"GameCenter CX! Kacho ON!"Retro Game Master, known in Japan as GameCenter CX, is a TV series starring Shinya Arino, one half of the Japanese comedy duo Yoiko, who attempts to play through some of the most beloved (and most challenging) retro video games ever made.Arino, who is presented as a kachō (section chief) of the fictional GameCenter CX company, is given a time limit within which he must complete the game, but he isn't the most skilled player around. When he gets stuck or needs advice, he can ask his fellow "staff" to help him out (usually in the form of playing through a level he needs to complete, additional time or offering a strategy for beating an enemy). Arino doesn't always complete his challenge, but he still manages to stay positive even when he's losing badly.The first season's episodes profiled a particular company or game series and featured Arino's game challlenge as a side feature. From the second season on, the game challenge became the main focus, although the show would still cut away to show Arino doing things like visiting game arcades, interviewing developers, and so on.A few DVD box sets have been released in Japan; these are collections of selected episodes rather than season sets. In 2011, the Arino's Challenge segments from twelve episodes were once available for US viewers to watch on gaming blog Kotaku.com, but they since lost the rights and have taken them down. The episodes were then re-released with new subtitles from zari-gani of the SA-GCCX Team and English and Japanese language tracks for the announcer.The show also has spawned two video games for the Nintendo DS and, the first of which was released in North America as Retro Game Challenge. A third game is in development for the 3DS.Some of the games that have been featured on the show include:
This show provides examples of the following tropes:
Adorkable: ADs Inoue, a.k.a. Inoko MAX, and Urakawa, arguably.
A.I. Breaker: Arino calls these situations "trapped in a pattern", and can apply to bosses and himself.
And Now For Something Completely Different: Small off-topic segments like visits to arcades, fairs and reviews of contemporary games related to the one being reviewed, averaging two of these segments per episode.
Probably the most dramatic one when he got demoted from Chief to Section Chief, after failing ActRaiser (the 4th loss on a row that season), then getting demoted again to Senior Staff after failing a second go at the final boss given as a double-or-nothing.
Nowadays, however, his being promoted/demoted based on his victories and losses is The Artifact, and he's stayed as a chief for a while now.
Awesome by Analysis / Determinator: Arino falls somewhere in between both, being best at puzzle games. Naturally, the puzzle games he plays on the show tend to be high-paced action-puzzle games. Even then, episodes that feature them tend to cut a lot of stages out, as he can regularly clear many stages in a row without problems.
The former is subverted in the episode on Tower of Babel. Arino enters a difficult-looking puzzle with no clear path to the exit, and after examining the field for a few moments (having spent upwards of an hour on previous stages), he declares he has the answer. The voiceover quips, "He quickly gets an idea. In other words, failure is inevitable." Sure enough, he dies quickly, but clears it a few lives later.
Badass Boast: Upon hearing a quote from Golgo 13 about what is needed for a successful mission, Arino shares his thoughts on the matter:
In the Fatal Fury Special episode, Arino spends so much time failing with every character that the staff decides to take him to the secret Ryo fight and make beating him Arino's new goal.
Book Ends: The search for the southernmost arcade game in Japan begins with a curious custom-made crane game controlled with levers and ends with another crane game which played Sonic the Hedgehog songs for some reason.
Boring, but Practical: Clearing levels in Dig Dug II by exploding each enemy instead of sinking them all spectacularly. Arino gets very annoyed at having to do it to save time.
In Mito Koumon, where continuing after game over (as the character does not have multiple lives) is only possible by buying an expensive, one-use item, he spends 90 minutes grinding for cash to buy 99 of them, just so he doesn't have to restart from the beginning.
Brick Joke: During the Quest of Ki live challenge, Arino takes a break from the game to play Spelunker, until a fan orders him by fax to "DO KI". Arino then beat the game and replied "I did Ki. I DID IT!". This trope came in effect later on the Takeshi's Challenge live challenge, in which another fan orders Arino to DO KI. Arino loudly refuses, but praises the joke.
Butt Monkey: Nakayama, particularly during the 24-hour live special. Cameraman Abe forcibly stays overnight at his house, then makes him pay for the pricey ingredients for Arino's lunch. On top of that, he is mocked for a minor error during the previous live special.
How about Watanabe? Seems like she can't go one episode without Arino poking fun at her weight, not that she doesn't usually bring it upon herself.
MA Tanii, who is so uncharismatic that the show picks on him for his poor bowling skills and how his merchandise never sells, despite efforts from the staff. That his shirts are only available in size XL doesn't help.
Call Back: Arino's fondness for Dhalsim and his Yoga Fire is often mentioned when Street Fighter and other fighting games appear. In the Atomic Runner episode, Arino notes that the SEGA logo screen doesn't have the "SEGAAAA" shout that tormented him in Sonic the Hedgehog.
