Game Center CX Season 8 – Back to Contents
Live Broadcast Special
A First in Game Center CX History! A Live Broadcast Challenge! The Holy Night Revenge Special!
A year ago, it was Mighty Bomb Jack: a challenge game so unpredictable that it taunted Arino for three separate days, but culminating in a final battle live on stage. This time, in 2007, it’s The Quest of Ki: the challenge that’s spanned whole seasons of the show (OK, it was just one month) and was put on "indefinite postponement" by Arino himself, just as he had three more stages to complete. (If you’re not familiar with the Quest of Ki challenges, skim through Part 1 and Part 2 to get familiar.)
As it turned out, it would only be two more months before he faced it again, on live TV, in the Game Center CX Live Broadcast Christmas Special. The special was originally scheduled for just three hours, but crew and the network were prepared to go for up to nine hours if progress was going south. Needless to say, it did. For Arino, nine hours is a "good" day. But for fans, they got to see what it’s really like to do Game Center CX in an unedited fashion; to spend long, long stretches of time watching Arino die in a game over and over and over… and over again.
Here, now, is the complete summation of events in the entire nine-hour stretch. Hopefully, reading this won’t take as long.
We open with a shot of the staff doing some last-minute preparations. It looks a bit staged, especially since you can see Arino in the reflection of the corner window, waiting patiently. And then, after the thrilling opening graphics, it’s Arino, sitting at the desk with a mischievous grin. He warns us of the nine-hour stretch, and says he hopes he won’t have to intrude on Idoling’s (another show on the channel)’s special, or the Alfee concert special that’s supposed to be up next.
But before the main event, Arino gets up and checks the back room to ese what else is going on for the special. Greeting him in the back room is camerman Abe, who has already begun to make his famous Abenabe, just like he wished for in the preview chat from the last episode.
Just around the corner from Abe is Kibe-kun, who along with an assistant is manning the fax machines. A number was set up for the special where fans could send in their encouraging messages on-the-spot. Since the number was puiblicized before the show, faxes are already coming in, and some are impressive, like the Arino portrait that Kibe shows. After browsing a few more faxes, Arino slowly walks back to the challenge room.
No, it still hasn’t started yet. When Arino gets back, the whiteboard behind him has been filled up, and on it is written the lineup for the show! It says at 8:05, the challenge is supposed to start — oops, it’s been a few minutes past that by now. But the other things to be featured are the Abenabe (duh), a lost TamaGe segment, the GCCX 10-Point News for 2007, faxes, phone calls, more TamaGe, blah blah blah, and then, at 10:50, everything should be neatly wrapped up and on time. Shyeah right, we’re already behind schedule!
Finally, Arino sits back down and presents The Quest of Ki. A requisite recap of the events leading up to this special are shown, from the end of season 7 to the start of season 8, and the couch talk and decided this game’s return. The sweat, the tears, the dioramas… it’s all gonna be made worth it as soon as Arino presses Start…
…Except AD Tsuruoka comes in first, and tells Arino it’s all set up and ready to go at Floor 98. Arino jokes with him a bit, and then, by Producer/Narrator Kan’s iinstruction, Arino begins the challenge. The game is paused right at the start of the stage, so Arino unpauses and begins playing.
As described previously, Floor 98 of The Quest of Ki is a three-tiered stage, with the exit door at the top and the key for it in the middle, with a fireball-shooting enemy precariously positioned in front of the key’s platform. Plus, after every few steps, there’s a patch of spikes. Arino will have to jump over the spikes in order to get the key, and then make it back through the long corridor and up to the exit. Given the game’s weird physics — Ki floats instead of jumping, and any bump against a wall or ceiling sends her straight down without a way to recover — it’s definitely not easy. Especially when those fireballs don’t stop coming. Arino’s first death only takes a few seconds, and just as quickly for the second. And third. He’s taking things slowly, but a mistaken bump sends him down to the spikes. Game Over already! No problem, there’s infinite continues… it’s just a little demeaning. A slow-mo replay of the last death rubs it in.
On the fifth attempt, Arino at least makes it across the ground floor, and waits patiently for the fireball shooter. He jumps up to the second level, but then bumps his head again and watches as he dies from a fireball. The same thing happens a couple more times.
Arino tries checking out the top level first, and is surprise-killed by a tentacle that pops up from the floor. Good to know for later, at any rate. More and more silly deaths occur — almost all on the ground level! — as the half-hour mark approaches. Around then, Arino is interrupted by the narrator. We have a special corespondent outside the Fuji building where there’s a big Christmas setup and throngs of people around. The camera swings over to… AP Tojima! Complete with big fuzzy microphone — he’ll never live down that "reporter" joke from earlier.
Arino asks Tojima if there’s anybody to talk to — and here’s a couple right here, waiting patiently to the right! Arino feeds some questions to Tojima to relay, but the two kids are of few words. After chatting with them, Arino has Tojima find someone else to talk to. He gets someone in his sights, but they don’t seem willing, so the camera quickly and hilariously cuts back to Arino. Time to get back to the game, then.
