David Low
01 May, 2006

Taito Legends 2 Review

PS2 Review | The best retro compilation ever?
The original Taito Legends collection was a great retro package, and with the likes of Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble and Operation Wolf included, it had some big names to draw in the crowd. With most of the big names out of the way, what was going to be left for Taito Legends 2 apart from sequels to those games? As it turns out, quite a bit. Apart from the aforementioned big name sequels and Puzzle Bobble 2 (the original Puzzle Bobble is MIA on both volumes because it was originally on SNK hardware), the line-up of games Taito Legends 2 is generally more obscure then in almost any other retro compilation. This brings into question the very nature of retro compilations – are they to re-live specific past experiences, or to revel more generally in the gameplay types of yesteryear? If you're after the former, then Taito Legends 2 will be well behind the original Taito disc as well as Capcom Classics Collection. But if you're after the latter, Legends 2 is easily the best retro collection yet compiled. It's likely all but the most hardcore importer will have never played 80% of the games on the disc, yet they're still mostly fantastic games. And while the games on the disc span almost 20 years, it's a reminder of a time when arcades had a good variety of genres and gameplay types, and you could almost always find something fun you hadn't played before.

Taito Legends 2 is huge. While the original Legends had a line-up of 30 games, a large number of those were ancient single screen games a few kilobytes in size – in fact, even with bonus materials, it fit on a single CD. The sequel ups the number to a huge 40 titles (and the format to DVD), and while these titles span a time frame of 1978 – 1997, the vast majority are from the mid eighties and beyond where games started to have dozens of multi screen levels, all the way up to games that were originally native to the CD format. Without further ado, here is the complete list of games: Lunar Rescue, Alpine Ski, The Fairyland Story, KiKi KaiKai, Kuri Kinton, Syvalion, Bonze Adventure, Cameltry, Don Doko Don, Super Space Invaders ’91, Growl, PuLiRuLa, Metal Black, Grid Seeker: Project Storm Hammer, Space Invaders DX, Darius Gaiden, Dungeon Magic, Elevator Action Returns, Cleopatra Fortune, Puchi Carat, Crazy Balloon, Balloon Bomber, Qix, Wild Western, Chack ‘n’ Pop, Frontline, Legend of Kage, Rastan 2, Raimais, Insector X, Violence Fight, Gun Frontier, Football Champ (Hat-Trick Hero), Liquid Kids, Arabian Magic, Space Invaders ’95, Gekirindan, Puzzle Bobble 2, Ray Storm, and G-Darius

There's a massive variety of gameplay here

The thing about this collection is that it's probably the first to be a must-have purchase for true retro enthusiasts, because unlike most other collections, it's almost impossible that anyone already has all of the games that are here. Any serious arcade fan already has multiple copies of the Street Fighters, Mortal Kombats, Final Fights and Bubble Bobbles, but Taito Legends 2 is packed full of so many lesser known (and therefore rare) classics that it's actually as much a resource as it is a compilation cash-in. Why play through the same side scrolling fighter over and over, when you can take your pick from about 10 solid fighters here? There's even a good variety of gameplay within the genres! Between the Persian themed Arabian Magic and Indiana Jones styled Growl you have your standard 2D beat-em-ups, but mix it up with the isometric viewpoint of Dungeon Magic, the more one on one Violence Fight and the platform/beat-em-up hybrids like Nastar and Kuri Kinton and a 2D beat-em-up fan will never get bored again. Platformer fans are equally well supplied, with Bubble Bobble type games like Don Doko Don and Fairyland Story, cute side scrollers like Bonze Adventure, and the not so cute Rastan 2. 'Run and Gun' is here in the form of Legend of Kage, and there's even a decent selection of action puzzle games, between the classic Qix and Puzzle Bobble 2 as well as a few other Tetris/Dr Mario type games like Cleopatra Fortune. As you'd expect for a compilation of this volume, there are plenty of other games here that defy genres, not the least of which is Elevator Action Returns.

But probably the best served genre is the shooter, and shmup fans will yelp with glee when they try out the smorgasboard on offer. All shooter sub genres are covered with both vertical and horizontal offerings, from the ultra old school of the Space Invaders variations and Lunar Rescue, as well as the 80's old school of Metal Black and Grid Seeker. But it doesn't end there – more modern shooters are also represented, such as the 'sea of bullets' new school type (including the excellent Gekirindan), the 32-bit 2.5D masterpiece Darius Gaiden and the all polygonal G-Darius, and there are even cute-em-ups such as Insector X. Whatever the genre though, the games on the disc are almost universally of high quality. It's missing big names, but what's here plays so well that it doesn't matter at all, the huge variety means that there's something for everyone.

The whole breadth of the shooter genre is represented

Just like the original Legends the emulation in Taito Legends 2 is quite good. There is still some slight but noticeable blurriness (especially on the older, lower resolution games), and sometimes the framerates are lower then expected, but these are problems every retro collection seems to have, and at least the scanline problems the PS2 has had with emulated games in the past seem to have finally been dealt with. The overall presentation of the package is top notch. There are less bonus materials this time around, and the menus are less fancy, but with this many games (and longer load times since the games are larger on average) the elegant minimalism of the presentation is appreciated. While there's less to fiddle around with, all the appropriate features and options are here, such as instructions for all games, auto save, and the ability to select between original and stretched screen ratios. They've even thought to add a 'favourites' option so you can keep a list of games you're playing right now handy.

Sore thumbs are a near certainty from all these beat-em-ups

It can't be stressed enough that Taito Legends 2 is amazing value, especially at the budget price point. If Namco owned these games, they'd probably stretch this amount of content over several volumes. There are at least six games here that were released individually as non-retro games just last generation! Darius Gaiden and Elevator Action Returns can cost over $100 each on ebay for the original Sega Saturn releases, and yet here they are, 99% intact, with 38 other games on a budget PS2 release. The score we've given it is as high as we can justify for a release of this type. Simply put, Taito Legends 2 manages to be the best retro compilation yet despite the lack of big names. If you're at all into old-school gameplay, go out and grab this now. It's the perfect companion to the original release, and a great buy.
The Score
The best retro compilation ever, even without many big names. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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7 years ago
I was a bit sketpical of David's score til I saw

"Elevator Action Returns"

Then I felt he scored it too harshly icon_razz.gif
7 years ago
Cool. I'll have to pick this up as soon as I can.
7 years ago
Matt wrote
I was a bit sketpical of David's score til I saw

"Elevator Action Returns"

Then I felt he scored it too harshly icon_razz.gif
Yeah, between that, Darius Gaiden, G-darius and Gekirindan, you already have a huge package. Then there's the other 36 games!

It's really just brimming with quality content. And it's only $50! Like I said, I've given it the highest score I can justify for a compilation - I wanted to go higher!
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