Game Center CX Season 8 – Back to Contents
FC Geinin!? "PC Genjin"
FC Comedian!? "PC Caveman"
The PC Engine returns to Arino’s desk alongside one of its best-regarded games: PC Genjin, a.k.a. Bonk’s Adventure. This mascot platformer is cute and funny on the outside, but isn’t quite a cakewalk, featuring some ridiculous level designs that will surely torture Arino just as much as the Mario games have.
The game begins in Round 1-1. Here Arino learns the quirks and perks of Bonk’s large head. It’s an easy stroll through that area, and also 1-2, when he gets a big piece of meat and becomes temporarily invincible. He finally loses his first life at the start of 1-3, but once he enters the body of the area’s big dinosaur, another invincibility powerup sends him along easily to the end.
Soon, Arino enters a strange stone chamber, and the entrance closes on him. The first boss then comes crashing down! Arino pauses, a bit surprised the boss is already here. Huey is a big, dumb purple dinosaur controlled by the mind-altering egg helmet of King Drool III. He also spits out big bubbles that float toward Arino. The kacho hops up on one of the stone pillars, carefully bonks away the bubbles, then jumps up and lands a hit right on Huey’s head! "Ooooh!"
He continues to take it just as slowly, but a slip of his timing causes Arino to lose another life. Eventually he lands the final hit, and Huey is freed. Round 1 is cleared, and in Round 2, Arino quickly loses the rest of his lives and gets the first Game Over. Luckily, the game lets him continue at 2-1.
The trip through Round 2 was apparently pretty brief, as we’re not shown much before Arino reaches the next boss, Gladdis. Gladdis splits herself into two, and the two clones bound around the room, making it hard for Arino to get a grip on things. But he takes it slow, and after losing all but his last life, he defeats Gladdis.
Arino charges through Round 3, and on 3-2, he’s met with a long bridge made of bone. He attemtpts to walk across, but once he steps on a bone segment, it collapses and he plummets. He lands in water, though, and there’s an alternate exit at the bottom! Not bad! The next area is much more challenging, though, with nasty reptiles that gnaw on Bonk’s head and can easily kill. Arino loses a couple of lives before making it to the end.
He blasts though the next couple of areas, and in one, finds a hidden door that leads to a special bonus round. The minigame starts, and… Arino leaps right off the first edge, wasting his only chance. After another try, he finally reaches the last exit of Round 3 and prepares for the next boss.
Kongo Zilla is an apt name for the primate-looking dino who ends Round 3. Spikes on his shoulders make it hard for Arino to land hits, not to mention Kongo’s constant raising of his fists, the rock-tossing, and burrowing underground. Only a few hits get in, but eventually Arino gets a Game Over. Soon after, AD Tsuruoka appears.
He tells Arino that there may be a warp back at that bone bridge, but he has to make it across. And Tsuruoka didn’t… actually do it himself. At any rate, Arino starts the round over and tries to leap across the bridge. The bones still fall out from under him, making it impossible to jump any more. He continues through the round, back up to Kongo Zilla, but ends up with another Game Over.
And then AP Tojima comes in. He still suggests Arino try the bone bridge, but has some better advice. Using the whiteboard, he teaches Arino the spin-float technique, where Bonk can slow his descent by spinning rapidly in the air. It’s a pretty basic technique that anyone who’s played a Bonk game will know, but surprisingly, Arino hadn’t used it once this entire time, but he goes for it. He lands on the bridge a couple of times, but has just enough time to save himself and keep spinning. He makes it to the end, but misses a precariously-placed 1UP on the way down!
The bridge exit doesn’t warp him past the boss, but it takes him to the last area, which means it’s a slightly shorter trip back to Kongo. This time, Arino gets mighty close to almost beating him, hitting Kongo just as he pops up from the ground, but loses one life. He finishes him off on the next try. Kongo says something about the princess, and Arino didn’t even know there was a princess! But hey, it’s something to play for.
Round 4 begins, and it’s here where the difficulty really jumps up. The volcanoes in the background spew rocks that rain down on Arino, and the lava and walking trees and everything else here are just insufferable. After a lot of pushing through (and again, with one last life remaining), he makes it to the end. The boss this time is the boxer dino Apollo. Arino again pauses at first sight and evaluates his foe, then goes for it. After a couple of hits, he pushes Apollo up slightly and into the wall! Apollo gets a slight height advantage now, but a headbutt pushes him back to the floor. The rocket missiles end up punishing Arino once too often, and it’s not long before he loses that last life.
