Special round-table interview with:
Tsuyoshi Kan (Producer)
Kensaku Sakai (Writer, Planner)
Masayuki Kibe (Staff Writer)
This is the origin of Game Center CX, the ultimate variety TV show about video games. Here we’ll look back with three key people on the moment that the show was born under the title “Game Center CX”, and when Arino Kacho was brought on board.
Interview – Kiyoshi Tane
It All Started as a Manga TV Show Called “Weekly Shonen (Blank)”
I’m sure you’ve talked about this a million times, but would you tell us the story of how Game Center CX came to be?
(Kan) It was a Fuji TV CS (sattelite broadcast) program that started on 04/2003 and aired for 10 episodes called “Weekly Shounen (Blank)”. Each episode we interviewed important manga creators, revealing sides of them not often shown. Actor Eiichiro Funakoshi hosted the show. And just when it came down to figuring out what show we were going to do next, Kensaku mentioned that he wanted to do a show about games.
(Sakai) Right. I was thinking there might be people who want more shows about these niche topics, and when we did the manga show it got good feedback. I felt like this wasn’t the sort of project that could be done on regular terrestrial broadcast TV, so sliding games in there as a topic was the first idea I had.
(Kan) At that point we wanted to get another writer involved, and he told me he knew someone who loved games and was a really nice guy.
And that was Kibe?
(Sakai) We were talking about games at the planning meeting, remember?
(Kibe) Yes, I do. I got made fun of for reading Famitsu during a different non-game related show, and Kensaku remembered that.
(Kan) Did you know that Kensaku liked games?
(Kibe) I knew that he knew a lot about pop culture in general. So when I got the call to write for the show, the first thing they asked me wasn’t “Do you know a lot about games?”. It was “Do you work cheaply?” (Laughs)
(Sakai) That’s living the CS broadcast life. It was back then, and it still is now.
(Kan) There’s no money to be had compared to terrestrial broadcasting. And so did you say “Yes, I work cheaply”?
(Kibe) Yes, I said I worked incredibly cheaply.
(Everyone) (Bursts out laughing)
(Kan) Nowadays having a live program about games is pretty normal, but back then we were the first ones to do this so-called “Otaku content”. But then even though it was going to be a CS broadcast program, there was that feeling of “Can we REALLY make this into a show?”.
(Sakai) And the show started out as one where we’d interview different game creators. We found a good system with the previous manga show, so we decided to go with the same approach.
(Kan) I knew from the start that Kensaku was funny, but I also couldn’t help but think about how there were very few programs like this that were popular. The point is, he wasn’t a TV variety show writer from the old days. I guess TV writers who did things differently were coming along now. But at the time people like that weren’t really in high demand, so Kensaku didn’t seem too into it.
(Sakai) No no, that’s not true! (Laughs)
(Kan) I had him write the narration for the Nagoya informational program I was doing, so I thought I’d give him this one as well. But the genre of this program wasn’t exactly my strong point, and it wasn’t really his either. And this is being a bit rude to the program itself, but it was being run by two people who weren’t up on the topic.
(Sakai) But Kan, you said “This is going to be an amazingly popular program”! (Laughs)
(Kan) And it is, but it’s completely outside either of our fields. But yet somehow we both came together for this show.
(Sakai) We originally met while working on the Fuji TV show “Uhhya~!! Hanasaka London Boots” (1999). We were young and not full-blown writers yet, just working on coming up with ideas. And when we eventually got to write some narration, there was one time we got people so angry at us we thought they were going to kill us! (Laughs) It was crazy.
(Kan) By meeting in that way it was like “Ahh, us misfits are finally going to be writers!” (Laughs) We were pretty different from other writers at that time.
(Sakai) But I did Mario Bros. competitions on other shows quite a bit. Though I didn’t get the sense that people were hooking Famicoms up to TVs and playing them regularly again yet.
(Kan) Yeah, not at all. We hadn’t reached that point yet.
Until We Drop the Brackets From the Show Title
(Sakai) And that’s kind of why…it felt like this is the type of program you might only be able to watch on a CS broadcast. But I’m glad Arino took on the challenge of playing Takeshi’s Challenge. Do you remember why we interviewed Taito first? Because of Space Invaders.
