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Retro Game Challenge (a.k.a. GameCenter 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 '80s 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, Game Master Arino, 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.

The game was successful enough to get a DS sequel in 2009 and a 3DS one in 2014, but these were both released only in Japan. The first game's US release had absolutely no marketing, which led to poor sales there, though a Fan Translation is available for the second game.

A compilation remaster of the two DS games, GameCenter CX: Arino's Challenge 1+2 REPLAY will be released on the Nintendo Switch, with all-new retro games included.

Styles emulated by the mini-games:


    open/close all folders 

  • Addressing the Player: Parodied in the first two games—the name you enter in the beginning is only used at the very end and only because young Arino realized he never actually addressed you by your name, so he does it around six times in a row to make up for the fact he never did so earlier. Played slightly more straight in the second game, where it's also used whenever you call Game Master Arino.
  • Author Avatar: Arino appears both as a young boy and a disembodied Kawashima-style head. The latter also appears as top-secret Guadia monsters in both Guadia Quest games.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Arino Ace Detective: Part 2 comes out, so you'd expect to have to challenge your way through it... but Game Master Arino can't think of any challenges. The game then skips straight to the release of Triotos and you end up challenging that instead. (In reality, this is because part 1's challenges don't take you through to its end, but you can't play part 2 until you beat part 1.)
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: When Robot Ninja Haggle Man 2 is released, Arino wishes for Haggleman to be cooler, but he doesn't like the "too cool" look Haggleman gets in the third game.
  • Big Bad: Game Master Arino is an evil digital version of Shinya Arino who sends the protagonist back in time to his childhood and challenges them to beat his various games to be able to return to their time.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: TOMATO is this universe's version of Namco, the publisher of the series, complete with the Galaga clone and its logo's font used since Star Prince. According to Retro Game Challenge 2, they created Wiz-Man two years after Cosmic Gate, the same way Pac-Man came out two years after Galaxian.
  • 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 in the first Retro Game Challenge alone.
  • Deus ex Machina: Played for laughs in the second game—the second game you need to challenge is Mutekiken Kung Fu, but it's only available for the western-made ENTER-2000 console, which young Arino doesn't own. Cue his father conveniently not only winning the lottery but also buying him the very console and the right game with what's implied to be zero prompting from young Arino.
  • Every 10,000 Points: Some of the games (such as TOMATO's shooters) give you extra lives at certain numbers of points. This is most noticeable in GunDuel, where the various massive score bonuses can give you 10-15 extra lives by the time you beat it.
  • Excuse Plot: Both games feature the same simple framing device of a mean virtual Arino sending the player to the past to play retro video games.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A huge portion of the games in GameFan's Top 5 charts are basically mashups of the other games' names, but there are a couple that would actually show up in the sequel: Muteki-Ken Kung Fu and Detective Kacho.
    • 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. Haggle Man 3 turns out to have a Darker and Edgier makeover.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Young Arino wonders if he'll be as weird as Game Master Arino when he grows up, though he's glad that his future self is still a gamer.
  • Game-Favored Gender: An extremely minor example—if you choose a female avatar in the beginning, you can use autofire in the credits minigame by holding Y instead of having to mash the fire button. This was likely done as a joke to Arino's occasional jokey womanizing in the show.
  • Gameplay Grading: The free-play mode in the first game includes a letter-grade rank that increases as the player earns stars for reaching certain milestones based on play time, A and B button presses, game overs, and resets.
  • Hint System: The second game's GameFan magazines have this as an additional feature: in addition to finding the hints and codes in question in the magazine itself, you also need to scratch away the foil covering key words and codes on the Touch Screen to reveal them.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny:
    • Many of the games feature slightly broken English to parody the poor translations of retro games, with Robot Ninja Haggle Man's "Your adventure is not end!" being a prominent one.
    • Star Prince's ending has "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. TOMATO seems to like "FINALY" in particular.
  • Mercy Mode: In Retro Game Master 2, if you simply can't beat a challenge no matter how hard you try and you've played the game at least 5 times, you can call Arino and forfeit it to move onto the next one, but there's no way to complete them later and you can't forfeit any of the endgame challenges.
  • Mythology Gag: In the second game, young Arino praises the Gamecomputer Floppy Disk System, thinking it's cool the way you can rewrite games on them. He then asks what kinds of games you'd write on one, and the choices given are puzzle games and shooters, the two genres the real Arino is the best and worst at, respectively.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The "GameFan Magazine" parody extends as far as its staff writers, thinly-veiled references to actual game journalists. Dan Sock stands in for Dan "Shoe" Hsu, Johnny England for John Davison, "Milkman" for James Mielke, and so on. One of the editorial letters is penned by "Dave H."; the real-life GameFan magazine was founded and ran by Dave Halverson.
