Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gamer's TV: Game Center CX

With so many good-looking games being released nowadays, it's easy to forget the retro games that started it all. Sure, there are lots of games now that use the 8-bit style to bring back the feeling of the good ol' days, but who will play the games from yester-year?

Enter Shinya Arino of Game Center CX fame. This Japanese comedian, along with a filming crew made up of Assistant Directors (or AD) and staff, plays any given game for up to one full day, trying to accomplish set challenges against any old game of the day. These games can range from an old Famicom title, to any Nintendo Disc system title, to even a PS2 or Dreamcast game back in the day.

What makes the show so captivating is Arino's rational reactions to each game as he conquers (or in some cases, fail to conquer) the challenges set before him. You not only get to visually see his frustration and exhaustion as each hour passing by takes his toll, but he constantly narrates his actions in an almost child-like innocence. Add to that the typical suspense-driven cues and black-and-white dramatic screenshots, and you have a pseudo-drama every episode - except it's still just a comedian, playing old games, and being filmed the entire time.

And it's not just Arino that captivates the audience. The games in each episode take center stage, taking us back to that particular game's flaws and quirks exclusive to that era of video games. Who doesn't remember the vague storylines, the poor hit detection, or the obscure cheats that no one would find unless they bought a strategy guide?

Despite the fact that Arino is suppose to complete the challenges on his own, he still receives assistance from his staff and AD on occasion, especially when he must return to a certain section of the game after a game over. And they provide just as much amusement as Arino does when playing as well, sometimes exceeding expectations, and other times failing just as poorly as Arino did.

In the end, you don't really need to be a gamer to enjoy the level of old-school frustration and innocence of retro games. Game Center CX is one show that you'll be glad to stop your gaming to watch.
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