Retro Game Challenge came out earlier this year, and it was a collection of made-up 8-bit games and you had to pass certain challenges in each game to go onto the next. The beauty of this game is all the 8-bit titles were actually really good, and would’ve been able to stand on their own had they been real games to begin with. In Japan, they made a sequel: Game Center CX 2, and I found it on sale and imported it. So now here are the games on Game Center CX 2!
In Japan there’s a TV show called Game Center CX, which the DS game is based off of. On the show, a popular Japanese comedian named Arino tries to play old retro video games to completion. As old retro games tend to be really tough, he has a hard time of it sometimes and humor often follows. Or it does, supposedly. I’ve never actually watched this show, myself. I know I could watch it on YouTube, but I just never got around to doing so.
Just as in the first game, the evil Game Master Arino, a Max Headroom-like floating head (man I’m aging myself here), he turns your character into a little boy or girl and sends you back in time. He forces you to play old video games and do challenges in each one, kind of like the weird achievements in Xbox games. If you can pass all his challenges, he’ll return you to your original form and time. Luckily you’ll be playing games with a little boy version of Arino, which I always liked because it made you feel like you were playing games with a friend, which is what I always did back in the 8-bit days (good thing you can turn off his voice during the games in the sequel). Little boy Arino also picks up magazines that have strategies to help you get past the challenges, which adds to the retro experience. Unfortunately, since all the magazines were in Japanese, I couldn’t read them this time around.
Anyway, the fun is in playing the games, and they all for the most part don’t really require any Japanese language skills to play. And for the ones that do, I was able to find what I needed at GameFAQs. So here’s a list of all the titles you can play on Game Center CX 2!
This one’s a Pac-Man clone, and one of the main reasons why I imported Game Center CX. And you all know how much I like Pac-Man games! Even though it’s just a clone, Wiz-Man has enough new stuff in it to make it feel fresh. You look like a little green Pac-Man ghost wearing a wizard hat, and you run around a maze ‘eating’ dots, or magic crystals as the game puts it. There are two different colored dots, red and blue, and you can only get the color of dots that’s the same color of the wand you’re holding. When you have a red or blue wand in your hand and collect a big crystal, you can fire out ice or fire, and different colored critters are weak to different kinds of magic. A gold magic wand will sometimes appear and you’ll be able to eat both colors and dots and defeat all enemies. Collect three of the same color wand and you’ll go faster. There are other little tricks, too. I really like it, anyway. But then, I just love games where you run around a maze chasing or eating things.
GameFAQs calls it Kung-Fu, but I’m not exactly sure what the Japanese title is. One neat thing about Game Center CX 2 is that, while the first game had titles from a single imaginary 8-bit system, in the sequel you play games from other consoles, too! The Kung-Fu game looks more like a Commodore 64 title, and is most like the old fighting game Karateka. Of course, I’ve never played Karateka, but I’ve heard of it and seen it. It also reminds me a bit of Kung-Fu Master, as it’s a side scroller with unique bosses, and the fighting also reminds me of Konami’s Yie Ar Kung-Fu. There’s also a two player option where you can challenge boy Arino one-on-one. I didn’t get into this title much since I’m not big into fighting games, but it’s still alright.
This is an 8-bit 2-D platformer. Typical story, an evil guy steals your girl and turns you into a little demon. They even have a badly translated English prologue. This game is most like Super Mario Bros. with a bit of Mario 2 as well. You can stomp on enemies, break blocks, even get power-ups that let you grow big, take an extra hit, and throw projectiles (little tornadoes). It also has a bit of a Ghosts N Goblins feel to it with all the spooky themes. And a smidgen of Hudson’s Adventure Island, as you have a constantly depleting energy bar and you must nab apples to refill it. The main gimmick in Demon Returns is a swipe attack that makes enemies spin around, and then you can jump on them and ride them. Some spiky enemies will let you attack others while riding them, and like Klonoa, riding on an enemy lets you do a double jump. Only problem is that when you ride an enemy, play control is a little more slippery. Anyway, Demon Returns seems like a pretty fun platformer so far.
Not sure if that’s really the name of it. Back in the Famicom (NES) days in Japan, they had an add-on system there where you played games on a disk drive. NES games in the US that required passwords or battery saves usually were on disk in Japan, such as Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus, etc. Anyway, this detective game is a disk game! It even makes those old grinding noises when loading! One type of game that never saw much exposure in the US during 8-bit times was text adventures, but there were a lot in Japan. This is one of those, but it also has some point and click adventuring as well. The best way I can describe it is it’s kind of like Shadowgate. Kind of the precursor to Phoenix Wright, I guess. Only problem is since this game is so text heavy, I had no idea what to do. This was one of the games I had to use GameFAQs to pass, but they had a handy guide up so I could do it with ease and in only about ten minutes time. Once you beat it, they give you a second disk for more mysteries to solve, but fortunately you don’t have to play it to do more challenges.
This is a 2-D, vertically scrolling shooter. They say it’s on the 8-bit fictional console in this game (Game Computer), but there’s no way this could’ve been done on the NES. Looks more TG-16-ish. It has a very COMPILE look to it, like Blazing Lazers, or the shooter sections in The Guardian Legend. You can get two power-ups and switch them as side weapons for different effects. You can also play two player simultaneous (Boy Arino is player 2), and there’s a power-up that joins both your ships together! It’s a very competent and fun shooter.