  • 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 most of the cheats in Free Play Mode are disabled.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: In Cosmic Gate and Star Prince, two space shooters where the player's ship dies upon collision with any bullet or enemy.
  • Pastiche: Every game featured is made to be a mimic of a different famous retro game, not just in look and mechanics but also in history (such as Cosmic Gate being an arcade-to-console port like Galaga on the Famicom/NES).
  • Palette Swap: In reference to data limitations present in old games, many of the games in Retro Game Master re-use sprites in different color palettes.
  • Play Every Day: The second game encourages this with its Daily Challenges. Completing one each day for up to a week straight gives you bonus points, which are used to unlock additional t-shirt designs and power-on quotes for young Arino.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: Each game comes with an in-universe manual that contains information on controls, game mechanics, and story. True to his real-life self, young Arino comments early on that he feels like a cheater if he reads them.
  • Retcon: The second game is this to the first one—the exact same events happening for the second time is never touched on other than a "familiar feeling" from young Arino's part, and any games that you're not given a challenge for that existed in the first game aren't mentioned outside of young Arino referring to them in the optional chats and possibly existing as alternate versions in Joyco Land.
  • Retraux: The first game takes inspiration for its games entirely from the Famicom. The second game mixes things up a bit by giving you multiple game systems with different technical capabilities (though they all use the full resolution of the DS's top screen).
  • Scoring Points: Most of the games have a point system. Free-play mode includes a high-score table allowing you to challenge your best performance.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The American translation references a few other XSEED-published game characters, including John Garland and Clarissa Arwin as "programmers" of Guadia Quest.
    • Young Arino also compliments your skills by comparing you to the kid in "that game movie where they run away to Los Angeles" that has "The Glove of Power".
    • Arino no Chousenjou, the Japanese subtitle of this game, is very obviously based off Takeshi's Challenge, which also was featured on the actual show. Oh, and that's not all yet: even the post-credit sequence is one huge Waiting Puzzle!
    • The sequel has Arino puzzled over the first level midboss in Mutekiken Kung Fu, an Afro Karate Master. He wonders what kinds of enemies you might end up fighting later, and one of the guesses you can make is Velociboxer.
    • The game popularity rankings in the GameFan magazines feature made-up titles and mashups of certain games, but the very first list ends with the actual title for the anachronistic Powerful Pro Baseball series.
  • Strategy Guide: Young Arino comments on the ascension of strategy guides made for specific games. He says that GameFan Magazine is enough for him.
  • Take That!: Kid Arino is bothered by the Product Placement nature of Rally King SP and wonders if that'll be common in the future.
    "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 here and there.
    • First, the Game Computer and all the cartridges for it look more similar to the original Famicom rather than the 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 and their partnership that spawned Rally King SP.
    • John Garland, Clarissa Arvin, and Marvin P. Android are claimed to be the people behind Guadia Quest in one of the GameFan articles as game programmer, scriptwriter, and monster designer respectively. Not that these names appear in the credits, though—not only they are replaced with Shinyah Ibihara, Hasabaun Suzui, Ryuoujin Arisaka (there are two scriptwriters), and G-Ichiron Matsumoto, the entire staff appears to be Japanese, loosely based on the GameCenter CX cast..
  • Updated Re-release:
    • Rally King has the promotional tie-in SP in the first game, which is a harder version of the original game with different colors and advertisements between races.
    • Joyco Land in Retro Game Challenge 2 features alternate versions of titles from the first game as extras without challenges:
      • Rally King gets another version, the tournament-based ex.
      • Haggle Man has a Koume Edition, where the player character is Koume instead of Haggle Man.
      • Star Prince has a Score Attack Version, which includes three-minute and five-minute score run modes rather than the full untimed game.
      • Cosmic Gate on the MASA-X which, with all the gameplay extras such as actual bosses, could be considered an in-universe Polished Port, although it suffers from a more limited color palette due to running on a fictional counterpart to the MSX. Interestingly enough, despite the various extras, the in-universe company who made the original game apparently didn't like the end result.
  • Urban Legend of Zelda: In-universe. 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.
  • A Winner Is You: The endings to most of the games are very short and simple, tallying your score with a congratulations message before returning to the title screen.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!:
    • Haggle Man, Haggle Man 2, and Star Prince all have a second loop, absolutely not unlike Ghosts 'n Goblins.
    • Referenced in a more faithful manner in Demon Returns, where beating one of the bosses gives you a message almost identical to the original.