(Kan) Right. For our generation, Space Invaders was the first big video game, when we were in middle school. It was the one and only game that you and I could compete in. But because it was the arcade age, it made sense to go to Taito. We even got to interview Tomohiro Nishikado (the creator of Space Invaders).
(Kibe) And it was great that Taito was also the company that made Takeshi’s Challenge.
(Kan) That’s true, though it was a coincidence. That’s where we found out about Mr. Hayashi (the editor who worked on the strategy guide for Takeshi’s Challenge with Ohta Pubishing, and current editor-in-chief of Continue magazine) too. So it’s all connected.
(Sakai) I read Continue magazine back during its first run too. I was also buying a retro game magazine called “Used Games” or something like that. But it was quite unusual to deal with retro games at that time.
I wrote articles for both of those magazines! (Laughs) You’re a hardcore gamer after all, Mr. Sakai.
(Sakai) I’m definitely not a hardcore gamer! (Laughs) It was fun to be into retro games around 2000, though they’re pretty commonplace nowadays. It was a lot of fun to go through these magazines and say “Oh, I didn’t know THAT came out!”
(Kan) And when Mr. Hayashi went on to make the book “Family Computer 1983-1994” and the Kyoto Museum of Photography’s exhibit “Level X” hit it big, It kind of felt like we just came upon this by chance. If we hadn’t done what we did, I wonder if it would have still come about in some other form.
Even if it did, this is what resulted in you meeting Arino, right?
(Kan) Well, that kind of happened by chance too. Amidst talking about various people to host the show, we landed on Arino being a good choice.
(Sakai) I wonder if it’s because he seemed to like games. I just sort of knew he did, without him actually even saying so.
(Kan) And what Kibe’s girlfriend said really worked! (Laughs)
(Kibe) She wasn’t my girlfriend! She was a girl who I was interested in when I was a student, but she had no interest in me! (Laughs) When I asked her what celebrities she liked, she told me Arino from Yoiko. And of course I thought “Why Arino?”, he was just starting out back then after all! (Laughs) And then she told me that he really loves games, and that really left an impression on me.
(Kan) You really had to dust that one off.
It’s very important to mention that that relationship was one-sided! (Laughs)
(Kibe) Then Arino became the host of the show, and that resulted in a lot of criticism… (Laughs)
(Kan) You were the first one to suggest him, right? We all had Eiichiro Funakoshi in mind, because he hosted the last program we worked on. We knew that he liked manga from a previous travel program we worked on him with, and so we booked him for that manga show. That’s how roles in variety TV tends to work, actually.
(Sakai) That was when we were trying to figure out how we might make it feel like a popular variety program.
(Kan) So he had been a good fit for that program. Then when it came to having Arino do the game-version of the same show, his voice wasn’t really projecting the same way and it felt low-energy! (Laughs) I had him re-take the opening so many times, trying to get what I wanted out of him. But that just wasn’t Arino’s style as an entertainer, so I wasn’t going to get that out of him no matter how many times I tried.
(Kibe) A typical entertainer would have started off by saying “Alright, here were at at Taito”, with the emphasis at the end of “Taito”. But Arino looked at the logo in front of the Taito building and said it with the emphasis on the beginning of “Taito” and just went walking into the building from there! (Laughs) We were all thinking like “Huh? That’s all he’s going to do?” (Laughs)
But that pronunciation of the word is correct if you go by how it’s said in Taito commercials! (Laughs)
(Kan) Oh well, that’s just Arino’s style.
(Kibe) It just surprised me because I hadn’t figured out what his style was yet.
(Kan) And in doing several episodes, there was no viewer response whatsoever.
And so you just kept going?! (Laughs)
(Kan) There was no response whatsoever, but in our minds we were all thinking we wanted to hurry up and go back to doing shows with Eiichiro Funakoshi. Enough of Game Center CX already, we were saying we just wanted to hurry up and get back to doing “Weekly Shounen (Blank) 2”.
(Sakai) But he played Super Mario Bros. 2 at the end of the first season. And drawing out strategies on the whiteboard during that challenge was surprisingly funny. So we thought it would be a good idea to just do that kind of thing going forward.
(Kan) But that still ended with no real response at all.
(Sakai) It may just be me, but there was a lot of fun in clearing Super Mario Bros. 2 using everyone’s combined knowledge. That game is incredibly difficult, and I got really into it.
