We gathered in the Gateway room. X-PO was doing his Rider chance, but I could tell he wasn’t into it, despite the music going on. “And today’s riders are…” X-PO began. The hands spun and landed on… “Hiroki!”
“All right!” said Hiroki.
“…and Livia!” announced X-PO.
“Yes!” called Livia. They took their places.
“Away we go!” I declared. “For Rusty!”
“FOR RUSTY!” everyone said. We charged into the portal and traveled to a lunar landscape with a base and…what the? The whole place was pixilated! We were in 8-bit! Gandalf’s mouth moved, but random noise came out. A text box appeared beneath him.
“What is this place?” read the text box. Wyldstyle tried to speak but was met with the same noise. Another text box appeared.
“And what happened to your voice?” read the new text box. I made the same noise as I moved my mouth and another text box appeared.
“Er, guys,” it read, “I think the noise is us speaking and the text boxes are translating for us.”
“What kind of place would do this?” read a text box for Hiroki’s noise.
“I don’t know,” replied Batman’s text box.
“DUCK!” called Wyldstyle. A green saucer nearly swiped us! Something shot it and Gandalf cast a shield to defend us from the…pixels. A pair of green tripods with yellow centers and eyes flew above us, but something shot them. Once the shooting stopped, Gandalf lowered his shield. Wyldstyle picked up one of the pixels from the saucer.
“This doesn’t make any sense,” I muttered. “It’s almost like…like we’re in a video game.” The pixel faded.
“…That is the single most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” rasped Batman. Wyldstyle then felt a buzz in her pocket. She pulled out her scanner and used it on a bronze pixel floating above the base that hadn’t faded.
“I’ll tell you what I DO know, though,” she called. “THAT’S the Foundation Element!” Another saucer grabbed it.
“So, how do we get it?” asked Batman.
“Well,” muttered Hiroki, “if this IS a video game, then we play!”
“I know what game we’re in!!” cheered Livia. “This is Defender! It’s a horizontally scrolling shoot ‘em up where you control a fighter ship and defend this world from waves of invading aliens while saving astronauts!” We then heard a banging on the door from the base behind us. We turned to see a young man in a doctor’s uniform banging on the door. He had some fancy stethoscope hanging from his neck. Hiroki’s eyes went wide.
“Hōjō Emu!” he yelped.
“Let me guess, another Rider?” I asked.
“He’s the title Rider of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid!” explained Hiroki. “We gotta get him out!”
“There’s a vent here,” observed Hongo. “Scale Keystone, activate! Lessen Scale of Hiroki!” Hiroki crawled into the vent and ended up on the other side. “Normalize Scale of Hiroki!” said Hongo. Hiroki pressed a button and released himself and Emu.
“Thank you, everyone!” called Emu’s text box. “I was busy with hospital work one minute, then a blue hole opened beneath me and I was trapped here! Thank goodness I still have my Gamer Driver.”
“We need to help other people to get that pixel down,” I told Emu. “Will you help?”
“Of course!” replied Emu. We headed to the right and found some poor guy surrounded by fire.
“Elemental Keystone, activate!” announced Gandalf. “Element of water, Hongo!” Hongo was surrounded in a blue aura and doused the fire. The person was…oh, good grief! It was a fat, short guy with a black moustache and red clothing with blue overalls! His hat was red and had a white circle with a red ‘M’ on the front. Emu goggled.
“Jumpman?!” he called. “I think there’s a Gashat based on the original game he was in!”
“Jumpman?” asked the man we rescued. “Haven’t-a been called-a that in a while.” Livia twitched.
“I forgot how cringy your accent is!” she gulped.
“I’ll-a have you know I’m a real Italian!” snapped the man. Livia and the man argued in agitated Italian.
“If you please!” I protested.
“You said you weren’t called Jumpman in a while,” interjected Batman. “What’s your name?” We all goggled at Batman.
“You never played the Super Mario series when you were a kid?” I yelped.
“Oh, yeah,” remembered Emu. “You changed your name a while ago. Mario, is it?”