    Cosmic Gate 
  • Asteroid Thicket: Asteroid levels serve as the game's Bonus Stage. Shooting asteroids provides points, and mid-sized asteroids have a chance of revealing extra lives.
  • Bug War: The game involves protecting the Earth from space bug aliens called Mass Insektors.
  • Endless Game: Averted - the game ends when you beat the last of 64 stages. But if you want to keep building your score higher and higher, you can open a Cosmic Gate during Stage 64.
  • One-Hit Polykill: The powerup turns every third bullet into a torpedo that passes through enemies and yields increasingly multiplied points for every enemy killed with one shot.
  • 1-Up: A tomato icon with "1UP" on it is revealed when you destroy enough mid-sized asteroids in an asteroid field.
  • Warp Zone: The titular Cosmic Gates. One appears when you destroy a blinking alien before hitting any others on the level, and warps you a few stages ahead. On prime-numbered stages, they're rainbow-colored and warp you 12 levels ahead. A secret gate on the very first level skips straight to the final stage.

    Haggle Man and Haggle Man 2 
  • Adjective Noun Fred: The title of the series is Robot Ninja Haggle Man, though the protagonist is always called just Haggle Man.
  • Affectionate Parody:
    • The game derives some of the gameplay elements from Ninja Jajamaru-Kun, going as far as both series featuring ninja protagonists and introducing vertical stage scrolling in their sequels.
    • The plot of the games is a sendup to Mega Man (Classic): the protagonist is a robot with "Man" in his name created by a scientist, his allies include the scientist's daughter (though unlike Roll, Koume isn't a robot) and a robot dog, and the villain is a rival scientist with an army of robots, an Evil Knockoff of the protagonist and his own battle mech in the sequel.
  • Assist Character: Koume, Little Zenmai, and Cyborg K9 serve as helper characters who appear as you collect three scrolls corresponding to one of them, and attack the screen before departing.
  • 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.
  • Big Eater: The manual for Haggle Man 2 mentions that Koume cooks and eats a lot, though it isn't present in the game itself.
  • The Door Slams You: Haggle Man 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' actual name, never mentioned in the localization, appears to be Hoozuki; Cyborg K9 is actually Karakuri Ken. "Karakuri" roughly means "wind-up toy", so the characters being wind-up toy robots isn't as apparent with the English version's title.
  • Goomba Stomp: Jumping on enemies is the main way of damaging them, though some will get stunned/parry the first bounce and need to be hit again for it to count.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Hitting a boss in the sequel gives them a couple seconds of invulnerability.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: Each level involves defeating a group of enemies (Haggle Man 2 spawns in a second wave when the first one is half-defeated) to make the boss appear out of one of the doors. Alternatively, the boss can be flushed out of the doors and fought early to skip beating every enemy.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Haggle Man is a robotic/wind-up ninja. He even throws gear shuriken.
  • Save the Princess: The plot of both games involves saving a princess from the evil scientist Chingensai.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: In-universe, Haggle Man 2 is hyped up a much harder game than the original. It wastes no time in swarming you with unpredictable enemies, the bosses all take three hits to defeat, and the stages are bigger.
  • Spelling Bonus: A partial example—entering any three doors in alphabetical order changes all the doors onscreen to the same color, allowing you to operate all of them at the same time until they become desynchronized, and entering them in the reverse alphabetical order repairs Haggle Man if he's damaged (only once per life), allowing him to take another hit.

