Game Center CX Season 15 – Back to Contents
Sega’s Ace!? – "Alex Kidd in Miracle World"
Aside from the Mega Drive/Genesis, Arino hasn’t dipped much further in the world of Sega on the show. But at the near-end of season 15 that changes, with the 1986 Mark III/Master System classic Alex Kidd in Miracle World. Alex Kidd was meant to be Sega’s mascot before Sonic, and Miracle World is a deliberate attempt to mimic and surpass Super Mario Bros. That part didn’t work out, but it’s a fun game on its own, and Arino is tasked with completing all 17 stages.
He starts the game, and of course, gets used to the controls — Alex can jump as well as punch, which he needs to break open the various blocks and rocks around the stages. But his trouble is mostly coming from falling right onto enemies repeatedly, and all in the first few seconds of the stage. Eventually, Arino starts punching his way through the birds, and falls into the water section of the stage, where he must slip past mean frogs and fish before grabbing the rice ball that signifies the end of the stage.
Just then, AD Takahashi comes by with a plate of real rice balls — big ones, too. Arino chomps down on one, and then Takahashi leaves so the game can continue. Arino hops into a shop in the next stage, and buys the most expensive item: a motorcycle. He slowly puts out of the shop, apparently not knowing what to do. Arino slowly dashes through mountains of blocks, but then bumps into a solid red ball and the bike disappears. (You’re supposed to dash at high speed and jump to avoid the balls.) After that, he runs into an enemy and is forced to restart the game from stage 1.
He gets back to stage 2, and this time properly zooms through, avoiding danger until a wall at the end once again "removes" Arino’s bike. It’s OK, since that’s the end of the stage, anyway. And at the end is a boss with a unique challenge: janken, a.k.a. rock/paper/scissors! All the key boss fights in the game are like this, and all Arino has to do is pick a hand sign before the jingle ends. Unfortunately, he loses both rounds against the boss, and immediately dies. Game Over again. On the second try, He lucks out and wins both rounds. The boss turns into a rice ball, so you know what means; another edible reward from AD Takahashi.
Then it’s on to stage 3, which starts off underwater. Arino is briefly flustered by an octopus, but it’s a super short stage, so he’s over quickly, and that means… Takahashi again! This time, he says one of the rice balls is a "special version." Arino guesses if it’s one with money inside, but it’s actually surume (shredded squid). And Takahashi’s pretty much out of rice balls, so that’s enough of that.
Stage 4 is another minute-long adventure, but stage 5 gets tricky: this time Arino/Alex gets into the puchicopter, a little helicopter powered by pedaling. Arino floats up and down, but quickly hits a barrier and drops down into the water. But then it’s another really brief swim to the end. Stage 6 features more ‘coptering, but it’s also got a lot of blocks around, and soon Arino mistimes a jump and runs into an enemy, getting a Game Over and being kicked back to the beginning again.
He gets back to stage 6 and reaches the end, but the telltale barrier at the end signifies another janken boss coming up. Or not! Instead, it’s an angry ox who charges at him. All Arino has to do is stand on the edge and punch when the ox gets to close, and that’s exactly what he does to clear the stage. Stage 7 gets a little naster with a volcano theme, where a single fireball slowly rotates in front of a wall of blocks, requiring Arino to be extra careful by going back and forth to hit a block and then get out of the way of the fireball. After a couple of deaths, he makes it through, and faces another boss with another janken challenge. Arino dominates from the get-go.
Stage 8 has a shop at the start, which means it’s best that Arino go in there and purchase a vehicle; in this case, the motorcycle. The stage is pretty dangerous, though, with long stretches of spike pits along the way. But it’s not that that kills Arino at first, but rather losing the bike and then dying from a spider enemy. A bit frustrated, Arino holds up the controller and twists off the little joystick in the middle of it. Yes, he was playing with that all this time, and now that it looks like a real controller, he can play a little more efficiently.
He gets back to stage 8 and carefully zooms over the pits, keeping the bike on him, and reaching the boss. The boss is a sword-wielding bear, with a monkey above throwing beans at Arino’s head. Despite the added pressure, he wallops the bear without a scratch. Stage 9 continues the vehicle fun, this time starting out with Arino on a speedboat in the open sea. But once more, Arino is too scared (or ignorant?) to accelerate that much, so he slowly goes along the water… but gets hit early on and falls in anyway. At least it’s another short stage.
Stage 10 is another helicopter run, and Arino is terrorized by rain clouds that shoot bolts of lightning every second. He loses the copter from that, but then has to contend with more of those rotating fireballs and more clouds. He’s quickly trapped, and dies several times. With the challenge now reaching its fifth hour, AD Takahashi returns and provides something much more desirable than rice balls: a continue code! To activate it, Arino must first get a Game Over, and then on that screen, hold Up on the controller and mash one of the buttons eight times. But there’s a hitch: it costs 400 Gold each time, so if he can’t afford it, he can’t continue.
After dying once more in stage 10, Arino gets the Game Over screen and mashes the buttons, but he didn’t do it fast enough. The screen disappears, and the game starts from the beginning. Someone’s not happy. After half an hour, he gets back to stage 10 and dies again, but this time he doesn’t even get a chance to input the code — he took too long reeling at his failure.
He gets back to stage 10 and gets a little further than before, reaching a pattern of blocks that’s keeping him from going forward because there’s just one little gap and he can’t get through it. After wasting items to try and find a way to slip through, Takahashi comes by and just tells him to duck under the block and keep jumping to wedge himself under it. It works, but Arino gets fake-mad at Takahashi for not coming by earlier.