“It’s-a me, Mario!” said Nintendo’s mascot.
“What are you doing in Defender?” asked Hiroki.
“I-a don’t know,” muttered Mario. “One minute, I was-a having a picnic with-a Peach. Then, we get-a sucked in here!”
“Peach is here too?!” I called.
“Is this-a Bowser’s plan?” asked Mario.
“No, someone above him,” I answered.
“Not another god-a-like being!” moaned Mario.
“HEY!” shouted a voice. It was coming from another base. “Get away from me!” said another video game mascot. It was a blue creature with red sneakers, white gloves, green, connected eyes, and a black nose.
“SONIC!” called Mario. “Hold on! I’ll-a save you!”
“Allow me!” offered Gandalf. He used his magic to make the attacking creature explode. The pixels vanished.
“Hey, thanks!” called Sonic the Hedgehog.
“Sonic, what are you-a doing here?!” asked Mario.
“Mario! Hey, buddy!” greeted Sonic. “I was just stomping Eggman, as usual, and then a portal opened beneath me. I don’t know what Egg-breath’s up to, but…”
“This isn’t Eggman’s doing,” I answered.
“Help me!” called another voice. It was a petite woman’s voice.
“Isn’t that Peach’s voice?” asked Sonic.
“There she is!” answered Mario as he pointed to the voice’s source. A blonde woman in a pink dress was trapped by machinery.
“Mario!” called the woman. “Help me!”
“I-a got you!” replied Mario as he leapt onto the machine. The attack didn’t do much good.
“Let me do it!” called Emu. “I’ll change Princess Peach’s fate with my own hands!” He then brought out a pink trinket, a Gashat, like Dr. Kagami used. He pressed the activation button.
“MIGHTY ACTION X!” shouted the Gashat. The game’s start screen appeared as blocks looking like chocolate squares came in.
“Henshin!” announced Emu as he put the Gashat into the Gamer Driver.
“GASHATTO!” called the Driver. “Let’s game! Meccha Game! Mucha Game! What’s your name?! I’m a Kamen Rider!” Emu became Ex-Aid and…BWA HA HA HA! Irina was right! Level 1 Gamer Riders look absurd. While Brave had a knight’s theme going, Ex-Aid had spiky, pink hair and a clear visor! Ex-Aid jumped up on the blocks and then on the machine but met with the same results as Mario.
“Okay,” he muttered, “that might have been a bout of clinical insanity.”
“I’ve got an idea,” I called. “Locate Keystone, activate! Initiate Rift detection!” I found it a few feet from the machine. “Identify source of rift!” The information beamed into my head. “Locate help from 8-4-C-K-T-0-T-H-3-F-U-T-U-R-3!” Just then, the DeLorean flew through the rift!
“Great Scott!” shouted the driver. The Time Machine smashed through the machine and freed Peach. It then vanished.
“I thought…the Flux…” I muttered.
“The one Vortech has was from the Time Train, remember?” reminded Hiroki.
“Oh, right, right,” I said.
“Thank you!” said Peach.
“HELP!” yelled a man. An alien was carrying him. He had wavy hair, pixel style pants, and a jacket.
“PARADO!” called Ex-Aid. “Dai Henshin!” He then opened his Gamer Driver.
“GACHĀN! LEVEL UP!” announced the belt. He jumped into the air, kicked, then his armor flew off and his level 1 head became a backpack. “Mighty jump! Mighty kick! Mighty! MIGHTY ACTION X!” Wow, his suit was pink! He still had the health bar on his chest as he leapt up to get Parado. The alien kept him out of reach. I then saw a seedling.
“Gandalf!” I called.
“Elemental Keystone, activate!” announced Gandalf. “Element of earth, Emu!”
“Ex-Aid!” corrected Ex-Aid. He was surrounded in a green aura. “What am I supposed to do with this?!”
“Point your hands at the seedling!” I instructed. Ex-Aid did so. He made a giant hand grow and flick the alien away. It dropped Parado as Ex-Aid caught him. Parado looked up. He then gave an impish grin.
