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 Season 1 – Back to Contents

Derby Stallion

The most popular horse-raising-and-racing series in Japan is unquestionably Enterbrain’s (formerly ASCII’s) Derby Stallion. Arino visits the developer Parity Bit for this episode. He steps into the unmarked office of the company chief (and Derby Stallion creator) Hiroyuki Sonobe. Sonobe of course was always a great fan of horse racing, but his first game was Tank Battle for the FM-7 computer. He joined ASCII and helped create the Famicom game Best Play Pro Baseball, and then in 1991 created Best Play Keiba: Derby Stallion. Sonobe’s inspiration for the game was Tecmo’s Captain Tsubasa, with its cinematic, RPG style and play-by-play commentary. But his favorite game by far is Dragon Quest III.

Sonobe also talks about his own breeding experience, sharing pictures of his prized horse, Balance of Game. In between parts of the interview are visual histories of the DS games. For example, the progression of the race screens over the years.

Later, Arino and Sonobe sit down in front of Derby Stallion 64. Arino’s been playing a while, so Sonobe gives him some extra advice in regards to his breeding style. Arino takes his horse, Mandrill, to the race and actually wins, thanks to Sonobe.

Sonobe also talks about the next step for Derby Stallion: Derby Stallion Online, something that, so far, hasn’t actually happened yet.


Today’s challenge: the ASCII underdog Astro Robo SASA, an ingenious anti-grav action game for the Famicom. The shots fired by the player have a powerful recoil that propels the player in the opposite direction. While you fire these powerful shots to clear out the enemies, you have to collect all the energy tanks in a stage to be able to move on to the next.

Arino has no trouble moving through the first few stages, but gets tripped up when the environment changes to underwater. He dies more than a few times, and then realizes the game might be easier with two people. He calls over AD Tojima to join him. Yet in one stage Arino ends up collecting all the energy before Tojima gets a chance to, leaving the AD’s energy to drop until dies. Once again, a water stage is too much to handle, so Tojima politely excuses himself from the game and leaves Arino to go it at it. He finally gets past the underwater stage 12 and takes a breather.

Stage 13 is a dramatic shift into outer space, and Arino is so thrown off he gets stuck in the corner and eventually dies. He decides to retire after an embarrassing defeat.

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