Taito Legends 2 (2007) by Taito/Empire Enteractive
System:PS2
Game Type: Compilation
Players: various

Review by PrimeOp

The first Taito Legends disc was a nice compilation that leaned more towards the true old-school games of the 70's and early 80's. Except for a few games like Rastan, Bubble Bobble and The New Zealand Story, platforming and beat-em-up didn't get much space here. This time, Taito and Empire Interactive provide a much more balanced selection that's easily worth the $20 price tag. For that price, you get the following games: Alpine Ski, Arabian Magic, Balloon Bomber, Bonze Adventure, Bust-A-Move Again (Puzzle Bobble 2 without the Taito characters), Cameltry (known as On the Ball for the SNES), Chack 'n Pop (an ancestor to Taito's Bubble Bobble), Cleopatra Fortune, Crazy Balloon, Darius Gaiden, Don Doko Don, Dungeon Magic, Elevator Action II (Elevator Action Returns), Football Champ (a 'soccer' game), Front Line, G Darius, Gekirindan, Grid Seeker, Growl, Gun Frontier, Insector X, Kiki Kaikai, Kuri Kinton, Liquid Kids, Lunar Rescue, Majestic Twelve (Super Space Invaders '91), Metal Black, Nastar Warrior (Rastan II), Puchi Carat, Qix, Raimais, RayStorm, Space Invaders '95, Space Invaders DX, Syvalion, The Fairyland Story, The Legend of Kage (the NES version doesn't do it justice), Violence Fight and Wild Western. The X-Box version (which you'd have to import from the UK) has a few different games including Cadash but doesn't have some of the ones found here.

The stylish game select screen from the first Taito Legends is traded in for one that's as functional as it is boring. Then again, one thought of the Genesis Collection's eye-murdering white letters on a blue and white background with white graphics zooming around makes me appreciate it a bit more. You can sort the game list by alphabetical order, release year and a favorites list that you can build. Another nice option lets you choose between a screen-filling stretched view or a game's original aspect ratio for certain games (mostly vertical shooters). You don't get the real bezel graphics with those, but some of the cold blue graphics do a better job of framing the action. You can even pause the game and adjust the game area's placement on your screen. Another nice touch is that once you exit from the game menu to options and back again, it remembers what game you were on. Sadly, there are no cabinet photos or interviews on this volume like the original Taito Legends. Those are just minor nitpicks that don't really bother me much since the gameplay is still solid. Still, I'd love a Zuntata interview if they can get a volume three made, nudge nudge, hint hint.
With a huge list of games like this, you'll appreciate the solid, customizable interface that'll even let you build a favorites list. Best of all, you can actually read it without causing your optic nerves to start twitching.
Let's talk about the games. Elevator Action fanatics can get Elevator Action II here instead of getting eGouged for the Saturn port. When you realize just how much insane stuff you can do in this game, you'll be hooked. Dungeon Magic is a medieval beat-em-up/platformer combo with enough branching paths, huge bosses and character-specific dialogue to give it some serious replay value. Fans of Growl get the bloodless U.S. version of the arcade beat-em-up that fills the screen with opponents and wild animals. Arabian Magic (not to be confused with Sega's zoom-o-scope brawler Arabian Fight) has a Golden Axe slasher feel with magic carpet rides to break up the swordplay. Pocky and Rocky fans will find Kiki KaiKai, Sayo-Chan's cute first appearance that lead to the great SNES games. The tree-hopping ninja epic Legend of Kage is here in it's full glory that wasn't captured in the NES port. Kuri Kinton is a semi-comical martial arts platform brawler with some nice gameplay quirks like charging up your chi. Games like the Fairyland Story and Liquid Kids showcase Taito's ability to mix charming character design an, bugged-out concepts and good gameplay.
Even though there don't seem to be any extras yet, you get to check out the occasional bit of artwork on some of the additional directions pages. It'd have been cooler to see these Legend of Kage enemies close up, but I'll take what I can get.
Of course, you can find fun in the other genres even if they aren't your usual game style. Two of Taito's flagship series, Darius and Space Invaders, appear multiple times here. Besides battling fish, many other Taito shooters here go beyond the characterless intergalactic board-full-of-bullets rut. I'm pretty sure some shoot-em-up vets will want this just for Raystorm. Puchi Carat is a cute breakout-style game that required methadone for me to quit playing. One odd misfire is how Puzzle Bobble is mentioned on the cover and the package's back (including a screenshot) but is replaced with the character-less Bust-a-Move Again. BOO! At least we get games that didn't even make it to U.S. arcades like Kiki Kaikai that really don't need translating. Empire did a great job here and I hope that sales are good enough to get this one a wider release and (even better) a third volume.
For me, Puchi Carat is officially the game that I got hooked on that I wasn't expected to get hooked on. It's the 'Bosconian' of the whole thing and one of the most fun 'Ball vs. Bricks' game I've ever played.

Compilation reiview links:
Growl (1990) for the Arcade (and Taito Legends 2) by Taito
It's nice to see a game where the birds knock the enemies off of a moving platform instead of the player.Game Type: Beat-em-upIn this four-player beat-em-up, hardcore jungle rangers beat the living bejeebus out of the poachers who are kidnapping jungle animals and blew up their HQ (liquor and all). Unlike most game hostages, the freed animals return the favor by attacking their ex-captives. You'll need the help since this game fills the entire screen with enemies. Visuals vary between sharp (sprites) and muddy (that tank) but the sound is consistantly nice. Certain missteps (invisible borders, weapons that disappear quickly) take a potential classic and turn it into merely a fun 4p game.
Players: 1-4

Gameplay: 7
Graphics: 6
Sound: 7
Control: 6
Overall Score: 6

Full Review Available

Growl, Runark and all related characters © Taito

Dungeon Magic (1993) for the Arcade (and Taito Legends 2) by Taito
See that yawning Kobold in the back? If you did, you'll yawn in a bit, too. MINDTAKERED!Game Type: Platform BrawlerA blonde princess being captured is one of the few typical things in this sword and sorcery platform brawler. Adding to the replay value are tons of multiple paths, hidden items and bonus rooms. For extra value, all four selectable characters have their own story beats that only happen when using them. Many enemies are what you expect from the genre (kobolds, skeletons, etc.) but they're all well done and fun to fight. This overlooked game finally comes home in the Taito Legends 2 compilation.
Players: 1-2 or 1-4

Gameplay: 8
Graphics: 7
Sound: 8
Control: 7
Overall Score: 7

Full Review Available

Dungeon Magic, Lightbringer, Ash, Cisty, Gren, Vold and all related characters © Taito

As one of the most balanced comps ever, there's something for everyone except fighting game fans. Violence Fight doesn't count. I'd suggest this one to any fan of older games since there are so many genres represented. So whether you have to hunt it down or order online, just be sure not to miss this set. Look, it has baby jungle cats trampling criminals to death, a hippo with hydrokinetic super powers and a witch that turns people into delicious, tasty cakes. Where else are you going to find action like that? Gameplay 9
Graphics 7
Sound 8
Control 9
Overall 8

Alpine Ski, Arabian Magic, Bonze Adventure, Crazy Balloon, Dungeon Magic, Elevator Action Returns, Kiki KaiKai, Don Doko Don, the Fairyland Story, the Legend of Kage, Space Invaders, Growl, Runark, Violence Fight and all related characters and games © Taito

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