This is a black and white game on a fictional portable system (Game Computer Mini). Imitating Tetris’ popularity on the Game Boy handheld back in the day, Triotos is a falling block, match three puzzle game. It’s a fun little puzzler, with endless, vs. and two player modes. Reminds me of the days after Tetris when everyone had to have a falling block puzzle game. Heck, even Nintendo got into it with Dr. Mario. Anyway, this game reminds me most of Sega’s Columns, except you rotate the blocks, not alternate the colors. And there are L shaped pieces here, too. And it has more of a Japanese scenery theme, rather than the Russian themes of Tetris.
Gaudia Quest Saga
Another handheld game, this one’s on a color version of the last portable. This one is a RPG like Dragon Warrior. It’s a sequel to one of the games on the original Retro Game Challenge. It doesn’t look any different, but it is on a portable this time. Since it was in Japanese, I didn’t really know what to do. Luckily the first three challenges were easy to figure out and do: make it to the first town, reach level 5, and get 1000 gold. But for the last challenge you had to make it to the top of a tower, and by that time I was tired of wading through a game that I had no idea what was going on. Luckily I read on GameFAQs that you could skip a challenge by calling Arino on the phone and bugging him enough, so I did that for the last one here. A few minor things I noticed about this game is it looked like you were walking on floating continents. And in the first game you could have a Gaudia monster help you fight. But in the sequel it looks like all three members of your party have a Gaudia monster and they can evolve. I saw mine do it, but I have no idea what they do or how to use them!
Super Demon Returns
And the last game on the main challenge list is a 16-bit title for the Super Game Computer (SNES). Remember in the SNES days where every game title had to have ‘Super’ in front of it? And the games would overuse the special SNES Mode 7 capabilities to make the title logo scroll and rotate on the screen, and have at least one foggy level to show off transparency effects? Well that’s what this game is like. It’s essentially the same game as Demon Returns (new levels of course). But gameplay wise, it’s the same. Which means it’s also just as fun and certainly worth playing.
There are more games than just these, though. One of the new things you can do in the sequel is visit a game store and play on demo kiosks. Most of the games you can play in the store are the same from the first game, with some tweaks here and there.
Cosmic Gate MASA-X version
This is the Galaga-esque title from the first game, except now it’s on a different fictional system, like a port, for the MASA-X. I’m guessing they’re spoofing the Japan-only MSX game system, which got a lot of NES ports as well. Cosmic Gate is better on this version, with improved sound, more enemies and bullets on the screen at the same time, and other extras. You can do little challenging stages in the warp zones and there are bosses now in the asteroid zones.
Robot Ninja Haggleman: Koume Version
This is just like the 2-D platformer series from the first Retro Game Challenge, except here you get to play as the girl character, Koume. The cartridge is even pink! Nothing else different that I can tell.
Rally King Time Trial
The love it or hate it top down racing game is back, but this time it’s just a test to beat your best times. It’s a lot like RC Pro-Am mixed with Bump N Jump, but really it’s most like a Japan-only Namco Famicom racing game called Family Circuit.
Star Prince Score Attack
It’s just like the shooter game from the first Retro Game Challenge, except you only have one life and try to get a high score in 3 or 5 minutes time–making it even more like Star Soldier than it already was.
It’s the same game except it’s in color on the 16-bit Super Game Computer. The backgrounds have different Japanese paintings and the characters you encounter in Vs. Rival Mode are from the Haggleman games. Both titles were made by the same fictional company: Gears.
Platformer Training Challenge
I don’t know what this one is really called, but this last one isn’t in the main game, but accessible from the main menu. It looks like a little handheld black and white game and it’s a no-frills automatically scrolling 2-D platformer with basic jumping and timing obstacles to cross. It saves your three best scores. Kind of reminds me of the first Super Mario Land.
And that’s all the games! One thing I found in the sequel is that it was easier to get past all the initial challenges than it was in the first game. Aside from some translation guides, I didn’t have to use any secret codes or anything. And I had to in the first game (mainly for Rally King). But after you go through the main game, there are black envelope challenges that are harder. Plus, in the main menu you can do a daily challenge like in the Brain Training games. Other things you can do in the main menu are change Boy Arino’s outfits and turn off his comments during the games you play!
However, unless you just REALLY like retro games, I can’t really recommend importing Game Center CX 2 because of all the Japanese text in the detective game and RPG. Even though XSEED brought the first game to the US under the name Retro Game Challenge, I don’t think they’ll bring over the sequel because I don’t think the first game sold as well as what they would’ve liked. I am sad that we’ll probably never get an English version of the sequel, I’m still glad XSEED brought over the first one because it gave me the confidence to at least try the import sequel. If they ever did localize the sequel, I wanna be one of the editors in the pretend game magazines! Luckily, if you haven’t played the first Retro Game Challenge yet, you can find it relatively cheap, usually for less then 20 bucks. It’s VERY fun and I highly recommend it.