Shinya Arino, one half of the comedy duo Yoiko, stars in the variety show GameCenter CX (Fuji TV ONE) where he takes on various video game challenges. The show, which debuted 16 years ago, centers around a fictional game development company where Arino, the manager (“Arino Kacho”), plays through retro video games. We were approached by the show to make a Custom Edition Hobonichi Techo Weeks, and just as it was released Arino played through Shigesato Itoi’s game Mother 2 (released in North America as EarthBound). Itoi came to visit Arino Kacho in the Challenge Room while he made his way through the game. They talked about their memories of the game on the 30th anniversary of the original Mother title.
(Arino Kacho is currently recording the episode of GameCenter CX where he is trying to beat EarthBound. Most games can be beaten in one sitting, but role-playing games take more time. Shigesato Itoi sat in on recording for the second day.)
—Arino, we’ve got a special guest for you today!
Arino KachoOh, Itoi!
—Our special guest today is Shigesato Itoi.
Arino KachoWow, it’s really you. Thank you so much for coming.
—Okay Arino, please explain to Itoi where you are.
Arino Kacho(Shows him the TV)
I’m here right now. Do you recognize it?
ItoiAh, it’s Moonside.
Arino KachoYeah! I just got transported to Moonside.
ItoiIt’s an alternate world of a town that looks like New York City. I created Moonside because I wanted to make a world where everything was crazy. Oh, I see your main character’s name is Peepee — that’s what I name him, too. [Standard name: Ness]
Arino KachoOh, you had the same idea? (Laughs)
ItoiPeepee, Panties, stuff like that.
Arino KachoOh, Panties, I didn’t think of that. I picked my other names from the default selection. You might not be the person to confess this to, but I wish I could change the name of my character. Playing with a main character called Peepee really takes the wind out of the emotional scenes. (Laughs)
ItoiIt’s hard to feel a deep emotion behind the words “What’s wrong, Peepee?”
Arino KachoI’m still missing one character in my party.
ItoiYou’re still missing Poo, I assume? From Dalaam, the place that’s like Tibet.
Arino KachoAh yeah, that’s the one. The shiny-head guy.
ItoiI see. If you don’t have him yet, you’ve still got a ways to go.
Arino KachoWhat?! So I won’t finish today? I’ve gotten 3 of the 8 sanctuaries so far.
ItoiIt’d be tough.
Arino KachoDuring our last recording session I played all morning long, but I didn’t save a single time. When I died right before noon, I ended up all the way back in the beginning. (Laughs) There was no auto-save back when EarthBound came out.
ItoiYeah, that was back when you had to make sure to keep saving the game.
Arino KachoI figured I was fine so I hadn’t saved, but I guess you need to call Dad, huh?
ItoiYou know how you get a phone call from your dad after playing for two hours?
Arino KachoOh, yeah I know that one! What is that?
ItoiI call that the Two-Hour Dad. [A system in EarthBound triggers a phone call from the hero’s dad during long, uninterrupted playing sessions in order to suggest taking a break.]
Arino KachoHe kept asking if I wanted to take a break, and I kept saying no. I thought it was going to force me to quit if I said yes. Finally, I mustered the courage to answer yes, and nothing actually happened! He just said, “Make sure you take a break!”
ItoiYes, Two-Hour Dad just gives you a warning.
Arino KachoI was afraid it would force me to turn off the game.
ItoiNah, I wouldn’t do something so mean. But after Two-Hour Dad, Nintendo implemented a similar system in other games — bringing up a message after a certain amount of time to suggest the player take a break.
Arino KachoWow, so this is where it all started! Nowadays games encourage breaks once an hour.
ItoiOh, it changed, then. Iwata (Satoru Iwata, former President of Nintendo) was a huge fan of Two-Hour Dad, and once he was president he kept putting it in different games.
Arino KachoOh, so Iwata kept it going.
Introducing the GameCenter CX Hobonichi Techo!
—Arino, I must tell you. We put something together for the show. It’s a GameCenter CX Hobonichi Techo!
Arino KachoOh my gosh, no way! Wow, it matches my work uniform. (Laughs)
ItoiNintendo employees used to wear this uniform over their suits.
Arino KachoThat’s right. Except for the game creators.
ItoiEveryone hated it. (Laughs)
Arino KachoThey complained about how tacky it looked, but I wear this one because they used to.
ItoiOh, I see.
—16 years ago, when GameCenter CX first aired, we wondered how people at game companies dressed. We figured this was as close as we could get, so we got Arino this uniform.
ItoiNintendo was the only one making people wear this uniform, you know.
Arino KachoWe interviewed creators from lots of companies, and no one was wearing it. (Laughs) Nintendo was our last stop, and at last we saw them.
ItoiDid you know there’s actually a work uniform like this one designed to look like a suit? I have one — at a glance it really does look like a suit.
Arino KachoThere’s a business suit version? Is it made with the same material?
ItoiYeah, it’s the same material, but it looks just like a suit.
Arino KachoAw man, we should have bought that one! I was working with an orchestra recently, and I wore this uniform with a little bowtie. It looked weird. I wish I’d had the suit version for that.
ItoiThey’re pretty interesting.
We’ve created a Custom Version Hobonichi Techo Weeks by request of GameCenter CX. The book is illustrated on the front and back with pixel-art versions of Arino Kacho and other characters against a background color that matches the work uniform he dons to play classic games. Bonus content in the back of the book includes a list of terminology written by Producer Kan to help follow along with the show. The book also comes with an Arino Kacho Business Card (Hobonichi Techo version). The book was available at the GCCX show booth at Tokyo Game Show for early sales on September 12–15, 2019. Standard sales begin October 1st at HMV and HMV&BOOKS stores across Japan, HMV&BOOKS online, and Loppi.
*Not for sale through the Hobonichi Techo Official Store.