Taito Legends review
Taito's retro package has big hits & big misses

The good:

Almost 30 arcade classics perfectly restored. Includes some interviews with the original game designers. Simple but addicting gameplay.

The bad:

No online scoreboards. Several notable games were left out. Not a lot of bonus material. Slightly sluggish controls. Some of the games aren't very playable.


The latest game to jump on the retro bandwagon, Taito Legends (produced by Sega & Empire, surprisingly not Digital Eclipse) brings a new generation of gamers a compilation of titles produced by Taito, considered perhaps the top arcade/coin-op game producer of the 1970s & 1980s. This compilation features 29 games starting with 1978's "Space Invaders", Taito's very first game, and mostly features 1980s titles but some as recent as 1993.

The graphics in the games are arcade-perfect, ranging from rather simple in the older games to more modern-looking in the more recent titles. There's no flickering or slowdown in any of the games, although being able to adjust the ratios and display styles is nice but a little too complex at times. One minor complaint is that the games were designed to be displayed on older-model TVs, so if you're playing on a flatscreen TV and pause to adjust the screen size, the screen doesn't appear to be perfectly square. Sounds are perfectly converted as well although in some of the games, there is very slight lag time between performing an action and the corresponding sound effect. Nothing that affects gameplay but it's kinda funny. Several of the games also feature speech & voiceovers which normally are good, but Operation Wolf & Operation Thunderbolt's voices are so cheerful-sounding that it's downright hilarious. The music for the games is good but you might want to turn the volume down when playing Phoenix, that game's music can be quite nerve-wracking at times. Controls for the games are generally simple, often just one or two buttons, but since they're converted from the arcade originals they will feel a little sluggish at times. On the FPS games there is a nice option to adjust the sensitivity of the analog settings to make moving the shooting sight slower or faster, a nice but really not needed touch. Gameplay is generally simple but fun and addicting; Most of these games are platform/action games or shooters with a handful of puzzle titles thrown in, plus one racing game. Several games allow 2 player gameplay, either alternating or simultaneously. Some of the games, like Bubble Bobble & Rainbow Islands, are lots of fun to play but a couple, most notably Gladiator & Great Swordsman, are little more than filler material. The puzzle games, especially Plotting & Tube-It, are very hard to stop playing once you've gotten into them. And while it's nice that the Space Invaders games are included, one has to wonder if 3 versions are really needed. One negative for older gamers is that this collection omitted several major Taito hits from the 1980s, specifically the puzzle game Qix (Super Qix is included but it's not really the same), the Breakout-style action game Arkanoid (one of Taito's biggest hits of all-time), and the driving/pursuit game Chase H.Q. The Space Invaders games and some other could have easily been left out in favor of one or more of these games. There also is some historical material-a handful or original Japanese sales fliers and some interview clips with some of the game's creators (in Japanese, also featuring cool footage of Taito-only arcades in Japan), but there aren't enough of either to satisfy most players. Also missing are online scoreboards for players to post their top scores and compare them against other players.

While it's not the definitive collection some gamers were maybe hoping for, this collection still packs a lot of games into one disc for $20, and there are certainly more good games here than there are bad ones. Retro collectors should definitely pick up this piece of gaming history.

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