The video game industry is finding its way out of the doldrums by adapting new technology for decades-old titles. And that energy was evident at the annual Tokyo Game Show in Chiba, Japan, which opened to media on Thursday before opening to the public over the weekend.
"Our old fans used to play Japanese games, and those people are excited those games are coming back and they recognise them as Japanese-style games," game creator Koji Igarashi told The Associated Press at the show.
"Truly game-like games" is the way Igarashi described the genres enjoying revival, including his side-scrolling role-playing games. His latest version will come with a 3-D movie section.
Although smartphones hammered the video-games market for some years, the companies have adjusted. After the dust settled, some of the games that stood the test of time turned out to be Japanese, including "Monster Hunter" and "Resident Evil," known as "Biohazard" in Japan, the "Super Mario" series and "Gran Turismo".
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Also helping are new consoles from the Japanese makers, such as the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch. More than 60 million PS4 consoles have been sold since they went on sale last year. Switch sales already total some 4.7 million globally. Switch went on sale in March.
Kyoto-based Nintendo Co. initially scoffed at the threat from smartphones but did an about-face and began offering smartphone versions of their flagship games like "Super Mario" since 2015. "Pokemon Go," featuring Nintendo's Pokemon characters and played on smartphones, became a global hit.
Games are also taking on more features, such as massive online communities, as well as immersive virtual reality, not only leading to new kinds of games but also helping revive interest in old-style genres.
Igarashi compared that to the way Japanese movie-making has endured along with Hollywood films.
"We are just offering what we find as fun," he said, noting that what he called his "Japanese idea of fun" can cross borders. "And we must never lose sight of that — what makes us truly us."
In his latest game, "Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night," the player becomes Miriam, an orphan who awakens from a coma and battles demons as she tries to end a curse that is turning her skin to crystal.
He has raised $5.5 million in pledged funding, mostly from the US, on Kickstarter for the game. It is set to be playable on the Switch, PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Vita, when it launches in the first half of next year in seven languages, including Chinese and Italian.
Atsushi Morita, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan, said Japanese culture is at the root of visual story-telling that began with manga comic books, went on to animation and films and now allows for an interactive element in games.
Many people used to play games, Morita added, but they stopped the older they got. With new technology like Sony's virtual reality headset and an array of software products coming out, the time may be finally ripe for the Japanese game industry to reap the rewards, he said.
"We want people to once again remember and rediscover the fun of games," said Morita. "We want people to re-experience that joy, that emotion."
Square Enix Holdings Co. President Yosuke Matsuda said his company is putting out the 15th game of the longtime hit "Final Fantasy" series. Long lines were forming at its giant booth at the Tokyo Game Show for a chance to try it out.
"Japanese games are loved by the world," he said.
"MXC" redirects here. For the video connector, see Multimedia Extension Connector. For the capital of Mexico, see Mexico City.
|Most Extreme Elimination Challenge|
|Created by||Paul Abeyta|
|Developed by||Paul Abeyta|
|Opening theme||Firebrand by Bumblefoot|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||81 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Paul Abeyta|
|Producer(s)||Victor Wilson (supervising, season 3)|
Mary Scheer (supervising, seasons 4–5)
|Running time||approx. 20 minutes|
|Production company(s)||RC Entertainment, Inc.|
|Original release||April 19, 2003 (2003-04-19) – February 9, 2007 (2007-02-09)|
Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC) is an Americancomedytelevision program that aired on Spike TV from 2003 to 2007. It is a re-purpose of footage from the Japanesegame showTakeshi's Castle which originally aired in Japan from 1986 to 1990 and starred "Beat" Takeshi, a very popular and "hip" Japanese entertainer. The re-purposed "MXC" created a completely new premise, storyline and characters. The original '"Takeshi's Castle" started with a glob of about 40 contestants competing against each other in challenges for the honor of being the five finalists who would attempt to storm the castle and defeat the powerful Count Takeshi and his crew of underlings. The MXC re-purpose created two teams competing against each other à la a typical Saturday afternoon network football game broadcast, with players trying to win points for their teams by surviving through different challenges. In the original program the Count and his underlings would follow the progress of the players as they moved through the course. In the re-purpose Count Takeshi became veteran network announcer Vic Romano and the count's flunky became young upstart Kenny Blankenship.