    Rally King and Rally King SP 

    Star Prince 
  • Combining Mecha: One of the minibosses is an eyeball that calls forth three other pieces to join with before it starts attacking. Defeating it before it completely links up earns a technical bonus. Since the whole game is a big Shout-Out to Star Soldier, this miniboss is basically Lalios, a miniboss from Star Force who behaves in the exact same way and offers the same opportunity for a technical bonus.
  • Mutually Exclusive Power-Ups: The ship can only use one gun type at a time.
  • 1-Up: Tomato's tomato-shaped extra life icon is hidden beneath certain tiles in each level.
  • Reverse Shrapnel: The "Spark Shot", which fires shots in all directions when you absorb three enemy bullets with your barrier. It even makes you invincible for a moment, making it excellent for use as a point-blank weapon.
  • Shout-Out:
    • An in-game example—the purple powerup acts the same way as the powerup in Cosmic Gate.
    • The entire game is one to Star Soldier. This is made even more obvious in the sequel, where there's a special tournament edition with 3- and 5-minute modes.
  • Smart Bomb: Shooting a powerup instead of collecting it causes it to damage every enemy onscreen and provide bonus points for however many died.

    Guadia Quest 
  • Affectionate Parody: The game is heavily based on the Famicom Dragon Quest games.
  • 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.
  • Bond Creatures: The Guadias, whom you must defeat in a random battle after powering them up with the "Pact" command if you want to earn their services. However, unlike usual summoned monsters, Guadias will act automatically after building up their attack for a few moves.
  • Bonus Boss: GameGuadia, represented by Arino's disembodied head. It comes in various colors, and is found by searching special tiles on the overworld, either in obvious locations or ones hinted at by a girl in Timbuktoo. The stronger ones reward you with both Lethal Joke Items and Infinity+1 Swords when defeated. The red GameGuadia is stronger than the final boss, especially if you attempt to make a pact with it.
  • Continuity Nod: There are many references to the show, apart from GameGuadia.
    • The king in Centraan castle resembles the one featured on the 16-bit segments of GameCenter CX.
    • Guadianip, the strongest stat-lowering item for Guadia fights, is called "Kacho's Business Card" in the original Japanese version.
  • Demonic Possession: The king acts strange and orchestrates the death of the other worlds' leaders because he's posessed by Dark Scream, an evil spirit that manipulated him when he studied the occult in an attempt to bring his queen back to life. He returns to normal once Dark Scream is revealed and killed by the heroes.
  • 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. 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."
  • Eldritch Abomination: The final boss, Dark Scream, appears as a red gaseous mass of writhing, screaming faces, similar to one form of Giygas.
  • Escape Rope: Naga Wings warp the party to Centraan, and the first hero's Warp ability can warp them to any of the game's five major locations.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Celestial Tower, one of the game's two dungeons, represents the holy world as a tower stretching beyond the height of the world map.
  • Forced Level-Grinding: Apart from standard grinding to progress through the game, Arino himself will set you a goal to get to 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 eight-letter item name limit.
  • Guide Dang It!: While the GameFan magazines help you through some of the tougher parts of the dungeons, many of the items and spells have incomprehensible names with single-letter variations with only a small number of them explained in the in-game manual. Thankfully averted in the sequel in Retro Game Challenge 2, where pressing Select gives you a description on any item, spell, or skill.
  • Masculine, Feminine, Androgyne Trio: The party consists of three characters - one who is clearly male, one who is clearly female, and a third whose art is ambiguous (though their sprite makes it more likely that they're intended to also be female).
  • Metal Slime: The Fool enemies found in the lower levels of the Dungeon, which only take damage from spells, cast spells to put your party to sleep, run away often, and give the high EXP if killed. The similar Sun Puppets in the Tower give even more EXP (the most of any normal enemy), though they can be affected by standard attacks.
  • Mon: The Guadia are recruitable enemies that an assist the party, although they're pretty limited compared to most other examples—each one has a fixed level of strength, you can only have one at a time, and they mostly exist to give you an additional attack, heal, or stat increase every few turns.
  • Money Spider: Every enemy drops some amount of Ducats, the game's currency, when defeated.
  • Monster Allies: Part of the gameplay 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.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The heroes end up playing right into Dark Scream's plans by breaking the treaty between the three worlds and killing their leaders.
