Retro Compilations are the in thing at the moment, it seems your not a legendary developer/publisher if you haven’t got a bunch of games to shove onto a disc and release on one of the modern consoles. But, as both Namco and SEGA have shown, if not done with due care and love, you end up with a complete mess. In this case, Taito are the leading light, our reviewer didn’t score their last compilation too well, but that was more down to memories and a few poor controls although the compilation did feature 29 games.
Taito Legends 2 then, takes this number and adds even more! With quite a few of these games not even originally being released on these shores, on offer there are 39 games for you to choose from, including games such as Elevator Action Returns, Liquid Kids, Puzzle Bobble 2 and many many shoot’em-ups.
To make this game easier to review, I’ve decided to select a few games rather than pick apart all 39 titles.
With this being Taito, there were always going to be plenty of Bubble Bobble clones, with Chack ‘N’ Po being the highlight of these, featuring the same familiar gameplay mechanics as the classic featuring the lovable dinosaurs Bub and Bob. It feels like an odd hybrid of Bomberman (before Bombermans release though), Bubble Bobble and Donkey Kong, the game entails you rescuing a heart and legging it to the exit of the level while placing bombs near enemies to aid your escape.
The Fairyland Story was release a year before the Bubble Bobble games, and is a lot of fun, although it does lack a two player co-op mode. In this you play a character called Ptolemy, who you use to cast spells into enemies, turning them into cakes, from there you keep zapping them to get rid of them. Bronze Adventure is a bit like Ghosts ‘N’ Goblins and is definitely worth checking out if your a fan of Capcom’s classic.
The best platforming title by far though is Liquid Kids, released in 1991, you control Hipopo. As Hipopo you have to thrown water bombs at enemies in a visually great platformer that bares more than a nod to Bubble Bobble.
Puzzle titles will always appear on these retro compilations, and Taito Legends 2 is no exception, except that it features some of the best Puzzle titles ever made. One of which is Puzzle Bobble 2 (a.k.a. Bust-A-Move 2), a game that hasn’t aged at all and is still the basic formula for all the bust A Move titles released now.
Also of note is Crazy Balloon, similar in theory to the Kururin games, you have to guide a balloon to an exit while avoiding thorns, which results in an incredibly challenging and fun experience.
Another genre that makes up a huge chunk of Taito Legends 2 is the Shoot’em-up genre. Featuring numerous versions of Space Invaders, Space Invaders ’91 is easily the best on offer, although Space Invaders is equally as good.
If vertical and side-scrolling shooters are your thing, theres plenty to choose from, with the package offering an interesting insight into how the genre developed during the 80’s and 90’s, but its a shame that many of them come across as generic, me too titles. There are a few highlights in there worthy of playing though, the long-forgotten Metal Black being one of them, giving you access to mammoth power-ups, zillions of enemies on screen at any one time and impressive visuals for their era. Also included are Darius Gaiden and G-Darius, two of the stand out titles in the genre.
As an overall package, theres only a small amount of genuine must-play titles among the 39 games on offer, that isn’t to say that many of the others wont bring you enjoyment. The presentation of the package is much better than the previous release, with games being organised into chronological order. If your looking for a Retro compilation that is worthy of playing, look no further than either of Taito’s efforts, if its famous names you want, the first is the one to go for, but if your looking for some experiences you may have missed out on, Taito Legends 2 is a definite must have, and is certainly better than Namco’s effort.