Game Center CX Season 7 – Back to Contents
The Shiritori King’s Speciality On Display!? "Wagyan Land"
Time to explore another forgotten Japanese action game: Namco’s Wagyan Land. Though clearly this is a game for little kids — it looks cute and colorful, and the boss "fights" are just memory and word games. This surely will be a cinch for Arino. Surely.
The game begins and Arino gets a feel of things. Wagyan’s main attack is a roar, represented by a large "GYA" as a projectile. He uses the roar to hit an enemy, but it’s not disappearing, just flicker. Arino jumps on top of it, perhaps in order to stomp on it, but the flickering stops and the enemy is "revived," killing Arino instantly. A few laughs from the back are heard, and then he tries again. He grabs a power-up which turns the "WA" into "GYA," and then another with a larger "GAA." He then grabs one last power-up, which makes him invincible. Arino dashes to the end of the stage and is taken to stage 2 in the blink of an eye.
Invincibility brings a swift end to stage 2 as well, but waiting for Arino is the first boss, a giant mushroom! He’s ready for a run-‘-jump boss fight, but instead the screen fades to reveal: a Shiritori battle! Shiritori is a traditional Japanese word game where you try and match the first syllable of a word with the last syllable of a previous word. The boss starts by picking a picture of a radio, and then Arino has find an "o" word. He keeps trying to select the horse (osuuma, presumably) but each wrong answer takes a chunk out of his time limit, so he ends up losing the match and is taken back to stage 2.
Arino stupidly dies in his second attempt, but after that he makes it back to the boss. This time he does much better, clearing the board and winning more than enough times to make it past the "goal" point next to the timer. The mushroom is vaporized and Arino gets an incredibly generous seven lives as a bonus.
Stage 3 starts off fine, but before long Arino is constantly killed by sentient walking sticks. A few lives later, he makes it to the next boss: a menacing jackhammer-wielding dude. Arino expects another Shiritori game, but this time it’s … Memory?! Well, maybe this will be a little easier. The boss starts off and fails on, leaving Arino with nothing to go on. He fails too, and then on the next turn, the boss finds a matching card for the previous one it found! Arino fails again, and the boss uses that to its advantage and scores another point. Aw jeez.
Arino finds an ostrich card near the middle, and then tries the card diagonally across. A match! Things are becoming more clear, now: the two halves of the board seem to be upside-down mirrored. However, it’s only after another miss when Arino finally catches on to that fact. But then it’s all gravy — Arino racks up the points and earns another victory. Onto the next stage!
Stage 4 begins with a big purple slide. Arino creeps forward, then barrels down. There’s a couple of jumps along the way, which has Arino expresing his fear multiple times, but he makes it across safely. He then dies due to regular enemies, spinning platforms and floating spike balls. The deaths continue until his lives are all gone. Thankfully, he can easily continue.
A close call at the end is bypassed safely, and then it’s onto the boss: a wingless fairy of some kind? And the theme of her battle is Shiritori again. This time Arino gets bits of advice from the staff, but for the most part he goes it alone. When he’s stuck trying to find a "ji" word, he slips and fails, running out the clock. Abe-san says it should’ve been the cross (jyuuji). Back through the hellish stage we go.
On the next boss attempt, Arino fares much better and passes the "goal" line. So as he continues forward, the time runs out, but the boss disappears, much to his surprise. Onto stage 5, then, which is probably even worse than 4: the sea creatures keep pinching Arino figuratively and literally, and he gets another Game Over.
Luckily, Arino grabs a power-up for invincibility on the next try, and dashes to the end of the stage. And the boss this time is… a dragon?! Oh no, one of Arino’s biggest nemeses! And this dragon fights with Shiritori. But now, with enough experience under his belt, Arino clears the goal line and the boss gives up early. Woo! It’s only been an hour and a half and already he’s up to stage 6.
But then it all comes crashing down. Arino Game Overs on stage 6 and continues, then Game Overs again. But this time, there is no "Continue" option! Arino wonders what’s up. In a subdued panic, he grabs the manual, only to fumble and pick it up off the floor. The manual delivers the grim news: you only get eight continues. Nice of the game to tell you! Arino is forced to start all over.
Time passes and he returns to stage 6, only to be assaulted by flying fish and killed repeatedly. Eventually he makes it to the end and reaches the boss, pink dragon! This time it’s a memory game, and the boss ends up nailing it on the first try, enabling him to claim the second turn. Arino gets one point in before the boss ends up with another. Stupid psychic CPU!
