Video Game Compilation Review: Taito Legends
Today marks the beginning of a new series known as Compilation Reviews where I look at various video game compilations that I have in my collection. Compilations are a great way to experience old video games since they are usually cheap and have many games on them, especially arcade games. Many have been released over the years, mainly starting with the PlayStation 1 era, with varying results. As a general rule, compilations tend to have some well-known games to entice people to buy them, a few hidden gems, and a few games that most people probably wouldn’t get if they were not with something else they would get. There is a lot to say about some games, but not a lot to say about others. In this article, we will be looking at Taito Legends which was released in the U.S. and Europe in October 2005 for the PS2, Xbox, and PC.
As the title suggests, Taito Legends is a compilation of many arcade games that were released by Taito over the years. The interface is easy to navigate around as you move from left to right looking at the different arcade cabinets, and all of the games are listed by alphabetical order.
Some extras are included on top of the games such as the posters for some of them along with a few interviews with the developers of some of the key games in the collection, like Bubble Bobble and Space Invaders.
Battle Shark is a fun 1989 game where you take control of a ship and go through all sorts of missions in a first-person view. A few enemy and scenery variations are present, such as the underwater levels where you shoot at submarines. It’s a fun but challenging game.
Ah, Bubble Bobble. Taito’s classic 1986 title about two kids turned into dinosaurs that blow bubbles and one of the key games in this compilation. Bub and Bob must traverse one hundred rooms while defeating all sorts of enemies with the bubbles on their quest to rescue their girlfriends from a big drunk guy. While it has an okay single player mode, its main draw is its multiplayer mode since unless you’re really good, multiplayer is the only way to get all the way to the end since you have unlimited continues, unlike single player mode where once you get a game over, you have to restart. If you still want to play the game on your own or nobody else is around, you can just activate both characters and focus on one of them, giving each dinosaur continues when they run out of lives. That’s what I do, at least.
There isn’t a lot to say about Colony 7. In this 1981 game, you play as a couple of gun turrets that have to shoot a bunch of enemy ships down before they get through the shield protecting the city below and destroy it. Basically, this game is a Missile Command clone.
Continental Circus is a first-person racing game where the goal is to get to the end of the track before the time runs out. Easier said than done!
This is an interesting one. As the title suggests, you play as a yo-yo and must clear a series of rooms by collecting all of the items in them and avoiding the enemies you will come across, since you’ll die if you touch one. This game starts out fun but gets repetitive fast.
In this game, you are in a building and must go up and down the elevator while defeating crooks on every floor as they pop out of doors. This game is fun for about five minutes, then it gets repetitive.
Exzisus is a horizontal shooter where you play as a guy shooting up enemies like triangles while occasionally transforming into a ship do things like shooting up meteors. Aside from dying after only one hit, this is a pretty decent game.
In this game you play as, well, a gladiator as he fights his way through every screen confronting everyone in his path, watching as their armor falls off after he strikes them. This game is actually kind of fun and also challenging, though much of its challenge comes from the controls. The controls work in a way that certain buttons give you low, medium, and high attacks while another set does the same with the shield and both need to be controlled well if you wish to get far. I don’t know how this would have played out in arcades, but with a PS2 controller, it is quite challenging to coordinate both the attack and the defense at the same time, leading to many quick deaths.
This is a fencing game where the goal is to strike your opponent before they have a chance to strike you. Like Gladiator, you have a low, medium, and high attack depending on the button you press. I was actually surprised by how fun this game is, though it is pretty challenging to land a hit on your opponent. Your opponent doesn’t seem to have trouble landing a hit on you, though.
This 1982 title is one of the earliest platformers and quite a good one. You’ll have some fun swinging across vines, jumping over logs and swimming underwater while killing sharks with a knife.
The New Zealand Story
This is a pretty good 1988 game where you play as a kiwi chick armed with a bow who has to travel all over New Zealand to rescue his friends after they were captured by an evil walrus. This is a fun platformer, though there are some odd bits like the pointless heaven section after you lose all of your lives in certain areas which essentially restarts the level you are on. If you are looking for a good challenge, this is the game for you.
The Ninja Kids
This is not to be confused with the similarly titled Ninja Kid for the NES. I was quite impressed by this 1990 beat-em-up. In this game, you play as a group of ninjas who have to fight against a group that turns people into monsters and are trying to revive The Devil. You get to choose from a couple of different ninjas with different skillsets, such as one who uses swords and another who uses throwing stars, in this game that is fun and challenging from the start all the way to the fight with The Devil all with a fun art style. I highly recommend playing this game.
Operation Thunderbolt is an on-rails shooter where the goal is to take down a group of terrorists. It’s a pretty decent one though, and it is also challenging especially when you have to defeat enemies while attempting to rescue hostages. Just make sure you don’t shoot any of the hostages.