  • No Fourth Wall: The hidden NPC that allows you to skip to the credits flat-out states that by doing so it will unlock the emblem pointing out you beat the game in the menu, which is required for the last challenge. The fourth wall breaking is not even in-universe.
  • Schedule Slip: In-universe, 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.
    • One of the weapons is named the Soul Edge.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: The king's excuses to send the scions off on 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.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Generally averted. Stat-affecting spells are useful in tougher battles, and status effects like instant death have a decent chance of working in a pinch. Dormi is of particular note, as sleeping enemies do not wake up when hit, and it takes a long time for it to wear off naturally. Dynow also cleans up encounters much more easily than expected for an instant death spell, often killing everything at the time you get it for a measly six MP.
  • With This Herring: The party starts out woefully underequipped despite being sent off to do the king's will. However, he also gives them 500 ducats so the party can get all the needed equipment by themselves.

    Haggle Man 3 
  • All Your Powers Combined: The bosses at the end of each stage are the same, but have a different piece of the Imperial Regalia assisting them. The fight with Dark Haggle Man is a tougher version of this fight that uses all three pieces at once.
  • Boss Bonanza: Episode 3 ends with a fight against Cho, the final member of the Terrible Trio, followed by a supposed final boss fight with Dark Haggle Man. After the level ends, Haggle Man has to fight Haggleman Lady before the credits roll.
  • 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 unless he loses his last life, you can save your game only between levels. This is exploited by Game Master Arino, who automatically turns the console off every time you beat a challenge, forcing you to watch the same Amatsumi intro cutscene at least three times.
  • Continuing is Painful: Continues are limitless, but set you back to either the start of the stage or the halfway point and make you lose half of your gears. However, one Hagglegear prevents gears from being lost through this when equipped.
  • Darker and Edgier: The game is significantly more serious than the previous two and has more realistic character designs.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Haggleman Lady is a female version of Haggleman who serves the government and enlists Haggle Man and friends to help solve the current crisis. She's actually another Evil Knockoff of Haggle Man, being Chingensai's last creation, and fights Haggle Man to discover what makes him unique.
  • Dragon Ascendant: The game's main antagonist is Dark Haggle Man, who is still acting on his programming to destroy Haggle Man even with Chingensai gone. Haggleman Lady is in the same boat, although she was built late enough that Haggle Man never met her before.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Haggleman Lady challenges you after your victory.
  • Forced Level-Grinding: You need to buy the 3-shot no less than three times while playing the challenges for the game, as finishing a challenge ends the game instantly and doesn't give you a chance to save.
  • Genre Shift: Haggle Man 3 looks and plays vastly different than the first two games, resembling something closer to the NES Ninja Gaiden titles.
  • The Imperial Regalia: The Imperial Regalia of Japan serve as the game's Plot Coupons and are used as weapons by the bosses.
  • Metroidvania: The game is divided into three levels, which are pretty huge and require exploration in order to find the Hagglegears needed to proceed.
  • Powers as Programs: Hagglegears are equipped this way; Haggle Man gets gear of three sizes and can equip one of each size at a time, and each one costs a set amount of points to equip which can be expanded.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The trio from Cameraman Abe's very own manga, Delinquent Daimyos, acts as this game's boss characters, but they never interact with each other.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Haggle Man is now able to upgrade himself, use a sword, can take more than two hits, and overall looks cooler.
  • Recurring Boss Template: Of the game's five bosses, four of them are completely the same - a screen-filling mass of flesh and skulls that slowly moves towards Haggle Man while firing shots from their three main faces, which are also their weak points. The only difference is which of the Regalia they're assisted by: the first boss has three swords that float above and occasional lunge at Haggle Man, the second has a mirror shield that moves up and down, the third has three magatama that shoot lasers, and the fourth has all three: the shield, a magatama, and two swords and a stronger, draconic fourth face that comes out after the first three are destroyed. The only unique boss in the game is the final one.
  • The Unfettered: Dark Haggle Man is a machine without a heart; now that Chingensai is no longer around to give him orders, he has no purpose but to achieve his core directive of "destroy Haggle Man" by any means necessary. He masterminded the plot to destroy the world purely because doing so would guarantee Haggle Man's death.