But then the boss screws up and gives Arino an ample chance to strike back … except the second flavor-ice card wasn’t quite where he thought. The boss ends up with 7 points while Arino gets only 2, and then it’s Game Over. The continues are gone again, so it’s back to stage 1. Good lord.
Arino makes it back to the stage 6 boss for the rematch. This time he gets the early advantage. He tries playing according to the mirroring in the last memory game, and ends up with a sizeable lead of 7 points — just one above the goal line. The game continues, and Arino wallops the boss with a full 12 points. Ah, sweet progress!
Arino blasts through stage 7, and at the end is an elderly Wagyan. The old man gives Arino the "Super Wagyanizer," and then is sent to stage 8. The Wagyanizer turns out to be a powerful wave beam. Arino uses it to literally blast through this time, and before long he’s at the boss: a purple vulture. The theme this time? Memory, again.
After a turn or two, Arino gets the lead, and soon after matches the Special Cards to get a two-point bonus! It’s not long before he passes the goal point. Stage 8 is done before you know it. The light is at the end of the tunnel as Arino enters stage 9.
It’s a long vertical ride up into the sky, and Arino’s quickly disoriented and dies. It’s like climbing through Kid Icarus or the final stretch of Metroid, but faster and harder. With zero lives left, Arino manages to make it to the top of the stage. Then it’s all the way back down via the inside of a tree. The screen shifts to the map, but Wagyan’s nowhere to be found.
No matter; Arino’s made it to stage 10, the final one. And the platforming is especially nasty — a series of collapsing mini-bridges start tripping him up, just like with Adventure Island. He makes it past them on the second try, despite going slower than last time. But then he jumps right onto a floating spike ball and dies. Game Over!
One continue later, Arino makes it back to the same spot and is extra careful this time. He makes it, and climbs higher inside the tree. But then it’s a section nastier than any before: a long multi-ledge jump that’s only aided by small springboards. Arino makes the first jump (and jumps the hearts of the staff), but takes the next one too slowly and dies. Zero continues left.
Arino gets ready to try the springboards again, but AD Takahashi steps in. She has some jumping advice for Arino, so she goes to the whiteboard. She attempts to draw Wagyan as best she can, but the rendition is so hilariously off that Arino has to take a moment to laugh. It looks like a duck, for god’s sake! Once everybody’s regained composure, Takahashi continues and tells Arino to keep up a constant rhythm… jump to jump to jump. With no more continues left, Arino’s success hinges on this jump.
The challenge passes the six-hour mark. Pretty brief, but the game isn’t over yet — especially now that Arino has to start over for the nth time. He gets back to stage 7 when AD Takahashi returns. If Arino wants to make that springboard section a little easier, he can grab a secret item right about now. She tries to explain it verbally, but ends up pulling out a marker. Uh oh!
Just joshing. Takahashi draws out a section of stage 7 where Arino must jump to and then continue backwards. Arino does so, and reaches a tombstone. There he meets a Wagyan ghost who gives him the item and warps him to stage 8.
The item is the Wagyacopter, which lets Wagya spin his head Linda Blair-style and fly freely around the stage. Arino uses it to zoom through the next two stages with a minimum of effort. And then it’s back to the springboards. Arino floats over the top of the screen, but then stupidly dies when a spike ball comes in and hits him.
Well, on the next try he reaches the end. The screen goes black and the evil mastermind Dr. Devil is revealed. Surely a momentous final battle like this one would be an actual, action-packed boss battle? Ah ha! No. It’s a memory game. Dr. Devil loses the first turn, but Arino amazingly wins the next. He’s not so lucky the next time, but he’s still in the lead.
Arino gets another point, and a third, and a fourth, as the clock ticks down. Then he matches the Special Cards, which nets another two points. Things are looking up! He loses a turn, but then Dr. Devil screws up and shows Arino exactly where the two mouse cards are.
Decisive! Arino nabs it and clears the goal line! He ends up clearing the rest of the board from here on. He takes a peek out the window: there’s still light out, thank god! Ah, ye– wait. Dr.Devil isn’t done yet! His "second form" is … Shiritori! Noooo!
And to make matters worse, Arino has to score a perfect 24 points. He scores the first few easily, but then is hung up on a "ku" word. He finally remembers the shoe (kutsu), and gains a few more seconds on the clock. But then he’s stuck on a "tsu." He ends up losing and is forced to restart the stage.
