Taito LegendsBuy this gameThe Game: Taito, the developer behind classics games such as Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble, is the latest videogame developer to release a retro arcade compilation. Taito Legends brings 29 classic videogames direct from the arcade to your Xbox, PS2 and PC. (Taito, 2005, for Xbox, Playstation 2 and PC)

Memories: While skimming the list of games included in Taito Legends, I realized that I have memories associated with almost half of them. I remember playing Rastan at the local bowling alley, Operation Wolf at the skating rink (while wearing roller skates, no less), Bubble Bobble at the corner convenience store and Space Invaders at Photon, our local laser tag arena back in the 80’s. There’s no denying that Taito has been a driving force in the arcade industry since its inception. Throughout the 1950s and 60s Taito produced pinball machines, arcade cranes, and jukeboxes, but it wasn’t until the release of Space Invaders in 1978 (released in the US by Midway) that the company became a blip on America’s radar.

Taito LegendsTaito Legends spans the company’s glory years, bringing 29 of their most popular arcade games to home consoles. By now we’ve established that the current generation of consoles can emulate 80s arcade games perfectly. (The original Space Invaders ran on an Intel 8080 platform operating slower than 1mhz.) Taito has done a perfect job in bringing these games to the home market. All the games on Taito Legends run and play indistinguishably from the original versions. For two years I had an Elevator Action arcade cabinet sitting in the corner of my kitchen, so I can tell you for a fact that the version on Taito Legends is 100% identical to the real deal. I could detect no slowdown, hiccups, skips or pops in any of the included games.

Taito LegendsThe 29 game roster can be divided into three basic categories: classics (Space Invaders, Jungle Hunt, Elevator Action), games you probably saw in arcades but have forgotten about (Battle Shark, Ninja Kids, Phoenix) and games you’ve probably never heard of before (Electric Yo-Yo, Exzisus, Plump Pop). Fortunately, most arcade games are designed to be easy to pick up and play, so even the less-known games on the disc are fun.

(For the record, the complete list of games included on Taito Legends is: Battle Shark, Bubble Bobble, Colony 7, Continental Circus, Electric Yo-Yo, Elevator Action, Exzisus, Gladiator, Great Swordsman, Jungle Hunt, The New Zealand Story, The Ninja Kids, Operation Thunderbolt, Operation Wolf, Phoenix, Plotting, Plump Pop, Rainbow Islands, Rastan, Return of the Invaders, Space Gun, Space Invaders, Space Invaders Part 2, Super Qix, Thunder Fox, Tokio, Tube-It, Volfied and Zoo Keeper.)

Taito LegendsWhere Taito Legends truly shines is in its presentation. The menu system is simple yet informative, showing each game’s original arcade cabinet, marquee, and other information including the game’s number of players, its year of release, the top five scores and a short description of the game. The menu system uses sound effects from many of Taito’s games and has retro-electronic music playing in the background. Unlike some other retro compilations, these menu options don’t impede the speed of things – changing games through the menu system is super quick, the games themselves take only a second or two to load, and returning to the menu system is just as fast.

Each game launches with a menu screen where users can see the high scores, read about the game, read related tips and tricks, view the original sales flyers, change the game’s options, customize each game’s controls (nice) and more. Some of the games like Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble also include interviews with the game’s developer. I’m not sure which I enjoy more: all the extra features, or the fact that Taito cared enough about us to include them.

In August of 2005 Taito was purchased by Square-Enix, so this disc nicely encapsulates the company’s great run in the arcade industry. With 29 games, extra features, options, hints and tips, interviews and more, there’s no doubt Taito Legends is well worth the 4 quarters!$20 MSRP. Games like Bubble Bobble, Elevator Action, Jungle Hunt, Operation Wolf, Phoenix, Rainbow Islands, Rastan, Space Invaders (and two sequels), Super Qix and Zoo Keeper guarantee this disc will see lots of action.