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Taito Legends 2
Graphics: 7
Gameplay: 6.6
Sound: 7
Control: 6.3
Replay Value: 6.7
Rating: 6.6
Publisher: Taito/Empire Interactive
Developer: Taito/Atomic Planet
Number Of Players: 1-2 Players

With the new generation in full swing, itís nice to take a look back and see how we got here. Itís about reflecting on a time long past, on a time that blazed the trail we walk today, on a time that seems both archaic and simpler to everyone who lived it. We can take such a nostalgic trip with many of the recent compilations that have hit both the PS2 and PSP, and the latest for the PS2 is Taito Legends 2. It boasts no fewer than 39 games from 1979 through 1997 Ė yes, thatís an 18-year span Ė and each and every one will succeed in taking you back, which is the one and only reason to add it to your collection. Unfortunately, unless youíre a die-hard arcade fan, you likely wonít recognize many of these titles, and several of them are just plain bizarre But perhaps thatís exactly what youíre looking forÖa bunch of very un-legendary games youíve probably never played before. If so, than read on.

There isnít much to say about the graphics (obviously), but it is significant to note that this particular collection of old-fashioned games runs the full gamut from 2 bit through 32 bit graphics, so itís very interesting to see. Itís exactly like seeing the passage of time in the industry, laid out before you in a comprehensive list that barrels through the most innovative years in gaming history. Youíll get a chance to see everything from the Atari visuals of Qix and Balloon Bomber to the far more advanced PS1 graphics of G Darius. Beyond that diverse range, though, there isnít much else to talk about. The visual emulation is nigh-on perfect, but these days, thatís the way it is with most compilations. Basically, you probably know exactly what to expect, and weíre not about to disillusion you: there are a lot of old-school graphics from several different eras, plain and simple.

Sometimes, the sound is more difficult to correctly emulate than the graphics, but most companies do a fair job of it. The music and effects in Taitoís games have never really been revolutionary, but in many of these titles, thereís a great deal of variety and uniqueness. This is mostly due to the wide range of genres covered in that list of 39 games, though. Youíll hear all kinds of zany sounds from the likes of Wild Western and Liquid Kids, but youíll also hear a lot of the classic, well-orchestrated tracks from shooters like G Darius, Gun Frontier, and Ray Storm. Clearly, much like the graphics, the sound gets better and better as gaming advances rapidly over the years. If you hadnít already guessed, both the graphics and sound survive almost entirely on the diversity of the compilation and plain olí throwback old-school value.

Starting with Lunar Rescue from 1979, you will work your way through the following list and relish every ounce of nostalgia created by every old-fashioned title. But as we mentioned before, itís very likely youíll have difficulty remembering most of these games, primarily because many were never what you would call blockbusters. Instead, you get some titles that sound a little funny (Ki Ki Kai Kai, for example) and others that are just insanely silly, which may or may not be something youíd like to try. Taito wasnít as big as the likes of Sega, so their titles arenít as universally recognized. However, if you want a little something from just about every old genre back in the day, youíve come to the right place. Youíre looking at everything from action to shooter to puzzle to RPG/action; none of them are all that deep or even involving, but without that diversity, this compilation would fall flat.

Hereís the complete list of games awaiting you in Taito Legends 2:

  • Lunar Rescue (1979)
  • Balloon Bomber (1980)
  • Crazy Balloon (1980)
  • Qix (1981)
  • Alpine Ski (1982)
  • Wild Western (1982)
  • Chack Ďn Pop (1983)
  • Front Line (1983)
  • The Fairyland Story (1985)
  • The Legend of Kage (1985)
  • Ki Ki Kai Kai (1986)
  • Kuri Kinton (1988)
  • Syvalion (1988)
  • Bonze Adventure (1988)
  • Nastar Warrior (1988)
  • Raimals (1988)
  • Camel Try (1989)
  • Don Doko Don (1989)
  • Insector X (1989)
  • Violence Fight (1989)
  • Growl (1990)
  • Gun Frontier (1990)
  • Hat Trick Hero (1990)
  • Liquid Kids (1990)
  • Majestic Twelve (1990)
  • Metal Black (1991)
  • Grid Seeker (1992)
  • Arabian Magic (1992)
  • Dungeon Magic (1993)
  • Darius Gaiden (1994)
  • Elevator Action II (1994)
  • Space Invaders DX (1994)
  • Cleopatra Fortune (1995)
  • Gekirindan (1995)
  • Bust-A-Move Again (1995)
  • Space Invaders í95 (1995)
  • Ray Storm (1996)
  • Puchi Carat (1997)
  • G Darius (1997)

See, we told you. All kinds of stuff! But beyond some of the slightly more popular titles, like Cleopatra Fortune, Qix, G Darius, Bust-A-Move Again, Space Invaders DX, and Alpine Ski, there isnít too much to get excited about. Itís a lot of fun to experiment, though, and after youíve sampled a few of the more obscure games, like Arabian Magic, Growl, Front Line, and Raimals, youíll gain a better appreciation of this oft-mentioned variety. This serves to separate Taito Legends 2 from the rest of the crowd, but itís not quite enough to make it a must-have for old-school fanatics. There just arenít enough top-notch games here, and in the end, nostalgia can only take us so far. Besides, there are a few issues with how the mostly arcade-ish controls are converted into Sonyís controller. The button layout for a lot of these games is just weird, and while it does remain consistent Ė for the most part Ė it still gets kinda frustrating.

Obviously, outside of the last few titles on the list, none of these games were played with the Sony PS1 or Dual Shock controller. That being the case, the developers had their work cut out for them in attempting to make the transfer, and they ended up with some tricky and illogical button configurations. This is most evident in the older titles like Chack Ďn Pop and The Legend of Kage, because the controls not only feel out of place, but they also feel a little unresponsive and clunky. Then again, thatís how a lot of controls were back in the day, so perhaps itís a faithful recreationÖbut that doesnít stop it from being annoying. There also seems to be a slight delay in response for the newer titles as well, which makes the control seem muddled and clunky overall, thereby hurting our little romp down memory lane. It wasnít enough to stop us from having some fun, but itís still something we didnít see in better compilations like the Sega Genesis Collection.

There are some interesting little games here, including the pseudo-fighter Violence Fight (we still havenít quite figured this one out), Dungeon Magic, Hat Trick Hero, and Kuri Kinton (Hi-YAH!), but there really isnít much to keep your attention for very long. The problem is, most gamers wonít have much experience with any of these, and without some previous knowledge and appreciation, these games are little more than very old titles that simply werenít all that great. Just about every other collection or compilation weíve seen features true classics; titles that were known by just about everyone (not just gamers), and played a significant role in any gamerís young life. Well, I donít know about you, but while Iím a veteran gamer, I really donít have any fond memories of Bonze Adventure. Hell, I donít even know what it is. I donít know what many of these games are, and that makes enjoying this admittedly large assembly of games difficult.

But in the end, I did have fun for a few hours. Thatís more a testament to the simple entertainment these games afforded, and not really direct praise for Taito Legends 2. There just arenít a lot of games that deserve the ďclassicĒ label, here, and when you get right down to it, thatís a major issue. Itís almost always fun to reminisce, but how can you reminisce when you never experienced it in the first place? Öget what weíre saying, Taito? If youíre an old-school gaming fan, you should probably check it out, but examine that list above first. Thatís really the only requirement.

9/12/2007   Ben Dutka