Game Center CX Season 14 – Back to Contents
Starting With the "Last Nindo" ("Ninja Spirit")
If there are any games on GCCX that give Arino a 50/50 chance, it’s anything with ninjas. Ninja Gaiden tortured him, but he beat it; he couldn’t finish Mystical Ninja, though (spoiler: he did in the DVD Box), and though it’s only remotely related, Genpei Touma Den gave him a rough time. And now, Arino faces the PC Engine classic Saigo no Nindo (Ninja Spirit), the Irem action game that’s slower-paced than Ninja Gaiden, but still challenging.
Arino fires up the game and watches the intro scene, where the ninja hero is killed, then a wolf comes and howls in despair, and then stage one begins. Okay. Nevertheless, Arino gets going, slashing any brown ninja that comes in his path. Pretty soon the gets the duplication magic, which summons one ghost of the hero to trail behind, much like in Ninja Gaiden II. Arino gets another clone, and continues to the end of the stage.
He’s attacked by a group of green ninjas who leap up and toss shurikens at him, but he manages to survive thanks to the clones. When they’re all gone, up comes the real boss, Ashura, a towering demon who flings fireballs at Arino. Arino positions the clones to where they’re aimed right at Ashura’s head, so the boss is defeated in a flash and with no harm to the kacho.
Stage 2 begins, and Arino kills more ninjas and, this time, flying fish and leaping wolves. Arino powers-up again when he gets a fire shield, which lasts a while, but not long enough for the rest of the stage. But then he grabs a sort of smart bomb item, and all is good until the next boss. Scratch that — the boss, the claw-bearing Soufuki, dives right into Arino and kills him.
On the next try, Arino just makes it to the second half of the stage before dying again. He makes it back tot he boss, though, but it just dives right into him again. On the third try, Arino lasts about 30 seconds longer, but still can’t finish the stage. Eventually he tries out the hero’s other weapons by pressing Select, and he begins tossing shurikens. He mows down some more enemies, then heads back to Soufuki to try the shurikens out on him. But… yep, another quick death.
On the fifth attempt, Arino is prepared. He waits at the edge of the screen for the boss anjust keeps tossing shurikens. After jumping out of the way when Soufuki dives, Arino keeps up the offensive and finally beats the stage.
Despite the struggles, it actually hasn’t been that long in the day. Arino starts to wonder if he can best his challenge for Takeshi’s Castle, which was only a five-hour battle. Stage 3 is at night, and the waves of enemies seem to be coming in heavier, as Arino dies a couple times early on. But the boss isn’t far away, and it’s a rather tall ninja with a huge katana named Makai Hanzo.
Arino slings shurikens like before, making careful jumps over Hanzo when he gets too close. Unfortunately Hanzo grazes Arino and he dies. On the next try, Arino repeats his pattern with extra caution, and though it’s a slow process, he nails it! Stage 4 is right up ahead, although Arino dies within seconds from annoying enemies attacking from udner the floorboards.
The deaths continue in pretty much the same spot. Arino might be relying too much on shurikens. After a few failures, he tries the handbombs, and those do a decent job of clearing out a few enemies at once, but they don’t stop him from getting hit up-close. Purple ninjas tossing their grappling hooks are the main problem, though Arino has a grappling hook of his own…
He sticks with the bombs, however, and makes it to the second half fo the stage. He breezes through that, and then enters the third section, which has a falling ceiling! Arino does his best to make haste, but other enemies are making it hard, and soon he’s squashed. He almost makes it on the next attempt — like seriously a few blocks — but is squashed again. Such pain!
Finally, Arino escapes the trap, and that leads right into the next boss fight against the Cursed Stones; two large stone blocks that move around the room and try to squash Arino. He stays remarkably mobile for the fight, but soon slips up and dies. He wasn’t using the bombs, though, so on the next attempt he does some good ol’ grenade spam and manages to defeat the boss. He jokes that he might be done by lunchtime at this rate!
Stage 5 features a long climb up a cliff via small ledges. Arino has trouble getting all the way up, anf in fact, falls all the way down to the bottom after getting more than halfway up. But he gets back to it, reaches the top, and the boss as well: A group of ninjas all on one kite. A flurry of attacks from Arino wastes the ninjas in mere seconds. Say, how much longer until lunch?
Arino plows through stage 6, and the "boss" this time is a succession of zombie samurai who keep appearing one after the other. Arino dies, then keeps dying earlier in the stage. He gets back to the zombies, and still continues to die. They fade in, and immediately slash their swords, which makes it hard to escape. For once, things are really slowing down.
