Coming back for Round 2, Taito have released another collection of classic arcade games from years gone by with an interesting mix of very different titles.
The first Taito milestone compilation didn’t exactly set the world alight but it did provide a good mix of old and even older Taito ‘classic’ arcade games to players who may have never even seen the original arcades. That said, it did have some amazing classics such as Elevator Action and Ninja Warriors, so it’s still worth picking up if you let that one pass you by. The sequel has a much better ratio of quality games in my opinion, though.
Presented in a sadly bare-bones menu (oh how I wish they could at least put a few museum style tidbits in there for us nerds) the 10 games on offer really do stretch across the genres and the years. Menu aside, the Arcade Archives team have done a fine job with the emulation including a huge range of options to tweak the games to your liking, accessed in-game via the – and + buttons on the Switch.
Ben Bero Beh is the first game on offer here and it’s a platformer that conjours up a mix of Elevator Action with firefighting and crumbling floors. The 1984 game was a Japanese arcade exclusive that never really saw any ports outside of Japan, so it’s great to finally see it turn up here.
The Legend of Kage is one of the more better known games, getting ports to home consoles A side-scrolling hack and slash from 1985, this sees you playing Kage, a ninja out to save the princess (with no mushrooms in sight). It’s one of those games Taito is most famous for so the inclusion here is very welcome. This arcade version is pretty difficult in the original settings, so it does make me glad that the Arcade Archives guys are here to add a whole bunch of options to each of these games, including several difficultly settings.
Kiki Kai-Kai is another Japan exclusive that hits the spot for fans of Commando and Ikari Warriors but with a more traditional Japanese theme to it. The female player character was nothing new for Japanese games, even back in 1986. It’s a very playable game to this day and well worth a go.
New Zealand Story for me is the star of the show, perhaps because I spent so much time on this back in the days of the Spectrum 48K and C64, both of which received solid ports not long after the 1988 arcade machines hit the UK, no mean feat given their limited power. The arcade version is full of colour and fun and it’s just so well presented that it has certainly stood the test of time. The gameplay is classic side scrolling platformer but your Kiwi character gets to ride in balloons and other vehicles and the action takes place all over the screen.
The full widescreen version of the fantastic 1989 shooter Darius 2 is included here. We’ve seen the Darius games on their own special compilation but the game is no less welcome here, though you’ve only got the option of the highly stretched out version that took up 3 whole screens in the arcade. Even on the Switch Lite this still amazingly works without being too small, though.
We’re up to the 1990’s now in Liquid Kids, which feels very modern given the 80s theme of the previous games, though the game itself is another bright cartoony side-scroller. It’s a sort of Bubble Bobble-esque platformer which works due to the colourful set pieces and fun characters.
The sole old-school vertical shooter takes the form of Gun Frontier, a 1990 mix of Wild West and Sci-fi asthetics that plays pretty well and looks great. There’s nothing really remarkable about it but it’s a solid shooter with some decent gameplay.
Solitary Fighter (Violence Fight 2) is perhaps the worst game of the collection. It feels like Street Fighter with a wider play area and less reaction to button presses. It’s still a passable fighting game and has a few interesting ideas, such as including background characters that join in the fight, so it’s not a dud as such, but it’s not really all that pretty to look at.
Metal Black is another side-scrolling shooter from 1991 that was originally considered to be another Darius game but then span off into it’s own unique title. It has an interesting mechanic that forgoes all special weapons for collecting molecules to power a strong beam laser, the more you collect the bigger and stronger your laser beam becomes. The graphics are pretty good here and I love the enemy designs.
Finally we have 1992’s curio Dino Rex, a dinosaur one on one brawler that should work far better than it does. Controls are all over the place and so are the graphics with their budget stop motion feel to the dinosaurs not really helping the action along. It’s still worth a play if only for the over-the-top intro and sound effects but I don’t see myself coming back to this one.
Overall, then, the Taito Milestones 2 collection feels like a much more rounded effort than the last and there are some really good games here. Arcade Archives has done a fantastic job porting these over so the only downside is, as before, that we really don’t have any text. video or pictures for a nostalgic trip back to the days of these arcade machines. Even a few shots of the arcade cabinets and a brief history would have been nice. I can forgive the pack, though, due to the high quality of the games here. I just hope they read this and think about including some more details on a supposed third pack of games.