Taito Legends 2

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 65/100

Taito Legends 2 Review
Publisher: Empire Interactive / Taito
Developer: Taito
Format Reviewed: PS2
Reviewed by: Wencke Schuncken

Wouldn't it be marvelous to have a time machine? Traveling to the future, peeking what the future is all about. Or the other way around, traveling back into time to re-live the past, making up for any possible mistakes, enjoying nostalgic moments for real, etc. Regarding gaming I would like to be transferred back to the late seventies when the first videogames became available via arcade machines! I want to re-live my first gaming experience, begging my mum for a nickel and inserting it into that attracting but mysterious machine to start my virtual adventure which will affect my whole 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 games. Taito is one of those manufacturers which converted their originally arcade games to Playstation, Xbox and PC games. 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 / produced Space Invaders. It was a milestone in gaming history and ever since Taito have been pioneers in the history of arcade gaming.

Taito Legends 2. The title already reveals that this game contains some legendary arcade games. 39 games are bundled into one masterpiece to please every retro gamer or newbee gamer who wants to experience what gaming was all about back in the days. Legends 2 includes titles such as Darius Gaiden, Puzzle Bobble 2, Space Invaders DX, Crazy Balloon, Rastan 2, Qix, Alpine Ski, Football Champ, etc. A full listing of the games is mentioned at the end of the review. But I want to highlight some of the oldest games.

Lunar Rescue: The first game is dated 1979. The gameplay is about controlling a rescue ship which needs to land on the moon to rescue stranded astronauts. After a rescue pick-up it is necessary to bring the astronauts safely back to the mothership. The difficulty factor is that you need to avoid any meteorites and UFO’s while rescuing the astronauts.

Crazy Balloon: This game has been released in 1980 and its gameplay has been copied multiple times. It’s about precisely leading an object through a cave. In this case it’s a swinging balloon which need to reach a certain point in the cage to win the level. It sounds easy but it can be quite frustrating because whenever it hits the walls of the cave you need to start all over again from the starting point!

Qix: One of the most original designed games which kept me occupied for a long time and I’m convinced that many enjoyed this game back in 1981. It’s goal is to fill 75 percent of a square by drawing lines in it. A difficulty factor is that on the lines sparkles are moving which can hit you. Also there’s a swinging bundle of lines (that's the qix) going through the square. Once it hits the line you’re drawing, it’s game over. At least if you’ve been hit three times!

Alpine Ski: Every retro recall him- or herself playing the ultimate virtual downhill skier. This game became available in 1982 and its gameplay also has been used multiple times ever since. Avoid objects such as trees, watch out for slippery ice and collect as many points as possible by skiing over the numbers. As if avoiding of objects isn’t hard enough, there’s also a timer involved. Finish in time 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.

While playing games from 1979 to 1997 it's remarkable to see the graphical improvement during the years. Of course it's totally inappropriate to compare these to today's standard. See how Taito was able to get a more color scheme in the games and how 2D graphics changed into 3D. Of course if you look at the dates it took years to develop the 3D games but glad they managed! The games' overview can be listed by date or alphabetically by title. If you select a game a full instruction becomes available on one single screen; each controller button and its functionality, goals, how to achieve extra bonus points / lives and if there’s a story mode, it briefly will be explained. The result is that you don’t have to consult a manual because everything you need to know is available on the screen!

What counts for the graphics also counts for the sound. It improves while years go by but the non-complicated tunes from the early eighties are quite funny to listen too; happy simplistic tunes. Sound effects have been used over and over again in all types of games, but that’s acceptable. In the “beginning years” the sound effects are rather rare but as more years go by the number of different sound effects increases. People which are deaf or having hearing difficulties, be assured that sound is absolutely not needed to be able to play all of the games.

To my surprise lots of female characters are integrated in the game or even have a leading role. Who would imagine that? Well, Taito for sure! 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” a leading role is played by Ptolemy the Witch who uses magic to turn the monsters into cakes and to defeat them. And what about Princess Lisa starring in Arabian Magic. She teams up and her strength is to defeat enemies at a distance with powerful attacks. Of course not all females can have a leading role. Also the common uses of female characters took place such as princesses which needed help. Ah well, currently we’re already used to them. For the somewhat older female gamer who was an active gamer in the eighties, I surely can recommend to give Taito Legends 2 a chance. Nostalgic emotions can be a wonderful experience!

With respect we should thank Taito for giving us a change to experience virtual joy since the late seventies and its impact on gamers and the games business overall. Taito Legends sums up most of their impressive games which can cause some good nostalgic feelings. Each genre is included such as role playing, puzzle, platform, fighting and sport. No button bashing or knowledge of difficult combinations is needed to succeed as an arcade game has a maximum of 4 buttons to control plus a control stick. Actually a lot of games could be played by pushing only one button and handling 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 a PS2 with a nickel looking where to insert it. Anyway the game is a good retro compilation with sound and graphics just like it was in the early videogame years.

Complete Playstation 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, Insector 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