Shinya Arino (有野 晋哉) is a Japanese comedian who is known predominantly for two different things. First and foremost, he's a member of the comedy duo Yoiko, which has him playing the role of the funny man to his partner Masaru Hamaguchi's straight man antics. More prominently in the television and video game sectors, however, Arino is known for being the host of Game Center CX (officially known under the title Retro Game Master in the US), which involves him playing old games to see whether he can beat them on his own. Typically unable to do so without outside assistance, however, the show is largely about his gusto and humorous candor about his apparent lack of skill at video games, despite otherwise being a huge fan of them. On the show, he is often referred to by the show's staff as the kachō, or "section chief" in Japanese, as he plays himself as an ordinary company employee on the show.
The Game Center CX Format
Whereas season one focused more heavily on interviews with various figures in the Japanese video game industry instead of on Arino's game-playing, from season two onwards the show mainly revolves around the various games that he challenges himself to beat. Taking place in a modest room with little more than the requisite video game setup, a white board, a window, and snacks, the show mixes footage of gameplay captured from the console Arino is playing with depictions of his reactions and quips as he goes through each game. If he consistently gets stuck in an area of the game, he can call upon one of the show's assistant directors or other staff members to temporarily take over the game until they get him past the troubling portion. While more often than not the people he summons are better at the games than he is, requesting someone's help can still be a gamble, as sometimes they get him into even worse straits than before. Staff members also sometimes drop by with helpful diagrams drawn either on the white board behind Arino or on a piece of paper that provides clarity on what he needs to do without otherwise directly intervening. Off-screen commentary is also present to help clue in viewers on each game's mechanics, as well as discuss Arino's state of mind while playing each game.
Although there is no inherent time limit for each game to be beaten, there are numerous instances where the show's producers force gameplay to cease soon after midnight, either to be resumed at the same point on a later day after an assistant has brought Arino back to his current point or just outright beaten by somebody else if the game proves to be too hard and he just gives up. Sometimes filming is also brought to an early stop because of other commitments Arino has for his work as a comedian, too. Often, though, it's simply to give him and his staff a rest, as they typically begin playing the games in the afternoon in twelve-plus-hour marathon sessions.
Each episode also includes smaller featurettes that provide a temporary break from the main action. Usually only spanning a couple of minutes at a time, these segments still revolve around games, although the specific contents can change depending on the season. The activities include, among other things, visiting unusual locations for video game shops and arcade machines, playing a quick string of obscure console games until dying once, and playing old handheld games that are then picked by Arino to be remade with art that he draws up himself. A few later episodes outside of the first season are nevertheless outright devoted to interviews with industry luminaries such as Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii, as well as overseas business trips that he takes, such as to Cannes, France.
Games Played on the Show
The following is a list of games that Arino has played over the course of Game Center CX in order of their appearance in each season. Official English titles are used for each game, except in cases in which the game was only released in Japan; those games are as such referenced by the romanized version of their native name, save for select cases where the unofficial translated name is what the game is best known by overseas. In addition, this list only covers games that Arino plays during the main portions of the show and does not include any games that show up in the other segments during breaks. While certain games make multiple appearances on the show, they are only recorded multiple times on the list if the appearances took place during different seasons and the games were played under different conditions; most instances that occur within the same season are due to footage of Arino beating the game being edited into multiple episodes instead of being outright new reappearances. Game versions are also specified in parenthesis in cases where Arino plays multiplatform titles, marked with the official Giant Bomb wiki abbreviations for each console.