Game Center CX Season 7 – Back to Contents
The 7th Season, Hence "Ultra Seven"
Never say never. It seemed like Game Center CX would be gone for good after the sixth season, but a ray of hope shone through and the kacho once again returned from retirement. With the show’s popularity at an all-time high, plus the announcement of a GCCX video game (see below), the revival shouldn’t have been too big of a surprise. A pleasant one, nonetheless.
So, yes, as the episode title says, it’s fitting for the seventh season to begin with a game called Ultra Seven. But it’s more than that: Ultra Seven is the sequel to Ultraman, the game that opened season 4! And from the look of the game, it seems Arino’s in for yet another kaiju-driven hellride. Will he prevail, or will this second Ultraman game begin another spiral of failure as it did before?
Arino inserts the game with all the gusto of Ultra Seven himself and begins. The first battle is against the sea monster Eleking. But before it starts, a screen pops up asking if the player wants to use one of Ultra Seven’s special capsules. After some back-and-forth, Arino decides against it. Can’t waste all the good stuff so soon, after all!
Arino’s learned well from his last Ultraman challenge: stay as far away as possible. But then, after about 20 seconds, he starts getting aggressive and goes in to try and attack. It’s no good — Eleking just whups him. The pattern continues for a few more tries until Arino uses up all of his lives. And then, with a sliver of life left, he slips on a button and unleashes Ultra Seven’s slicer attack, which doesn’t do much. He ends up dying to another hit.
It’s then that Arino remembers: just like last time, wait until the "FINISH!" He has to keep the battle going until all four attack levels fill in the meter at the bottom of the screen, and when the enemy is beaten back enough so that "FINISH" reads on their life bar, that’s his time to strike the powerful finishing blow. The sixth attempt begins. Arino does much better, barely getting hit. He gets Eleking down to FINISH, and … does just that. Stage 2 start!
The next fight is against the alien Metron, but before that there’s a short cutscene where Metron tries to be diplomatic with Ultra Seven’s secret identity, Dan. The goofy image is but a mere distraction for the actual fight. Again, Arino tries his best to keep back, but whenever he tries to be bold, he’s shot down by Metron.
After trying a strategy of doing somersaults into Metron, Arino lucks into a head-pound attack that gets Metron’s life down, but as soon as the meter gets to the end, Arino’s killed. His scream precedes the Game Over scren. Back to stage 1! Arino gets through it and reengages Metron. But first, he checks the manual and learns the barrier move. Pressing X will activate Ultra Seven’s barrier, which will deflect the enemy’s shots. Arino uses Metron’s shots against him, and it works! Metron’s down to FINISH, and then it’s a simple matter of waiting for the meter. Arino almost dies, but slips in the finishing beam at the last second. Yay!
Stage 3 features another alien: Icarus. It’s another catty battle from the start. Arino almost dies, but gets Icarus’ life as low as his. Soon, both of them have just a sliver left. Arino and the staff start panicking, which of course is his undoing. The failure continues until the third attempt, when he lucks out and manages to finish Icarus just in time.
After that is the Bonus Stage: a shoot-’em-up minigame. If Arino shoots down every enemy, he gets a 1UP. But the shift in gameplay styles has surprised him too much to do anything properly, so he gets through the stage and receives a "NO BONUS" message. The staff chuckles.
The next fight is against the robotic King Joe. When presented with the capsules again, Arino goes for it. He can choose between three of Ultra Seven’s friends to fight for him instead. Arino goes with Windom, the Robby the Robot-looking hero. He struggles controlling the metal bastard, and ends up running out the clock, which subsequently starts draining his energy until a predictable death. Next time, he rightly starts over with Ultra Seven.
Arino does a lot of backflipping and jump kicking until he and King Joe have the same little bar of health left. The same old story? Pretty much: Arino lands a final jump kick to get a FINISH, but by the time he pushes the button for the finisher, King Joe activates his electrical field to deflect the shot! But Arino’s still alive, so he keeps going. With 12 seconds left, he manages to recharge the meter, land another kick and blast Joe away, all with that same sliver of health. Goodness!
Stage 5 is a snowy battle against Gander. Arino does more jump-kicking, and before you know it, he manages to finish the stage quickly and easily! Onto stage 6, then: another alien, Gyeron. Rather than kicks, Arino goes for the barrier move. It works for the most part, but he still ends up with a sliver of life. Gyeron moves offscreen, and Arino fires a beam, but Gyeron fires one as well, which kills Arino. Game Over! Oh, look, the leaderboard. I’m sure Arino will put in SEX now… oh, SET? Oh, he was just testing the staff. Ah, yep, what a kidder.
