My Trials in Retro Game Challenge

Hey everyone! You’re not gonna BELIEVE what happened to me! I’m in big trouble! Last night I was playing Bikini Zombie Slay…er, I mean, I was playing Animal Crossing, yeah, Animal Crossing, and then all of a sudden, this giant floating head named Arino came on the screen! He sent me back in time to the 80’s and turned me into a little boy! And the only way I can get back to the present is to play a bunch of made-up 8-bit retro games and pass Arino’s challenges in them. I know that seems hard to believe, especially since you’re reading this blog now. What I did was handwrite this message back in the 80’s and mailed it to a friend in the future with instructions to post this on my blog when blogs get invented. I hope this works!


Anyway, so Game Master Arino, as he calls himself, sent me back in time to the 80’s and turned me into a little boy. At first I was like, ‘Big deal, I was a kid in the 80’s once.’ And aside from my parents getting a divorce when I was little (which royally SUCKED), the rest of my childhood was pretty happy. It was great being a kid in the 80’s. We had awesome toys (Transformers), awesome movies (Ghostbusters, Gremlins), awesome arcade games (Pac-Man), awesome Saturday morning cartoons (Muppet Babies, Garfield and Friends), and awesome music (well, 80’s music was pretty cheesy, but in an awesome way). Combine that with all the advantages of being a kid, period (no work, no responsibilities), and I was all like, “Hey, thanks Arino!” at first!

But then I realized a couple of things. Now that I’m a little boy and too young to stay at home by myself, anytime my parents want to go out, I’ll probably have to stay with that teen girl babysitter from the 80’s. And I swear, if I have to hear her obsess about the lead singer in Duran Duran AGAIN, I’m gonna puke! What’s worse is that now that I’m a little boy again, I’ll have to grow up all over. And that means being a teenager a second time. That’s bad enough as it is, but keep in mind that since I was a kid in the 80’s, I was a teen in the 90’s. And being a teen in the 90’s SUCKED! Grunge bands (yuck), Sonic the Hedgehog (double yuck), Ren & Stimpy…Captain Planet…NOOOOOOOOO! All right, Arino, your Retro Game Challenge? It’s ON!!!!

Anyway, Arino’s Retro Game Challenge that I’m partaking in, supposedly it’s based on a real live Japanese TV show called Game Center CX. It’s all about a Japanese comedian who plays through old games that are really difficult. And usually, hilarity ensues. Of course, I’ve never really gotten around to watching this show, surprisingly. And now that I’m a kid in the 80’s again, it’ll be a long time before I can watch it since YouTube hasn’t been invented yet (and what’s this about a rumor that the TV show is coming to the US as Retro Game Master?).

As soon as I accepted Arino’s Retro Game Challenge, this other kid showed up at my house! He was actually Arino as a kid himself! At first he didn’t believe that I was from the future until he saw his grown up self on the TV as a floating head. Little boy Arino seemed pretty amused at what he grew up to be, but he agreed to help me pass the challenges anyway. Young Arino actually turned out to be a pretty good friend and gaming buddy. He lets me play his games all the time and he doesn’t even complain. He also buys me fictional video game magazines that I can read to get strategies and cheats for these made up NES games. The pretend magazines are pretty funny and poke fun at and make reference to video game trends in the 80’s. For instance, the Editor In Chief of these magazines is named Dan Sock. Long time fans of EGM will get that in-joke! Man, I wish I was a famous enough writer so I can get made fun of in a pretend video game magazine, too!

Anyway, because of the fake magazines and kid Arino, this Retro Game Challenge accurately depicts how it was like to play games in the 80’s. You see, back then, we didn’t get our gaming information from the Internet, because Al Gore hadn’t invented it yet. We got our video game info from word of mouth and print magazines. And when I was a kid in the 80’s the first time, I ALWAYS played video games with a friend. Just like how I’m playing games with Arino now. Of course, Arino is NOWHERE near as cool as my real life friends that I played NES games with. The only annoying thing about kid Arino is that he always has to make comments on the games that I’m playing. If Retro Game Challenge were like, say a game you could play on your Nintendo DS, it would be neat if I could turn off Arino’s voice in an option screen or something.