Finally, he reaches the next boss, and it’s another janken match. Arino noted down the patterns of the last bosses, so he thinks he’s narrowed down the pattern of this one. He doesn’t win the first time, but on the next one, he uses the process of elimination and tries a "scissors" instead of "rock." It works! And now, into the menacing castle of stage 11. Takahashi comes back to say that the goal here is to find Alex’s kidnapped brother. And right on the first screen is a deadly gauntlet of spikes he has to hop over one-by-one. Indeed, Arino does carefully jump over every one… except the last, which he grazes the side of and dies immediately.
And as for that continue code, well, he tries to be faster, but still doesn’t quite nail it. He goes back to stage 11, dies the same exact way, and still fails the code. Arino laments his constant failure at the most difficult continue code he’s faced. Will this spell the end? Maybe not: this time, Takahashi sits next to Arino to coach him through the continue. As soon as he touches a spike in stage 11 again, Takahashi immediately yells at him to start mashing the button before the Game Over screen pops up, just in case. It’s just the help he needed: he continues, and can keep exploring the castle.
Or try to, anyway. The next screens are just more challenging little jump puzzles. Takahashi coaches Arino through another successful continue, but he thinks his point has been made, so he goes back to his post as Arino keeps going through the stage. Eventually, he makes considerable progress, and finds Alex’s brother, who also gives him tips for the rest of the castle. Unfortunately, a little bit later, Arino is pinched by a ghost enemy. Thankfully, he continues successfully on his own, and then he reaches the boss; another janken opponent!
With a newly-acquired "telepathy ball" item, Arino can see exactly what the boss is going to choose. Sometimes he doesn’t decide until the last second, so it’s not a complete lifesaver. Nonetheless, Arino squeezes by, but doesn’t finish the stage: the boss detaches his head, and Arino has to destroy him. The head floats around slowly, and Arino punches when he can, and before long, it’s all said and done.
Stage 12 opens with a shop, but thanks to all that continuing, he can’t afford the motorcycle this time, so he’ll have to tackle this one on foot. He makes it to the boss, which is once again more janken. This time the last-minute changes in the enemy’s pattern do him in, and since he can’t afford a continue, he goes back through the game. When he returns to stage 12, he beats the janken, but of course, like the last boss, its head starts flying around, and faster than usual. Arino’s grazed and killed.
He narrowly misses his continue chance that time, amid much yelling in the room. He makes it back to the boss and defeats it! Slowly but surely, it seems the end is near (in a good way). Stage 13 is another short helicopter stage, and stage 14 is an even shorter psuedo-cut-scene where the king gives Arino some items. Stage 15 ends with another janken/physical fight, where he’s once again killed by a trickily-flying head. But once Arino sees it always swoops down and slides along the ground, he just stands in the corner and keeps punching until he hits it.
Stage 16 is another castle, and that means more annoying spikes and platforming. At one point, Arino reaches a room where pipes fill the place with water (or gas?). Arino backtracks just in time to avoid it, but he still has to get through. Psyching himself up, he dashes to the other side of the room and makes it through. Phew.
He reaches the next room, but by then, he’s handed the clock. If he has to continue again, the next three will be his last chances. With two stages to go, the pressure is really on. Arino tries to get through that room, but it has falling spikes to make things just that more irritating, and so he dies. And dies, and dies. He at least uses the "Psycho Wand" item to float through that annoying room, and he continues through the castle. But then things get really insane: a maze of spikes that he has to swim past. Arino has to use surgical precision to get through, but he doesn’t quite make it. After 14 hours, the challenge is a failure.
As usual, AD Takahashi finishes things up. He gets through the castle, defeats the final (janken-only) boss, and then completes the puzzle at the end with the secret treasures to bring up the ending screen: a wall of text congratulating you. So close, Arino, so close…
We rejoin Arino at Daikeien, the large amusement center he started visiting last episode. So let’s get right to it: the next game he goes up to is Dream Rail Lovely, another "Happy Pierro" type game where you drop the balls into the chambers and try to get 300 points. He failed at the machine on the other side of the center, but this time he finally hits 300! Will wonders never cease? His prizes are a Hello Kitty pouch and a little stationery pad.
Right nearby is the cornerstone of Daikeien: A small go-kart track. The "Major Grand Prix" is a great opportunity to get the staff involved, so Arino recruits AD Takahashi, Fukawa, and director Inoue. They play janken to see who starts at the front of the line, and then they all climb into the stubby little cars. Arino maintains a lead for the first lap, but way behind him, Inoue spins out. Arino ends up winning the whole thing while the others are left in the dust! But poor Inoue is, as usual, left to place out. And Arino doesn’t let him go for a re-do.
One of the Famicom’s more interesting add-ons is featured this time: Family Basic, the keyboard-based programming suite for the system, where kids could learn the basics of BASIC (har har) and produce simple games or other fun programs with provided graphics libraries.
The game asks for Arino’s name and birthday, which then gives him a brief fortune, but from there, it’s time to start unleashing the power of the system! Kind of. Kibe pulls out the manual while Arino inputs the sample program very slowly (Kibe remarks that it’s like some grandpa using a computer). The program brings up a Mario sprite, of which they can then change the palette.
Kibe then asks if Arino would be interested in making a game with this thing, but he immediately says no. Well, AD Takahashi did: a primitive one-screen shooting game called "AKB" (of course).
Game Collections: 1993: March