Arino fights back up through the ranks until he reaches Gyeron again. But then for some reason, he chooses Windom?! Needless to say, he’s wasted within seconds. Arino tries again with Seven, but dies. And then he’s on his last life again. In what can only be sheer luck, Arino manages to defeat Gyeron with a steady stream of jump kicks, all the while taking hits.
Time for another alien battle in the next stage, against the humorously-named Borg. It’s a fast-paced battle with lots of jumping around, but Borg ends up winning, landing a jump kick at just the right time. Game Over again.
The second attempt ends in success, thankfully. Arino then watches Seven shrink down to microscopic size to face off against Dally, the parasitic monster. Dally’s best attack is to leap up into the air, then stomp on Arino. It’s visibly easy to dodge, and Arino does roll out of the way the first few times, but after a while he just stands there and watches Seven get creamed time and again. And so goes the pattern: he gets Dally so close to the finish, only to get flattened.
After a while, Arino starts to get the hang of it again, but by the time Dally’s close to finishing again, Arino dashes forward at the same time Dally leaps up. Squash, death, repeat. Game Over. The fourth through ninth attempts are the same thing. Has Arino finally reached the wall?
Not quite. He tries using the barrier just before Dally drops in, and it works! Arino comes out of it unharmed and ready to strike. It’s not long before Dally’s life is whittled away while Arino’s stays full. Dally flashes the FINISH, but then, oops, he presses the barrier button instead of the beam! Arino laughs while the staff gives him one heck of a groan. The fight continues, but the streak is practically over anyway — he keeps getting stomped again..
He briefly pauses to calm down, then gets back to it. He zaps Dally to get its life back down, then waits patiently for an opening. With just four seconds left, Arino finishes Dally off as soon as it lands. Stage 8 is done, but then another bonus round appears before stage 9. The Ultrahawk must save Seven from what appears to be an ice crucifixion! Arino manages to rescue the hero, and then it’s on to face another alien, Guts. As his name implies, Guts is a toughie. One of his beams takes off almost half of Arino’s energy! The first try ends in a flash, but for the second one, Arino tries the barrier. It works, and he follows it up with a throw to land the FINISH. Stage 10 is up next, but it just happens to be against another Seven!
The imitation Seven works quickly, and even a barrier deflect doesn’t keep it down. Arino dies within a minute and gets another Game Over. It’s getting dark outside, which furthers his discontent. The 2nd attempt starts out slow, and is in danger of ending the same way, but after some careful barrier usage, Arino weakens the fake Seven down and konks it on the head to ensure a quick finish.
Arino figures the game should be over by now, but then it’s time for another fight! What the heck! Stage 11 is against one last monster: the towering, red, fire-breathing Pandon. Arino fires a beam, but Pandon dodges it Matrix-style. He ends up dying, and the on the second attempt ends up with a double-K.O.! On the next attempt Arino is more careful, but all that does is run down the clock! Pandon lands a finishing blow just after the timer hits zero. Sheesh!
The next attempts are just as awful. No matter what, Arino can’t even get Pandon down to FINISH. Another Game Over occurs. He plugs his way through the game again, and soon the producer chimes in. He asks Arino if he’d like to use a "capsule kaiju" of his own. This, of course, is the new AD. After some careful consideration, Arino accepts, and the producer sends in the new AD.
In steps Takahashi, the new AD. She introduces herself to Arino, and then, just like the ADs before her, politely asks Arino for a try at the game. After a laugh, Arino has her sit down. He asks her if she likes games — no, she never really played them much. … Of course.
Takahashi restarts the Pandon battle, and does a pretty swift job at getting Pandon down to FINISH. But then, as soon as she has an opening, she accidentally does a 180. In her rush to recover, she gets hit by Pandon’s flame and does a little yelp. Arino laughs and makes a little allusion … is the kacho already sexually harrassing the new blood?!
It’s not helping: the clock runs out and Takahashi eventually dies. She (somewhat dramatically) asks for another go. Arino obliges. A much better ending this time. Takahashi wastes Pandon by slicing off his arms for the finish. She hands the controller back, bows and exits.