Most Extreme Elimination Challenge was created and produced by RC Entertainment, Inc. (Paul Abeyta and Peter Kaikko) in Los Angeles, California and Larry Strawther (a writer and producer on a number of network sitcoms). The three were friends who had worked together at Merv Griffin Productions in the late 1970s. Strawther was the staff on the "Dance Fever" pilot which Abeyta took over as Executive Producer the following season, while Strawther stayed with "Jeopardy!". Between jobs they would occasionally try to create their own projects. One of these was the 1990s talk show spoof "Night Stand." MXC is the property of both Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) and RC Entertainment. The 2004 special episode MXC Almost Live is the property of Viacom International, which was filmed in Orlando, Florida by the producers of MXC.
Main article: List of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge episodes
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||13||April 19, 2003||July 19, 2003|
|2||13||July 31, 2003||November 6, 2003|
|3||27||April 22, 2004||April 7, 2005|
|4||15||October 20, 2005||March 9, 2006|
|5||13||November 9, 2006||February 9, 2007|
The premise of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (as distinct from Takeshi's Castle) is a game show that is hosted by the eccentric characters Vic Romano (Vic Wilson) and Kenny Blankenship (Chris Darga), along with the field marshal Captain Tenneal (John Cervenka) and the field reporter Guy LeDouche (John Cervenka). The announcer (John Cervenka) would begin each episode with this standard introduction.
"What are these people running from? They're not! They're running TO the World's Toughest Competition in Town!"
When the show was transitioning away from its full name, it briefly added "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge!" to the end of the opening.
Eventually the opening introduction was changed to:
"Get fired up for MXC! The world's most toughest competition in town!"
Usually, two or three teams of contestants compete in several turn-based and head-to-head challenges. The only episode done without a competitive team base was the first episode ever made, which was simply centered around the stereotypical antics of college girls. Even though this was the first episode made, it was the seventh episode of season one to air. Most other competitive teams do not truly have a real-life rivalry (e.g., Season 1, Episode 2 "Donors vs Addicts"), while others such as Democrats vs Republicans vs Third Party do.
The contestants compete in a variety of challenges, usually four per episode, but occasionally as many as six. The challenges are extremely hard, and a majority of the contestants fail to complete the challenges. Throughout the show, painful failures to complete challenges are reviewed by Vic and Kenny in the "MXC Impact Replay" (briefly given sponsor names like the "Snickers Satisfies Replay" and the "Slim Jim Snap of the Day"), which is essentially a sports-themed playback feature. Occasionally, the Impact Replay is used for Kenny's pleasure, in looking at the female contestants, items, or random events in the series which he finds funny or disappointing. Contestants who do complete a challenge earn one or two points for their team (maybe even more). The team with the most points at the end of the episode wins the competition. At the end of each episode, Kenny counts down the ten "Most Painful Eliminations of the Day", which usually focus on the events shown in the Impact Replay, but sometimes includes random events that involved the main or recurring characters.
Kenny and Vic, along with any other people around them at the end of the show, all end the episode by saying: "Don't get eliminated!"
MXC Almost Live and other special episodes
On April 22, 2004, Spike TV aired a special edition of the show to start the third season, featuring skateboarderTony Hawk and snowboarderTara Dakides. The special was taped at the Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida using students from nearby colleges and appropriately dubbed MXC Almost Live. The special edition is not based on the original Takeshi's Castle footage, but only has some added in for Vic, Ken, the Captain, and Guy LeDouche. Actors were hired to play those who would replace the roles of the latter two, named "Major Babe" (Michelle Sorrell) and "Gip LeDouche" (Eric Esteban). While everyone in the episode is American, everything said by any contestants besides Hawk and Dakides is still dubbed.
