A Japanese man, who doubles as a comedian, plays old-school video games whilst wearing a blue jumpsuit! Surprisingly, it’s absolutely fantastic.
If you were not aware, the Japanese programme GameCenter CX stars Shinya Arino, the Chief of a fictitious company also called GameCenter CX, where he must aim to complete retro games. It is pretty much an abridged Let’s Play (LP) before they even existed, and despite the fact that I don’t really like LPs, I cannot get enough of the antics that occur.
This main segment of the programme, “Arino’s Challenge”, was once the side segment of the show; the main segment in the first season was “I’d Like To Meet This Man”, where Arino interviewed key people inside the company to get their perspectives on important points in history, such as Yoichi Erikawa, who programmed Nobunaga’s Ambition by hand, alongside Satoshi Sajiri, who created Pokémon.
This main segment is the hook of the show, because Arino absolutely sucks at games, but being a comedian, he proclaims what he thinks as the segment continues. He usually only has eleven hours to complete the game, but he’s allowed extensions if he says that he would like them. To complete the game, however, he’ll need some helpers; this is where the ADs (Assistant Directors) come in.
Usually, these ADs are absolutely amazing at retro games, and can aid Arino in particularly difficult sections of games. They bounce off of Arino comedy-wise, which can lead to some downright hilarious exchanges. These ADs also appear in side segments, which just make the show even less formulaic.
One side segment that has been around since the beginning of Season Two is ‘If You Want To Visit A Game Center, Try This One’. It’s a segment where Arino goes into different ‘game centers’ (known in the West as arcades) and play the games there, to varying degrees of success. He goes to both bigger arcades and smaller shops run by a family, and has conversations with the owner(s). It’s a really charming segment, and one that I always look forward to in each episode. Also, he always ends up finding Metal Slug
Each season also has a third segment exclusive to that specific season. Two of my favourites include Season Four’s Ring Ring Tactics, where Arino called Japanese people reached out to GameCenter CX to aid him complete an awful game, and the recurring ‘The GameCenter CX Game-itization Project’, where you can see the process of making a video game for the Nintendo DS (or the Nintendo 3DS, if the video game in question was GameCenter CX: Arino’s Challenge 3). These segments break up the monotony of the constant game playing, and it also gives us some great moments.
The best part about the show is just the strange charm that it has. Just like how music from certain eras is weirdly amazing, GCCX is great with how distinctly Japanese it is. The staff and Arino do things that are weird to us, make puns that don’t work in other languages, and are just generally in a different culture, but that’s fine. Not everything has to be to fit our tastes.
There’s one final thing you need to know. Arino is patient. Shockingly patient. I’ve never really seen him get angry at all due to a section of a game. This can enable his ‘miracle play’ state after he enters a slump. It’s not only amazing, but can be a great change of pace after his constant failures. It makes the show an easy thing to watch after having a terrible day.
I love it for many reasons, basically.