So anyhow, the games I have to play aren’t REAL 8-bit games. They’re made up ones specifically designed for Arino’s challenges. But they’re a LOT like real life NES games and make references to them, too. Arino’s challenges are similar to the achievements you can get in Xbox 360 games. Ah, the 360…guess I won’t be playing that for a while now that I’m stuck in the 80’s. Once I beat all the challenges in a game, Arino will let me move on to the next. And he’ll also let me play the previous game in Freeplay as long as I want. What’s cool is that these made up NES games are actually really GOOD! I would have definitely rented them back then if they were real. So now I’ll list all the games I have to play for Arino’s Retro Game Challenge.

Cosmic Gate
This is a Galaga clone. It has a few tweaks of its own, though. Shooting flashing enemies can net you power-ups or open a warp gate to skip levels. Shoot asteroids in the bonus stage. Not quite as good as Galaga, but still pretty fun.

Robot Ninja Haggle Man
This game is mostly like a Japanese Famicom game series called Ninja Jajamaru-kun. I also thought it was called Ninja Taro, but I think he was kind of like Jaleco’s mascot for a while and was in a lot of other titles, too. But Haggle Man makes me think of other games, as well. It reminds me of early, single screen platformers like Bubble Bobble and the characters remind me of Mega Man (you’re a humanoid robot ninja, he has a robot dog, etc.). The goal in each stage is to defeat all the enemies and a stronger boss enemy to move on to the next level. You can throw ninja gears to stun enemies and stomp their heads to defeat them.

One neat gameplay hook are color and letter coded doors you can enter. If a door you enter or exit hits an enemy , they get defeated, too. So in a way, Haggle Man is kind of like Mappy as well. If you go through doors in ABC order, or backwards alphabetically, you can get power ups and health. Each time you enter a door, it’ll change color. Doors of the same color will open and close together, so you can defeat far away enemies like this, too. Anyway, at first I didn’t think I would like Haggle Man, but it’s kind of grown on me. Good, simple, early platforming fun.

Rally King
Well, I lied. There is one game on here that isn’t quite as good, and this one’s it. It’s a top-down racer that’s most like a Japan only Famicom game from Namco called Family Circuit. But it also reminds me of other early arcade and NES racers like Bump N Jump and RC Pro Am. But even with the Ridge Racer-like drift mechanics, Rally King’s just not that fun. Luckily, kid Arino let me peek at his pretend magazines to get cheat codes to make this game easier.

Star Prince
This one’s a vertically scrolling shooter most like Star Force or Star Soldier. It’s pretty fun, not too hard, the music’s catchy and I love how you can shoot all those ground targets for points. Kid Arino even bought a rapid fire controller to help out with this game!

Rally King SP
Kid Arino entered a contest in one of his pretend gaming magazines and won a special edition version of Rally King! I remember entering video game magazine contests when I was a kid, too. I won a couple of Nintendo Power T-shirts and a gold N64 controller that way. Anyway, Rally King SP has remixed tracks and in-game commercials for a fictional brand of ramen noodles. As a kid in the 80’s, I never even heard of ramen noodles. I don’t like ramen now, I doubt I’d like it then either. I think with Rally King SP, they were poking fun of other promotional games like the Japan only All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros.

Robot Ninja Haggle Man 2
The highly anticipated sequel has bigger levels, better graphics, and tougher enemies. But other than that, it’s the same game as the first. Music’s a lot catchier, too.

Guadia Quest
This 8-bit RPG is a lot like Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest. It would’ve come out sooner, but it was delayed due to chip shortages (sound familiar?). It’s a full RPG with about 10 to 15 hours of gameplay! However, it’s not as good as what I thought it would be, despite how excited kid Arino got over it. But you see, to be honest, I never really got into RPGs until the 16-bit era. Oh sure, I played through 8-bit quests like Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior. But here’s the thing: I only played them at a friend’s house. I never felt compelled to buy and play them myself (until FF2 came out on the SNES, that is). But me and my friend had fun playing those games. We’d take turns playing. One would man the controller while the other would use graph paper to make our own maps (this was before strategy guides). The cool thing is that kid Arino lets me use graph paper to draw my own maps, too! Really! Just like the old days! As of this writing, I’m currently on the last challenge in Guadia quest. I have to beat a boss in a dungeon, but the monsters are tough so I’m having to do some old fashioned level grinding!