(Kibe) We started getting a viewer response during the terrestrial re-broadcast though. I guess people were saying “I turned on the TV, and I saw Twin Bee!”. Even though it has absolutely been possible to show game footage on TV up until then.
(Kan) Was that the game that caused that sleeping AD to wake up? I guess Twin Bee is pretty amazing.
(Sakai) He said that the sound effects were really nostalgic.
(Kan) It has the power to wake up an exhausted AD, after all. After the first season was done we had those memories of going to Nintendo, but we were resolved to go back to “Weekly Shounen (Blank)”. But Eiichiro Funakoshi had gotten really popular! (Laughs) Manga creators had been basically coming to us to book appointments for the show, after all. I think it was getting hard to line that up with his schedule, so we decided to just keep doing CX?
(Sakai) The second season began with us deciding to just do the challenge segments, and saying we should drop the brackets/quotes from around the “CX” in the title. They were only in the title for the first season.
(Kibe) Even now I still remember what you said: “We don’t need them there anymore”, and that we were going with just the game play segments. And that’s when we took them off of the title.
(Sakai) What a great thing to say!
(Kan) That one sure bombed! (Laughs)
(Kibe) No, I thought it was really cool too. There was even some CG of the brackets/quotes breaking away from the logo! (Laughs)
(Kan) Well they weren’t there at the very beginning, after all.
(Sakai) I wanted to be the one to say that! (Laughs)
The Wonder of Arino’s Spontaneity
And from here on out, Arino’s Challenge was the main feature, right?
(Sakai) The Prince of Persia challenges (episodes 7 and 8) were so much fun! And from there Arino’s dry delivery was just wonderful. You couldn’t tell if he was playing the straight man or talking to himself. You weren’t sure how to categorize him.
(Kan) You could only tell after the fact, right? It was the discovery that he’d just said something really funny after uttering just a single word.
(Kibe) Other shows where people were playing games kept popping up one after another, but no one else could replicate his style of those single word jokes. It made me realize that all over again.
(Sakai) It’s really amazing. The game-related straight-man routines he comes up with are really funny, aren’t they.
(Kan) Saying things like “This guy’s a full-time employee, and this guy’s only part-time” when he was playing Ninja Gaiden (Episode 29)…we had no idea he was going to go that far with it. Even so, some people said it was awful of him to say such a thing! (Laughs)
(Sakai) He has such an amazing talent for that stuff. When he was playing Splatterhouse 2 (episodes 241 and 242), he’d shout “Public urination!” every time the main character turned his back away from the screen. It seemed like something someone would have said anyway, but he’s just so quick to come up with it. He has this real sense of spontaneity. We figured that both Arino and the viewers would age together as the show goes on, but it may be that his spontaneity isn’t bound by age.
(Kan) Though the games themselves may be! (Laughs)
(Sakai) That’s why Arino is so funny even when he’s bad at playing a particular game. It makes the process that much more fun. It feels like you’re at your friend’s house watching them play.
Segments that the Staff Came Up With Together
(Kan) I also think that Fujimoto (Tatsuya Fujimoto, Production) is an important part of all this. He’s an absolute culinary genius. The TV industry is full of all sorts of geniuses, but Fujimoto is way above that. He’ll take whatever ingredients are there and just say “Okay, how about this kind of food?”. That’s why he can get away without proposing a single interesting idea in meetings! (Laughs)
It seems like you’re praising and bad-mouthing him at the same time! (Laughs)
(Kibe) Not just the writing staff, but all of the ADs submitted ideas for segments on the show. Mr. Fujimoto submitted a really long proposal that looked like an essay…and that was…a bit too much! (Laughs)
(Kan) What an awful thing to say!
(Kibe) No, I just mean to say it was really big!
I’m not following! (Laughs)
(Kan) All of the staff members of the show submit ideas for segments. Some of Katayama’s ideas made it back when he was an AD, if I recall. I look at them impartially, but Kensaku will just furiously jot something down 5 minutes before we review them.
(Sakai) I’m just writing down something I’d been thinking about for longer than that! (Laughs)
(Kan) Liar! (Laughs) Typically you’re trying to figure out how to do something with rhythm games. When you get serious about making something like that work, we usually end up playing it next time. That’s probably the essence of the show.
(Sakai) It makes everything so much more clear if you have something to show, when it comes to the segments. Showing something as your key point is important, like a Game Boy or whatever.
