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Taito Legends

Reviewed by: Tanner WhiteMedia: CD-ROM
Released by: Empire Interactive/SegaStatus: Out of Print
Platform: Sony PlayStation 2Number of games: 29
Year released: 2005Players: 1-2 (alternating/simultaneous)

Games included:
Space InvadersSpace Invaders Part 2Return of the InvadersBubble BobbleRainbow Islands
Operation WolfOperation ThunderboltElevator ActionPhoenixZoo Keeper
Battle SharkColony 7Continental CircusElectric Yo-YoVolfied
GladiatorThe New Zealand StoryThe Ninja KidsJungle HuntTokio
Plump PopTube ItGreat SwordsmanSpace GunSuper Qix

I remember when I was about 5 or 6 years old, me and my brother were at an arcade/pizza place in Amarillo, TX. We would skim through the arcade cabinets available to us, stopping at ones that were familiar to us, and playing them. That day, one game always stood out to me. It was a side scrolling action game where you played as a musclebound barbarian murdering various mythical creatures. Me and my brother were huge Conan the Barbarian fans so this was fascinating to us and I loved to watch him play it. I never knew the name of the game for the longest time until around high school. I had downloaded an arcade emulator and I was browsing the inventory of ROM's the website had and I saw one by the name of Rastan. Something about it piqued my interest so I downloaded it and the memories came flooding back. This was it! This was the barbarian game me and my brother loved so much!
Rastan: Probably the most awesome game on this compilation. Who needs Conan when Rastan's around?

I pretty much had the same reaction when I came across Taito Legends for Playstation 2. I saw the list of games on the back of the case and once my eyes met Rastan I was sold. Taito Legends is a very neat a well put together collection of arcade classics. Not just Rastan, but Bubble Bobble, Space Invaders, Rainbow Islands, Operation Wolf, and other great classics I grew up with as a kid accompany other interesting, and even strange, arcade titles.
The New Zealand Story: A kiwi bird with a bow and arrow. That's just awesome on so many different levels.

As far as emulation is concerned, they all play perfectly.......on a PS2. I tried the game on a backwards-compatible Playstation 3 and some of the titles ran very sluggishly or had graphical errors. The Playstation 3's backwards compatibility was hit and miss with some other games I owned so this came as no surprise to me. On a Playstation 2, I had no real problems with any of the games on the disc. The interface is well designed and easy to understand, with all the games being represented as their respective arcade cabinets. The controls are easy to get used to and work fairly fluidly with all of the games. With extras, you get some interviews with designers on select titles, descriptions of the game, and some of the original artwork and flyers that accompanied the games.
The Ninja Kids: Someone that worked on this game really hates hippies. Which is fine by me, because I do too. DIE HIPPIES!

The game selection is very impressive, but I wondered where some of the other Taito titles were such as any of the Darius games or the Bust-A-Move series (also known as Puzzle Bobble). Some of the titles do appear later in Taito Legends 2, but we will get to that one at a later time. Aside from the well known titles, the other quirky games such as New Zealand Story and The Ninja Kids caught my interest and ended up being some of the best titles on the compilation. One in particular that caught my eye and I played the most out of on the entire collection was Great Swordsman. You play several rounds of various forms of sword fighting against some of the most anger-inducing AI I have ever encountered. The controls are easy enough, you can move left and right, and you have three attacks, high, middle, and low. You have to score a hit on your opponent to gain a point, and depending on the style you are playing, enough points moves you on to the next round. You start off in fencing, then move on to Kendo which is as far as I can get. The AI can get so cheap and the hit detection can be off. There were times when the AI scored a point and they were nowhere near to a hit, and other times when my sword is clearly going through their skull, but their hit which was about 5 pixels away from my leg scored. It's annoying and frustrating, but something about it kept me playing it again and again. It was just something so unique that I had never played before.
Great Swordsman: Good thing these guys are wearing facemasks, eh?

Overall, Taito Legends is one of the better compilations out there. It includes childhood classics, as well as some fantastic titles you have never heard of. I highly recommend picking it up if you happen to locate a copy.
Bubble Bobble: PUSH 2P. NICE 2P. You know the six year old in you wants to giggle uncontrollably right now.

Worth the purchase: Definitely. Not too expensive and you get plenty of awesome games.

Diversity: Games of all types. Action, puzzle, platforming, shooting, and sword fighting.

Playability: If you play on a PS2, you will have no problems. PS3 is hit and miss.

Hidden gems: The New Zealand Story, The Ninja Kids, Great Swordsman

Screenshots courtesy of The International Arcade Museum.