  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: White enemies can be killed with any magic rod, blue enemies can only be killed with a fire rod, red enemies can only be killed with an ice rod, and black enemies can only be killed with a golden rod. Interestingly, while the white enemies are usually the slowest and least aggressive and the black enemies are the opposite, white wizards are the fastest ones of their type, possibly as an attempt to prevent them from becoming Demonic Spiders, not that the black wizards are much slower.
  • Guide Dang It!: In something of a shout-out to The Tower of Druaga, most of the golden wands have ridiculously obscure requirements to make them appear, including but not limited to - touch a specific maze wall, kill enemies in a specific order, input a series of directions as a Classic Cheat Code, press the otherwise unused Select button or circle the maze clockwise. Furthermore, each one of these only works in a specific level, and to get additional golden wands to appear you need to fulfill another requirement that's a variation of the original one. Thankfully, none of them are required to beat the game or any of the challenges and outside of the gameplay benefit of letting you collect both colors of dots at the same time and attack any enemy, they only determine your cosmetic endgame rank.

    Mutekiken KungFu 
  • Calling Your Attacks: When under the effects of the Muteki Ken power-up, every one of the main character's attacks causes a subtitle for said attack to pop up if it hits an enemy, much like in Fist of the North Star.
  • Multiple Endings: There’s both a good end and a bad end, the latter requiring you to punch or kick your master after beating the game, and the former requiring you to not. Getting the bad end doesn’t count as beating the game for Arino’s challenge, either.
  • Warp Zone: Each level has a hidden shachihoko that can be revealed by hitting a specific invisible spot multiple times. Doing so and then grabbing it afterwards quickly zooms the main character to the end of the level while he struggles to hold on to the fish.

  • Combining Mecha: If you play the game in 2-player mode with young Arino and kill enough enemies, a large G will appear. Collecting it will merge the ships together and give you a powerful forward shot with a homing secondary weapon as well as a pair of Attack Drones that rotate around your ship. It wears off at the end of the stage, and making the power-up appear again in the following level requires an increasing number of kills, making it unlikely that you'll see it more than twice in a single playthrough unless you make it a point to do the opposite of what comes naturally with your superpowered ship and stop racking up kills when you get close to the unseen threshold value so that you don't reach another one when you already have it active.

