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.Right, so. Why bring up the show at a time like this? Two reasons!
First, the show was recently picked up for possible US distribution by Japanese production company Stylejam, and two episodes of the show were screened at the New York Asian Film Festival last week. The show's localized name for the US market is "Retro Game Master," and it looks like there's a decent chance that the show will get a DVD release or even cable TV exposure. Quite a few blogs covered the screenings in detail, including Matthew Hawkins' Cinema Pixeldiso column, Wired's Game Life blog, and - again - David Cabrera's Subatomic Brainfreeze (personal fan favorite). If G4 picked this show up, I'm pretty sure I would actually maybe watch the channel occasionally, or at the very least un-delete it from my TV.
Arino proves that this is not a practice limited to the US.Besides the above news, TV-Nihon recently fansubbed most of the first season of the show. I say "most" because while the "challenge" segments are always included, in which host Shinya Arino dukes it out with various games of indeterminate age and origin, the rest of each hour-long episode is not, in most cases. Some of these segments are pretty rad, and usually involve interviews with famous game directors and visits to game centers. I'm pretty sure their omission is because of the way the show was repackaged for Japanese DVD release, but it's still kind of a bummer.
That said, the Ultra Man and Ultra Seven episodes on TV Nihon's tracker are both full-length episodes with all of the show's segments included, so I'd advise checking those out first. And as always, Crunk Games' Game Center CX episode guide is still the best repository of information related to the show available. And before I forget, the DS game is ridiculously wonderful.
Man, I need to get back into the swing of things. I finished Persona 3 last week, so maybe I'll talk about that next? Hmmmm!