Game Center CX Season 7 – Back to Contents
Aiming for the Top Floor!! "Ki no Bouken"
The final challenge of this season is on-location, but rather than a fancy hotel, this time it’s at the headquarters of Bandai Namco Games! Arino steps inside and admires the waterfall (and Tekken 6 sign), then goes up to the front desk. He spots one of the receptionists, who reminds him of Leah Dizon. He asks her where the challenge room is, but she has to ask the other receptionist, who says it’s on the 11th floor. The second woman takes Arino there.
The challenge room isn’t much different than the one back home, so that’s nice! But anyway, Arino sits down and picks up today’s game: Namco’s The Quest of Ki! The second sequel to The Tower of Druaga; a side-scrolling platformer starring the princess Ki, whose magical powers let her float up through the tower. Arino knows that, based on Druaga, this game has 60 floors (stages) to get through. And Druaga was a pretty tough game, too. Could this season finale end in defeat?!
The game begins. Arino gets the hang of things on Floor 1, and easily grabs the exit key. But then he spots a treasure high above. He floats up and grabs it, and then the game pauses. The screen shifts to a message from the dragon Quox, The treasure warps Arino to Floor 6! Arino grabs the key there, and carefully tries to get the tricker-placed treasure chest. Quox reappears; onto Floor 11!
Arino dies in the game for the first time on 11F, after trying to avoid a fire-breathing lizard but hitting Ki’s head on the ceiling and falling right on the fireball (once Ki hits her head, she plummets straight down; additionally, once Arino lets go of the "float" (A) button, Ki can’t fly back up). It looks like it should be a cinch, but Arino repeats death a few more times until it’s Game Over. Luckily there’s infinite continues, so he starts right back at 11F. Arino finally passes the floor, and quickly clears 12F, too.
The treasure on 13F isn’t a warp, though, but a barrier that absorbs one hit. Arino then blasts past 14F and 15F. 16F has a new trap: a random electric zap. Arino tries to float pas it, but overshoots it and falls onto a bed of spikes instead. On the next try Arino goes down to get the treasure — a candle — and sees a ghost where the zapping was. That is to say, the candle helped him see the ghost, and now he knows the pattern to get through. He easily slips past the ghost and exits.
17F. A jumping frog and a spastic black slime make it hard for Arino to get the key. He attempts to float past the frog, but again bumps his head and falls right on it, dying. On the next attempt, Arino floats up and sees the frog mysteriously disappeared. Whatever works! We skip 18 and go right to 19F, where Arino grabs another warp treasure.
Whoa, Floor 28!? Arino gets the treasure — another warp! 37!! Arino’s more than halfway there, and it’s not even lunchtime! 37 has another warp! 44!! 44 leads to 51! Arino pauses and savors the taste of progress. Gosh, it’s like it’s too good to be true!
We fast forward and end up at 55F. Unfortunately Arino dies within seconds after running into a stretchy tentacle that pops up from the floor. He tries to jump over it, but hits his head on the ceiling again. When he does jump over it, he runs into another one! What a mischievious game. He eventually gets the key behind them and makes his way up to the door. A red slime shoots electricity, which psyches Arino out even more and he loses a couple more lives. After dodging that and more stretchy tentacles, he makes it to the door.
56F is extra tricky: Arino keeps getting pinched by two magicians shooting electricity from opposite sides, killing him every time he tries to float up. After a few tries, he takes it slow to figure out the pattern. He gets past the magicians, only to get hit by another one at the very top! Ergh. The deaths continue as Arino’s mood sours. Eventually he’s just careful enough to get the key as the upper magician’s beam passes over his head, and then it’s through the door.
Skipping to 58F, it’s here where Arino gets the Wing treasure, which allows Ki to float as long as desired. This will add a new layer to the gameplay, but for now it’s easy for Arino to get the key and exit. Two more floors! 59F starts well, but Arino steps on a spike and dies. Back to the title screen where Arino selects Continue. The goddess Ishtar repeats her intro message, and in the middle of it, Arino coughs. At that moment, a worst-case scenario comes true.
The game crashes!!!
Apparently, when holding the controller under the table while coughing, Arino bumped the table, and therefore the Famicom, jostling the cartridge just enough for it to spaz! Engineer Suda-chan walks in and sees what’s up. He saved Arino in the Super Mario World panic, but Quest of Ki doesn’t have battery backup. Suda simply nudges the cartridge in tighter and says it’s hopeless. Well. Great. Arino slumps in his chair. A staff member suggests just pressing Reset. Arino hesitates, then gives it a push. The title screen reappears… as does "Continue Start!" Arino restarts 59F with a yell of victory! Thank the stars.
