This old-school bundle revives 29 arcade classics from influential Space Invaders creator, Tatio. Included are authentically re-created versions of the following coin-op games: Battle Shark, Bubble Bobble, Colony 7, Continental Circus, The Electric Yo-Yo, Elevator Action, Exzisus, Gladiator, Great Swordsman, Jungle Hunt, The New Zealand Story, Ninja Kid, Operation Thunderbolt, Operation Wolf, Phoenix, Plotting, Plump Pop, Rainbow Islands, Rastan, Return of the Invaders, Space Gun, Space Invaders, Space Invaders Part II, Super Qix, Thunder Fox, Tokio, Tube It, Volfied, and Zoo Keeper.
Retro game compilations have descended upon the games industry like wrinkly retirees in polyester pants upon a Florida beach community. It seems there's plenty of room for them, though, if for no other reason than simple economics. The prospect of a dozen or more games on a budget-priced disc is a compelling offer for most gamers.
Needless to say, the quality of the games being compiled makes or breaks a collection. That makes Taito Legends difficult to judge, because it mixes genuine classics with genuine bombs...and a ton of totally off-the-wall stuff that most gamers will have never heard of. I pretty much made the arcade my second home throughout the '80s, but I have to admit "Exzisus" is a new one on me.
The overall balance of quality is definitely positive, though. For every dud like Great Swordsman (a stiff, limited fencing simulator) there's at least one classic like Space Invaders...and probably two or three decent beneath-the-radar titles like Volfied. The presentation is above-average as well -- no needless flashiness, no oblique front end to navigate, just a simple list of titles with bass-thumping arcade-style sounds effects. Many titles feature bonus goodies which range from artwork to videos. (The interview with Bubble Bobble's creator being a particularly savory bonus.)
Much of the fun of Taito Legends comes from exploring some of the more obscure titles and discovering that many of them really aren't too shabby -- or at the very least, they're so odd as to be worth the time regardless. Thunder Fox, for instance, is sort of the neanderthal link between Rush 'N' Attack and Metal Slug, a nearly-brawler-ish running shooter that sometimes let you hop into a tank or aircraft to blow away your foes. It's weird, but not as weird as Ninja Kids, a shameless Ninja Turtles clone made far more palatable thanks to its bizarre marionette-like feel to the characters and deliriously surreal dialogue. "You will be servants of THE SATAN. Here is a graveyard of you!"
There's long-term staying power to this collection as well, stemming from the actual honest-to-god classics -- the half-dozen titles which could legitimately be termed classics. Elevator Action is still good fun (though the absence of its sequel, compiled on the Japanese release, is sorely felt); and Bubble Bobble will forever be addictive with a friend in tow. The true stand-out gem is probably New Zealand Story, a quirkily cute platformer with a certain Bubble Bobble dynamic and an ever-changing selection of weapons and flying devices for your unassuming kiwi hero to collect.
There's plenty of good, plenty of bad and plenty of weird on Taito Legends. The games are reproduced well, too, if not precisely up to arcade perfection. And while the selection could be better, anyone who digs the classics (and not-quite-classics) could find far worse things to drop a double-sawbuck on.
People who downloaded Taito Legends have also downloaded:
Taito Legends 2, Namco Museum 50th Anniversary, Atari Anniversary Edition, William's Arcade Classics, Atari: 80 Classic Games in One!, Atari Arcade Hits, Microsoft Revenge of Arcade, Microsoft Return of Arcade
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