Still determined to make it to lunch, Arino takes off his jacket and gets down to business. He gets a little farther next time, but still dies. It would seem the shurikens are the best bet, but eventually he goes back to the trusty bombs. On the 22nd attempt, Arino carefully jumps back and forth across the screen, slinging bombs that quickly destroy the zombies. Miraculously, he defeats all 15 and clears the stage!
Finally, the last stage, a spooky cave. It leads to a cliff where Arino must jump off and freefall, but a legion of enemy ninjas fly up from the bottom, and in a random pattern. Arino has to make it to the bottom without touching any of them, but it’s proving easier said than done, even when he does try firing shurikens the entire way (the enemies take more than one hit, and by then it’s too late).
Things are slowing down again, but now it’s even worse since the enemies are even less predictable. Even AD Katayama had trouble here, taking him over two hours to get past it. Will lunch remain but a dream?!
Arino equips the bombs next time, and takes another fall. As he goes, the bombs that hit any ninjas in his way seem to disable them just long enough for him to pass through without getting hurt. And so, defying all odds, Arino slips past the ninjas and reaches the bottom of the cavern. Gotta love it.
At the bottom is the final boss, but Arino was so wrapped up in celebrating that he didn’t pause, and so he’s killed in a second. Oops. Tension mounts as Arino chooses to continue after death, hoping against hope that he’s not kicked back to the cliff. Luckily, he’s not, and goes right back to the boss. Thanks, Irem!
The demonic sorcerer constantly fires electric bolts at Arino (much like the ones from the game’s intro), but even with a clone at his side, Arino is caught by the bolts on multiple occassions and dies more than a few times.
On the fourth try, Arino switches to powered-up shurikens, and their spread formation is helpful, but not enough to keep the bolts away. He hugs the wall, and somehow, that’s just far enough for the bolts to give out. As he continues to jump up and down, Arino keeps firing shurikens, and before you know it, the boss is defeated!
The ending scrolls by, and Arino watches the hero return to the form of a wolf spirit. This means that lunch is a reality — Arino finished in two hours and 10 minutes, the fastest completion in the show’s history. He even makes a call to producer Kan, who’s away for the day, to tell him the news. Amazement follows, of course. And then it’s time for lunch! Arino sits with the rest of the staff and recounts the challenge. But what do they do from here? Arino suggests maybe going to see Harry Potter.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city is Nagatoro, a town and nature reserve in Saitama that attracts rafters and kayakers. However, Arino isn’t here for that — perish the thought, there’s games to play!
He goes for the next best thing, though, and rents a bike, which apparently has a lot of go to it.. Immediately, Arino speeds down a market street, and stops short at a local senbei shop. The jovial owners offer Arino a trademark heart-shaped senbei, and let him watch up-close as the cook makes it for him.
Arino bikes further down the road until he arrives at today’s real destination: Game Cosmos, a modest game center in Nagatoro. First things first — the crane games. Arino hits up the New Lucky Crane machine, where you look down into the chamber. Fortune smiles upon him, as he gets the first capsule he sets his eye on. The prize? A lovely handkerchief. Oops, no, it’s actually underwear.
On to the video games. Arino sits down at Super Volleyball ’91 by Video System, then invites AD Katayama over to join him. Arino plays the USA team and Katayama plays Japan, but neither of them are really nailing the serves and returns. However, Arino leads with 10 points before the match times out.
The next game is Casino Selection, a fancy roulette game that dispenses prizes. Katayama wins early on, and his prize is a lovely ring.
To cap things off, Arino checks out the vending machines at Cosmos. One of them serves toasted sandwiches. He buys one, waits as the machine displays "Toasting," and then grabs the hot foil-wrapped sandwich that drops. He takes a big bite, but discovers the middle is cold. Ah, it’s never as great as you think.
To make sure he doesn’t eat alone, Arino has engineer Suda go over and get an udon bowl from another machine. The two sit down and enjoy their meals, right next to those underwear capsules.
To Catch a Catch Copy
The first ad in this installment may be a baseball reference, but Arino and Tojima’s guesses are off. Nakayama chooses Moero! Pro Yakyu (Bases Loaded), which turns out to be the one.
The next one is a real stumper, but it’s about brain power after all. And it has a variety of answers. Arino chooses Tecmo Tag Team Pro Wrestling, Tojima goes with Hatris, and Nakayama picks Yie-Ar Kung Fu. Nobody’s right: It turns out to be for a shogi game.
The last game ad refers to the gong striking at a live event. Arino thinks of wrestling again, and picks M.U.S.C.L.E. Nope. Tojima and Nakayama (who picks Punch-Out!!) are also wrong. Turns out Arino jumped the gun before: It’s Tecmo’s Tag Team Pro Wrestling. Nakayama is still on top, however.
Game Center CX News
A recap of the DVD Box event where folks in Akihabara had to track down three Santa-clad staffers in a stamp rally.