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Filed under: Masahiro Sakurai

“Arino’s Challenge” – Sakurai’s Famitsu Column, Vol. 188

Here’s a translated column from about 10 years ago, where Sakurai talks about Arino and Game Center CX. You might recognize Arino from the recent Nintendo Switch event in Tokyo, or maybe from his costume in Super Mario Maker. If you haven’t checked out Game Center CX and you have any interest in Let’s Plays or retro games, you should definitely give it a watch, as it’s a wonderful celebration of gaming. Enjoy it!

Note: Do not repost the full translation. Please use the first two paragraphs and link to this translation.When reporting on this translation you must mention that it was translated by Source Gaming. For additional information, please read this post. This translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect the opinions of Masahiro Sakurai. The following is a selection from Famitsu. If you enjoyed this article, I would strongly encourage you to support Sakurai by buying his books.

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Arino’s Challenge

Originally published in Famitsu Vol. 188, 9 February 2007


“With Prince of Persia and Mario, as long as you keep trying, you can clear them. But when it’s a beat-’em-up action game, your attack speed and reflexes have to be one step ahead. And with my abilities, I don’t think it’s possible for me to be one step ahead!” Hmmm. Is that how it is? That’s too bad!

Game Center CX. It’s the only show I’ve ever made a point of buying all the boxed sets for. In this show, Mr. Shinya Arino of Yoiko**, as “Chief Arino,” challenges NES titles and other retro games, pushing his mind and body to their limits in order to complete them. Jokes and talk segments are mixed in as he plays a single game for 10 or sometimes even 20 hours. That’s really all there is to it, but it’s a show worth watching. Crying out when he slips up, or clapping when he succeeds—the Chief, his staff, and the viewing audience all laugh and cry together as the game progresses. It makes for a nice shared experience.

TN** Yoiko is a Japanese comedy duo from Osaka


Inside arcades, you of course have the person playing the game, but you also have the “gallery” of spectators, and all of them getting excited together is the real magic of the experience. That’s why, even though the show features home console games, the name Game Center CX fits so perfectly! In most cases, after tasting the bitterness of defeat, Chief Arino takes on the challenge again and successfully completes it. There are times when he fails the challenges, but his tenacity is a sight to behold. However, there was one episode where, while struggling his way to the final stage, he threw his hands up in resignation and called it quits. The game featured in that episode was Final Fight.

Ninja Gaiden, which he completed with ease, is considered by many to be a much harder game. This time, however, his spirit was broken. Honestly, it wasn’t even very fun to watch.

Final Fight is a game that has gone down in history as a masterpiece. With swift jabs, powerful uppercuts, and throws that send enemies flying, brawling your way through and taking down your opponents feels exhilarating. It was hugely popular in arcades; people were always lined up to play.

In the Super Nintendo version which was used for this challenge, the player is limited to three continues. Even if you use a continue, you still start at the beginning of the stage, some of which can be quite lengthy—and if you use up all three, you have to restart the game from square one. If you think about it, it’s pretty harsh, right? If you’ve got the know-how, it shouldn’t be all that hard to do. However, even though Chief Arino did make it to the final stage, he unfortunately called it a day. When he did, he said the quote that appears at the beginning of this column. Perhaps he was right after all.

In this situation, when the player is defeated—rather, precisely because the penalty of being sent back to the start is so severe—it puts the player into a frantic state of mind. They think, “I have to land a lot of good hits while taking as little damage as possible.” It’s a really simple concept, but when enemies group up and circumstances change, the game demands the experience and knowledge of the player in order to succeed. When you’re surrounded by enemies on both sides, you know you’re in trouble. Should you run away? Jump in and break through? Use up a special move?

No matter how much you play, a tough spot is a tough spot. When games skillfully “tease” players, that can continue to elicit a satisfying cycle of tension and release.That said, it’s a delicate balance to aim for, and a single step too far can result in nothing more than flocks of frustrated players.When you get used to games, there are some things you happen to forget, including that intentional balance. Arino’s program helped me remember—and that in and of itself makes the show worth watching.

I still have much to learn from Chief Arino. I’ll continue to quietly support him.