(Kan) There was a segment we did awhile ago called Famicom Sniper (during the 17th season). The premise of it was Arino on a rooftop trying to identify the Famicom cartridge being passed to someone on the street through a pair of binoculars. We couldn’t get permission to do the segment we’d planned on doing a day earlier, so we hurriedly thought up this one in a single day! (Laughs) It was pretty rough.
(Kibe) No, but it was pretty funny in its own way.
I had the impression that Kibe planned most of the segments, but everyone on staff submits ideas then.
(Kan) Kibe eventually ends up directing and arranging the plans for them though.
(Kibe) By the way, Mr. Fujimoto has always wanted to use Famicom cartridges as tiles in a game of mahjong. “Namco Ittsuu” or something… (Note: “Ittsuu” is essentially another word for a yaku in mahjong)
(Kan) Huh, I wonder if you’d even be able to read the tiles (Laughs)
Arino Kacho Shows Us Some Amazing Grass-Lot Baseball
(Sakai) I think it’s really great that our program is turning into one that shows viewers things that can’t really see at home. Games like Mega Man and Dragon Quest can be difficult to make it through on your own. But it’s incredibly easy when you’re just watching Arino do it…and you can get a sort of exposure therapy out of it as well. I think of it to myself as getting the same kind of entertainment that you would from watching a movie. That’s all in hindsight though.
(Kan) But we never thought of this culture of watching someone else playing a game as something that would catch on, right?
(Sakai) We sure didn’t. Watching someone else play a game is something that seems like it should feel strange. But it’s gradually become more normal, to the point where people would rather watch someone else play a game than do it themselves.
(Kibe) Parents that bring their kids to or women who attend live events for our show surprisingly often seem feel that they don’t want to play these games themselves, but it’s fun to watch someone else do it.
(Kan) I’ve said it before, but there’s a slight gap between typical gamers and our typical fan-base. A lot of fans of the show aren’t gamers per say. I think that’s a pretty interesting phenomenon.
There have always been people who have come to arcades and liked to watch others play. I feel like Game Center CX might have just been the thing that packaged that all up.
(Sakai) And Arino is always just saying funny stuff.
(Kan) It makes sense in terms of pro baseball: You play baseball yourself and want to see amazing games. And you know when you’re being shown grass-lot baseball, right? (Laughs)
(Kibe) It’s very strange, isn’t it.
(Sakai) The major games are very nostalgic and fun, and even the games you don’t know are made fun by Arino’s reactions. “What the heck is this?!”. And that’s why watching Arino play these games is like making a catalog of them. In hindsight, I realize that seeing him play a game you don’t know for the first time might be the most fun of all. You wouldn’t watch sports that you don’t know the rules to, but you’ll watch someone play a game that you don’t know! (Laughs)
(Kan) That’s true, it’s like a different sport every time.
To the point where more of the games he plays are lesser known ones! (Laughs)
(Sakai) And there’s a real sense of security in seeing a game typically completed in an hour, right? It would take someone tens of hours to do it on their own. I talk about this with Kibe, but you only have just a moment of feeling nostalgic when you play a game you haven’t played in a long time, don’t you? And with seeing Arino play it, he goes all the way to the end for you.
(Kibe) In families that have children, they can watch people playing games on YouTube endlessly. But this being a TV program that only lasts an hour, you can feel some sense of ease as a parent.
Being able to tell them that they’re done when the show is over because there’s a defined period, is big.
(Kan) And the dreaded TV term of “broadcast cancellation” doesn’t come up for us. We’re not a particularly radical program, so we may have a big sense of security about that.
15 Years of Going Beyond New Nostalgia
(Sakai) Now that we’ve passed the 15 year mark, Arino doing CX until he’s 60 or 70 will really act as a big support for this country’s game culture.
That’s a bold statement! (Laughs)
(Sakai) We’ll be able to see just how things will go as people who keep playing games keep getting older.
(Kan) Well Abe already has to wear reading glasses. When he was talking with one of the ADs the other day, for a moment he made it look like he had double eyelids. And the AD said “Abe, did you by chance have plastic surgery recently?” (Laughs) And just when I thought “Like he’d do that his age!”, I was relieved he made them go back to normal.