Second time’s a charm: Arino lucks into a pattern of hits, and within seconds, Apollo is freed! And then it’s on to Round 5, of course, which starts with a long vertical climb, and then continues with swimming, complete with those damned alligators. It tallies another Game Over. Arino reaches the end, or at least, what should be the end, but the skull elevator is misleading and just sends him to the next half. Here, triceratops statues slide on the floor and hone in on Arino, and he’s a bit overwhelmed at first. He likens them to the Wizard’s Chess from Harry Potter, and he’s soon pinched again. Game Over.
When he gets near them again, Arino decides to do things the same way he would when encountering the Red Arremer: book it and hope for the best. Luckily, he does up over all of them, but right after that are more statues — flying ones! Another sequence of pain follows, and so does another Game Over. As he makes his way back, he traps an enemy in the water and continues up jump up from below, and traps it against a wall. The score counter keeps going up, and up, until Arino earns an extra life and the enemy finally goes away. Yes, just like in Mario, 1UP loops do exist here. He tries it again on another of the same enemy, but it doesn’t work.
Arino loses one more life to the statues, but it wasn’t his last one, and it was at the end of the line, anyway. It’s an easy few jumps up to the top of the stairs, where (presumably) the last elevator lies. Nope, there’s at least one more room to go, dotted with little skeletal dogs and lava pits along the bottom. Arino pushes through with one life remaining, and takes another elevator to yet another tortuous room. Several red plants are on the ground, but most of them are "trick" plants that turn into monsters. Arino is taken by surprise, and killed for another Game Over.
He must go through the entire level again. By now, day has finally become night. Arino finally gets past the plant room, and one more remains: the "Ascension Room." Its catch? Blocks that split after a second’s time, sending Arino to the bottom. Naturally, it takes some time for him to get the hang of it, but it’s only a slight bit of trial-and-error before he gets to the next half safely. Of course, more statues are waiting for him there, and he’s left with a sliver of health on his final life. He destroys one statue, then walks back… to find it respawned! He tries to headbutt it, but it’s too soon. Dead. Round 5 has been a 3-hour saga on its own.
All we’re shown of Arino’s next attempt is that he made it through everything, and takes another elevator up. He notices the rocks, and he approaches the sign pointing to the Grand Palace. Statues of the previous bosses are all down the path, but they’re not doing anything. Arino continues to another elevator. One more little area of climbing up waterfalls follows, and up another elevator, Arino is greeted by the visage of King Drool! Is this the last boss? No — AD Tsuruoka says it’s the final stage, though.
And for the occasion, AP Tojima brings in a special snack: the $20 "Legendary Mammoth Steak," in the shape of the meat-on-a-bone from the game. Arino inspects it, then takes a bite. It’s… gooey? Oh, ha ha, it’s made of cheese.
Anyway, back to the game, where King Drool drops a series of eggs down below. Arino continues through the final stage, then enters a door halfway. He’s then dropped back down the Grand Palace sign. This is the true start to the last stage: Arino approaches the Huey statue, and an egg floats down to the floor, resurrecting the evil Huey! Yuh-oh. Well, there’s nothing to do but fight him and all the rest of the bosses. Arino uses the same strategies as he did before, and manages to get by OK (at the expense of a few lives, though). He Game Overs against the second Apollo, much to his chagrin, which means it’s back to square one. He fights through again, and destroys Apollo this time. Finally, he approaches the chamber for what can only be the final boss (shyeah right).
A brainwashed Princess Za summons the Ractorhead, a mechanical King Drool. It appears rather suddenly and gets a free hit in, but Arino fights bravely. He doesn’t have the clearest clue on where Ractorhead’s weak spot is, though. On his last life, he realizes it’s the antenna flashing on its head, but by then he’s hit again and gets another Game Over. And like sand through the hourglass, so are Arino’s attempts. All he can do is whisper "this is hard…"
On one attempt, with three full lives, Arino manages to damage the antenna enough so much that it bends. But of course, Ractorhead ups the ante with different projectile attacks. It’s not enough to kill Arino, though, and he eventually lands the final blow! Princess Za is saved. She leaves, and Arino takes a victory walk — but discovers 1UPs and hearts hidden in the walls. Bonk and Za escape in a rocketship, but it’s attacked by the phantom King Drool, sending Bonk/Arino down to a far-off planet. Yeah, this isn’t over.
