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 10 – Back to Contents
Are You Able to Lead!? "Lemmings"


Another European game arrives at Arino’s desk: DMA’s classic action-puzzle game Lemmings, ported to the Super Famicom by Sunsoft, which is what Arino will be playing it on, of course. As you may know, Lemmings involves the player using a cursor to assign roles for an arbitrary number of rock-stupid "lemmings," making sure to get most — if not all — of them to an exit door at the other end of the level.

Arino’s played the game before, though, in the Hard no Ace segment featuring the Game Gear. As always, Arino has to get to the ending, but with so many levels in the game, can he actually make it even halfway?

Nowhere to start but the beginning: Level 1 of "Fun" mode: Just Dig! A couple Digger lemmings is all it needs, but Arino overdoes it, putting a Digger at the bottom of the level, sacrificing it and a couple others. Still, he clears the level, since he saved 70% of them.

Level 2 requires all the Lemmings be turned into umbrella-toting Floaters before they fall off a tall ledge, but Arino doesn’t do that immediately, watching a few die before finally getting the idea. Level 3 focuses on Blockers in order to get down to the exit, but what do you do after all the other lemmings are saved? Arino check the manual and learns about the "nuke" command, which toasts any stragglers. He uses it, and a countdown precedes the Blockers’ explosive demise. "How sad!" Arino says, as a couple of staff members "aww."

Arino learns to use the rest of the lemming skills in further stages, coming to grips with the Miner, Basher and others. By level 8, the learning period is over, and Arino is given 20 of each skill. Things do get trickier, of course, and in level 9, he accidentally assigns a Miner instead of a Basher, and creats a diagonal path into the deadly water.

After clearing level 9, AD Nakayama appears. He tells Arino that these levels have just been for training, and the real challenge doesn’t start until he plays on "Taxing"mode — the second-hardest one. And the first level of Taxing requires 99% of the lemmings to be saved. Wonderful.

The level looks simple enough, but in practice, a lot of gaps and a limited number of skills to use can be pretty, well, taxing. Arino uses Bashers to get through the three huge columns in the first half, but he’s one Basher short. He tries using a Miner, but gets the lemmings trapped under a staircase. He uses a Miner to get out of there, but ends up sacrificing more. Later, he uses Builders to get past the huge gap towards the end, but the Builders build diagonally, and create too tall a platform. From there, Arino uses Floaters, but again, there’s far too few. Eventually, he runs out of time before running out of lemmings.

After some expert uses of Bombers and Miners again, Arino creates a foolproof path to the exit… but runs out of time again. On the next attempt, Arino plays with the plus and minus icons on the corner of the screen, which affect the lemmings’ drop rate. Even with more lemmings coming, Arino doesn’t finish in time. Finally, after clumping all the lemmings together and sending one out to build, he gets them all accounted for with 20-some seconds to spare.

After the victory pose, Arino calls over Nakayama to expressly tell him that this is hard. How long has it been? Two hours? And there are 30 stages to go? So, it’ll take about 60 hours to finish! Technically! Nakayama, with some hesitation, suggests a Plan B: change to Tricky, the next mode down, and turn the challenge into a Tricky challenge.

Level 1 of Tricky is a slightly easier version of Taxing level 1, so Arino blows through it in minutes. Same with the next few levels, for that matter. Things get harder in level 6, where Arino has to build his way out of small, floating pits. After a few failures, a lightbulb goes off in his head and he smartly uses Floaters with the Builders to save enough lemmings.

On level 10, things seem to go fine, until Arino hears lemmings drowning where they shouldn’t be. Turns out they’re coming from two different places! After some time, Arino builds a staircase to the exit, but the stairs go over the door. He tries to set off a Bomber at the right point, but it, too, is overshot, sending the lemmings to an even more certain death. Another attempt features Arino completely blowing away the solid ground beneath the door. Yeesh. Eventually, though, he does get a clear shot to the exit.

