Did you check out Game Center CX: Arino no Chousenjou in the latest issue? We caught up with a hardcore fan of the original Japanese TV show to chat about the show, the game, and his excellent English language .
Name: Ray Barnholt
Blood Type: O
Favorite Food: Pineapple pizza
Least Favorite Food: Cucumbers
So let’s talk about Game Center CX, since you’re probably the biggest North American fan. Don’t you think? You must be, or at least the most active.
Right, I suppose so; at least the craziest.
How did you get into it?
I found out about it early last year, when I stumbled upon on YouTube. And it was all disjointed, not like full episodes or anything, but when I saw him going to Japanese stores and stuff, and then playing Atlantis no Nazo, or whatever it was– it was like love at first sight. So I started researching and all that.
How long did the guide take?
I started thinking about it last December, and kind of put it off for a little bit for a couple of months, or just tinkering with layouts and stuff. But then by February I pushed myself to work on it more, since a new season was starting. So, I took about every evening I had to work on it through March and early April when I put up the first version.
What is Game Center CX? Describe for the noobs.
Well, basically, this comedian, Shinya Arino, who’s also a self-described otaku who always loved games, he’s supposed to be the “section chief” of “Game Center CX,” and apparently his sole job is to complete retro video games. They don’t really talk too much about the fictionalization of it, though, so he’s just put into a room with the show’s staff behind the camera and tries to beat the game. It’s really entertaining because he’s doing this all day, and he’s not really a skilled gamer, so he gets stuck and repeats a lot. And of course he’s a comedian so he keeps things going with little quips every now and then.
So they’re on the…8th season now, right?
Yeah. It hasn’t been eight years, though. Some were just shorter than others.
Do you think he’ll just keep playing forever? I mean, eventually we’ll all be 80 and the PS2 will be super retro. They’ll never run out of games to throw at him.
I sure hope so! There have already been two close calls where they thought the show was going to end, but he’s kept at it. And there are plenty of retro games now to go through, since the Famicom and Super Famicom alone have over 1200 games.
That’s true. Do you think Arino would consider passing the torch if he had to quit? Or is the show too irrevocably tied to him?
I think it’s tied to him, yeah. I mean, it’s not a drama, but there are those Japanese dramas that get sequels every few years with the same leading characters. OK, I already don’t know where I’m going with that, so yeah, I think it lives and dies by him.
All right. Have you met any other fans outside of Japan besides the ones you ringlead?
Hah! No, there are just the ones I try to push it on. I have seen people get into it because of the guide, though.
Nice. Do you think a localized version would fly? Who would you cast?
I think it would, totally. There’s barely anything really “Japanese” about it, except his uniform. As for a cast, I’m not sure… I joked about Dave Coulier before because he popped in my head first, but I haven’t really thought about that. I’ll leave it to a professional committee or something. Otherwise I’ll just go down the list of Comedy Central stand-ups.
You could be AD.
Yeah, maybe! I don’t think they could pay me enough, though!
Heh. So we talked about the Game Center CX game in the mag, but what’s your take on it? Were you surprised when they announced it?
Oh yeah. First of all, they announced it for like three seconds at the end of the sixth season, which everybody thought was the final-final one. So that at least made me think the show would still go on. But yeah, I was pleasantly surprised. I was hoping for a real RPG based on it, since they use those dot graphics a lot in the show and on the merchandise.
An RPG…hmm. Do you think the way it ended up gives a good appreciation of the struggles Arino goes through?
Honestly, not really. It doesn’t give off a very strong vibe from the show. I mean, it’s fun, but it’s not something you expect to play for thirteen hours straight, for example.
No. Did you think the challenges were too easy?
Most of them are, yeah, like doable on the first try sort of things. On the other hand, they give you a pretty good taste of each game once you’re done with them. It depends on if you want to be challenged as a gamer or just want to enjoy these cute little parodies, and I think most fans of the show already know and love retro games, and playing the full games all the way through is more of a challenge, anyway.
What’s your favorite episode?
Haha. Ok, my favorite normal episode is Atlantis no Nazo, which I mentioned. It has some good burst-of-laughter moments when he keeps falling in between these narrow tree platforms, and all this other stuff in the game with hidden doors.
Have you played the game?
Not half as seriously as Arino has, but yeah, I’ve tried it before.
I looked in your episode guide and it seemed just brutal.
Yeah, it’s one of the episodes where the game is more known for being hated than fondly remembered. I also really like the one where they documented the live stage show from last December, where he tried to finish Mighty Bomb Jack. Mostly because I wish I had been there, but it’s generally entertaining.
Is there a game he hasn’t played that you’re dying to see?
Battletoads. It came out in Japan, too!
Only a matter of time, then, maybe. We should write in.
Yeah, you can. I think that’s how the DVD episodes are chosen.
Oh wow, that’s fancy.
Yeah, there is some fan input, but I’m not sure to what degree. I just know there’s a request form on the website.
You’re very welcome.