    Guadia Quest Saga 
  • Action Bomb: The Demon Dungeon has an encounter with a pair of enemies resembling bombs. If you don't kill them both on the same turn, the other one explodes and more than likely causes a Total Party Wipe unless you have the foresight to use the Defend Command beforehand.
  • Genre Shift: For the most part, the game is set in the same sort of Standard Japanese Fantasy Setting as the first game, although with a more overtly fantastic tone as the world is set on a Floating Continent. Then you ascend to the top of the tower and find... Robots! Who give you "protective suits" that the players can easily recognize as space suits, so they can survive the final dungeon, an alien infested Asteroid Thicket, as they make their way to the final boss: an alien supercomputer.
  • Mon: The Guadia again. The way they work is somewhat different from the original game: each character can have a Guadia set to them that gives them 2 additional skills, you can choose to power yourself up with them that gives you a different basic attack command and stat boosts at a cost of a constant HP drain every turn, and when you fight enough battles with one, they rank up and learn new skills you can replace old ones with. The old Assist Character function of the Guadias from the first game has been replaced with Guadia Meisters, NPCs that can also use Guadias that you need to beat in a 1-on-1 battle with your Guadia in powerup mode to make them join, and unlike in the first game they can help you multiple turns in a row. You can also trade your Guadia with young Arino who has a different version of the game, much like in the games that inspired the mechanic, complete with a competition-exclusive GameFan Guadia that he naturally manages to win two of so that you won't be screwed out of one since he refuses to give his only one to you.
  • One Game for the Price of Two: The game comes in "Light" and "Dark" editions, with the player getting Light and Arino playing Dark. There are exclusive Guadia between each version, and Arino will generally trade you a counterpart if you give him an exclusive of your own.
  • Schedule Slip: Much like the original Guadia Quest as well as its unseen sequel, this game also ends up being delayed.
  • Status Effects: In addition to Sleep from the first game, there's also Poison, Silence, and Confusion.
  • Un-Installment: Actually the third game in the Guadia Quest series, released for the Game Boy Expy GameComputer Mini. This is probably due to the actual show's tendency to skip over some of the games in the series or having Arino challenge them out of order, as well as the fact that the second Dragon Quest (which the series is an obvious homage to) game wasn't as much of a gameplay upgrade over the first one as III was. Finally, as stated below, this game places more emphasis on the Mons, much like the Game Boy-originated spinoff Dragon Quest Monsters did originally.
    • Arino's reasoning for why he doesn't own the second game is because he lent it to a friend who moved away and he doesn't want to buy games for the second time.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Less so than in the first game, thanks to a number of unique weapons that can cast Status Effects-inflicting spells when you trigger the strongest possible hit with them, meaning you don't have to waste turns and MP casting the said spells normally. The damage-dealing spells are also more powerful by default and won't be outclassed by physical attacks quite as early.
    • Thoroughly averted with Dormi, your mage’s second spell. It has a very high success rate on just about everything in all five of Arino’s challenges, and can even be used to win Meistr fights without taking non-passive Guadia damage.

    Arino Ace Detective Parts 1 and 2 
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: A gameplay mechanic - you have the option to play either role, and need to do so often to proceed.
  • Call-Back: Arino starts the game with dried squid in his inventory, his go-to snack when he's doing the challenges in the show.
    • The "Think" command that gives hints on what to do next involves Arino applying a cooling sheet on his forehead; again, like he does in the show.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: As a plot point! The Love&Game cult have tampered the CX Industries' newest game to display a message from them and then permanently destroy the Gamecom it's played on.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the second game, Arino ends up in a wrestling ring with Inoko MAX when his investigation leads him to search an underground wrestling arena and he's given a participation ticket instead of just a spectator one, where he clumsily struggles through a round with Inoko and ends up winning in the end. He keeps complaining that he's never done it before, but it sure wouldn't be his last...
  • Immediate Sequel: The second game starts exactly where the first one left off with a few reminder flashbacks, and in order to prevent the player from spoiling the story for themselves, you can't even start playing it without the clear data from the first game.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Considering the rest of them are essentially Visual Novels, a top-down racing minigame where you need to dodge obstacles and throw balls at your opponent towards the end of each one that can be replayed with a Classic Cheat Code is hardly something most people would expect.