And then up comes the final stage. It’s a cybernetic Pandon with new metal arms! Gyah! However, his attacks are mostly the same. Still, Arino is careful… too careful, letting the clock run out again. As his life begins draining, Arino rushes in and deals a kick to get Pandon down to FINISH. The panic escalates as Arino nudges up against Pandon, trying to land a kick or a throw or something for god’s sake. But it’s all for naught; Pandon strangles Seven and ends Arino’s attempt for good. He has but one last chance.
Takahashi got herself to victory by landing a jump kick at the right time to get Pandon down to FINISH. Can Arino do the same? The second attempt begins. He’s careful, as usual, and with 18 seconds left, he lands a kick. Immediately, amongst the yelps of the staff, Arino ducks and hits the finisher button. Seven throws his helmet blade, but Pandon catches it! The kaiju throws it back, but Seven just tosses it again, decapitating Pandon.
Cheers all around! Arino lands it with one life left and 11 hours of play. A surprising victory that can surely only mean good things for the rest of the season! … Sure?
For this TamaGe, Arino is joined by a guest: the gregarious Sarina Suzuki, singer and member of the Fuji comedy show Mecha Ike, along with Arino and others. (The whole thing was a set-up for Mecha Ike, where Arino "punk’d" Sarina in the middle of it all.)
Today they’re in Akihabara to revisit the awesome game shop Super Potato. They recently opened up a "retro game center" on their fifth floor, which is as good a reason as any to go back. Arino shows Sarina around the main floor, pointing out the old game systems. She recognizes the Mega Drive, since it was a favorite of her brother’s back in the day. Arino has her try out a game of Darius II on a nearby TV, and despite her shrieks, she does pretty well!
The two move to the rare game case, where Arino shows Sarina the gold Rockman 4 cartridge. It runs a modest 590,000 yen ($4,900). Arino jokingly asks her if she’ll buy it. Uhhh, no. Moving on to the trinkets rack, Sarina spots an Excitebike phone strap. She makes Arino buy it for her, to many thanks.
From there the duo goes upstairs and enters the retro arcade. As the staff sets up, Arino and Sarina take a seat on a nearby bench, which is where the Mecha Ike trick happened. But since it wasn’t part of GCCX, it’s not really shown. Once everything’s ready, Arno and Sarina walk around the area and decide to sit down with Street Fighter II. Arino should do well, since he has plenty of experience from season 6! Er, right? Sarina picks Chun-Li, and Arino goes with his trusty Dhalsim.
She hands him his ass, even after a Time Over that favors Arino. After enough beatings, Arino decides to tag out and send in another to challenge her: cameraman Abe! The two just silently greet each other — Abe looks either nervous or shy. At any rate, he goes with Guile. The button-mashing is furious in the first round as Abe smashes his way to a round 1 victory. Cue knuckle-cracking.
His victory is short-lived. Sarina gets fiercer and therefore louder. She screams her way through the next two rounds and ends up winning. Well, then! Arino sits back down, but then stands back up and introduces another contender: his manager, back again from season 6, and still going with Blanka. Apparently Sarina is going up against the GCCX team without even knowing it.
Arino yells out encouragement the entire time, and even Sarina’s screams can’t fight it. Blanka ends up winning it in the end, and after that, Arino and Sarina play one last game together.
Arino makes his first visit to the headquarters of Bandai Namco Games. There he meets two producers at the company, who subsequently introduce him to the BN president, Shukuo Ishikawa.
From there Arino discusses game design with Ishikawa. The best games to him are "simple and deep." That’s certainly agreeable. Will the Game Center CX game turn out the same way? Stay tuned for next time.
Game & Watch Hottokenai Yo
For this new segment, Arino checks out Nintendo’s classic Game & Watch games. To start off, he’s looking at a pare of ultra-rare "Silver Series" games. He calls over Suda-chan, who peels off a bit of adhesive on the back of the first game and affixes it to a metal stand, where a lamp and camera are situated. This way we can actually see the things!
Arino then introduces Kibe-kun into the picture, who gives the requisite backstory of the Game & Watch line. And then he has Arino start the first game: Fire, from 1980. He does well until the game starts speeding up. After he loses, it’s time to try the next one: Flagman.
Arino experiments with Flagman, but only tries it for about a minute before stopping. Such simple games, but how much does the Silver Series run you in 2007? Super Potato (where they borrowed the games) sells Fire for 12,800 yen ($105). And Flagman? An especially steep 76,000 yen ($630). Arino remarks you could get a PS3 for that much!