Three other special episodes aired, all from Season 2, including a special nighttime episode, a "Monsters vs. Mascots" episode, and a special winter episode.
Spike initially held a contest in 2005 or 2006 where the winner would have his name and the name of five of his friends used in an episode of MXC and would also receive a viewing party of said episode for up to 50 people at a place of his choice. However, this contest never fully materialized and is assumed to have been canceled for unknown reasons.
Most of the characters and contestants on MXC are voiced by the producers and series' writers: Victor Wilson, Christopher Darga, John Cervenka, and Mary Scheer who did all of the female voices.
- Vic Romano (Victor Wilson provides his dub voice) is the co-host and play-by-play commentator. In Takeshi's Castle, Vic's character is Count Takeshi himself, the main character of the show. In MXC, Vic is level-headed, has a dark past of alcohol abuse, failed marriages, and various addictions, and generally treats MXC as a serious competition. Vic was once also a professional baseball player who became addicted to "everything", including every type of drug, alcohol, and easy women. He once was an airline pilot during his stint of alcohol abuse, but states: "Luckily, nobody noticed." Notable catchphrases include "Right you are, Ken!", "Indeed!", and "Kenny!", which is usually followed by him smacking Kenny's head with a paper fan, in response to Kenny's commentary of the action. The character is played by Japanese actor and movie director Takeshi Kitano, who also created the original series MXC is based on, Takeshi's Castle.
- Kenny Blankenship (Chris Darga provides the dub voice) is Vic's co-host and color commentator. Blankenship is a high-school dropout whose uncle owns the network. Kenny's character is very unprofessional about hosting, far less serious about the job than Vic's character is. Despite his non-professional, simplistic stand-point, he claims to make ten times the amount that Vic does because of his uncle being one of the network bosses. Kenny has also been stated to own a condo complex from all the money that he earns from hosting and drives a Volkswagen Jetta. During hosting, Kenny usually spends his time commenting on the sexual appeal of the female competitors and how much he likes beer, pizza and seeing the majority of competitors wipe out. Kenny's character was originally played by comedian Sonomanma Higashi.
- Captain Tenneal (John Cervenka provides the dub voice), whose name comes from the 1970s musical act Captain & Tennille, is the field marshal who conducts the contestants through each challenge with a sharp "Get it on!" Near the beginning of each MXC episode, he is seen addressing the contestants as a group, asking whether some broad assertion relating to one of the topics in the episode is true. After the contestants raise their hands to show agreement, the Captain usually declares "Well, you're wrong!", but on one occasion, the "Cops vs. Cons" episode of Season 1, he actually agreed with the contestants. He'll sometimes defend his opinion by saying, "Of course I'm right, I'm the Captain!" After further explanation and give-and-take with individual contestants, he bellows "Let's Go!" and leads the contestants forward to begin playing the games. Captain Tenneal is played by Hayato Tani. In an early episode, Captain Tenneal's character was named Sergeant Toomey, after the insane drill sergeant in Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues. The name change was dropped and the character permanently became Captain Tenneal.
- Guy LeDouche (pronounced "gee" as in "geezer"; John Cervenka provides the dub voice) is the MXC field reporter. He is portrayed wearing a pith helmet and his personality is that of a flamboyant, perverted man of suggested French descent who has a questionable sexual orientation, as he makes passes to many of the contestants he interviews, regardless of gender. Some situations, which usually involve some violence directed at Guy, he will respond with, "Guy like!" In addition to this, he is seen to have a romantic interest in Captain Tenneal, always calling him "Skipper". He has other family member interviewers who show the same behavior, such as "Lyndon" (which plays off wacky political figure Lyndon LaRouche), "Geek", "Giddy", "Gip", "Goon", "Gawp", and "Gawk", along with females named "Gay", "Grandmama", "Gab", "Gin", "Gidget", and "Gal", with an unrelated reporter named Al Frankincense. Guy is played by Junji Inagawa. The family (and Al) is voiced by John Cervenka (male) and Mary Scheer (female). Guy, and his family members, along with interviewing contestants, will also announce the games that will be played in each episode, and will sometimes explain one or more of the games' objectives.