    Demon Returns and Super Demon Returns 
  • Charged Attack: The sequel has a chargeable Spin Attack that can be executed either vertically or horizontally and is needed to break grey skull blocks, but since it's used by holding down the otherwise-unused Y or X button, it seems to be more trouble than it's worth.
  • Cranium Ride: Inverted; the main gameplay mechanic Devil Ride instead involves flipping enemies over, making them spin around perpetually and riding on their undersides. Doing this increases Damon's movement speed and jump height depending on the type of enemy being ridden on and may also allow him to damage other enemies with the one he's riding on if the enemy in question is spiked from that side; if not, the enemy you're riding on is killed and you need to repeat the process to get another one, and regardless of what direction the enemy hits you from, riding on an enemy saves you from taking a hit. You can also use them to pull off a single-use Double Jump that also kills the enemy.
    • However, you have less traction when riding on an enemy and you also keep moving forward constantly, unless you hold Down to stop.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The hero is turned into a purple imp-like demon by the Big Bad of the game, but all it does is to give him sharp claws from which he can fire small tornadoes when sufficiently powered up and the ability to use any enemies he runs across as his personal form of transportation. It does seem to hinder him in that he needs to consume apples constantly to stay alive, though.
  • Nintendo Hard: By far, the hardest pair of games to complete when it comes to plain skill. Some of the later levels require a ridiculous degree of acrobatics with the Demon Ride, especially in the second game, and if you want to collect all the DEMON letters for 100% Completion good luck figuring out where most of them are located. The second game practically requires the 99 lives code to beat it in any reasonable amount of time.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: A minor example - the way souls work as a demonic equivalent to Super Mario Bros.' coins, the game gives the implication that Damon eats them. One of the GameFan magazines points out that he's actually saving them by collecting them.
  • Ratchet Scrolling: In the first game, much like in the original Super Mario Bros.
  • Spell My Name With An S: The main hero is called both Damon and Demon - the manual and GameFan magazines call him the former, but the name above the score display in the game reads Demon and the end credits for the second game also calls all of his forms Demon. The unseen Spin-Off comic also calls him "Demon" instead of Damon, which young Arino complains about, along with the comic turning into a series of silly misadventures where everyone "just horses around".

    Triotos and Triotos DX 
  • Alternate History: These games essentially fulfill the same role as Tetris in this universe - not only are they puzzle games, but the original Triotos is implied to be a massively successful launch title for the GameCon Mini much like Tetris was for the Game Boy, and it was also developed by an eastern European engineer (a Czechoslovakian mathematician in Triotos' case). Both games also feature distinctive national imagery: Russian in Tetris, Japanese in Triotos.
  • The Cameo: Seeing as the games were made by GEARS, Haggleman characters appear in them both as CPU opponents and as Classic Cheat Code-activated Assist Characters in the original.
  • Falling Blocks: Naturally. The basic gameplay resembles a hybrid of Columns and Tetris (the 3-block setup of the former combined with the rotation of the latter), with a large focus on combos due to a relatively small playing field, the ability to wipe out any of the 3 colors on command by matching an entire row of blocks horizontally, and easily-acquired wildcard blocks that can match up with any type of block.

    Go! Edge Jump MAX 
  • Call-Back: The Happi Men that occasionally fly by and give 7,650 points if caught are a reference to the stamp rally events in the actual show where the staff members who you'd get stamps from wore bright yellow happi coats.
  • Endless Game: The point is to survive as long as possible and it's designated as a "game training tool" instead of an actual fully-realized minigame with a manual, ''GameFan coverage, and challenges.