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"GameCenter CX! Kachō 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. Plans for an international subtitled DVD release are reportedly under way. 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. Kotaku themselves now recommend watching the fansubs. The version that aired on Kotaku is getting a DVD release with new subtitles from SA-GCCX Team and English and Japanese language tracks for the announcer.
The show also has spawned two video games for the Nintendo DS, the first of which was released in North America as Retro Game Challenge.
Some of the games that have been featured on the show include:
- Adventure Island
- Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
- Donkey Kong Country
- Dragon Power
- Fatal Fury Special
- Final Fight
- The Ghosts 'n Goblins series
- Golden Axe
- Kirby's Adventure
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
- The Mega Man series
- Ninja Gaiden
- Prince of Persia
- The Quest of Ki
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Street Fighter II
- The Super Mario Bros.. series
This show provides examples of the following tropes:
- 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.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Arino ranks up (and down) the corporate tree according to his performance in the games he plays.
- Probably the most dramatic one when he got demoted from Chief to Section Chief, after failing Act Raiser (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.
- 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.
- 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 talking about such topics in a show "seen by kids."
- Infinite One Ups: Arino uses a trick to get the maximum of 99 lives in the beginning of Super Mario Bros 3. He loses all 99 repeating the same two stages in World 8.
- 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.
- ~Let's Play~: Think of this as a sort of "Let's Play: The TV Series" crossed with a humiliating Japanese game show.
- 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?"
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Porn Parody: Yep. It exists. Arino even watched it. He said it was okay.
- 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.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Scenes were Arino visits a game center often have music from Azumanga Daioh in the background.
- 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.
- Retraux: The King/Queen (and in season 6, Dark King) sequences, which resemble 16-bit RPG sprites most likely taken from Dragon Quest and serve as a Show Within a Show.
- Retro Gaming
- Spam Attack: Arino brute-forces his way through Street Fighter II's single player mode relying almost entirely on Dhalsim's Yoga Fire attack. Leads to an Oh Crap moment when he discovers the four Grand Masters are far harder to take down this way.
- Wham! Episode: Act Raiser.