Game Center CX Season 6 – Back to Contents
Get Back! The Kacho’s Whip of Love!! "Akumajou Densetsu"
Arino’s tackled a lot of heavy hitters throughout the history of Game Center CX. Mario, Zelda, Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, Ninja Gaiden… and now he faces another long-standing series: Castlevania! And it’s Dracula’s Curse, one of the best ones.
Stage 1 begins, Arino tries out the controls, then moves forward. It’s not long before he gets to the halfway point and is killed by rogue Medusa heads trying to shove him off of trap platforms. On the second try he makes it to the end and spots an odd bit on the ground. Of course, it turns out to be the first boss, the Skeleton Knight, rising from the bottom! After a bit of cat-and-mouse, Arino spams the knife to ensure victory.
Two routes are now available after stage 1: the high road or the low road. Arino goes low, and the path takes him to stage 3! The owls that swoop down from here tend to be quite a nuisance and end up killing him. It’s all too reminiscent of those bloody birds from Ninja Gaiden. He continues to die until Inoko MAX steps in. He suggests Arino take the other path from stage 1 — it may be a little more gradual of a difficulty climb for him. After restarting the game, Arino does just that.
Stage 2 is full of stairs and gears to climb up, but Arino manages to get to the top without too much drama. At the end is the boss, of course. As Arino paces back and forth to avoid the wall-crawling Grant, an alarm sound starts going off. He pauses and realizes the timer is nearing the end! With just a few seconds left, he has no choice but to pause and die via a Time Over. The second attempt goes much more smoothly since he has the axe weapon, which he just tosses up into Grant’s face. The thief is down!
Grant turns back to normal and joins forces with Arino. Now he moves on to stage 3 as Grant! He quickly clears the stage and is again presented with a fork in the road. He takes the low road, which leads to stage 4. Before it was birds, now it’s the frogs that leap out from the swamp. After a couple of tries, Arino gets through and reaches the boss chamber, only to be surprised and instantly killed by the giant bat.
Arino stays alive longer for the second try, but soon the bat splits into smaller bats! He tries attacking them as best he can while staying mobile, but it doesn’t work. A few more attempts and subsequent deaths pass. On the seventh attempt Arino finally starts to utilize Grant’s wall-climbing ability to stay out of danger. He hangs onto the wall and keeps firing daggers, which yields success.
Stage 5 is filled with spikes and traps that require some careful jumping. Arino gets a Game Over the first time through, but gets to the end to face the next boss, Dracula!! Well, he thinks it’s Dracula, but we all know it’s Alucard. He almost defeats the vampire in one go, too, but the constant teleporting around ends up turning the tables and knocking Arino out.
On the next attempt, Arino toasts Alucard, but then he rises up. Arino agrees to let Alucard join the team, and then Grant splits from the group. He’ll now have to come to grips with Alucard. Onto the final area of stage 5. There’s lots of disntegrating blocks here, which claim Arino’s life fairly easily and often. If only there were an easier way…
Arino switches back to Simon Belmont to try the area with, and he manages to get through to meet the next boss, another Skeleton Knight. This one shoots bony projectiles, however, which throw Arino off and kill him again. On the next attempt, he runs out of hearts and thus can’t use the daggers — another Ninja Gaiden flasback! Amazingly, though, he uses Simon’s whip to finish off the boss. Stage 5 is finally done with.
The map now changes into a full-on view of Dracula’s castle. After just five hours, are we already so close to the final battle!? Prrrrobably not. Arino begins stage 6 with Alucard, and after getting knocked off a moving platform into the water, he checks the manual. There he finally learns Alucard’s ability to turn into a bat, and so flies up to the staircase to continue on. After a bit of a struggle, he makes it to the next boss.
Franken! Stein! Whatever you want to call him! He has a tendency to stomp on the ground, causing blocks to randomly fall from the ceiling. Needless to say, Arino panics and is dead in a flash. The second attempt ends with a nasty close call — the blocks touch Arino just as he lands the finishing blow. Wheeeew! Nothing much happens in stage 7 until Arino gets to the next boss: another damn giant bat. The mini-bats push him off to another death, eliciting a loud groan across the room. By the next attempt he gets rid of all the known bat-ness. And then he walks into the next room…
Blocks start dropping onto little platforms. One instantly knocks Arino in the head and kills him. Arino continues, only to be brought back just before the boss again! Waugh! Arino gets through it all again, but doesn’t last much longer in the block puzzle. The cycle of death begins: Arino inches forward every time he gets back to the block puzzle, but eventually dies and is forced to restart. Stage 7 has now taken over two and a half hours!
At one point Arino starts noticing a pattern. The four blocks in the middle of the room fall in order from left to right, 1 to 4. He starts counting them and dodging them accordingly. It works, but only for a little bit. The pattern changes and fools him, killing him again! Soon Arino does the obvious thing and just changes Alucard into a bat. He flies up, only to be hit by a block and knocked down. He tries again, but he runs out of hearts in midair and plummets to his death. Now it’s just gotten ridiculous.
The deaths stack up, all caused by the same method. It’s now been five hours. Remarkably, somehow, Arino safely flies up and escapes the block hell. But he doesn’t have much health by that point, so he ends up dying again. The game then takes him back to the block room! He’s starting to think this game is surpassing Ninja Gaiden in the "ass hard" category.
Inoko MAX steps in and offers his assitance. But as usual, it’s of hardly any use. Arino asks where Urakawa is, but he’s out today; even more disappointment! Inoue struggles a little longer, but dies just as stupidly as Arino. But he also lucks out just like him, getting past the blocks, the nasty bird area beyond that, and with just two bars of health, gets farther than Arino… until he slips up on a trap platform and dies. He continues with full health, but falls off a trap again. Right about then he excuses himself.