“My hero!” he joked. He then kissed Ex-Aid.
“Oh, YUCK!” protested Ex-Aid as he dropped Parado. “Must you?!”
“Well, must you drop me, Emu?” laughed Parado as he picked himself up. He then saw us. “Who are you?”
“Your enemies, that’s who!” declared Hiroki. “Henshin!” He then rushed at Parado, who dodged and gave another grin.
“My turn,” he chuckled. He drew out what looked like two Gashats pressed together with a yellow dial on the front and different labels for games on them. He turned the dial to the left so one label was down.
“PERFECT PUZZLE!” announced the strange Gashat. It then gave weird techno music as it looped on “What’s the next stage?”
“Henshin!” called Parado. He pressed a button on the Gashat.
“Dual up!” it announced. An image of a suit popped up. The suit was pixelated black and white. The armor had a gold chest piece with puzzle pieces in the center, blue shoulder pads, and a blue helmet with a gold turtleneck attachment around the neck. “Get the glory in the chain! PERFECT PUZZLE!” The image went over Parado and he was IN the suit. He put the Gashat into a holder on his right hip.
“Kamen Rider Para-DX,” (pronounced like paradox) introduced Parado. “Level 50!” He then charged at Sengoku. Sengoku raised his katana and swung but missed. “Missed me!” taunted Para-DX.
“I won’t this time, Bugster!” declared Sengoku.
“Yameru!” (Stop!) called Ex-Aid. He then summoned a large hammer with an A and B button.
“GASHACON BREAKER!” announced the weapon. Ex-Aid pressed the B button. “Ja Kīn!” (sound effect for sword being drawn) called the weapon as a pink sword blade folded out and stopped Sengoku’s katana.
“Ex-Aid, the Americans have a saying for people like you,” hissed Sengoku. “Want to know what it is?”
“What is it?” asked Ex-Aid.
“ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR GOURD?!” shouted Sengoku. “That’s Para-DX! A Bugster! Your enemy!”
“Not anymore!” argued Ex-Aid. Sengoku’s sword stopped moving against Ex-Aid’s.
“What?” asked Sengoku.
“We beat Kamen Rider Cronus,” explained Ex-Aid as he relaxed his weapon. “Parado started to regret causing humans to suffer game disease and so joined CR. For a while, after we made a Gamedeus vaccine, he used it on himself as well as Poppy. Together, we beat Cronus! There’s still a need for us, but the game disease outbreak is taken care of.” Sengoku’s eyes went wide.
“Are you telling me…” he gulped.
“Yep, there’s a new Rider carrying on the fight,” confirmed Ex-Aid. “I think he’s called Build.” Sengoku twitched.
“………KAMEN RIDER EX-AID’S OVER AND I MISSED IT?! NNNOOOOOO!” Sengoku screamed a scream only fans could reach.
“So, you’re our friend?” I asked Para-DX.
“If you want to call us that,” he said as he cancelled his transformation. Ex-Aid and Sengoku did the same.
“Why don’t we start over?” I suggested. “I’m Queen Megumi Hishikawa of the Vortex Riders. The one who tried to carve out Parado’s flesh is my brother, Prince Hiroki, a major Kamen Rider fanboy.”
“Hello,” he mumbled.
“This is Lady Livia Acqua, a fan of retro games like this one,” I continued.
“Hello!” she said pleasantly.
“This is Batman, the World’s Greatest Detective,” I went on.
“Hi,” grunted Batman.
“This is Gandalf of the Istari,” I introduced.
“Greetings!” called Gandalf.
“This is Wyldstyle, the Master Builder,” I went on.
“Hi!” greeted Wyldstyle.
“This is Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega’s mascot,” I continued.
“Yo! What’s up!” called Sonic.
“This is Mario, Nintendo’s Mascot,” I went on.
“It’s-a me! Mario!” cheered Mario
“This is Princess Peach of the Mushroom Kingdom,” I continued.
“Good day!” called Peach.
“And, this is Takeshi Hongo, the first Kamen Rider,” I finished.
