Review: Taito Legends (XB)

Taito Legends
Developer: Taito
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Retro Compilation
Release Date: 10/26/05

Slowly but surely companies are realizing that compilations of old school games are an easy way to make money. They sell well due to the ability to offer a lot of classic games for a low cost. Younger gamers get to a chance to see a lot of the games we old fogies grew up with and enjoyed in arcades when we were kids, and those of us in our late 20’s or older get our hands on versions of these games that don’t involve keeping an Arcade cabinet running, or blowing into our old 8 Bit NES carts.

I’ve reviewed quite a few of these. Midway Arcade Treasures 1 & 2, Capcom Classics Collection, and others have been reviewed by various staff members. And all with the exception of Midway’s third collection, have received high marks from the Kliq. But then, what else would you expect from a site that’s always had a heavy focus on Retrograding…er, Retrogaming.

This time it’s Taito’s turn. Taito is one of my most beloved publishers for one reason: BUBBLE BOBBLE! Easily one of the best games ever made. In fact Bubble Bobble Old and New was the last game to get a 9.0 from me, and that was on October 11th, 2004. 13 months ago! Thankfully this collection includes it, and if you’ve read our site at all, you know how rarely we give out anything higher than an 8.5, so trust me when I say $19.99 for Bubble Bobble alone is worth it. And here you’re getting another 28 games to boot! That’s less than a dollar per game. You have no reason to buy this unless you’re dead or in prison. And if you’re in prison: BREAK OUT!

Taito is the creator of some of the most famous video games of all time. Chief of which is NOT Bubble Bobble, but SPACE INVADERS. You know that game, right kiddies? It’s up there with Pong and Pac-Man as the big three super games of the golden era of gaming. And there’re three versions of that game on here. So if you’re looking to see while a simple game involving a joystick and a single button was able to entrance tens of millions for long periods of time, something most games today can’t even begin to do, then snag this collection. But don’t take just my emotional opinion for it…

Let’s Review

1.Compilation

Here we go. A short a sweet explanation of all 29 games followed by a 1-5 rating for each. Go Mini Reviews!

Battle Shark: Think of a it as an underwater 2D shooter. Not sure while this is on here actually. **

Bubble Bobble: People, it got two 9’s and a 10 in a Tribunal from us. This should tell you something. Use cute little dinosaurs to blow bubbles and turn their enemies into candy. Amazing action puzzle game that still has no equal. *****

Colony 7: Another throwaway. You blow shoot aliens. A vague rip off of Taito’s own Space Invaders game. And not a good one. Still scratching my head why this is on here. **

Continental Crisis: Below Average Racer. Even for its time. **

Electric Yo-Yo Very unique game involving clearing the entire screen by use of your “yo-yo.” Doesn’t appeal to me. **

Elevator Action. A super game that once had a huge following. Nowadays few gamers even remember it. You duck, hide, and shoot enemies spies trying to get through a massive industrial tower. Simple but addictive gameplay that I really hope a lot of gamers find new love for from this compilation. ****

Exzisus: Average Space Shooter. ***

Gladiator: Ugh. Worst of the lot. I hated this game as a kid and shudder to see it on the compilation. You walk through a never ending castle deflecting things hurtled at you. Yawn.*

Great Swordsman Fencing! Snore. Count me out on this one. *

Jungle Hunt I would spend hours on the Atari version of this game, even after being able to beat the game with my eyes closed. Now I can obsess over the arcade version 20 years later. Oh yeah, this is one of the best games on the collection. Gameplay is pretty much just jumping, but man can it be difficult at times. *****

The New Zealand Story Kill all Walruses! No. Really. That’s the game. Generic old school pre Nintendo platformer-esque game. ***

The Ninja Kids I never played this game as a kid, but either TMNT: The Arcade game is a rip off of this, or vice versa. Either way, it’s the closest anyone will have to a home version of that kick ass game. This action packed beat ’em up is filled with engrish and misspellings, but it’s amazingly fun. One of the real surprises I found on the set. ****

Operation Thunderbolt First Person Shooter. One of the first, and yet a sequel to Operation Wolf, which is also on this collection. The original is superior. ***

Operation Wolf. One of the best FPS/Light Gun games I’ve ever played. ****
Phoenix I’ve never liked this “Shoot the monsters before they shoot you game. **

Plotting Quasi Breakout/Arkanoid ripoff. And not as good as either. **

Plump Pop Furries with a trampoline vs. aliens. And it’s nowhere near as fun as it sounds. **

Rainbow Islands Bubble Bobble sequel. Not as fun, but highly original with totally different gameplay. Wonderful game worth owning this collection for alone. *****

Rastan You like Golden Axe? You’ll probably like this game. Barbarian kills things dead. Actually fun and challenging. VERY happy to see this on here. ****

Return of The Invaders Space Invaders III. This is Taito milking the series to death. **

