My First taste of the Forbidden Fruit

Christmas this year was just as I had predicted, fast, fun and full of gifts.  Most of these gifts for me were of the gaming variety some of which I’ll write about later but right now I wanted to concentrate on one in particular.  For Christmas this year I received my first ever import games straight from the land of the rising sun.  The game, Game Center CX 2 Arino No Chousenjou, which is based on a television show in Japan about a man named Arino who play’s retro games and usually has a challenge to beat with each of them.  I haven’t seen much but most of the challenges just seem to be “beat the game” but sometimes to switch it up.  The game itself is a sequel to a game that was released here in the states by the name of Retro Game Challenge and didn’t have any real connection to the tv show.  Retro Game Challenge’s premise was simple but hard to explain.  In the game you are a small child in the 80s who happens to be a gaming prodigy and you live out these years playing fictional games on a fictional system that closely resembles the NES’s Japanese counterpart the Famicom.  All throughout these years a giant floating head in space brings forth challenges for you to accomplish before you can proceed to next game.  But you’re not left to fend for yourself against these challenges, just like in the golden days of gaming you have gaming magazines to help you out with walkthroughs and occasional cheats.  Now all of this was cool of enough in concept but the actual games in it were great fun too.  They were all parodies of popular games of the time including Galaga, Ninja Gaiden, and Dragon Quest.  The only conspicuous absence being a Mario style platformer which is mostly what I played during the times the game is replicating.  Alas though disappointing sales with the first games forces XSEED, the games publisher in America to declare they would not be publishing the second game.  This would not do for me, Retro Game Challenge was high up there for one of my favorite games of 2009 so onto the Christmas list the import of the sequel went.  Now Christmas has come and gone and I’ve had some time with the game I figured I would share my thoughts.

Japanese games are batshit crazy.  That’s my first thought playing this game with the smiling floating Arino head wearing a crown and cape barks orders at you in some bizarre moon language.  Even while you play your games your buddy who watches ever so patiently shouts inane things at you some of them just barely resembling english such as “POWERU UPU!!”.  Despite the language and cultural barriers I feel like the game isn’t that hard to get into initially.  The top option of the menu is play the games, which the selection is based of pictures and the last option on the menu is to save.  Seems simple enough but alot of what made the first game extra special is lost on me such as the gaming magazines to read or the random comments your friend would say such as something about blowing into a cartridge to make it work.  That aside the games so far have been pretty good.  I’m only halfway through but as of now I’ve unlocked Wiz-man a Pac-man clone, Kung- Fu which I don’t think is it’s actual name but it’s the only translation I found and it’s a clone of a game called Kung-Fu.  The last 2 being Demon Returns a Mario clone and Detective Arino and clone of old disk based text adventures.  Demon Returns and Wiz-man are the total stand outs for me and I will most definitely revisit them when I complete all the challenges.

Something that the new game does that the old one didn’t is visit different systems, you’re not just limited to the Famicom clone this time.  Now you have something more akin to the Famicom disk system and the MSX that they call the MASA-X both of which weren’t released in America. This is cool because it changes up the graphical and musical style of some of the games so something odd yet familiar.

One thing I haven’t had as much of an issue with that I thought I would is the language barrier.  I know zero Japanese but I’m chugging along  just fine.  As it was back in the day most of the text in the games themselves is in English, unless there’s alot of it.  I found a guide online for translating the challenges for each game so I’ll know what I need to do to proceed but most of the time they’re not that hard to figure out just by reading the text.  Numbers are usually in English characters so if I see 100 I know I probably have to collect 100 of something or if I see 1-4 I probably have to beat 1-4 no warping of course.  My biggest obstacle thus far has been the the text adventure which I have found a step by step walkthrough for which feels cheap but it’s a godsend when you don’t know a lick of the language.

When I decided that this was something I wanted to get into I was nervous that it would be some insurmountable challenge getting past the Japanese language and I would give up and there would be a great import game just sitting on my shelf collecting dust.  But I’m 14 challenges in and I’m loving it.  It seems gaming is something that transcends languages.  Most conventions are the same, you run to the right to get to the end, you jump on enemies to kill them, pits are bad etc.  I do hope that the rest of my play through will go as smoothly as it had so far and I’ll write my thoughts up when I have completed the game.

And as an added bonus I got my first game soundtracks this Christmas this year as well!  The games being Secret of Mana, Legend of Mana, and Final Fantasy Tactics.  There’s nothing to out of the ordinary about them except there’s covered in Japanese text and have discs dedicated to the finest music composed by man.  I just find it crazy that I have a legit cd dedicated to and SNES soundtrack and it’s awesome

Til next time kids

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