The following are characters who have established a semi-consistent name. However, their names may change to fit in with a show's theme or style of game.
- Danny Glands (John Cervenka provides the dub voice) (a play on the name of long-time Las Vegas entertainer Danny Gans) is an MXC staffer who works in many of the games. His primary responsibilities include asking questions in Finger It (later renamed Hand Job), knocking down contestants in Brass Balls, and launching the soccer balls in Dirty Balls. Also known as Jimmy Junk, Sugar Ramos Phiss, Golden Shower Boy, Barry Sosa, and Spin. The original actor is early 1980s J-Pop star Michiru Jo; he is notably skinny, and his lack of appealing physique is often played for laughs, emphasized by his voice actor who adopts a nasal, nerdy tone.
- Skanki is a 16-foot (5 m) samurai who punishes contestants that fail to complete the Wall Bangers game.
- Chief Otto Parts (a parody of the Chief Auto Parts auto supply store chain) is an American Indian who taunts the contestants in Rotating Surfboard of Death.
- Em on Em (a spoof of rapper Eminem, as well as a play on the pornographic film term "m on m", or man on man) is an apparently gay set of twin rappers dressed in rainbow ponchos and bowler hats. Main games include Tumbling Dominos of Doom and Irritable Bowl Syndrome. Also known as "Babe and Ruth" "Bud and Pud", and "Jessie and Jackson" among others. They are played by identical twins Shoji and Shoichi Kinoshita. In one of the episodes, there was a contestant named Marshall Mathers, the real name of Eminem.
- The Babaganoosh Family is a family of contestants from the Middle East who appear in nearly every episode. The last name "Babaganoosh" became a popular running gag throughout the series. It comes from Chris Darga's Lebanese heritage where babaganoush is a popular entree.
- The Brown Spider taunts contestants in various games, including Wall Buggers and Dash to Death. Usually played by Brad Lesley (also known as Brad Leslie).
- Herbie the Steamy Pile is a strange, brown creature who taunts and sprays fallen contestants with a fire-extinguisher in Buck Off!
- The Zygote Brothers are identical characters that appear in the game Dash to Death. They attempt to distract the contestants and knock them into the water as they run through the obstacle course.
- Sporky is a character featured in the game Dash to Death. Hiding inside a jail cell near the "spinner" obstacle, Sporky taunts contestants as they pass by. If contestants fail in the area of the course around him, Sporky is usually credited with distracting the contestant into falling off the course.
- The Diddler is a character exclusive to the game Little Man in the Boat. If contestants don't go far enough on the course, The Diddler appears out of nowhere and pushes the contestant off and into the water.
Although uncredited, Jamie Alcroft was the announcer for the first four episodes of MXC before John Cervenka took over that role for the remainder of the series.
In the show, the contestants' names are usually names of celebrities, network bosses, or family members and friends of the producers or voice actors. Several recurring names appear in the show; the most common family name is Babaganoosh, since the producers of MXC were given short deadlines for producing episodes, therefore giving them limited time to write the scripts. Babaganoosh comes from Darga as his family is from the Middle East, where Baba ghanoush is the name of a local eggplant dish.
During the production of the show, the network bosses stated that they did not want the producers to repeat games from episode to episode, but the producers ignored this, knowing 1) they didn't have the rights to enough episodes at the time to not repeat, but 2) some of the games (especially "Log Rollers" and "Sinkers or Floaters") to be interesting and funny every time. Some fan-favorite and recurring games included Log Drop, Wall Bangers, Dope on a Rope, Rotating Surfboard of Death, and Sinkers and Floaters, amongst many others. Due to the high viewership and popularity of MXC in the United States, several of the original Japanese actors whose acting careers were failing at the time MXC aired in the United States got massive career re-boots because of the US fan base.