Arino takes over, but just ends up in the same death spiral as before. Now stage 7 has taken seven and a half hours! Arino shows no signs of breaking down, though — he continues to plug away at the game. He gets past the blocks, past the birds and arrives where Inoko MAX died before. Arino pauses and takes a few breaths. He’s nervous about this, but then, like a voice from heaven, cameraman Abe yells "Fly!" Of course! The bat! Arino transforms and freely soars over all of the trapped platforms. He’s clipped by a Medusa head on the way out, but makes it nontheless.
The next room auto-scrolls vertically, and as Arino climbs up, the enemies come in full-force. He tries to take it carefully, but some enemy always hits him and shoves him off the edge. But then there’s another angelic voice… it’s AD Urakawa! He’s back! He takes a seat and tackles stage 7 from the start. He takes some death-defying jumps, but death is successfully defied. But the block puzzle defies him too, and he dies a few times. Arino rests his head against the wall. What is left to do?
With 14 hours clocked, things look pretty grim. Just then, Inoko MAX comes in and hands Arino a note. On it is the password that will instantly take him to the final stage! At this point, he’ll take anything. Arino inputs the password and is warped to stage 10, inches away from the final battle. But like a lot of final stages, it’s a mishmash of every obstacle Arino has faced thus far. Auto-scrolling; Medusa heads; disintegrating platforms — all of it meant to challenge anyone of any skill level. If only Arino’s level wasn’t "dies a lot."
Finally, after much trial and error, he reaches the entrance of what can only be the final boss room. He walks in and sees Dracula, who instantly gets up off his throne and prepares for attack. Arino quickly pauses, then gets ready to fight. All he does is continually fire Alucard’s beams, but Drac’s walls of flame cover more ground and burn Arino pretty quickly. For the next attempt he chooses Simon.
With Simon and the cross weapon, landing decent damage is much easier. Arino takes it slow, jumping out of Drac’s way whenever possible, then slinging the cross across the room so that it comes back and hits the Count in the head. With two bars of health each, Arino is the one that lands the final blow! A scream of triumph! A raise of the fists! But then, instantly, Dracula turns into his second form with full health! Arino jams the Start button and holds his face. He unpauses, and for only having two bars of health, stays alive for quite a while (relatively). But even the slow-floating malformed Dracula heads get their last laugh and kill him. With one life left before Game Over, he restarts the fight. Once again, he ends up fighting Drac’s second form with only two bars. And then he dies the same way.
16 hours pass on the clock. It’s just about the end. Arino lowers his head, and… asks for one more chance! By the grace of god, he won’t lose dishonorably. He pushes through stage 10, and with two lives left he reengages Dracula. He dies, leaving just one more decisive chance. He faces the second form of Dracula with three bars of health! Um, wow! He starts slinging the cross, and, for some reason, ducks when the boss starts dripping its fluid on him. The crouching keeps him unharmed! Arino’s free to get up and keep attacking! He keeps up the pattern. All that remains is one head. He flings the cross and… boom.
Arino raises just one fist this time. It’s a good thing, too, because Dracula returns for a third form!! Another instant pause. This is one hell of a pinch. Blocks from the floor rise up to create platforms that circle around the giant demonic Dracula. But then, Arino’s hit and dies. Maybe if he had that password a few hours earlier, things would be different. But as it stands, he’s forced to give up.
Arino is in Hanamigawa to check out Unirose, a game center-slash-diner that stretches quite a ways across the lot. He starts in the game center half and notices the rather odd choices for wall decorations: various costumes such as maids and schoolgirls, complete with matching panties underneath. I thought this was a family place! Aw well.
The first game Arino tries is a catcher called Barber Cut. Mechanical scissors try to cut the strings attached to the prizes inside. The blades look big enough, but upon closer inspection, Arino sees that the actual metal blade is no bigger than a fingernail. Sneaky! He continues to lose, so he scoots over to the other half of the machine to another pile of prizes. This time he cuts one down on the first try! His prize? A big metal… jewelry box… thing? Another catcher has a janken (rock-paper-scissors) theme. And it’s a sheisty one, too, requiring some near-perfect timing, and if it’s perfect, then it tries some other roulette-type tricks to psyche you out. There’s no way he’s winning this one, so it’s time to try something else.
"30 Test" by Namco is simple enough: a big panel of buttons with a randomly-placed LED number above each one. The object is to press each one in numerical order as quickly as possible. Arino begins, but he’s not very quick on his own. He calls over Inoko MAX to help him tackle this one. Arino takes the left half of the panel, and Inoue the right. Together, they’re only slightly faster than Arino alone! OK, so that’s just a warm-up. Arino calls over Kibe-kun as a third. Now that the panel is split into thirds between them, things go slightly faster. "One!" "Two three!" "Four!" And so on. It sounds fast, and it probably is: Arino slips up and ruins the whole thing, getting the worst score. Enough of that then.
Hey, how about another prize catcher? The point of this one is to shoot a plastic rocket up over the carousel of prize trays so that it knocks one or more over. Arino only gets a little prize from one of them: habanero-flavored candies. He calls Inoko MAX back for this one. Inoue shoves one of the beads into his mouth and starts coughing from the spicyness. What a trooper! After laughing at Inoue, Arino tries one but doesn’t fare much better. The visit ends with Arino spending the rest of his coins on the pushbutton meal machine, ordering food for the whole gang.
Romantic ga Tomaranai
Today’s scene comes from a little Famicom adventure game called The Kyoto Dragon Temple Murder Case. Arino enters a hallway and finds a door. He knocks, then is supposed to wait 10 seconds. He tries again, and really, all that’s behind the door is the character Namiko in a tube top. Unfortunately (or luckily?) Arino snaps a pic of her with her eyes closed.
Game Collections: 1987: December