I won’t mince words here: over the past couple years, Japan’s Game Center CX, known in the west as Retro Game Master, has skyrocketed its way straight up to an all-time television favorite, to the point where I can near-instantly snap out of even the deepest funk when a new episode finds its way to me.
The premise of the show — now in its ninth year — is simple: comedian Shinya Arino, known formally as ‘the Kacho’, is shut inside a room, given a game chosen from the NES through the PlayStation eras, and made to finish it in a single sitting, whether that takes 10, 12, 14 hours, or sometimes (in the most extreme cases) split into multiple runs of as long.
The idea of watching someone else do nothing but play a videogame you just as easily could play yourself may sound counterintuitive and relentlessly boring, but slick, dramatic editing and the resulting victory or crushing defeat payoffs are so rewarding — so universally recognizable for players of any age or stripe — that the show is endlessly fascinating: probably TV’s best ever celebration of the decades-long history of videogame culture.
Though its (honestly fairly awkwardly) English-dubbed net-streaming season has long since been taken down, distributor Discotek Media is right on the cusp of releasing the first ever officially subtitled DVD set, which, at top, the Kacho himself has introduced in a phonetically amazing promotional video.
We’ll have more on the show & the set at a later date, consider this a brief introduction & preparatory post for when the set itself is officially available. [Retro Game Master DVD Set, via Discotek]