April 10th, 2007 | Feature
The Game Center CX Episode Guide
The front-to-back tribute to the Japanese TV show that flies in the face of Nintendo's epilepsy warnings.


Game Center CX LEGEND – Back to Contents
The Far North Game Travelogue
Parts 1 – 2 – 3

Game Center CX LEGEND was a short "best-of" series that ran in between seasons 4 and 5. Though the bulk of LEGEND was old hat, there were brand new TamaGe-esque segments featuring a plainclothes Arino on a snowy journey across Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, in order to find the northernmost game center in the country.

LEGEND Episode 1

Part 1

Arino starts the journey at Tonekko no Yu, an indoor hot spring center in Monbetsu-cho. He steps into the game center, where the "Money Exchanger" sign is bigger than the actual "Game Corner" sign. Consider it all too telling: as soon as he steps in, Arino’s surprised by the small size of the place compared to the rest of the building. And there are more prize and pachislo machines than video games.

Arino glances at the Fist of the North Star pachislo machine and sees the screen’s showing an error! After a quick laugh, Arino finds the reset button on the front, pushes it, and then everything’s back to normal! Amazing what one finger can do! He also notices that on top of the machine is a sign saying that you can win a Nintendo DS if you manage to get the jackpot of 50 points. Arino gives it a go, and gets 10 points on the first try!

The hook is set … that is until he looks at the credit disclaimer on the side. In reality, you need 350 points to get just 1 credit, so he’d have to spend at least 17,500 yen to be able to get the DS! Might as well just buy one. Arino moves on to a prize catcher called Ottotto, where you must dangle a pig character onto the rotating selection of prizes below. After a couple tries, Arino just can’t grab one of the prizes.

From there it’s on to another couple of crane games, including one that has a bunch of cheap rubber Dragon Balls. Arino tries and tries to get one, surveying the machine from every side, but he just can’t manage it. Aw well! After that, Arino leaves the game center to buy some snacks for the road, including some Hokkaido-made jerky and his favorite dried squid.

The trip continues as Arino and the crew try to find some more game centers, but the places they check don’t have anything. From there it’s on to a meal, and then another long drive out. The crew stops at the entrance to a forest, but Arino doesn’t feel like stepping through the huge puddles of mud.

Part 2

The gang moves on to the town of Ashibetsu, and Kita no Miyako Ashibetsu, a very large establishment with everything from shops to arcades, to a huge banquet hall that Arino steps into briefly.

After a bit of browsing, Arino finally reaches the game center, Playland. This is certainly an improvement over the first game center, with much more floorspace and greater variety. Arino starts off with New Penny Falls, one of those incredibly devious cascading coin machines. He gives it a try, but there’s nothing but close calls or outright failures. Hate those things!

Now for the good stuff: retro video games! Arino finds a deluxe Space Harrier tucked in the corner, but the intense experience is to much for him to handle for too long. Onto the regular games, then. Arino plays Hammerin’ Harry, then a pinball game: Super Mario Bros. Mushroom World. It’s impressive, but Arino doesn’t find it too difficult. Maybe it’d be a great challenge game for the show?

Next is Sega’s Sports Fishing 2, where Arino fights with the machine’s plastic fishing pole to try and land a catch. Thankfully, he lands a heck of a lunker on the second try. As he browses the rest of the games, the ones that catch his eye tend to be the ones that are out of order. Ironically, the oldest game is the one that still works: Hang-On! And with it, a great opportunity to reenact the fun he and cameraman Abe had with the game at Hankyu Daily Shoppers back in season 2. Abe gets top spot on the leaderboard, and Arino puts his name in: SEX, as always.

LEGEND Episode 2

Part 3

Part 3 takes place in downtown Asahika. Unfortunately the larger number of people around hasn’t made it any warmer — Arino’s in a thicker jacket this time. At any rate, he walks down to the next target: a dedicated game center called the Sugai Amusement Factory.

Sugai is something familliar, for once: a huge multi-story game center like the ones in Tokyo. The game Arino starts with is Ashita no Joe Boxing Mania, one of those Konami punch-sensor boxing games. He does pretty well, but it’s obviously a bit tiring. He’ll need that strength out in the cold!

The next game Arino finds is a "retro" one, and it’s … oh, god … Quiz Tonosama no Yabou 2! Of course, the first game saved his bacon in season 4, and to be honest, he does pretty well in this one, too. For a few minutes, anyway. Arino decides not to prolong the nightmare after losing the first time.

Arino then finds a recent game: Mario Kart Arcade GP! He puts in his name, uses the camera to make his Wario avatar, then begins the first race. After some incredibly lucky weapon-aiming, he gets 1st place! The game then gives him his user card, which he decides to use as a present for a lucky viewer.

After are some more prize machines. The first one is particularly evil, challenging you to insert a small plastic tube into a hole just big enough for it to fit. Arino wastes a few coins on this before finally giving up. The next machine is another "pusher" like the New Penny Falls machine last time, but this one uses hundreds of cheap rubber trinkets instead. Arino uses the last of his roll of coins on a conbini catcher, and wins a set of dangling Jack Skellington heads.

As usual, the day ends with a nice satisfying dinner with the crew.

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