Space Gun Another shooting alien games. Average in all ways. ***

Space Invaders Like you have to ask. *****

Space Invaders 2 Pales in comparison to the original. ***

Super Qix. Holy hell am I addicting to this game. Create boxes to reveal a picture of really bad 8 bit art while dodging a green monster whose evil is up there with the dog from Duck Hunt. Amazingly fun! ****

Thunderfox: Kill terrorists. Kill a lot of them. And for longer than it is actually fun to do so. **

Tokio: Subpar 2D vertical shooter. **

Tube It Wonderful game that will remind some of Tetris. pieces of tubing fall from the sky and you have to connect them before the board fills up. Making linking pipes clears them from the screen. Excellent Puzzle game. ****

Volfied Basically Super Qix but with aliens instead of a giant green monsters. Almost the exact same game, save that you can kill enemies in this. Both have pros, both have cons. Both are excellent fun. ****

Zoo Keeper Very surreal game that combines Donkey Kong like jumping and barrel dodging with running around a square box trying to keep animals trapped in side it. ***

So as we can see, like all compilations, there are some no-brainers as to why they are on here, and some that leave you scratching your head. I’d have LOVED to have seen say Puzzle Bobble on here. But alas, it is not to be.

The problem is there’s a lot of underwhelming games on here, and a few games on here that are outright sequels to other games on here. Instead of giving us THREE Space Invader games, get rid of two and give us Puzzle Bobble or something. Or Bust a Move. My god, EVERYONE loves Bust a Move. Why are these two games not on this compilation? It kills me to report they are missing.

The scores of the 29 games average out to 3.03 which would be a 6 on our scale. But considering you get 29 games for under twenty bucks, that pushes things up a bit. Really, with Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands on this game, there is no reason to NOT own this. Jungle Hunt, Qix, Elevator Action, Space Invaders, and Ninja Kids are just methadone on the heroin, but the bottom line is, even with some of the best games ever made on here, you’ll only ever play half of what is on this compilation more than once.

Compilation Rating: 7/10

2. Graphics

Okay, the graphics are pretty awful here. These are games that had their heyday in the pre and post Atari era. A lot of these games are older than Donkey Kong and the original Mario Bros. So we’re talking about games that are pretty ugly even by SNES or Sega Genesis standards.

But then, the focus here wasn’t ever on mindblowing graphics. It was on amazingly gameplay that equated out to highly addictive fun for all ages.

Still a lot of these games will be considered downright ugly by modern gamers, and we have to judge these graphics based on Xbox standards, not by Colecovision.

Don’t let the low score trick you. Yes the games aren’t graphically up to snuff. But there is a lot of cute classic graphics contained on this DVD.

Graphics rating: 3/10

3. Sound

The Bubble Bobble theme = one of the ten best songs in all of video gaming. My god if it was JUST this game, we’d be looking at a ten here.

The other 28 games are hit or miss though. Games like Rainbow Island and Rastan have some pretty good sound effects, while Phoenix and Gladiator are terrible and were considered so even 20-25 years ago.

We’ve got a mixed bag of MIDI’s here, but thankfully most are timeless and loveable. You’re going to hear a lot of sqwarks and squeaks in these games, and if you’re looking for voice acting, well, you won’t find it here.

It’s amazing how catchy a lot of these old songs are. And I’m now going to have “Do do do Do dodo do, do do do do dodo do” in my head for the next fortnight. Ugh.

Sound Rating: 7/10

4. Control and Gameplay

The gameplay of all of these games are what makes (most of) them classics that have survived in the hearts and minds of so many for so long. These games usually involve 1-2 buttons with very, VERY few using 3 (Ninja Kids and Gladiator are the ones that come to mind).

There are some games where control is laggy. You’ll push your joystick one way and it will take a noticeable half second or second to respond. Chief amongst these is Qix, which is sad, as this game has always needs hair trigger precision controls. This also seems to happen with Great Swordsman (No loss. It’s an awful game anyway), and Tokio. The rest of the games retain excellent response from your fingers to the controller to the system.

3/29 games with control issues is pretty good considered the emulation involved for all of these. And it only affects one of the excellent games on here. Give any of these games a test drive, and you’ll find yourself playing this collection for hours without even realizing.

Gaming should always be about the playing of the games first and foremost, not graphics. A lot of current developers could really use a refresher course in that lesson. GAMEPLAY sells games in the end, not big tittied digital women.

Gameplay and Control Rating: 9/10

5. Replayability

29 games people! Many have nigh limitless levels. And all have variable difficulty settings you can set, and this increases the playability even more.

My god, Bubble Bobble has 100 levels alone and that’ll take you a day to beat straight through if you’re really REALLY good. And even then you have to beat it in two player mode in order to get the “Good” ending.

It’s pretty easy to sum this up. For twenty bucks, if you can ignore the dated graphics, you won’t need to make another purchase for your console for weeks, possibly months.

