Game Center CX LEGEND – Back to Contents
The Far North Game Travelogue
Parts 4 – 5 – 6
Game Center CX LEGEND was a short "best-of" series that ran in between seasons 4 and 5. Though the bulk of LEGEND was old hat, there were brand new TamaGe-esque segments featuring a plainclothes Arino on a snowy journey across Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, in order to find the northernmost game center in the country.
LEGEND Episode 2
Shibetsu is the stage for this next chapter. The crew heads into town until a young girl starts calling them over from outside a game center. Arino gets out of the car and walks up to the girl. The first thing out of her mouth is "what’s your name again?" That causes some laughter among the group. She’s quiet, but friendly. After a short chat, Arino gets back in the car and the gang continues down the road.
They find a game center called NAC Amusement, but either it’s been shut down or no one wants to deal with the snow drift blocking the doors. Arino tries climbing up the snow, but just ends up with freezing wet shoes. He finds an old man nearby, who, after thinking about it for a while, tells him the place has been closed for about 3 or 4 years. Well, then! Instead, the old man directs the gang around the corner to find another game center.
The car moves around the block, and the town seems to be getting quieter. Finally they see it: a bowling alley called Star Bowl. Arino hops out and enters the place. Of course, since it’s the middle of the day, it’s dead inside. Arino whispers as he surveys the interior, but then an electronic voice blares "welcome!!" Arino looks around and finds the sensor the voice belongs to, then jokes that it’s like something out of a Tezuka anime.
Arino enters the game corner and starts with an electronic roulette game. Much like the other times he’s tried them, he gets one space away from the winning spot every single time. A crane game is next, but that’s another round of failure as well.
LEGEND Episode 3
This time we’re in Kayoru, and the gang is getting ever closer to the northern tip of the island. The next place to visit is Sun Pillar, another hot spring center surrounded by trees.
Their game corner is another modest affair: sterile room, a few video games complimenting the prize machines. Arino sits down with Motocross Go, a Namco dirtbike racer. He starts out well, but before long is wiping out repeatedly. He times out, then moves on to another Namco production: GAHAHA Ippatsu-dou 2, a collection of wacky minigames that use two googly eyes as joysticks.
Arino spends a while there before moving on to a skill game featuring a cutesy Godzilla and King Ghidra. He has to plug the game in before it’s used, though. Arino pushes the button to swipe Godzilla’s tail in an attempt to strike Ghidra when it comes in close enough, but his timing isn’t that great (and it’s a game for kids, come on!). After thinking he has the pattern down, he tries again. After striking Ghidra the requisite 6 times, Arino wins! He gets a prize from the chute, but then a staffer points out the game has moved on to the next round. Arino hurriedly slaps the button, and before long he wins again! His prizes? A tiny Pooh figure and some sort of googly-eyed fuzzball.
And as usual, the visit ends with a meal: a nice warm lunch at a ramen house. But from there it’s on to the Otoineppu Village’s Teshiogawa Onsen, yet another hot spring center. Arino walks in and almost misses the game corner. It’s the smallest one yet! But there’s still quite a few games crammed in there. Arino starts with Virtua Cop. He loses pretty easily, so he moves on to a UFO catcher that’s filled with Pooh dolls. Despite their volume, he doesn’t get one.
More prize machines, then: Lucky Holder Mini. Once again Arino has to switch on the power for this one, a carousel of various keychains where you use a rubber finger to grab them off their hooks. Arino almost gets one on the first try, but no go. He then tries shaking the machine to jostle a prize loose, but his tomfoolery sets the machine’s tilt alarm. Arino panics and reaches down for the power switch. What a goof!
Arino ends the gaming and uses the place for what it’s there for: the baths! He takes a dip in a spring that looks over the snowy fields.
The location this time is a highway station in Nakagawa-cho. Here the gang can chart the rest of their trip. But the real reason Arino’s at the station is to sample the few games inside! The first one is Super Rider, a skill game where you try and tilt a plastic mountainside so a little ball can ride up its grooves to the goal at the top. It’s a tough one, and Arino only gets the ball itself back from the machine.
Elsewhere in the station, Arino teases a little boy, until his mother pipes up. "Aren’t you Arino-san?" Why, yes! The mom is pleased, and her two boys shake hands with Arino. News spreads, though, and another family is soon walking up to say hi. After that, Arino checks out the shop inside and buys a couple of trinkets to give out to fans.
And then the crew moves further north to Wakkanai. Arino walks into town to get ready for a DVD signing at the local software store, and is stopped cold by the sight of a throng of fans lining up outside.