Best Games - Retro Game Challenge (GameCenter CX: Arino no Chosenjo)
For the last twenty years the show GameCenter CX has played on Fuji TV One in Japan. It’s a comedy show where Shinya Arino attempts to play, and beat, old video games. Arino is an affable man, usually quick with a joke, who suffers the task of playing these games at the behest of the CX company, a company that gleefully promotes and demotes him based on his performance in the games, but one that he also appears to run. His assistants will show up to alternately help or torment him, whichever is funnier in the moment.
Between games, Arino and his crew tour around Japan interviewing legendary figures in the video game industry, and, more often than not, playing games with them.
The entire show is built on good natured enjoyment, and an honest love of video games.
When indieszero set out to make a game based on GameCenter CX, the only way to do the show justice would be to build into it that same love. So that is exactly what they did.
Since GameCenter CX isn’t really a known commodity outside of Japan, the English title of the game was changed to Retro Game Remix, but the content of the game is largely the same.
In Retro Game Challenge, you play as a young kid in the 80s, playing with your neighbor on what looks to be a Nintendo Famicom.
A low poly version of Arino will issue you challenges, much like he deals with during the show, and you must complete them by playing a series of fictional video games.
It would do a disservice to the games included, to call them minigames. The games are often more fully featured than a lot of early Famicom games. They are often ridiculously authentic. If a player weren’t familiar with the real games that these fictional facsimiles are referencing, they could fairly easily be confused for real games from the mid to late 80s.
The games are good too. They look good. They sound good. They play good. They are good. They aren’t just good enough for a minigame collection. They are legitimately enjoyable sans the game master Arino framing device, and arbitrary challenges. Indieszero made games within a game, but they made them so well, many of them could have stood on their own, wrapped in a plastic cartridge and jammed into a Nintendo console.
The love for gaming doesn’t end with the high quality of the fictional games. Each game comes with a period perfect manual that you can flip through for background and tips on how to best play each game.
The manuals are beautifully designed and pitch perfect. There is a deep love that went into the fake packaging of these fake games. They feel real, because they are real.
The last threads of the nostalgia tapestry making up Retro Game Challenge, is the magazines. Every once in a while a magazine will be added to your shelf, and you can take it down and read it. The magazines are filled with poorly, but authentically, written reviews, hints, and articles about the games you are, and will be, playing. The magazines provide a sense of place. A connection to the time that these fictional games occupy.
Retro Game Challenge loves games just as much as the show it’s based on, and that love makes it one of the best games.