For the last 5 weeks or so, Kotaku has been delivering the long-running and popular Japanese television series, Game Center CX, to North American audiences. Kotaku has been premiering translated episodes every Thursday and while this is a long awaited and welcome development, Kotaku is simply not presenting the show in its finest format. Retitled, Retro Game Challenge, the Kotaku version of GCCX presents ONLY the game challenge portions, eliminating the show’s additional interwoven segments. For those who don’t know Game Center CX, the show focuses around Arino Shinya, a “company man” in a fictional Japanese company that’s sole mission is to force our protagonist to beat specific retro video games in marathon sessions. Arino challenges various games with various complexity, many from the original Famicom and then later from other classic systems as the seasons go on. He is however not alone as Arino is often supported by “AD’s” or gaming assistants who help him through trouble spots.
Along with these gaming challenges, Arino visits various Japanese game centers (arcades), conducts interviews with game developers, reviews old consoles, and hosts other show sections scattered throughout the episodes. These segments have changed over the 15 seasons that this show has been on the air in Japan. As a game reviewer, I also appreciate GCCX’s quick-hit reviews of multiple releases done by a specific publisher, also provided as a segment between the game challenge portions of the show. For example, some episodes will feature segments that show you all the Famicom games released by Jaleco while another episode will take you down memory lane by presenting the key games released in 1988. Everything shown is given cultural perspective and quick yet informative game play reviews.
For the Kotaku releases, the production company has removed all the extra segments, re-dubbed all the narration and subtitled the dialogue. Sadly, much of the voice-over has drowned out the background music and none of the on-screen text has been translated. Much of the spirit and heart of the program has been stripped away, leaving only the game play segments (Such a pity! – inside fan joke). Don’t get me wrong, the challenge segments are still fantastic and worth the price of admission, but the entire package is what makes this program really special.
BUT DON’T FRET – For years now, the GCCX fan community has been translating (subtitling) key episodes from the many seasons of this show and posting them as torrents and direct downloads. All text, narration and dialogue is translated and in some cases, cultural references are explained when something inherently Japanese needs to be deciphered or localized. I implore all retro and Japanese gaming fans to seek out and watch these expertly-translated and fully-intact GCCX episodes instead of just watching Kotaku’s offering.
Personally, after watching all translated episodes and a couple non-translated episodes, I have become an enormous fan of the format. The show exhibits true sincerity and inherent heart. It is steeped in nostalgia, it is very funny, while also being crafted to keep you on the edge of your seat. Seek out some of the episodes at the links below and talk them up in the forums or below in the comments section. Or if you have other links, share them here (I need my fix). Maybe one day we’ll get this full series here — but it is unlikely — so keep a look out for more translated episodes. And if you have any questions, shoot them over to me because I am the resident Game Center CX expert here at Retroware TV! – John D
Game Center CX Translated Episodes
TV-Nihon Translated Torrents http://www.tvnihon.com/tracker/browse.php?cat=79
Something Awful Forums (links are always updated) http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3177407
Translated & NON-Translated Episodes (thanks to Andrew Palchak) http://www.gaki-no-tsukai.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=2653&start=0
Kotaku’s “Retro Game Challenge” http://kotaku.com/retro-game-master/