Arino walks forward, and King Drool reappears! Arino manages to land a few hits, and then Drool gets really mad — the actual "boss" music switches on, signifying the start of the battle. Drool shoots out magical tridents that perfectly track Arino, and kill him more than a few times. A few times that lead to a Game Over, to be precise. Arino continues from the boss gauntlet.
He defeats them all again and reaches the last corridor, but something’s wrong. The gate blocks aren’t all there, and they’re not opening up. There seems to be an invisible ledge or something, too. It takes a few minutes before Arino finally realizes… it’s a bug!
Tsuruoka comes over, and then Arino asks what engineer Suda-chan would do. Maybe resetting would help, and Arino could just select Continue again? Well, why not? It worked with Quest of Ki. Pressing Start and Select will reset the game, so Arino grips the controller, and with Tsuruoka praying beside him, he dramatically mashes the buttons.
Is it gonna work? Is it gonna work? The title screen scrolls up… but just says "PRESS RUN BUTTON!" It didn’t work! Screams reverberate through the room. Arino could give up, but it’s not too late in the day yet. Tsuruoka sits down to support Arino as he plods through the entire game from the very beginning. On the bright side, it only takes three more hours before he gets back to the boss gauntlet. And this time, there’s no damnable bug to screw things up.
Flash forward to the final fight against King Drool, which is still a one-sided fight. Arino gets another Game Over thanks to those tridents. More Game Overs follow, but Arino still won’t give up. Eventually, he strikes King Drool’s crown, discovering that it’s a good source of damage. Arino continues to defend himself, and it’s not for another few seconds until he manages to hit King Drool from below and strike the final blow. Cheers abound!
Princess Za is finally rescued, and everybody lives peacefully on Moon Land. And for Arino, the first challenge of 2008 ends on a good note.
Christmas Special Documentary
Instead of the usual segments, this episode featured a multi-part retelling of last month’s Christmas live special, as a behind-the-scenes story narrated by AP Tojima. We start on the afternoon of Christmas Eve: the crew is preparing every little bit of equipment and the final rundown of the show.
Arino arrives at the Fuji building around 5:00. Later, with about an hour to go before air, Tojima does a quick rehearsal of his "reporter" gig. And then Arino, suited up and ready to go, leans in an elevator, anxiously playing with his headband. He enters the challenge room, and then it’s showtime!
In part 2, the show’s been on for about an hour, and the crew silently watch Arino’s constant failure. The pain continues through 11:00. Someone’s even keeping tally of Arino’s losses, and Tani is hanging over them to look. The current loss count? 480.
Around midnight, Arino takes a break as another segment plays. A backroom meeting occurs, and the staff considers the possibilty of Arino giving up. It’s a half-joke, but Arino isn’t going to throw in the towel so soon. It’s after that when he crosses out the schedule on the whiteboard and writes the new projected times.
For the third segment, we come to the where the challenge shifts to Spelunker, and the point after, where a teenage fan’s fax demands Arino to continue playing Ki.
And then, just after 3:00, Arino comes closest as he ever did to clearing Floor 98. We see the staff look just as nervous as Arino did when he attempts to jump the nefarious tentacle at the top, but doesn’t. They wait with their champagne poppers, but it’s not for another hour when Arino finally makes it.
For the final part, we’re shown Arino’s travels through Floor 99, going by Tsuruoka’s diorama. Nothing but Arino’s gasps of pain are heard. And then, after 25 minutes of hell, a little miracle scrolls up from out of the fax machine. A fan sends a message with the advice Arino needs: Tsuruoka’s by-the-book route would take forever, but Arino can try running through the bouncing fireballs, making the whole level just seconds long. After just a handful of attempts, Floor 99 is cleared in a flash, and once again the crew erupts.
And then there’s the final floor, and the backwards-warp item Arino accidentally collects, which could have singlehandedly retconned his entire 19-hour Quest of Ki saga. Arino pauses, and Tsuruoka resets the machine, hoping he was there in time.
Thankfully, he was, and Arino is able to continue right through to the end of the game and the show. At 5:20 A.M., Arino raises a glass to the crew, and everybody digs in to that lovely cake. As he peruses the faxes, Arino lets out one more victorious yell.