Dissonant Serenity: Arino usually remains cheerful in the face of extreme difficulty and often laughs while discussing disturbing subjects. Also, whenever he fails a challenge the screen goes depressed and monochrone... while he wears an ear-to-ear smile.
"The timer's a scary thing. The concept of time itself is scary." *laughs*
Down to the Last Play: Arino often conquers games on his last few lives, when he's run out of time to play. They even named a song "Last Continue" because of this.
Epic Fail: The cartridge of Umihara Kawase Arino plays has an replay file of an early level by an person named Aki Eria, who fails miserably in a second of gameplay. Watching it makes Arino feel better after a game over.
Fatal Flaw: Arino is straight up bad at shoot 'em ups, and no matter how many times it happens, he never grasps the concept of final bosses having multiple forms, celebrates too early and gets killed by them before he figures out what happened. He also tends to forget to use the continue codes in older games that require them or forgets to press Start in the case they're timed, forcing him to start over from the beginning.
He once even manages to end the game instead of continuing even when the game has infinite continues, doesn't need a code for it and has no countdown on the continue screen: to his defense, the game in question is a very...unique racing game that often requires him to brake and even reverse to get past all the ridiculous obstacles and the time from losing the last life to the continue screen popping up is less than a second, meaning that holding down to brake/reverse when losing your last life will easily end up with the cursor placed on the "quit" option before you even notice it. Luckily for him, selecting "quit" gives him a password, even if it doesn't work the first time around.
Filler: Arino ends up clearing Ninja Spirit in two hours. One of the producers gives him a phone call telling him they don't have enough footage for a whole episode and that he should occupy the audience for a few more minutes. So we get a scene of the cast having lunch.
Game-Breaking Bug: A barrier near the end of Bonks Adventure during a Boss Rush fails to raise itself, and since there's no way to kill yourself at that point nor a time limit, Arino is forced to reset the game and play through it from the beginning again.
The staff's attempt to give Arino a chance to finish Mr Gimmick's hidden last level that requires collecting a secret item from each of the preceeding levels without getting a Game Over, a feat far beyond Arino's skills or the time allotted for the episode, also fails due to the cartridge being bumped when they switch the console to the TV Arino plays his games on, causing the game to freeze.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Arino is asked about his love life during the Tokimeki Memorial episode, he tells his staff that he has only been in three serious relationships (including his wife), but that he has "hugged" way more women than that. Arino then wonders whether they should be talking about such topics in a show "seen by kids."
Hidden Depths: Cameraman Abe is an entire font for this. Former rebel biker turned cameraman, can also cook, is a father AND an impressively good artist, contributing his designs into the official Game Center CX Nintendo DS game. He's also the most solid reliable teammate for knowledge during quiz games, though largely centering on bikes and cars obviously.
Used in Donkey Kong Country. Due to the display cap, the AD who discovered the trick thought it was really infinite lives. In reality, the counter stops at 99, and the AD finished game before he used up enough lives for the counter to start going down.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: Certain, uh, non-official translations, were taken down from YouTube or otherwise removed when Kotaku announced another episode that had already been previously fan translated.
Once Kotaku's license to show the series expired, they pretty much officially sanctioned people watching fansubbed versions instead.
Also, circulating the tapes is the only way for anyone to watch the parts of the show that aren't the challenges; rights issues make it so that even in Japan, the official DVD releases cut down each episode to just the challenge segments.
It gets worse. The broadcasting company are starting taking down all the episodes in Youtube, subs and all.
They only did that for a while because Gascoin (the company who makes GCCX) was looking to get GCCX on a streaming site like Netflix or Hulu. People have taken to re-uploading the episodes. Also, the guy who runs Gaming CX has taken to uploading episodes to Dailymotion. So there's hope yet.
Let's Play: Think of this as a sort of "Let's Play: The TV Series" crossed with a humiliating Japanese game show.
Long Runner: With the 17th season celebrating the tenth anniversary.
Milestone Celebration: November 4, 2013 is the tenth anniversary, at which point it will be considered a Long Runner. The show's celebrating it throughout the whole year.
Mondegreen: When playing First Samurai, Arino interpreted "Oh no, my sword!" as "Mondo!" AD Nakayama pointed this out during a short break, but Arino still said "Mondo" out of force of habit.
MST3K Mantra: Invoked hilariously in the very first episode: After beating the incredibly obscure Takeshi's Challenge on the Famicom and waiting 5 minutes on the ending screen to see a post-mortem message from Takeshi himself, he finally gets one: "Why're ya taking this game so seriously?"
Mundane Made Awesome: Arino's "Game Center CX! Kachou, on!" has gotten progressively more dramatic over the years.
