Posted by Female Gamers on Jan 19, 2010
Taito Legends 2 – Review

Taito Legends 2 – Review

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Wouldn’t it be marvelous to have a time machine? Traveling to the future, taking a peek at what it holds. Or perhaps the other way around, traveling back in time to relive the past, making up for past mistakes or enjoying moments of nostalgia all over again. Regarding gaming, I would like to be transferred back to the late 1970s, when the first videogames became available via arcade machines. I’d like to relive my first gaming experience: when I begged my mum for a nickel and inserted it into that attractive but mysterious machine to start a virtual adventure that would affect my entire future. That would be a dream come true.

As there’s no time machine at the moment I’m glad to see that arcade game manufacturers are presenting compilations of their gaming accomplishments. Taito is one of those manufacturers that converted their original arcade games into PlayStation, Xbox and PC videogames. In this review we’re going to have a look at their latest arcade compilation: Taito Legends 2. Maybe Taito already sounds familiar—that wouldn’t be a surprise as they designed and produced ‘Space Invaders’, which was a milestone in gaming history. Ever since then, Taito have been pioneers throughout the history of arcade gaming.

Taito Legends 2. The title already reveals that this compilation contains some truly legendary arcade games. 39 games are bundled into one masterpiece to please every retro gamer or newbie gamer who wants to experience what gaming was all about back in the day. Legends 2 includes titles such as Darius Gaiden, Puzzle Bobble 2, Space Invaders DX, Crazy Balloon, Rastan 2, Qix, Alpine Ski, Football Champ, and more—a complete listing of games is available at the end of the review, but I merely wanted to highlight some of the oldest included titles here.
Lunar Rescue: The oldest game on the disc, which is dated 1979. The simplistic gameplay revolves around controlling a rescue ship that needs to land on the moon in order to save stranded astronauts. After a rescue pick-up it is then necessary to return the astronauts safely back to the waiting mother ship. The game’s difficulty factor lies in needing to avoid dangerous meteorites and UFOs during the process of rescuing the astronauts.

Crazy Balloon: This game was first released in 1980 and its gameplay has since been copied a multitude of times. It’s about precisely guiding an object through a cave. In this case, however, the object is a swaying balloon that needs to reach a certain point in the cave in order to complete the level. While it sounds easy it can be quite frustrating because whenever the balloon hits the walls of the cave you need to begin all over again from the starting point.

Qix: One of the most original games in terms of design, and one that kept me and many other gamers occupied for a long time way back in 1981. Its goal is to fill 75 percent of a square by drawing lines within it. The difficulty emerges through perilous sparkles that are moving along the lines. Also then there are a swinging bundle of lines (that’s the Qix) going through the square also. Once it hits the line you’re drawing, it is game over—at least if you’ve been hit three times.

Alpine Ski: All retro gamers recall themselves playing as the world’s ultimate virtual downhill skier. This game became available in 1982 and its gameplay has also been used many times since. Avoid objects such as trees, watch out for slippery ice, and collect as many points as possible by skiing over the numbers. And, as if avoiding dangerous objects isn’t hard enough, there’s also a timer involved too. Finish within the time limit or it’s game over.

The Fairyland Story: In 1985 gamers got the chance to control a little witch in a playfield full of lines. The witch could jump onto each line to reach the enemies. By shooting magic, they turned into cake and whenever the witch tossed the cake down the lines to the bottom of the screen, the enemies disappeared. If all of them were defeated, the stage was completed and a new stage with more complicated lines to move around became available.

Over the course of playing various videogames from 1979 to 1997, it’s remarkable to see the graphical improvement across the years. Of course, it’s totally inappropriate to compare these titles to today’s standards. The overview for the games can be listed either by date or alphabetically by title. When selecting a game, full instructions become available on one screen, which includes each controller button and its functionality, goals, how to achieve extra bonus points and lives, and, if there’s a story mode, it’s briefly explained. The result is that you don’t have to consult a vast manual because everything you need to know is available on the screen.

What counts for the graphics also counts for the sound. It improves chronologically through the compilation but the non-complicated tunes from the early ‘80s are quite funny to listen to. Sound effects have been used over and over again in all types of games, but that’s totally acceptable given the limitations at that time. In the games occupying the bracket of ‘beginning years’ the sound effects are really rather rare but, as more years go by, the number of different sound effects increases. Deaf gamers, or those with hearing difficulties, can rest assured that sound is absolutely not necessary to secure full enjoyment of all the games in Taito Legends 2.

To my surprise, lots of female characters are integrated throughout the compilation—and some even have leading roles. Who would have imagined that? Well, Taito certainly did. For example, in KiKi KaiKai priestess Sayo-chan has a leading role. It’s her duty to repel ghosts in order to rescue Seven Lucky Gods. Also, in The Fairyland Story, Ptolemy the witch uses magic to turn the monsters into cakes to defeat them. And then there’s Princess Lisa who stars in Arabian Magic, her strength is to defeat enemies at a distance with powerful attacks. Naturally, not all female characters in Taito Legends 2 have leading roles. Alas, the more common and stereotypical assigning of females and princesses needing help and/or rescuing is also in evidence. Ah, well, currently we’re already used to them. For the somewhat older female gamer who was an active gamer in ‘80s, I surely can recommend to give Taito Legends 2 a chance. Nostalgic emotion can be a wonderful experience.

With respect toTaito, we should thank them for the impact they’ve had on games, gamers, and the industry overall, and, more importantly, for giving us all a chance to experience virtual joy since as far back as the late 1970s. Taito Legends 2 sums up most of Taito’s historic games, which will provoke some priceless waves of nostalgia in players. Each genre is included on the disc, such as role-playing, puzzle, platform, fighting, and sport—so there’s a little something for everyone. No button bashing or knowledge of difficult combinations is needed to succeed, as an arcade game has a maximum of 4 buttons to press, plus a control stick—actually, a lot of the included games could originally be played by repeatedly pushing just one button and guiding the control stick. Before you can start a game, a nickel needs to be inserted—at least that’s what’s mentioned on the screen to prove that it is indeed an arcade game. Hopefully no one will take it seriously, standing in front of their PS2 with a nickel looking where to insert it. Anyway, Taito Legends 2 is an impressive retro compilation with sound and graphics just like they were back in the early years of arcade games.

Complete Taito Legends 2 games listing:
Alpine Ski, Arabian Magic, Balloon Bomber, Bonze Adventure, Cameltry, Chack ‘n Pop, Cleopatra Fortune, Crazy Balloon, Darius Gaiden, Don Doko Don, Dungeon Magic, Elevator Action Returns, The Fairyland Story, Football Champ, Front Line, G Darius, Gekirindan, Grid Seeker: Project Storm Hammer, Growl, Gun Frontier, Inspector X, KiKi KaiKai, Kuri Kinton, Legend Of Kage, Liquid Kids, Lunar Rescue, Metal Black, Nastar (Rastan 2), Puchi Carat, Puzzle Bobble 2, Qix, Raimais, Ray Storm, Space Invaders 95, Space Invaders DX, Super Space Invaders 91, Syvalion, Violence Fight, Wild Western.

Review by Wencke
Thumb Bandits European Correspondent & manager of GGU.

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