen fades to show the ship being toppled by a giant wave.
When Arino’s back in control, the entire ship is upside down! He jumps around to find a way out (and laughs at 54 year-old Jeffrey’s ability to jump so high) and eventually hops through a door. The ship tilts as he makes his way out to the main hall. Eventually he spots a couple of people, but they’re out cold (or worse). Before long he jumps through a doorway, but falls through a wide open room and subsequently dies.
After that, Arino loses five minutes of game time. In Septentiron, players have just one hour to escape the sinking ship and rescue as many other survivors as they can. Arino now has 52 minutes to succeed. Luckily, he continues right where he died and climbs out of the room, only to stupidly jump right into it and fall to his death again. 45 minutes, now.
Arino continues to mess up in the same room until there’s just 33 minutes left. He manages to climb out and get somewhere else, crawling down a passageway, but by then the ship starts sinking even more. He does some more crawling through narrow halls, until at long last someone spots him. Here he meets another survivor, Luke, who gives him an idea of where to go next. The two exit.
Or, er, try to exit. Luke won’t get out of the room he’s trapped in, despite Arino’s hand-waving. Apparently, he’s not supposed to go anywhere? Forget it, then — Arino goes ahead by himself. He makes it to the main hall, which has now almost filled with water. Arino moves to another tilted hall, but misses a jump and once again dies. The timer comes up: five minutes left! By now any attempt is futile — Arino keeps going but falls to his death again, and finally gets the Game Over screen.
Before restarting, Arino looks through the manual, hoping to find someone else to play as that will make the game easier. He goes with Luke Haines, the dude he met earlier. Luke’s scenario starts right after the ship is struck. Arino checks the map and sees he’s right at the top, but it won’t be as easy as climbing out. He does some exploring, then checks the map again, but his position is nowhere to be found!
Arino continues and meets with a bellboy who recognizes him. Together they try and move out of the hall. As they continue, Arino pushes the "let’s go" button to summon his partner wherever he’s standing, which elicits a chuckle from the staff every time. For the most part, Arino does pretty well getting around, but debris starts falling from the ceiling in one room, which konks him in the head just before he exits. And then he’s killed again by another fatal fall. The randomly-tilting ship is proving to be downright precarious.
Arino eventually gets another Game Over. He starts again as Luke, and at one point almost dies from a fall again, but lands right in a pool of water, saving him. Lucky lucky! From here he enters the massive boiler room. The jumps here are small and few far in between, causing Arino to die a few more times, hilariously ending up with 42 seconds left.
Time for the third restart. Arino gets back to the boiler room and manages to get through it all. The screen fades and he’s now shown on deck with a small rescue crew. The ending screen follows shortly thereafter. Arino stretches and yawns with an air of relief. Ahhh, ye–uh oh, a flash of purple from the edge of the camera. Inoko MAX appears. "Arino-san, this is the bad ending!" "But it’s an ending!" But, it’s not enough! The game has multiple endings, and Arino didn’t rescue anyone else on the way out. For a sufficient clear, he’s got to do better than that. Yes indeed, the fun’s just begun.
Per Inoue’s suggestion, Arino restarts with Caprice Wisher, a nice young guy, and sets out to save all the women and children he can to try and get a good ending. He starts Caprice’s story, which takes a little while to get going, but once the ship is hit, everything goes upside-down. The search begins.
Arino meets a guy named Richard and tries to help him through the ship. When Arino walks right into a patch of flames, he dies and Richard is lost. He moves on and finds another survivor, then tries to get them to climb up. It doesn’t work, and Arino is forced to explore alone. Once again he finds himself dying rather often, and it really starts to bear down on him. After another Game Over, he gets up to write some reminders on the whiteboard.
Arino restarts, and fights with Richard’s AI even more than last time. The guy gets stuck in a jumping loop, and after much giggling from the staff and annoyance from Arino, he gives up and goes to get someone else. He even finds Luke again and gets him to try and jump over to his spot, but he falls a little too far. Arino hears the scream of death and climbs down to see where Luke landed, but he disappeared! …Oops.
Inoko MAX comes in again and gives Arino a gigantic three-sheet map of the ship. It’s posted on the whiteboard along with the map from the manual, and Arino begins regularly checking it as he continues to leap through the halls. Pretty soon he comes upon two new people, Anna and Frank. After their introduction, Arino acts wonderfully mature and makes Caprice squat in front of Anna (and onto the body on the floor). Oy.
With Anna and Frank in tow, Arino continues up through the halls. He tries to get them to leap across a small gap onto a platform. Frank falls down, but Anna makes it. Arino climbs down to see Frank repeatedly jumping in a corner. The ship tilts and Frank gets even farther away. Arino doesn’t know what the hell to do. He tries to get Frank to jump over a precipice so they can get back to business, but once he does, the ship tilts back and it’s back to square one.
