I must have watched the trailer (scroll down and hit the button under the title screen to watch) for this show six or seven times, and it kind of made me worry how they were handling it. The announcer goes to great lengths to tell you how very popular the show is (that Japanese licensor mentality in which a big Japanese hit makes for an equally big everywhere-else hit), but there isn't a word about why this show is popular, or more importantly, why it is fun. Their idea of fun is a shot of the Amazon.jp sales charts.
The only hint of the show's greatness in this trailer is a speech "to all the international buyers" made by the show's charming goof of a host in cue-card English. This part isn't even on the website, so I'm going to link you to the Youtube cellphone bootleg.Let's see how long that link lasts!
So, Game Center CX, retitled to Retro Game Master and shown to me in a theater for free. Not a bad deal. It's a TV show where they put a man in a room with a videogame and they don't let him out until he's won. This is a more entertaining prospect than you'd think! "Retro Game Master" is either sarcastic or a misnomer, as the whole point of the show is that Arino is an likable, average guy and he's not very good at videogames. This show is about chuckling along with Arino's many failures and the cruelty of 8-bit games, rooting for him as he presses on, sticks cold compresses on his forehead, and hits the "a-ha" moments where he figures out how the game works. In the endgame you feel a real vicarious sense of accomplishment for the guy, in a situation where he may or may not win. You can get a superplay anywhere, after all. This is a slightly dramatized version of the experience of playing a videogame, with all the ups and downs that entails.
So now that you have the idea, I'll tell you what I watched. This time, Arino played the NES version of Ghouls n' Ghosts, one of the meanest games of its day. If you're as well acquainted with Ghouls n' Ghosts as I was as a child, you already know what the final gotcha is. You're probably already laughing thinking of it. I know I was. Retro Game Master dubs the narrator and subtitles Arino's exploits, much in the same fashion as magnificent spectacles Ninja Warrior and Unbeatable Banzuke (I'm sorry, the only available videos on Youtube are uploaded by those dumbasses who think you capture video by holding a camcorder in front of a TV UGH PET INTERNET PEEVE OVER HERE). The narration very effectively matches the straight-faced enthusiasm and completely un-called-for seriousness of the Japanese narrator. He makes Arino's struggle with Red Arremer in the first stage into a real all-or-nothing battle between mortal enemies, which only makes Arino getting killed over and over by him even funnier. Arino himself has a pretty tough time this episode: he has an assistant come help him out, and even has to go home and practice up for "homework".
What's really unfortunate here is that the releasing company, Stylejam, has seen fit to chop out the bits where Arino does things that aren't playing videogames: in this episode we miss out on an arcade visit and an interview with Yu Suzuki(!!). I hope that this was done simply to fit the show into a 30-minute showing, and that we don't lose these bits if the show goes to TV (they would almost certainly cut these scenes for TV broadcast) or DVD. It would be a real shame, and would likely kill the sales of the DVD project before it even got started. That said, Retro Game Master is a great show, and I wish Stylejam all the best in getting it released. Fully intact, you guys!
Meanwhile, in case that doesn't work out, TV-Nihon is fansubbing, and they're cutting out everything but the game part too! For shame!