He gets back to the boss, clears the memory game and gears up for the Shiritori. This is it; if he loses this one, it’s back to stage 1! Again! Time shifts. Arino’s up to 17 points. Dr. Devil looks for a "go" word, and shocks the room by settling on gongitsune, an alternate word for "fox" that’s the name of a children’s story!
Regardless, Arino presses on and gets within three points of winning. He misses once, but after a few tense moments he scores again. With 25 seconds, he scores the next point. Dr. Devil pulls another fast one with shigarakiyaki, an alternate for the raccoon card. But Arino quickly finds the next card with a "ki," putting himself over the goal line. He scores twice more, but eventually misses. But what does it matter, he technically wins!!
Dr. Devil is defeated, and the mean old tree turns into a happy one, restoring peace to Wagyan Land. And in the real world, evening has just arrived. Three games down!
Today’s trip takes Arino to Adachi-ku once again to visit the general-purpose game shop Takasagoya. Of course, it has its share of arcade machines as well. Arino starts near the front of the store and peeks at some of the retro games for sale. A glass case is filled with Famicom and Super Famicom games. The producer then points out Door Door, which is almost $30, and not far from that is another GCCX game, Super Monkey Daibouken for $8.
Across the hall are the PlayStation games. Arino looks at Bokan to Ippatsu Doronbou, but near that shelf are the Game Boy games, where he spots his own Yoiko no Game Dou, in a faded box and for just under $10. Humorously, his partner Hamaguchi’s face is obscured by the price sticker.
Arino then goes over and talks to the owner, and notices that next to the stack of PlayStation 3s is a squat, nondescript machine with an old LCD on it. It turns out to be a coin-operated electronic quiz game. He drops in a coin and gives it a try. He ends up losing, but tries again, hoping maybe a question about Cream Lemon will come up. He ends up doing even worse despite the advice of the staff. Typical!
Arino moves on to the game corner and tries out the mechanical games, starting with a ball-sliding game called Amazon Shock. He’s not very good at maneuvering the ball down to the goal, so he gives up before his 1000 yen in coins are depleted.
They’re better spent on the video games anyway, right? And what’s the first one Arino sees but … Metal Slug 3 — the recurring TamaGe standard. He drops a coin in, but the second he does, the screen starts spazzing out. A few seconds later, it’s back to normal! He tries it again; same thing. Ferget it.
Arino walks over to another set of machines where he finds … Metal Slug X! For the love of … Well, this one actually works after eating your money, so he starts a game, and continues playing it as the segment ends.
Arino meets with Indies Zero and Namco Bandai for a staff meeting. There, he has some of the GCCX staff pitch their ideas for the GCCX game. Kibe-kun starts off. His idea is more of a concept for one of the stages: a gauntlet of too-tall buildings that the player must jump across constantly to reach a hidden goal. Sound familiar? It’s lifted right from Atlantis no Nazo.
The next presenter is… cameraman Abe?! He has a character design idea: a feudal biker gang. He even has an impressive drawing to go with it! It outdoes Kibe’s, for sure. Then, Arino himself shares some ideas.
Again, they’re mostly character ideas, from enemies to NPCs. One of which is the "High Bridge Meijin," a bald guy with a distinctive jawline. High… takai. Takai Bridge … hashi … Takai-hashi no Meijin! This is why he gets the big bucks!
Following Arino’s presentation, the development staff decides to announce that the Game Center CX game will be hitting the Nintendo DS, and will be released later in 2007. And so it begins. Later that evening, the staff at Indies Zero begin their planning. Just what kind of game will they make?
Game & Watch Hottokenai Yo
The group of Game & Watches (or is that Games & Watch?) that Arino’s checking out this time is the Wide Screen series, a ballsy name for something barely a centimeter longer than before.
Kibe-kun comes in and introduces Arino to the first game, Octopus. Arino dashes for the treasure in the sea below, but is a little too greedy and ends up captured by the octopus’s tentacles. He does better on the next try, but after enough misses, it’s time to move on.
Next up is Parachute, one of the more vaguely-named G&Ws. Arino vainly tries to catch all of the falling skydivers, but the action ramps up too quickly and he loses most of them to the sharks.
Finally, it’s the incredibly late (1988!) release, Super Mario Bros. A cute game, but pretty far from its source material and probably even more annoying. Arino weaves Mario through the scrolling platforms in order to get ever-closer to Peach. He finishes one level, which is more than enough, since his arm’s getting sore.
Then it’s time for the price check! Octopus and Parachute go for around $90, but Mario, despite being more recent, can be had for $160! Man, and I used to have one!