Back to it, then. Arino keeps getting caught by a pair of ghosts that move in a curved pattern, and he can’t seem to figure it out. After a few deaths, he lucks out and inches by the ghosts, and then it’s a smooth path up to the exit door. Floor 60 awaits!
And it’s remarkably easy; a bunch of bare platforms with the Blue Crystal Rod in the center. Arino gets up to it, but it disappears. Then the evil Druaga comes out from the shadows, and turns Ki to stone! Since Quest of Ki is actually a prequel to the original Druaga, this sad end leads to the knight Gilgamesh’s resultant quest to rescue her. But, the game isn’t actually over! It now presents Arino with a series of special stages — 40 more floors to get through, disconnected from the story. Arino leans back in his chair, and then is told the obvious news: there’s actally 100 stages in this game, and he’s going to have to beat all of them. Well, at least it’s still daytime.
Arino starts 61F. The key is surrounded by a maze of spiky balls, so he has to find the Wing. He does, and then gets a second treasure — a warp! No, wait, it’s a trick! Arino can’t warp in the special stages, so it just starts him over on the stage. Dang. He attempts to navigate the spike maze. He foolishly touches them and dies a couple of times, but eventually gets the key and touches on the floor to rest. He walks to the right, accidentally slipping into a spike.
We then jump to Floor 64. Two big ogres block Arino’s way to get the key, so he tries an alternate route. Along the way he finds two treasures at the top and bottom of the stage that get rid of each ogre, but by the time he’s within reach of the key, the timer runs out and he dies. With a better understanding of the map on the second try, he manages to get the key and make it back to the exit… with one second left.
65 and 66 have their tricky parts, but Arino gets by them in one try each. He finally slips up on 67F, which features another fireball trap — two of them, of course. Several deaths go by with no progress. And then Arino gets a visitor — a woman from the cafeteria who brings him a fresh cup of coffee, and a hint! The hint gives him instructions to perform a special jump and a "brake" move.
Arino jumps up to the fireball platform, then dashes to the end, where Ki rams into the wall and falls down to the next platform. That part’s over, but after Arino grabs the key, he has to jump over two unpredictable slimes… and doesn’t succeed. A few tries later he manages to leap over the slimes, but again rams into the wall and falls right onto a crow. But right after that, he makes it through in a crazy stroke of luck.
68F is a wide open room, with enemies floating around and a key at the very top, in the middle. Arino floats all the way up, grabs the key, but hits his head and falls onto one of the weird slimes. With no wing item, it’s pretty difficult. Three tries later, he lucks out again and makes it to the door.
The next few floors go by quickly, and then it’s onto 74F, another "wing" stage. Arino has to navigate a narrow curved passage for part of it. He gets through it, but then is hit by a falling slime from high above. And if it’s not that, he’s touching the spikes. Eventually he gets high enough to see when the slimes are dropping, then carefully slips past them to the door.
75F requires him to go straight up without getting hit by the arrows along the shaft. That’s easy enough (only a couple tries needed), but 76 is where things dip back into "crazy." This one’s a big maze with spikes virtually everywhere, forcing Arino to float through the whole thing. Needless to say, he doesn’t do too wel l for the first few tries, but even when it looks like he does, he touches the one pixel that counts as a spike and dies.
In the middle of this, another visitor appears: BNG president Ishikawa! He sits down and slides up to the table, offering to give the game a go. He floats up to the ceilng, then falls and dies. Sheesh! But that’s not why he’s here: he tells Arino he’s now an honorary employee of Bandai Namco, and gives him his own card, to boot (which is also included in the DS game)! Ishikawa then leaves, leaving Arino with the hellish 76F.
Arino gets within an inch of the key before touching the spikes below… again. At one point Arino pauses to try and lock down a good pattern, and with it he grabs the key, finally, only to touch the spikes in the same second. Once again he goes for the key, being extra-extra careful, grazing the spikes (!) but managing to get over to the key. He floats up to the safe part of the next platform! That alone elicits applause from the staff!
He then must face one last strip of spikes before getting up to the door. Another pause — he’s freaked. But after a second of preparation, he succesfully floats along the spikes and up to the door. More well-deserved applause! And now the sun has gone down.
