Retro Game Challenge (a.k.a. Game Center CX: Arino's Challenge) is a Nintendo DS game based on the Japanese TV series Retro Game Master. In the game, your character is pulled back in time to The Eighties and the childhood of one Shinya Arino (based on the host of the show himself), and are tasked with meeting the challenges of his evil-self-from-the-present by playing eight different 8-bit games, which emulate the style of actual Family Computer games of that time. Only then will you be able to return to your own world.Each of the eight mini-games comes with its own fully colored and illustrated (in-game) manual, and Kid Arino will periodically buy game magazines that contain cheat codes (which you are allowed to use against his future self) that you can browse while playing.Absolutely no marketing in America led to poor sales, which means that XSEED didn't bring the sequel to America. But have no fear: a Fan Translationis in the works.
Haggle Man 1 and Haggle Man 2 provide examples of:
Affectionate Parody: Well yeah, it does derive some of the gameplay elements from Ninja Jajamaru-Kun, going as far that both series feature ninja protagonists and introduce vertical stage scrolling by part two.
Assist Character: Koume, Little Zenmai and Cyborg K9, as soon as you collect three scrolls that summon one of them.
Awesome, but Impractical: In the original Haggle Man, it would be more probable that you'd summon your buddy in the completely wrong time (for instance, K9 when the enemies are on the other floor or Koume when they're outside the screen range), thanks to the fact that they're summoned instantly when you pick up the third scroll that's required to summon them. That would be later "fixed" for the sequel where you can choose when to summon them by pressing Up+B once you've collected three scrolls.
The Door Slams You: Haggleman can enter and exit doors to kill enemies close to them. Helpfully, entering a door affects all on-screen ones that share its color.
Dub Name Change: The Princess's actual name, never mentioned in the localizations, appears to be Hoozuki; Cyborg K9 is actually Karakuri Ken. Speaking of "karakuri", which roughly means "wind-up toy", if you stick to the Japanese title of the series, Haggle Man would be less of a stereotypical "intellegent robot" to you.
Goomba Stomp: One way to stun and then kill enemies in the two games.
Good Bad Translation: Intentional: his original name is Haguruman, which is a pun on the Japanese word for "gear". Extended in the 3rd game, where he can equip Hagglegears, or Geargears.
Palette Swap: In SP, the palettes for all the tracks past 3 are changed, to be set at night.
Star Prince provides examples of:
Combining Mecha: One of the minibosses. Defeat it before it completely links up to get a technical bonus. Since the whole game is a big Shout-Out to Star Soldier, this miniboss is a joke on Lalios, a miniboss from Star Force who behaves in the exact same way and offers the same opportunity for a technical bonus.
Bag of Sharing: The party as a whole has 63 item slots to share among them, equipped weaponry and your journal included.
Beef Gate: If you cross a bridge to another landmass, you can expect to be beat down by disproportionately powerful foes, which serves only as a way to keep you corralled in the area where the game progression wants you to be.
Continuity Nod: There are more references to the show, apart from GameGuadia. Say, if you've watched Game Center CX, doesn't the king in the Centraan castle look familiar to you?
There's also Guadianip, which was called "Kacho's Business Card" before the game went overseas! ...and if you thought showing Arino's business card to Guadias to increase their pact probability was drugged in and out, then check out the weapon dropped by the white GameGuadia... Which is Slapstick. Of course, given that Arino is a comedian, even if he doesn't specialize in slapstick humor...
Development Hell: An In-Universe example; the game's original planned release in September 1986 gets delayed all the way to September 1987, possibly lampshading how major RPG releases got delayed back in the day (and still do).
Downer Ending: Even though you vanquished the Dark Scream, you still killed the Dark Lord and Holy King on his orders, violated the treaty, and completely shattered the peace between the three worlds. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. It is inferred that for all you did, you at least brought hope, and that the people's desire for peace could still lead to something good in the long run, "but that is a tale for another day."
Escape Rope: Naga Wings and the first hero's Warp ability.
Forced Level Grinding: Apart from that you will obviously need to grind to defeat monsters, bosses and unneeded Guadias, Arino himself will set you a goal to get level 7 for the second Guadia Quest challenge.
Gratuitous Japanese: A lot of the endgame equipment has untranslated Japanese names, possibly as a way to try to work around the enforced 8 letter item name limit.
Monster Allies: Part of the gameplay in Guadia Quest is to make pacts with special "Guadia" monsters, who then pop in during battle to do attacks. Some Guadias are better suited to certain foes, making getting the best Guadia for the job part of the strategy.
Schedule Slip: Guadia Quest's release date gets pushed back twice.
Shout-Out: A twofer - one of the towns has a duck hanging out in the graveyard, which only says "Aclaf!" when you talk to it - a reference to both the old Aflac Duck and Castlevania II's infamous "graveyard duck".
There's a multilayered joke in an item that only someone who's played Dragon Quest will get. In Dragon Quest, the 'warp to town' item is called a Chimera Wing. In Guadia Quest, the equivalent item is called a Naga Wing... and the monsters labeled "Chimeras" look suspiciously like nagas.
The layout of the first town is almost identical to Corneria.
Something Completely Different: Compared to all the previous titles, Guadia Quest takes a lot more hours to beat, features a lot more strategy to it, and is the first out of the bunch to have a save feature.