His eyes were probably just tired! (Laughs)
(Sakai) I wanted to play devil’s advocate and ask why do old games still feel nostalgic? They were when we started Game Center CX, but they’ve become much more mainstream nowadays, haven’t they?
(Kan) If our theme was nostalgia, wouldn’t being nostalgic for 15 years be not so nostalgic anymore? (Laughs)
Kids these days haven’t really seen any Famicom games, so they would be new to them I’m sure. I think that old games and new games will all just feel lumped together at some point.
(Kan) Since we’ve been playing old games on the show from the beginning, there’s no way that idea could become old! (Laughs) Sure Arino changes from what he was like 5 years ago, but the basis of the show never changes. It was locked it from the beginning.
(Kibe) Did we start the show in 2003? It has been 15 years since then. 2003 minus 15 years is 1988, which is the era when the Famicom was still on the market. So I feel like the nostalgia scale might be off.
(Kan) Right. Even though it would be odd for software from 2003 to not be nostalgic at this point, it isn’t.
You’ll even be able to play Famicom games on Nintendo Switch’s online service as of September of this year. There are no such things as old and new anymore.
(Sakai) I guess there aren’t.
(Kibe) Even though the Virtual Console has been offering “nostalgic titles” for awhile, today that’s just another way of saying “Famicom games”. It doesn’t even really mean nostalgic games, necessarily.
(Kan) I see, it’s to make them seem like they’re actively on the market.
(Sakai) The Famicom Mini series on the GBA came out at the perfect time then.
Game Center CX started when the GBA was still on the market, right?
(Sakai) I bought all of those Famicom Mini titles! (Laughs) It might make people mad that I didn’t play them at all, but the packaging was so good. They were amazing.
(Kibe) Those boxes were pretty big, so buying them all is really something.
Then the DS and 3DS came out after that. I guess this will be able to go on forever, as long as both Arino and Kan have their health.
(Kan) I mean, isn’t it about time I…?
(Kibe) What on earth are you talking?! (Laughs)
(Kan) Retire and move to a remote island that is! (Laughs) No but I really hope that Arino, Abe, and all the original staff members stay well. In that regard, Tanizawa’s weight gain is the most serious problem, I guess. There’s only been like one time over the years that we had a camera man that wasn’t Abe. Arino makes that a little hard to do anyway. That person doesn’t have the same tendencies, and that makes him nervous and he gets shy! (Laughs) If Tani and Abe aren’t around anyway.
(Kibe) That’s true.
(Kan) He probably doesn’t even really care who the producer is.
But it would feel so lonely if the person doing the voice overs changed!
(Kan) Oh come on, Yuichi Nakamura would be fine, wouldn’t he? I even want him to do some narration for the DVDs or something myself. That would really sell the show! (Laughs)
(Kibe) Your eyes are turning into yen symbols! (Laughs)
(Sakai) I’m not saying this to flatter Kan, but if Kibe or I were forced to take charge of the show, we’d probably try to do something completely different or new halfway through, and end up giving up on it halfway through…I think Kan has that real sense of balance from seeing shows through, which is why nothing has changed with this one.
(Kan) The thing I’ve finally come to understand as I’ve gotten older is that performers and staff lose interest in shows, but actually viewers don’t. So when we make changes because we’ve lost interest, we distance ourselves from the viewers. The feeling I may have kept with me is that things you can change can be changed, but the things you can’t change should never be changed.
(Sakai) Kan said this a little bit earlier, but I really do think we’ve been able to keep this up for the past 15 years solely because a series of coincidences. If all three of us went back in time to 2003 and tried to start up Game Center CX again, I’m not sure if we’d be able to keep it up for 15 years or not.
(Kan) I absolutely get what you mean. If you asked me whether we’d be able to decide on the same things all over again without any mistakes, I don’t think we would. We’d absolutely make 2 or 3 mistakes.
Kibe is Scared by his Own Growth as a Speaker
(Kan) Kibe people have started saying that they watch Game Center CX when meeting you for the first time now, right?
(Kibe) They have. And what’s really surprised me is that people have finally started saying “I watched the show when I was in elementary school!”.
(Everyone) (Roars with Laughter)
(Kan) How’s “Yuushaaaa” going? Our staff writer Kibe here is handling a program for TV Tokyo all on his own!
Oh, are you the head writer for that show Kibe?!
(Kan) He sure is. He even appears on it too.