Again we speed ahead to 79F. If 76 was the mouth of hell, this is the throat. Here, Arino must run away from an arrow while hopping over spikes, then float up a shaft. This one takes a lot of practice. Knowing the pattern is easy, but performing it is tough. Arino spends about an hour on this floor before getting past the spike part, but failing in the vertical shaft, where has to get past the Pac-Man ghosts. A few more failed attempts at that part pass by before Arino finally reaches the top of the shaft.
But then it gets really bad. A spike-lined staircase leads down to the door, and there’s no Wing to make this easier. Arino basically has to make one perfectly-angled, perfectly smooth jump down to the end. On the first try, he bumps into the overhead wall and dies. And dies, and dies. Total time on this stage passes two and a half hours.
On the 54th attempt Arino makes it to the bottom of the steps… where more spikes await and kill him. He has to land on the very tiny edge of the last step, then continue up from there. He tries again. Insane, mindblowing luck carries him down the steps and he lands gracefully on the last step. He pauses, and tries to plan a path up to the top platform, past the Pooka and onto the door. He unpauses, then attempts the jump. Oh for god’s sake, he accidentally curved left, then landed right on the spikes again! He apologizes for that one.
Thankfully only a couple more tries get him back to where he was. More careful planning occurs. Arino begins the ascent. He makes it up to the platform, but sees Pooka, psyching him out. He turns back towards the wall, where Ki gets stuck briefly! Arino waits it out until Ki starts falling! One of the female staff members shrieks! Arino tries to fix it, but within seconds he’s fallen back on the spikes on that last bottom step. Ho-ly-crap.
The next attempt is another failure as he hits the ceiling above the platform and falls on the same spikes. At this point, Arino is handed the clock. It’s 25 minutes to midnight, and the challenge has taken 13 and a half hours so far. Arino certainly can’t stay at Bandai Namco all day. He’s asked if he’ll give up.
In the season finale?! No way! But again, he can’t stay, so Arino decides to finish this fight next month… at the start of season 8!
For the final installment, Arino returns to Indies Zero to test out more of Arino no Chousenjou. He starts with the RPG, Guadia Quest, and fights a couple of battles. Arino named the party after the staff (Kacho, Abe, Kibe), so when "Abe" dies, he and Kibe have a good laugh.
Arino is then handed a piece of art from Haguruman 3, which looks a bit, uh, mature. He then tests the game out, but we’re not allowed to see it — given the look, maybe it’s a "32-bit" sequel? Abe’s wacky character designs from earlier, the "tsuppari daimyo," will be a boss fight in it, though.
At the end, Arino is given a bouquet and a round of applause as a show of thanks and congratulations.
Game & Watch Hottokenai Yo
Arino looks at three different but very special Game & Watches this time. First is the one-of-a-kind Super Color edition of Spitball Sparky, a Breakout clone. The "Super Color" screen is about as fancy as a cellophane overlay for Space Invaders; just several differently-colored bands over the action.
Next is a real weird one: the Crystal Screen edition of Super Mario Bros. The Crystal Screen is basically transparent, but the unit is super-thin and glassy all around, so it looks pretty cool. Arino plays it with a piece of paper under it so we can see. He then tries it without, and sees his shady reflection..
Finally it’s a quick look at the super rare Super Mario Bros. inside the Disk-kun case. It was a special prize for winners of the Famicom Grand Prix high score tournament.
And the prices: 14,800 yen ($127) for Spitball Sparky, 88,000 ($760!!) for Crystal Mario, and 69,800 ($602) for Grand Prix Mario.
TamaGe is last this time, and in it Arino takes a break from the challenge to check out Bandai Namco’s arcade game "archives corner" down on the ground floor. It’s not open to the public, but is a lovely living timeline of Namco’s arcade history.
Arino starts at the literal beginning, with Namco’s first video game, Gee Bee. He briefly tires it out, then goes over to Wani Wani Panic, the whack-a-gator game which was created by president Ishikawa. He tries to cheat by using his free hand.
Arino then walks over to Shoot Away II, a gun game that uses projected beams of light that serve as clay pigeons. Arino does OK, then points the gun at an oblivious passerby. Yeah, don’t do that in public.
Then it’s something a little more contemporary: Alpine Racer 2, the ski racing game! Too bad Arino’s awful at it — sure, he pulls off a few tricks, but then rams into a rock right after.
Arino then tries Ridge Racer 2, and gets his manager Noda in on it to play against him. Noda ends up winning, as he does whenever Arino challenges him on the show. You think Arino would learn…
Arino then straps in for the helicopter shooter Metal Hawk. It’s fun while it lasts, but The Quest of Ki awaits to be finished! Back upstairs we go.