Stupidity Is the Only Option: The king's excuses to send the scions off his various errands get flimsier as the game progresses, but you still have to do them.
Turns Red: Asking for a pact with a Guadia makes it fight you at full power.
With This Herring: The party starts out woefully underequipped despite being sent off to do the king's will. He, however, also gives 500 ducats so the party would get all the needed equipment by themselves.
Haggle Man 3 provides examples of:
Bottomless Pits: Combine these with non-linear levels full of one-way paths to earlier rooms, and screens with a never-ending barrage of enemies just waiting to knock you off whatever platforms you have available, and it's possible to go through the entire game dying only from falling in pits.
Checkpoint Starvation: While Haggleman still respawns in the room where he died, you can save your game only, and only inbetween levels. This would be, of course, exploited by Game Master Arino, who would automatically turn the console off every time you beat a challenge, forcing you to watch the same Amatsumi intro cutscene at least three times.
Extended Gameplay: So you think defeating Choi in episode three ends the game? Well, there is also Dark Haggle Man to be defeated. And then Haggleman Lady. Which is, three bosses in a row.
Quirky Miniboss Squad: The trio from Cameraman Abe's very own manga, Delinquent Daimyos, acts as this game's boss characters. Gets subverted, however, since they are separate from each other between the episodes.
Retro Game Challenge in general provides examples of:
Biting-the-Hand Humor: TOMATO is basically an alternate universe version of Namco, complete with the Galaga clone and its' logo's font used since Star Prince. According to Game Center CX 2, they've also created Wiz-Man two years after the aforementioned Cosmic Gate.
Classic Cheat Code: Each of the games is loaded with cheat codes, but the most widespread would be the Start+Left continue trick, which is used in no less than four games!
Every 10,000 Points: Some of the games (such as TOMATO's two shooters) give you extra lives at certain numbers of points.
Excuse Plot: A mean virtual Arino sends you to the past to play retrogames.
During the Haggle Man 2 scenario, Kid Arino thinks that Haggle Man now looks cooler, either because it's a sequel or because he wants Haggle Man to look cool. Then the third Haggle Man game turns out to have a Darker and Edgier makeover.
Future Me Scares Me: Young Arino wonders if he'll actually be like that when he grows up, though he's glad that his future self is still a gamer.
Star Prince has the especially hilarious "GREAT!" in big flashing letters, followed by "Finaly you saved ancient times ROYAL POWER!" "Thanks for playing - And you will get final bonus!", before counting up the bonus points for however many lives you have left.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: The "GameFan Magazine" parody (see Woolseyism on the YMMV page) extends as far as its staff writers, thinly veiled Shout Outs to actual game journalists. For instance, Dan Sock standing in for Dan "Shoe" Hsu, Johnny England for John Davison, "Milkman" for James Mielke, and others.
A particularly on-point extension is when one of the editorial letters is penned by "Dave H.". The real-life GameFan magazine was founded and ran by Dave Halverson.
The first game wasn't released in Europe or Australia, either. However, the lack of Region Coding in all DS cards DOES make up for it... At least for people living in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
No Fair Cheating: You're allowed to use even the most game-breaking cheats and shortcuts to win the challenges Game Master Arino sends you, but you must play fair in Free Play Mode.
"Games should be games, and ads should just be ads."
Too Long; Didn't Dub: While the US version fared pretty well on adapting the source material to its' target audience, there are still some goofs met here and there.
First, the Game Computer and all the cartridges for it look more similar to the original Famicom rather than NES. Second, the Engrish bits are left in one game (roughly two), Rally King, which, oddly enough, appears to be Western-developed, according to GameFan Magazine and their partnership that spawned Rally King SP!
John Garland, Clarissa Arvin and Marvin P. Android are claimed to be the men behind Guadia Quest in one of the GameFan Magazine's articles, as game programmer, scriptwriter and monster designer respectively. Not that these names appear in the credits, though, since not only they are replaced with Shinyah Ibihara, Hasabaun Suzui, Ryuoujin Arisaka (that's right, there are two scriptwriters) and G-Ichiron Matsumoto, the entire staff appears to be Japanese, loosely based on the Game Center CX's cast! Inconsistent Dub ahoy.
Updated Re-release: Rally King has two of them: SP in the original game and a tournament-based ex in the sequel. Talking of sequel, the first Haggle Man also has an expansion in the part of Koume Edition, so does Star Prince with its' Score Attack Version. Finally, there is Cosmic Gate on MASA-X, which, with all the gameplay extras such as actual bosses, could be considered an in-universe Polished Port, although due to the fact that it runs on a fictional counterpart to the MSX, it suffers from a more limited color palette.
Urban Legend of Zelda: Young Arino will often comment on playground rumors. Sometimes they provide real tips and secrets, but more often than not they'll be just that, rumors.
X Meets Y: Just about every game in here is an already existing product with a new gimmick, either new or reimagined from somewhere else. In particular, Rally King can be best described as Road Fighter meets R.C. Pro A.M., Guadia Quest is Dragon Quest fused with the monster recruitment scheme of Shin Megami Tensei and Haggle Man 3 is basically Ninja Gaiden on Metroidvania rails.