While the basic premise of MXC is that of a legitimate game show, its true premise is that of a comedy not intended to be taken literally. All original audio was stripped from each show for legal reasons, and all audio was added by producer-writers and an audio technician, leaving none of the original audio from Takeshi's Castle. The script is completely unrelated to the original Japanese dialogue; Both Abeyta and Strawther's original notes deliberately avoided any references to Japanese or Asian culture. The characters could be from Iowa. Some thought the only Japanese-related, albeit loosely, term used for the show was the name Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, which has a Japanese-like naming style. But Strawther noted that the title – pitched by Abeyta – was a spoof on network buying tendencies of the time – "Extreme sports were big and the term was being thrown around everywhere. We thought it was funny to use "Most Extreme." All the producers and writers admit that they had no knowledge of what the contestants or actors were originally saying during the filming of Takeshi's Castle. MXC's early scripts spoofed pop culture, or mocked various celebrities, athletes, sports announcers, politicians, with the occasional sexual pun. In later seasons, with network encouragement, sexual puns and references took on a much larger role, to the dismay of some of the show's producers who felt the cheap jokes led to its demise earlier than necessary. Contestants are given seemingly incongruous but humorous names and occupations based on their team and physical appearance (e.g. Sal Bloomberg from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a meat handler team member in the Season 1 episode "Meat Handlers vs. Cartoon Voice Actors", aka "Network Boss"). In addition, the various challenges are all given humorous names, such as Sinkers & Floaters or Wall Bangers. Any water or mud used in a challenge is given humorous names from Kenny and Vic, notably "septic sludge", with Kenny usually following it with a more specific name (e.g. "runoff from a local chili cook off"). The footage for a single episode of MXC can come from multiple episodes of Takeshi's Castle, and occasionally the same footage, including challenges, will be used in multiple episodes with different character names and dialogue. Unlike international editions of Takeshi's Castle, the original text that appeared on screen is left as is, with the characters often playing off of it.
Production Team Trivia: All four of the Producers / Performers / Writers on the series are alums of the famous Groundlings in Hollywood: John Cervenka, Christopher Darga, Mary Scheer, and Victor Wilson. The creators/Exec Producers Paul Abeyta and Larry Strawther had worked together at Merv Griffin Productions in the late 1970s. Strawther had worked on the company's pilots for the re-boot of Jeopardy! and Dance Fever in 1978. When both shows sold Strawther went with Jeopardy as its head writer and Abeyta came over Merv's talk show to exec produce Dance Fever. Kaikko worked for Dance Fever's distributor 20th-Century Fox and while overseeing that show he struck up a longtime friendship and business partnership with Abeyta. Strawther went on to write and produce network sitcoms, including Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Night Court and My Sister Sam and some movies like Without a Clue, but between jobs he would work with Abeyta and Kaikko on spec projects that seemed like they would be fun.
Home video releases
|Season||Region 1 DVD|
|1||October 3, 2006 (2006-10-03)|
|2||April 17, 2007 (2007-04-17)|
|3 (Half 1)||November 6, 2007 (2007-11-06)|
|3 (Half 2)||November 11, 2008 (2008-11-11)|
|4||November 11, 2008 (2008-11-11)|
The American gameshow Wipeout on ABC was accused of being "a blatant copycat" of shows such as Takeshi's Castle and Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, and a copyright infringement lawsuit was filed by Tokyo Broadcasting System against ABC in late 2008, claiming the obstacle-course game show closely resembled several Japanese shows. It alleged Wipeout violated its copyrights to shows such as Takeshi's Castle and Ninja Warrior.
The Japanese network later sued Dutch entertainment giant Endemol, which produces Wipeout.
The companies settled the case on November 30, 2011, after meeting with a federal magistrate judge in Los Angeles. No settlement terms were filed with the court.