This fun-filled game (a.k.a. Game Center CX: Arino No Chousenjou [Arino's Challenge] in Japan) is based on the Japanese television series GameCenter/Retro Game Master, in which your chosen boy or girl character must complete challenges by the almighty Arino (a character based on the TV show's host Shinya Arino), who also plays your childhood friend during the game.
Retro Game Challenge captures memories well and remediates them in a two-screen format with the game and animated information at the top, while characters/options appear in a living room setting (a bean bag would be cool) at the bottom. Game Master Arino is your cheerleading section as you advance through eight quality spoofs of Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) /arcade classic games from the 1980s. Each game has an authentic feel with four challenges for each plus authentic details that you can research.
The game begins with Cosmic Gate, an homage to Galaga, then follows with Robot Ninja Haggleman (something like Super Mario Brothers), then Rally King (similar to Spy Hunter and other racing games) and then Star Prince (like Star Soldier). Next is some sweet redundancy with Rally King SP then Robot Ninja Haggleman 2. The Dragon Quest clone Guardia Quest is next, followed by the vastly changed Robot Ninja Haggleman 3, which mirrors classic titles like Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden. Each game has nice appeal, though the Rally King games are probably the weakest of the set.
You can research each game by leafing through magazines on your bookshelf. These “Game Fan” issues spill cheat codes, unlockables, and history, plus some names you might recognize. The character dialogue choices basically let you insult or agree with your gaming chum. Some of the expressions get a little repetitive, but the characters still provide some nice appeal/enhancements.
An entertaining element, but a “choose your own adventure” type plotline where your gaming choices could branch out would have been a bonus incorporation. Instead there isn’t any special outcome by answering in a certain way. There are no random options or sampling choices; you are basically led through the entire set.
Other options like the memo pad help you write important information bits when you don’t have a pen and paper handy. You can save your progress as you reach your ultimate goal – returning to your own time. If you’re in the middle of the stage and haven’t completed the task and saved, then you will not start from the middle of the stage…just like the 80s.
All elements of music, visuals, design and references work hard to give you a great retrospective experience. A little more variety, freedom of choice and open ended options would have been perfect. Conquering the game has great advantages. Be sure to catch the mini game at the end, then wait for Arino’s dialogue. After that you can enjoy free play throughout the game.
Retro Game Challenge is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for alcohol reference, mild fantasy violence and mild language.