Haggle Man 3
I haven’t played this one yet as of this writing, but I hear it’s taking a radical departure from the last two games and plays more like NES Ninja Gaiden. But you know, it was pretty common back then for a game series to take a big departure because a lot of these game characters hadn’t been fully established in their game series yet. Think of how different US Mario 2 was from the first game, or the differences from Legend of Zelda to Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link.

Anyway, that’s all the games I have to play to make it through Arino’s Retro Game Challenge. I hope I can pass all of Arino’s challenges, but I don’t know if he’ll keep his promise and send me back to the present afterward. So I’m asking for your help! Please send me a time travelling hero to take me back to the future! I’ll take anybody, Crono, Time Gal, Professor Peabody and Sherman, Time Gal, Marty McFly, Time Gal. I don’t care. JUST SOMEBODY HELP ME, PLEEEEASE!!!

I imagine most of you think I’m lying. But there is SOME truth to my story! A lot of people on the Internet have said that I act like a kid stuck in the 80’s. Of course, other people on the Internet say I’m insane, but what do they know? Anyway, IF I can make it to the future, next week I’ll talk about the games in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection.


No Responses to “My Trials in Retro Game Challenge”

  1. I know it’s sort of off topic, but explain to me what’s wrong with Sonic the Hedgehog and how it’s even worse than grunge… The first three were always my second favorite games next to Mario 1,2,3, and world.

  2. Haha, I had a feeling you’d like this one, Cary! I got the import of this last year as an Easter (!) gift from my wife. I thought it had no chances of making it to the US, but I’m glad it did so that more people will be able to enjoy it. The game kept me company on a lonely weekend when my wife and son were out of town. I spent hours working through Guardia Quest and despite not being able to read Japanese, I managed to finally meet all the requiements to unlock Ninja Haguruman 3. Plus, Star Prince = OMG Awesome! Fun fact: Did you know Indies Zero developed this game (they also developed Electroplankton)?

  3. I love Electroplankton but I have no idea what you guys are talking about. Despite this I do have vast videogame and arcade knowledge. I just missed the early anime waves… Ironically I missed this because I was in Singapore for 2 years. In Singapore and playing Western games on early PCs. I never thought of this before. Odd.

  4. I read bikini zombie slayer was aweful.

  5. Replies:

    Ummm: 3 reasons why I don’t like Sonic. 1. He acta like a cocky blue snot. 2. Most of his games are crap. 3. He caused a glut of me-too 2-D platformers starring furry animal mascots with attitude, and none of them were very good. After Sonic, I didn’t play a truly good 2-D mascot platformer until Klonoa came along on the PSOne.

    Raroo: How’s your kiddo doing nowadays anyway? Don’t be a stranger ’round here, now.

    GamerDad: The reason why you don’t know what we’re talking about is all the games on RGC are all made up! Plus, I think you had to be at just the right age at the right time to really appreciate what they did with the DS game. And even though you were in Singapore for only 2 years, a lot can happen in that time, gaming-wise.

    Wampa: I sure do hope that wasn’t the only thing you read out of my article.

  6. Well, yeah, but the games themselves (well the 3D ones) are really good. The trick is usually to stick with the 2d platformers. The attitude is why he’s popular though, since another happy game like mario would seem like a straight rip off, so it’s his “edge” and speed that seperates him from the rest of the crowd. It could also be that i was really young when I was introduced to him, but to me he was to the Genesis what Halo is to the Xbox for most people (what I mean is that it’s what makes the console popular, not an overrated game that everyone plays 😉 )

  7. Awesome article Cary, makes me want to buy it immediately. Unfortunately it’s Street Fighter Week, so that’s not happening.

    And I agree on Sonic. The games just aren’t that great, although I still enjoy playing Sonic Rush, if only for the music, and I will always love the art direction of the 16-bit games.

  8. Aw, this is better than some ol’ Street Fighter game. –Cary

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