“Hello, young Emu,” greeted Hongo.
“I’m Hōjō Emu, Kamen Rider Ex-Aid and Genius Gamer M,” introduced Emu.
“And I’m Parado, the one that helps Emu as Genius Gamer M,” continued Parado. All of a sudden, we heard victory music!
“GAME CLEAR!” announced a voice. We then looked up to see an image of a number 5 covered by a checkmark! But, the saucer still had the pixel!
“I’m done playing!” snapped Batman as he got a batarang ready. He then tossed it at the saucer, a mistake, in hindsight. The saucer fired on us as Gandalf cast a shield. It kept hammering us with laser fire!
“I…can’t…keep this…up!” strained Gandalf. All of a sudden, a rocket came by and fired on the saucer.
“That’s the rocket the player controls!” called Livia.
“We really ARE in Defender!” cheered Ex-Aid.
“You’ve played this game?” I asked.
“I’ve played a lot of games,” replied Ex-Aid. The rocket then turned the saucer into pixels. The bronze pixel floated down.
“Game over,” rasped Batman. We went to get the pixel, but a portal opened and deposited a person in blue thief robes.
“Who’s that?” asked Gandalf. The person then took the pixel and laughed!
“HEY!” shouted Wyldstyle. We followed him into another portal. We ended up in a labyrinth with items littering the place. Our sprites looked like 16-bit ones.
“This is new,” mused Peach. She then saw someone! The thief!
“You there! Stop, thief!” called Gandalf. The thief just laughed.
“You can’t catch me!” boasted the thief. He ran off!
“You wanna bet?!” snapped Batman.
“Friends can join in any time!” called a voice. Livia’s eyes went wide.
“We’re in Gauntlet!” she realized. “No wonder the thief looked so familiar! I thought he only stole potions.”
“Gauntlet?” asked Emu. “The hack-and-slash fantasy game? I never got the chance to play it!”
“Well, now we’re in it,” mused Sonic.
“Let’s-a go!” called Mario.
“Mario! Hold on!” warned Livia. Mario stopped and turned. “Gauntlet has enemies out the wazoo. We need to be ready.” Hongo then got into his pose as we got our i.d tags out.
“Rider…” began Hongo. I then heard “MIGHTY ACTION X!” and “PERFECT PUZZLE! What’s the next stage?”
“HENSHIN!” we all called.
“GASHATTO!” announced Emu’s Gashat. He then opened the Gamer Driver. “GACHĀN! LEVEL UP! Mighty jump! Mighty kick! Mighty! MIGHTY ACTION X!”
“Dual up!” called Parado’s Gashat. “Get the glory in the chain! PERFECT PUZZLE!” We got ready for a fight and charged. I heard spin dashes and saw Sonic running circles around the enemies.
“Hey! HEY! Slow it down-a, Sonic!” protested Mario.
“No way, squeaky!” joked Sonic. “This is how the professionals do it!”
“SQUEAKY?!” snapped Mario as he jumped on a goblin and got a key. “It’s-a my trademark voice! Something you don’t have, given that your-a voice actors changed over the years! That’s-a why I’m always the one saving Peach!”
“It’s also the reason why you don’t talk in any of your games!” argued Sonic.
“Hm, pretty strong words, coming from-a the pincushion with a psycho fangirl and the angriest fanbase!” mused Mario.
“Well, it beats being a falsetto squawking midget!” laughed Sonic.
“OH YEAH?!” snapped Mario as he grabbed Sonic and headbutted him.
“Dude, Smash moves?! Really?!” protested Sonic.
“Can we do this later?!” snapped Ex-Aid as he smacked enemies aside. We made it to the exit, but a portal opened and we were in another labyrinth. We fought our way through it and collected keys. Gandalf found an exit sign. I then got an idea.
“Guys, we can use this to get to the thief!” I called. We used the exit, went through another labyrinth and used that exit to arrive near the thief! He took off, but we cornered him. Then…another rift opened beneath us. …This is gonna take some getting used to.