Replayability Rating: 10/10

6. Balance

Because a lot of these games are made originally for the arcade, it mean developers had to do two things. The first is make the games very addictive. The second is to make them HARD. Why? Because if you’re addicted and really sucked into a game, you’ll keep jamming quarters down the coin slots until you have none left. Brilliant! It’s why Aracades were so successful in the 1980’s. People had “Pac-Man Fever.”

Here’s the thing. I kept track of how may “credits” I used while playing through this. On Qix alone, I would have spent ten dollars in one day. Just to get to level 10! In two days, I racked up about a 40$ tab! That’s twice as much as this collection cost. Not only does this highlight what a great deal it is, but it also proves my point about the difficulty/addiction juggling.

So yes, you will be playing games that are older than some of you reading this review, but these games are also harder than 85% of what’s come out for this generation of consoles. Games used to be hard. It was a money making thing.

This means if the games seem too hard for you, you can adjust the difficulty as well as the number of lives/continues you get. If the games are too easy, you can also up the challenge. Really, the games are what you make of them. I suggest playing them on full blown blood vessel bursting hard. If you’re going to go Nostalgia, go all out.

Balance Rating: 8/10

7. Originality

Now here’s the thing. Most of these games are originals. Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, Jungle Hunt, Rainbow Islands: all of these are highly original games that either spawned a legion of clones, or have never been duplicated since.

At the same time, a lot of these games are clones and knock offs of other popular games from their era. I mean, there’re several Space Invaders sequels/clones on this disc alone. Instead of Arkanoid, they put on a second rate quasi rip off of Plotting. Super Qix and Volfied are clones of each other. And the list goes on. For every two original games on here, there’s one game that is an unabashed ripoff or sequel to something else. And that doesn’t sit too well with me. Instead of including the crap, there was a lot of other wonderful quality titles Sega and Taito could have put on here. Disappointing. However, this does show that even two decades ago, some developers chose to market knock offs of better titles that to create something truly original. it just feels wrong to have something like this exposed in a LEGENDS collection though.

Originality: 6/10

8. Addictiveness
Bubble Bobble + Qix + Rainbow Islands = “What? I had a date/party/dinner/emergency surgery? I forgot.”

Remember my commentary up in the balance section about how bloody important it was to make these games addicting back when Arcades were hopping instead of desolate wastelands like today? You better, because I’m not going to repeat it here.

These games are virtual crack. They will own your soul and sell it to some Vietnamese prostitute named Mei Ling and you will spend months tracking her down in every back alley and shady bar you can find in your local Metropolitan area, but you’ll always just miss her. And thus you’ll return hope to your flat where Taito Legends will taunt you and call out with its vile siren song telling you it’s fine that you’re one of the damned, just as long as you play one more game of Ninja Kids.

And you’ll obey. And love it.

Addictiveness Rating: 10/10

9. Appeal Factor

There’s only two types of gamers who won’t pick this collection up and not fall instantly in love with most of the games: Graphics whores who only want their games to look pretty, and people who feel anything cute is kiddie and not mature enough for them. But those are the type of gamers most of us which didn’t exist, so their opinions matter only to Madison Avenue. Screw those losers, the majority of us prefer quality.

Grab this collection as soon as you see it, embrace it, grab a friend and do some Bubble Bobbling!

Appeal Factor Rating: 8/10

10. Miscellaneous

The only real extras are shots of all the promotional fliers for the games, and an occasional interview with creators of the A++++ games like Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble. They’re nice for nostalgia value, but add little substance.

Really what matters is that whole 29 games for $19.99 thing. I gleefully paid $30 last year for Bubble Bobble alone on the Game Boy Advance, and it’s still one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. I’d have easily paid the same for just Rainbow Islands as well. That’s 60 bucks right there for two games I now have for 1/3rd of that price. You can’t beat a deal like this. And there’s still 27 other games to go.

Even compared to Capcom Classics Collection, Intellivision Lives, Atari’s numerous collections and the three Midway Arcade Treasures, I have to said Taito Legends is the best overall bang for your buck out of the large compilations coming out nowadays.
This game is one of FOUR this year that receive an 8.0 or higher from me. it joins Digital Devil Saga, Pokemon XD, and Psychonauts in a very elite group of games I think are of the highest level of quality. Pretty eclectic mix. And out of all of them, this is the game I think EVERYONE should get. The others are very niche, while Taito Legends is something everyone can love.

Miscellaneous Rating: 10/10

The Scores
Compilation: 7
Graphics: 3
Sound: 7
Control/Gameplay: 9
Replayability: 10
Balance: 8
Originality: 6
Addictiveness: 10
Appeal Factor: 8
Miscellaneous: 10
Total Score: 78
Overall Score: 8.0 (GREAT!)

Short Attention Span Summary
Taito Legends joins the list of amazing retro collections that have been released for this generation of consoles. With Bubble Bobble, Space Invaders, and Rainbow Islands, it’s arguably the best of the lot, with Midway Arcade Treasures a hair behind. For twenty bucks, you’re going to have a devil of a time trying to find a better game. Get of your computer and get your fat ass to a store and pick this up. NOW!