Arcade trip segments are narrated by a female voiceover. In one instance, Arino and an AD play a ball-tossing game that involves throwing hollow balls at the screen to clear objectives. One of them involved destroying meteors headed to Earth, and when the action started to intensify, the show temporarily switched to the regular, dramatic male voiceover to describe the danger the Earth was in. The narration switched back at the end of the game.
Nintendo Hard: Many of the games Arino plays. However, part of the difficulty comes from Arino playing most of these video games for the first time.
Satoru Iwata: Back in the NES generation... For example, let's say everyone debugs a game after it's finished. Everyone involved in its production would spend all night playing it. And because they make games, they become good at them. So these expert gamers make the games. Saying "this is too easy". That is why you are reduced to whining and complaining as you play.
After finishing Umihara Kawase and finding out it only has a credits roll, Arino is told that the game forces an end-level after 30 minutes of play. If he quickly takes the fastest possible route to the last end-level, would he see a real ending? After he fails this (it is considered a draw), the staff eventually beats the route only to find out the game really doesn't have an ending at all.
No Export for You: Though the series is finally starting to be released outside Japan, its Kotaku run was only viewable in North America, as are the DVDs. A few television companies screened the show at anime and game conventions, but none of them would pick it up due to the sheer licensing hell involved in clearing the viewing rights of 30 year old Japanese games...and because the show is about a middle-aged Japanese man playing 30 year old Japanese games.
No Fair Cheating: In-universe, the narrator and staff will often give Arino flack for using cheap methods to get ahead in games, even sometimes penalizing him for it.
This ended up costing him the challenge in Street Fighter II. After he won the Single Player campaign mostly by spamming Yoga Fire, the staff challenged him to VS mode with the stipulation that he would lose the challenge if he lost three matches. He lost.
Due to his age, this is sometimes averted in games that require constant button mashing, in which case he is given a turbo controller.
Oh Crap: Heaven to Hell. This is the name the staff gave to the rather frequent change in facial expression when Arino first celebrates beating the final boss, then hurries back to pick up the controller as the True Final Boss starts eating away at his last life.
Narrator: The magic reveals hidden treasure chests.
Arino: Is that all it does?
Read the Freaking Manual: Arino does not read the manual before starting a challenge and only does so when he gets stuck, usually because the manual contains information about the controls that he can't intuit on his own.
Real Men Wear Pink: Abe wears a bright pink and white spotted apron while making Arino lunch for his 24-hour Lemmings episode. Said apron was then given away as a special prize for a "lucky" viewer.
Retool: The first season was primarily a documentary show in which Arino interviewed people from the game industry involved with certain companies or specific franchises. From Season 2 and onward, the "Arino's Challenge" segments that were originally meant to be a secondary portion of the show became the main feature instead.
Sampling: Licensed games feature the original work's theme song in the eyecatches for Arino's Challenge.
Self-Imposed Challenge: Arino plays most of Super Mario 64 without Mario's hat, despite having low defense because of it. Too bad the staff orders him to get it back before fighting the Final Boss.
Shaggy Dog Story: The eighth season featured a segment called Xevious Observation Log, where they turned on its God Mode cheat, taped both buttons down, and left it to run 24/7 for as long as possible to see what happens. Eventually, the score counter overran and began showing glitchy characters. At the end of the season, they kept it running by putting the setup under a cardboard box labeled "Keep Out". However, two seasons (more than five months) later, they return to it and find it shut off, due to a blackout that happened in the interim. Worse, the blackout was announced in advance and no one thought to check the Xevious game before then.
Shout-Out: In the Dragon Ball episode, the narrator imitates the voiceover from the corresponding anime going in and out of commercial breaks, complete with licensed theme music.
The DVD box set covers resemble the Famicom; the design is used with permission from Nintendo.
Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: Invoked in the ActRaiser episode, where Arino spends a disproportionate amount of time in the simulation mode, despite his title as Chief being at risk in that episode should he not complete the game in time.
He also insisted to try to access the bonus levels in Pilotwings. At least the two times he succeeded were quite cool.
Something Awful: Almost every translated episode was done by a team from SA, likewise the site is also where newly translated episodes are first posted.
Not necessarily true. Since last year, a new group known as "Last Continue GCCX" has shown up and started translating episodes as well. There have been multiple instances where LC actually got an episode done before SA did. Their blog can be seen at LCGCCX and streaming versions of their releases can be found at their Dailymotion page.
Special Guest: Occasionally, the show will have special guests for interviews or to assist in challenges.
The ADs are Lying Douches: When Arino is ordered to find Mario's hat before finishing Super Mario 64, Arino runs around the snowman who has claimed it, trying to figure out how to beat him. Urakawa then says the snowman can't be defeated... moments before Arino accidentally does it by making the snowman fall over from the spinning.