Video games aren’t always fun and games. Often they are an uphill battle featuring frustrating unfair obstacles and enemies, especially the ones from older generations where the quality of life features was relatively few compared to modern-day games.
For comedian Shinya Arino, this struggle is a way of life. In Game Center CX, Arino plays the chairman of a fictional company of the same name and is tasked with completing pre-chosen retro games within a certain amount of time, often leading to hilarious defeats, and awe-inspiring victories. Depending on how well he does, he finds himself being promoted or demoted within his company accordingly.
The 60-minute episodes are presented in the format of a variety show, often featuring other segments such as interviews, showcases, and field trips to actual game centers, to name a few. Arino’s staff and producers are often featured on camera to offer moral support when progress is futile and all hope seems lost, but only enough to lift his spirits; his victories must be genuine in order to be officially counted as successful.
The whole experience is delightfully dramatic while appealing to that nostalgia factor some of us have for oldies, but goodies (sometimes quite literally “baddies”, when retro games are involved).
14 episodes of Game Center CX were localized as Retro Game Master in 2011, and special DVD only challenges are included with the numerous DVD releases of the original show. The series has also spawned spin-offs, and even a movie, Game Center CX The Movie: 1986 Mighty Bomb Jack..
What are Some of the Most Entertaining Challenges That Have Been Featured on ‘Game Center CX’?
Many titles from the 8 and 16-bit eras of gaming have reputations in gaming communities for being difficult to beat. Has the chairman faced off against these titles? Probably. Since first airing in November of 2003, Game Center CX has aired just shy of 300 official episodes, and many challenges exclusive to DVD releases.
If you are a gaming buff, any one of these episodes is potentially interesting, however, a few stand out as the most memorable in the pack.
One of the NES classics that has enraged countless children and just as many adults is Ninja Gaiden. Ninja Gaiden games typically follow the mold of frustratingly difficult gameplay coupled with an infinite number of continues, making it easy to be in a stalemate where one can neither complete the game nor quit as to not lose progress.
The Chairman faced off against Ninja Gaiden in season 4 (featured in the first episode of the Retro Game Master localization), but one of his most memorable challenges was the rematch against Ninja Gaiden 2 in Season 12. Does the chairman have what it takes to slash through hordes of instantly respawning birds?
A personal favorite is Season 4, Episode 3, where Arino challenges a game straight from the depths of Famicom hell: Hudson’s Adventure Island. Much like Ninja Gaiden, this game features an unlimited number of continues (via a “secret code” which is really just holding down buttons and starting the game) to tackle increasingly more difficult stages, which consist of archetypes that maintain the same general layout but get more packed with completely unfair nonsense as the game goes on.
While you do have infinite continues, a death in Adventure Island removes the player’s weapon which can be extremely difficult to recover from, especially in the late game. Arino’s battle with the last few stages of this game is nothing short of legendary.
Is There an Easy Way to Watch Game Center CX in English?
The localized version, Retro Game Master is available to watch at any time officially on YouTube with a combination of English subtitles and an English voiceover. However, it is limited in that only 14 episodes (12 currently available on YouTube) made the cut.
Some good choices were made, however, with the scope of the main series featuring hundreds of great games, you are still missing out on hundreds of hours of entertainment.
Groups of fans have released English subtitles for a large number of episodes online, for the net-savvy gaming fanatic. Episodes of the original series tend to be available from unofficial outlets on video sites like YouTube, sometimes even featuring said fansubs.
There is also an extensive collection of DVDs available for purchase that include bonus features. Support the show, and partake in one of the oldest iterations of the “let’s play” genre. I guarantee you will be thoroughly entertained, and you might even come out with some new games on your ‘to play’ list for a rainy day.