(Sakai) Do you tell people that certain ways of conveying things don’t work?
(Kan) Does everyone listen to everything you say? (Laughs)
(Kibe) No no, it’s not like that!
(Sakai) I really do think you’ve gotten great at speaking during some of the segments on our show though.
(Kibe) Oh come on now, stop it!
(Sakai) I’m serious! You’ve gained a lot of experienced and are getting really good at it.
(Kan) You are. You’ve even made little jokes and played well with Arino’s humor.
(Sakai) And it doesn’t seem like you’re thinking too hard about it, it just happens naturally.
Kibe, you must be the most frequently appearing writer on Game Center CX! (Laughs)
(Kibe) But the other day when we were recording a segment, I scared myself a little. Arino didn’t react very well to the dialogue I prepared, and we didn’t really mesh when rehearsing it. I figured I couldn’t use it, but then it came up in a different episode and it worked. And then I felt really relieved that I could use it after all.
(Kan) That’s great! You’ve turned into a bit of a veteran. You acted as your own editor.
(Kibe) I mean it’s not like I did any planning in advance or anything to figure it out!
You’re not just a writer, you’re also talent! (Laughs) You’re even active on the anime scene, writing the scenarios for Sega Hard Girls.
(Kibe) It’s true, and I’m only able to do all of that thanks to this show.
Wanting There to be Just a Bit of Inoki in Arino
Kibe and Sakai both like games, and Kan is pretty neutral on them. Does that make for some kind of a balance?
(Kan) Well as the lone producer that doesn’t fundamentally know much about games, I make for a pretty callous judge. Because I have no real emotional attachment to them at all. In a meeting awhile back a proposal for a game came up that wasn’t very exciting, so I made the judgement call that it shouldn’t be that one. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but I figure it’s one filter to apply over things.
You can actually lose sight of certain things if you like them too much, right?
(Sakai) I may have even said things like “If we go with this game, we definitely have to have scenes like this”. But instead of approaching it like that, we just show the funny parts from Arino playing the game. The ability to recognize that is a great thing about the GCCX staff.
You’ve got a scene that isn’t otherwise very lively, but for some reason Arino sometimes manages to turn it into a good one! (Laughs)
(Kan) But thing you don’t take into account is sometimes it’s actually all just no good from a production standpoint. Sometimes the planning is just haphazard, right? Like you’re there thinking “Alright, and after this happens he’s going to be victorious!”. But will that moment happen at say Makuhari Messe with 10,000 poeople…is it going to be okay? It not happening in front of 10,000 people…that’s pretty scary.
Is Saitama Super Arena really going to be next? (Laughs)
(Kan) No no, there’s no way. After having 10,000 people in the audience, we’re going to make the next one much smaller. We’ll go big again for the 20 year anniversary in 5 years. But that’ll be here before we know it.
(Sakai) That’s true. The 10 year anniversary seemed like it was in the blink of an eye.
(Kibe) The Budokan event was 5 years ago. I’d personally like to try doing a 24 hour broadcast again.
(Kan) Huh?! You want to do that again?!
(Kibe) I think it would be okay as long as Arino can take a nap partway through, don’t you?
Your views of Arino have really gotten to be very kind, haven’t they? (Laughs)
(Kan) Of course. Lately I’ve been trying to figure out whether Arino is more like Giant Baba or Antonio Inoki. Telling him he can take a nap would make him more like Giant Baba, but I think I’d like for him to be more like Inoki just slightly. And that means he can’t take a nap. Though I think somewhere inside of me, I feel it would be good if he’s more of a Giant Baba. By the way, I’m saying this without knowing anything at all about pro wrestling.
Ahahaha! (Bursts out laughing)
(Kan) Well given that I’m of the generation that I am, I more or less know what I’m talking about though. What I don’t want to be misunderstood about is that I respect both Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki. Arino’s always done things in a very Inoki style, so I think that’s why I want him to be more like Baba. Though I think he’d dodge the question and just say of course he was Baba…I don’t think he could say it himself? And all this after I say I’d like for him to be more like Inoki. I wonder if my point is even coming across.
Even now Arino isn’t completely relying on ADs to play the games, he’s doing it himself right? That makes him a bit more like Inoki in my opinion! (Laughs)
(Sakai) When Wreck-It Ralph came out, I was really excited thinking that a movie about old games had finally been released! And then Pixels came out, and now there’s Ready Player One. Everyone likes old games.