Arino decides to plot another route. He moves to another part of the ship, and this time uses the Y button to catch the couple as they jump over from the wall. Later, everyone is crawling through a duct, and Anna and Frank get stuck again. Arino tries calling them over — both in the game and real life — but every time they budge, they go right back into the same corner. Through some miracle of fate, he gets them out of there. And then, in the middle of the next room, time runs out and the game ends for the seventh time. On the next try Arino actively searches out Caprice’s sister Amy. And it’s not long before he finds her! Unfortunately, as he takes her through the halls, he ends up dying himself, for the umpteenth time. But now he knows where Amy is, so the next attempt starts off a little more smoothly.
After Amy, Arino rescues Anna and Frank again, but gets konked on the head soon after. He wakes up with them gone, and is forced to move on. But amazingly, he finds them again, all in one spot! He continues up, but sees they’re not following him. They’re stuck… again! And once he gets them out, it’s just one more comedy of errors after another. Arino constantly curses them out as they jump in the same corner, or off platforms that he just pulled them onto.
But then, when trying to get them to jump across small beams, he manages to kill all three of them, one after the other. Inoko MAX steps in once more and tells Arino that he could get a decent ending with Amy, but it won’t really be enough until he rescues at least seven people. Inoue sits down next to the whiteboard to provide support, and then Arino restarts for the 10th time.
Eventually he comes upon Cooper Smith and his family, bumping up the group to six people! He takes them all down to the lower levels, where everybody has to jump another gap. He gets most of them across until he sees goddamn Frank jumping like an idiot in the corner again. Eventually the ship tilts just enough to enable Arino to get everyone safely across.
Later he meets a new survivor, and has Inoko MAX help him read the cutscene aloud. Inoue’s delivery is flat, but hilarious. Arino now has seven survivors, but the ship titls again in an empty hallway, causing a couple of them to fall to their deaths. Arino moves on without them, but soon the rest of them, including himself all die from a fall.
Fast forward through the 11th attempt. Arino tries to get everyone to swim through a watery passage for the second time, but of course he can barely get anyone in the water. He takes too long and gets another Game Over. After that, he still fights to get everyone organized, but once more he runs out of time. The producer gets on the mic and tells Arino the next attempt, the 13th, will be the last. Arino starts again and makes sure to count everybody as they join him. The swimming is still a sticking point. He exits the watery room and he’s missing one person! He’s forced to go back into the water and get them. Cameraman Abe hopes they aren’t dead, but Arino gets back out with them.
And then, once he enters a new room, Arino counts everybody. Seven; good. He steps forward and then, suddenly, two crew members come in from a rear door! Arino instantly pauses out of fear, but unpauses and talks to them. They warn him about the boiler room, but he’s been there before, and it’s only way out regardless. Arino moves on to face the boilers alone.
Unfortunately the boiler room is too nefarious, and he ends up getting another Game Over. It has to end here. But Inoko MAX tells Arino it would have been for naught, anyway: during the conversation with the crew, Arino was prompted to push the button to respond, but once he did, they kept him from taking the rest of the survivors through the boilers. If he hadn’t have answered them, he’d be able to take the survivors, but that’s not how it happened.
At any rate, even though he didn’t get the good ending, he still got the bad one earlier, so Arino declares victory, though that’s not how it’ll be officially recorded! Whatever; the sixth season is so far a 3-3 win record. Will the final episode tip the scales?
Arino visits Adachi-ku and a longstanding game center called Sugimoto. There’s a few games outside, so Arino checks those out before heading in. And what does he see first but a Super Mario Bros. 3 roulette game, by Konami! The sunlight makes it hard to see where the light lands on the wheel, though, but it’s not like he wins big anyway. Next to that is a Gundam-themed game, featuring a three-tiered puzzle. After losing that one, Arino steps inside.
He starts with a Neo Geo machine that has Metal Slug 3, and what’s a TamaGe without a Metal Slug these days? They’re even in chronological order! Arino beats the first boss, which is a good time to quit. Next is a funky prize catcher with a giant-handed robot, called Catchinger Z. The player must control the robot to catch the prize as it drops.
Arino nails it on the third try and earns… a ball full of green rings? He heads over to the counter and figures the ball is redeemable. The old lady proprietor heads over to the machine to get Arino a real prize. She opens it up, puts the ball back, then closes it. Arino stops her and reminds her she didn’t get the prize yet! Once she opens it again, Arino gets a proper prize: a World Cup Doraemon doll.
Next is Happy Pierro, the clown-themed game from NMK that’s tormented Arino in the past. He must earn 300 points to win, but ends up getting 295 — painful deja vu. After that, Arino’s out of coins, but the old lady decides to be nice and hands him a pile of yen. The segment ends with Arino back outside at the Mario game.
Game Collections: 1988: March-April