Still not much progress is being made, and Arino takes out his frustrations on the trusty pig ball from Korea, the Lokuloku. The stress relief doesn’t do much, but when he tries dash-flying across the entire ground floor, he makes it! But then dies from a fireball soon after. He calls for a replay of it, though, and the narrator does his job: "a magnificent jump!"
If only the rest of it were so magnificent. At one point, Arino gets incredibly close to the key, but not close enough, and one invisible pixel of the spikes kills him. A few more tries follow, and then we check in again with Kibe at the fax corner. The wall is rapidly filling with faxes, and Kibe shows more cute drawings and messages of goodwill. Arino then gets back to the game, where he continues to die within seconds.
And then, with ten minutes to go in the hour, he grabs the key. Much excitement! He instantly pauses and watches the replay. But then Arino unpauses, and a fireball flies right into him. The fail cycle continues, well into the second hour.
At four minutes after the hour, Arino gets another announcement: the Abenabe’s almost ready, so he can take a break if he wants. After a second to consider, Arino decides to let the stew stew — he’s gonna go for one more hour. Not that it’s really going to matter…
A few more minutes pass, and then AD Tsuruoka reappears. He has some advice, but Arino invites him to play the game himself. He’s not quite confident enough (no thanks to Arino reminding him that this is LIVE), but he rolls the other chair over and sits down next to Arino. The AD makes the same mistake Arino did at the beginning: taking it too slowly, then landing right on the edge of the spikes.
After a few failed attempts, he finally gets the key and shows Arino how to duck the fireball immediately after — just purposefully smash into the wall. Tsuruoka then leaves, leaving Arino to try out the advice on his own. It doesn’t go so well, and stays that way. Arino tries to be careful, but is still being too careful, and that only results in slip-ups. Ceiling bumps, touching spikes, falling into fireballs — the same old song and dance.
But at the 20-minute mark, he not only gets the key, but hits the way and avoids the oncoming fireball! He pauses just as he turned around and faced another fireball. Arino unpauses, but the camera doesn’t even cut back to the game in time to see him die a split second later.
A short while later, it’s time to take off the jacket and loosen the tie. As Arino’s doing that, Tsuruoka comes back. "It’s difficult, huh?" Yup. Is that all? No, no, he has more help, but Arino has to get back under the fireball shooter first. A few tries later, he does so. Tsuruoka has the timing of the fireballs down, so he’ll just say "go!" when it’s time for Arino to float up and go for the key.
Tsuruoka waits for the fireball to disappear from the screen, then says "go" just before the next one comes out. Arino doesn’t trust him at first, but goes for it. Plenty of false starts follow, making it crystal clear that this is going to take some practice. Arino’s timing gets ever so slightly better, but not enough to completely pass the fireballs.
At the half-hour mark, Arino is interrupted again. It’s time for that nabe, but first, a lost TamaGe from earlier in the year (as the live show continues in the corner of the screen, keeping us updated on the nabe).
In May, Arino went to Kawasaki-shi to check out a rather run-of-the-mill game center called Game Pia. But those are the best kinds, after all!
Arino starts with the prize catchers, as usual. He tries to get a toy pottery maker, but the crane can’t quite grasp the little rings on the side of the box. After several attempts, he finally gives up.
He moves on to a candy catcher, which pushes a tower of sweets depending on how many other candies you can place in front of the pusher. The tower’s hanging right off the edge, and after a few placements of dummy candy, Arino gets some nudged off of the tower and down into the dispenser. It’s not enough for him, though; he wants more gum! A few more tries, but nothing else. He takes the gum he already has and leaves ther est for the next passer-by.
Then it’s up to the third floor where the good stuff is: the retro games. Arino starts with Nintendo’s classic Ice Climber. He reaches the bonus stage and tries hard to get to the top, but falls off. That’s Ice Climber for you. And then Arino spots a more modern game: Kinnikuman Muscle Gran Prix! He chooses to play as Benkiman (the walking urinal). Unfortunately, he’s wasted pretty quickly. He calls for a human to play with him; AD Takahashi!
Arino chooses Buffaloman… and so does Takahashi. Arino eventually defeats her. She then walks back from the other side to watch Arino continue playing. All he has to say is "weak!"
Takahashi joins Arino again for the next game: Bubble Bobble. She isn’t much better, trailing behind Arino and dying often, but she does grab the last fruit from him after the first stage is done. They make it up to stage 7 before Takahashi loses her last life.
So we don’t go right back to the challenge — the lid has just been lifted from the nabe pot! Arino and Abe continue to chat as Abe stirs the stew around a little more. Arino looks at some more nutty faxes, too. Finally, he’s handed a bowl of the finished product. He digs it! He has Kibe join in too.
Kibe shows off yet more faxes, from pictures of Arino as Ki to birthday announcements. And then we join Tojima outside for a second time. The camera’s sweeping around, looking for him… oh there he is, off the side of the stage! "Merry Christmas!" Yes, same to you, Tojima. He’s got another couple to talk to, and they’re actually fans of the show! Casual fans, anyway — they don’t know what The Quest of Ki is.
Before long, it’s time to return to the challenge room. Arino’s still eating, and offers a sip to Tsuruoka, who didn’t get any. Eventually Arino finishes the bowl and returns to the game just before the third hour, putting a few more failed tries in.