(Kan) Whenever something like Wreck-It-Ralph or Ready Player One comes out, I’m sure you didn’t know that I think to myself “This is so frustrating!”. I’m the only that feels they’ve been victimized.
(Sakai) You’re thinking “I’ve been victimized by Spielberg!”
(Kan) I’m saying that Spielberg got into my head and took the idea from me! (Laughs) Well, I guess Spielberg’s a pretty accomplished guy himself though. (Laughs)
(Sakai) Thinking that old games are wonderful might be turning into a worldwide feeling.
(Kan) I also have a theory that maybe it’s just that worldwide, we can’t escape the 80s. We always seem to want to go back to that time, don’t we?
Recently the world record for Donkey Kong was revoked for cheating, right? Are these guys still seriously doing this still, even though they’re over 50?
(Kan) I’m sure it’s because they have fun with it still.
(Sakai) We have been doing this same show for 15 years now, after all.
The culmination of all of that will be the Makuhari Messe event. Headlining an event like that with just Arino alone, what are you going to do?! (Laughs)
(Kan) Well we don’t know if people will show up for it or not, so we’re all hoping very much that you all do.
You don’t know just how many attendees you’ll have, right?
(Kan) We don’t. We’ll find that out along with the attendees! (Laughs)
Hopes in Heading Toward the 20th Anniversary
Well then, tells about your hopes in heading toward the 20th anniversary.
(Kibe) We’ve done a movie and a 24 hour broadcast, but what we haven’t done is a musical. I seriously would love to do “Game Center CX: The Musical”.
It would be different from what you did at the Hanayashiki event! (Laughs)
(Kan) Isn’t that something you could just do yourself if you organize a theater troupe?
(Kibe) I’m not talking about a theater troupe here! There’d be game play scenes during the show, we’d put lyrics to game music songs, that kind of thing. It sounds like fun, right? (Laughs)
(Sakai) Arino turning 50 could be more interesting than the 20th anniversary though. Kan often hears this, but society doesn’t traditionally feel like people in their 50s should be playing games. I’d love for Arino to go against that as he gets older.
(Kibe) That definitely could prove to be be pretty interesting.
(Sakai) Right? An old man challenging retro games.
(Kibe) He’ll be like “Well now, what was it that I’m playing again?”
(Kan) There certainly are old men that grumble like that.
(Sakai) Awhile back we had this idea that was something like “Can an old man clear the first level in Super Mario Bros?”, and we always decide in meetings that there’s no way it would work. But the show itself is slowly getting closer to being an actual documentary version of that. If it continues on, we’ll definitely get to 50 years, 60 years, 70 years… (Laughs)
Older people have been playing games more recently, after all.
(Kan) That’s true. I see a lot of older people in the coin/medal game section of arcades in the afternoon. I mentioned this earlier, but for this 15th anniversary I feel it would be a good idea to make it my mission to be bombastic or set off the fireworks, so to speak. Go big, and then pull it back a bit. It will be difficult to do what we’ve been doing up until now but scaled up, but I want to give it a try.
Heating things up, and then cooling them down.
(Kan) And with the help of Kiyoshi Ishii (PR for Gascoin Company), I’d also like to find new fun new ways as a producer to bring Game Center CX to people who we weren’t previously able to. The alias for the Game Center CX Museum was “The Ishii Museum”! (Laughs) There’s no way I would have been able to pull that off on my own. I just threw the idea out there, and Ishii went back and forth with me on it and made all the arrangements.
Arino’s called Ishii “The show’s hidden character”.
(Kan) When the 15th anniversary stuff is over he’ll go into hiding again. But I hope he erupts again like magma to bring something to 10,000 people again for the 20th anniversary. It’s an erruption every 5 years. Unfortunately I run a company in my down time, but I think we can make for some pretty fun events.
There’s even a VR corner at the GCCX Museum.
(Kan) There is. Maybe everyone will be wearing VR googles by our next event. Then Arino could appear right out of thin air.
There are VR googles you’ll be able to walk around in coming out for 30-40,000 yen, who maybe it’s possible?
(Kan) But you’d be looking at retro games through them, though that might be a good gag in of itself. But that’s how I’d like to approach the time leading up to our 20th anniversary.