Fast forward to level 19, "Postcard from Lemmingland." Now, Arino has to save 100% of the lemmings. And again, it looks simple, but there’s not many skills to go around. After a few tries, Arino manages to get a Miner to burrow through part of the right-angle ledges, letting the rest of the lemmings pass through easily. But he also made that Miner a Climber, and when Arino starts to see it climb up the wall near the entrance, he panics. "Umbrella! Umbrella!" quips Nakayama. Arino quickly makes the lemming a Floater, which saves him.

On level 22, needs the lemmings to make a U-turn back to the exit, but he has no Blockers to make it easy. After a couple of minutes, he realizes he needs to use the Bombers to create a hole deep enough that the lemmings can’t go forward. He tries that a few times, and soon his timing is good enough that he creates a hole that blocks the lemmings, yet also lets them get out from the other side and straight into the goal.

Level 24 is a very thin, long platform leading to the exit a little higher up. Arino fails a few times, but again the lightbulb goes off, and he positions a Blocker that keeps the lemmings in line, then uses a Builder to build over the Blocker, and then the lemmings walk up another created staircase to the goal.

Level 25 is definitely nuts: 10% need to be saved, 100 are coming, and at a rate of 99. Timing is crucial, with one lemming needed to perform most of the work burrowing through the level before the others get near. Several tries are needed before the timing is finally nailed and Arino’s Builder creates a safe passage to the exit.

The challenge reaches 11 hours, and five stages are left in Tricky. Level 26 again requires 100% of the lemmings to be saved, and timing is needed: make a ton of Builders that slow down the line somewhat, and hope that the lemming on point finishes Bashing in time before the others come up to the column. Arino almost gets it after several tries, but a zealous Builder goes straight into the column, blocking the others and sending them right into the trap. The next try, however, is a success.

Level 27 is especially challenging: a large dirt mound protects the exit, and even then you have to use some creative blocking and building to get just a few lemmings up there. A handful of failed attempts go by, and when Arino finally gets all the lemmings into the goal, he’s 10% short of clearing it! Just then, he’s handed the clock. This will be his "last lemmings."

This time, Arino clears the level without breaking a sweat. Level 28, though is practically a nightmare: there’s no exit. Actually, it’s hidden, but where? He builds and burrows, and after some hesitation… the "boing" exit noise starts repeating! The first mound Arino was digging through turned out to be the right one, and all the lemmings are saved! So much for "Last."

Arino makes it to level 29, of course, but he’s reminded that this is his last chance. The "pyramid of arcs" in the stage is intimidating, and Arino dies quickly. He’s given one final, final chance, but manages to get trapped. That’s it. Arino is asked if he wants to give up, and says yes. But just for the heck of it, he tries to finish the level anyway.

…But he has too much pride! He asks for "one more last lemmings," and producer Abe grudgingly accepts. Arino goes for it, and despite a close call with a trap, he clears the level.

Wow. Well, then, onto the last stage! Arino tries his best, but thinks things through too carefully, causing time to run out. He’s on thin ice, but Arino slyly allows himself another try.

He tries his best to burrow through the columns using the Miners he has with them (there are no Bashers), and after keeping the lemmings in line, he gets a clear path to the exit. But a misstep causesw the lemmings to start walking in the other direction, and there’s only a couple of minutes left! Luckily, the bulk of them make it, but there are two stragglers over by the entrance. Arino euthanizes them, and then the results screen comes up.

He saved 98%, and he needed only 90%! Arino wins, and the ending screen (for Tricky mode) plays! Though not complete, this challenge is recorded as a success.

The Game-itization Project 2

Arino is once again at the Indies Zero office to check out a more complete version of Arino no Chousenjou 2’s adventure game, Kacho wa Meitantei. Arino plays the first few minutes of the game, and is given an overview by president Suzui.

The "game shop" option is also explored. That’s where you can play the special versions of the previous games, like the Koume edition of Haguruman, the Star Prince Score Attack, and Rally King EX.

Singing About Whatever the Hell You Want

Arino sings against the Dragon Quest III inn tune, the Super Mario World cave theme, Twinbee’s intro song, and of course, Spelunker.

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