This 1987 game is another arcade shooter where you must shoot at everything in sight and hope you don’t shoot any good characters or run out of ammo, or your game will end real quick. The gameplay is actually quite similar to Operation Thunderbolt, which isn’t surprising given that it is a sequel to this game. Though in this case, I think the sequel is better than the original.
This 1980 arcade game, with a fun Atari 2600 port I might add, is structured like Space Invaders as you shoot down enemies while blocking their attacks with your shields. Just be careful around the giant birds since you have to destroy them in parts.
Plotting is a strange puzzle game where you must shoot a block at a stack of other blocks and hope to match the pattern of the block you shoot at it. This is not a highlight of the compilation.
Plump Pop is a pretty fun game where you play as two circus performers who must bounce a third performer off of a trampoline and hit the UFOs above them. This is actually a clone of Exidy’s 1977 game, Circus, which in itself is a variation of Breakout. One of the only main differences between Circus and Plump Pop is that the former uses a seesaw while the latter uses a trampoline to launch the circus performer.
The first sequel to Bubble Bobble with a different style of gameplay than the first. Instead of playing as dinosaurs who blow bubbles and save their girlfriends from a big drunk guy, you play as Bub and Bob in their human forms and they shoot rainbows to use as platforms to make your way up the end of each stage as you travel across several islands with varying themes. This is a really good game and a worthy sequel to Bubble Bobble. Note: While all of these games are unaltered arcade emulations, this one is the slightly modified since the infamous “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” background music has been removed and replaced.
Rastan is a sword and sorcery game where you play as a Conan wannabe who fights against all sorts of mythological creatures such as chimeras. If you like sword and sorcery games along with beat-em-ups, you might like this game or will have access to a better game of this nature.
Space Gun is a somewhat gory on-rails shooter (I’m noticing a trend here, Taito!) where you have to shoot up a bunch of aliens while avoiding hostages. There isn’t a lot to say about this one since it’s yet another arcade shooter in this collection, though not quite as fun as a game like Operation Thunderbolt.
Would this compilation be complete without one of the most important video games of all time and the one that started a trend of space themed arcade games? Probably not. In this highly influential shooter, you play as a ship protected by three destructible shields who has to shoot down the aliens above before they reach the ground. This compilation contains two more Space Invaders variants including Space Invaders Part II, which is literally the same game with colored strips to give it the illusion of color, along with 1985’s Return of the Invaders which can best be described as Space Invaders with updated graphics since there isn’t much more to say about that one.
In this sequel to Taito’s 1981 game Qix, you must move a diamond around the screen to reveal pieces of a drawing while avoiding enemies such as skulls and some sort of green demon. It is a pretty fun game with a unique concept.
Thunderfox is a beat-em-up where you must defeat a group of terrorists armed with only a knife, though you can pick up other weapons such as a machine gun and a flamethrower from time to time. You can even use air vehicles in certain stages along with a jet ski. Thunderfox is a fun game with a trend I have noticed in many arcade games where you start from where you die except, conveniently, at the final boss. It’s still a good game, though.
Tokio is a vertical shooter where you play as an airplane that shoots its way through many enemies in the air and on the ground. You even fly above the clouds a few times and face enemies there too. It feels similar to Capcom’s 1942, complete with the one hit deaths and the strange respawn system.
Tube It is a puzzle game where the goal is to connect two ends together in whatever way you can and with as many pipes as possible before the pipes fill up the screen, ending the game just like most puzzle games. This is a fun and addicting game, and one where I could easily lose a couple of hours playing like most puzzle games.
This game is a follow-up to Super Qix and has the same goal of revealing the drawing while moving your character around the screen. The graphics have been updated since Super Qix and now has a sci-fi motif. There are some new enemies this time around such as these little creatures running around along with a robotic worm.
Finishing off the collection is this game where you play as the titular zookeeper who has to run around a rectangle with a cage, jumping over animals while trying to keep as many animals in the rectangles as possible until the timer for each stage runs out. After a few stages, you have to rescue who I assume is the zookeeper’s girlfriend in bonus stages heavily inspired by Donkey Kong. The game starts out fun, but it gets repetitive after a few stages.
And that’s Taito Legends, a rather assorted collection of games stuffed into a PS2 CD. Is it worth tracking a copy down if you still own a PS2 or original Xbox? I think it is since there are a few heavy hitters like Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble, along with other fun games like Plump Pop, Tube It, and Thunderfox. Having all of those games on one disc makes it more than worth it to get it even with the few less than stellar games that snuck onto the disc. My final verdict for Taito Legends is:
While there are some really good games here, some of the questionable entries along with the interface to a lesser extent keeps this compilation from truly shining. I hope you enjoyed this look at Taito Legends and will join me in the future as I look at some other compilations, including the follow-up to this one at some point.