| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Action_Variety; loc=JPN] |
|Some producer at Taito seems to be out to save the world from jaggies by enforcing blurry antialiasing on their recent 2D PS2 ports (see also Mushihimesama, entry 851). The 25 arcade ports in this collection all have the blur thing going on, and there is no way to turn it off. In addition, none of the games that ran on vertically-oriented screens in the arcade (Lunar Rescue, Majestic Twelve, Grid Seeker, etc) have a vertical screen option here, so you have to play them shrunk down to fit on a horizontal screen aspect, with big empty sidebars. Bah! (At least Mushihimesama had Tate mode...)|
While I'm bitching, I also don't like how each game only lets you map one set of controls; so while many of them support two-player cooperative play, both players have to use the same control scheme.
Each game saves its own high scores (if the arcade version did, at least). This is awesome, and something that was sorely lacking in, for instance, the PCE version of Don Doko Don. You can also restart a game whenever you like, and change the controls on the fly.
But the main thing is that there are 25 arcade-perfect (blurriness and tate aside) ports here. TWENTY-FIVE! An unprecedented amount, I think. Now, the interesting, and arguably unfortunate, thing here is that they are not simply a selection of Taito's most popular and beloved arcade classics. I had never heard of some of these games before, and some of them are downright sucky. In a way, I can appreciate this approach: Taito is saying "hey! Check this crazy stuff out," and encouraging you, the modern player, to expand your horizons. I'm all for that. I'd be much more for it, though, if this series looked likely to continue past volume 2. The problem is that they appear to intend to stop the series before they get around to including some of their most vital games--I'd love a port of Bubble Symphonies, for instance, or an arcade-perfect port of Liquid Kids (see entry 586).
But they have given us this mish-mash, so let's see what can be made of it. If you don't have Darius Gaiden and Elevator Action Returns on Saturn (and Metal Black, I suppose), then this collection is worth it just for those games. If you like Taito's single-screen platformers, then the collection is worth it just for Fairyland Story and Don Doko Don. Bubble Bobble and Pulirula are better on PS1. Cameltry is fantastic.
The rest of the games are a real mixed bag; I am fond of Lunar Rescue, Alpine Ski, Jigoku Meguri, Flipull, and Light Bringer, but wouldn't have bought them in a compilation of their own, and the other games I really don't care for at all.
By the way, five of the games are locked to start with. They seem to unlock over time; by the time we had finished playing through all the available games, the locked ones had unlocked. Alternatively, I've read that a keypress code entered at one of the menu screens will unlock them all immediately.
|Space Invaders Color, 1978|
Space Invaders with cellophane-style color layers. I can't play this one for too long (it's also darn hard).
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"Lunar Rescue: jetting upwards through cellophane-color layers of hostile UFOs."
Lunar Rescue, 1980
This game is really neat, actually. You fly down to a planet's surface in a lunar lander thing, using a booster jet to slow your descent in order to avoid horizontally-moving asteroids. Land on a platform to take on a passenger, then jet back up to the mothership, only the asteroids have changed into flying saucers that shoot down at you, and you can shoot back up with a Space-Invaders-style shot. I like the jet-boosting freedom of movement.
|Download added: 03_alpineski.gif (46150 bytes)|
"Alpine Ski: other skiers can be obstacles, too. Get off the slopes, you bum!"
Alpine Ski, 1982
Another old one I didn't think would amount to much, but turns out to be a lot of fun. You're skiing down (up on screen) a slalom course. You get points for covering ground, and bonus scores for going through certain gaps between flags or trees. Obstacles come along in the form of trees, rocks, ice patches, and other skiers. Hold the button down to go super fast! Steering is tricky and you have to be very precise.
|Download added: 04_fairylandstory.gif (49687 bytes)|
"The Fairyland Story: I've turned a goblin into a muffin. You want some of this, greybeard?"
The Fairyland Story, 1985
A single-screen platformer where you play a witch who zaps monsters into cupcakes. Reduce the cupcake to powder with more zaps, or go for big points by shoving it off the end of a platform onto monsters below. The movements are a little jerky but the graphics, sound and cupcakes are awesome. Just one player at a time (wish it had co-op).
|Download added: 05_kiki.gif (106408 bytes)|
"Kiki Kaikai: A boss shoots projectiles you can hardly see."
KiKi KaiKai Ninja, 1986
Came out as Pocky and Rocky on GBA (see entry 201). You can see more of the level in the original vertical screen mode here. I've never been too crazy about this game--the four-way moving/shooting feels a little skittish to me, and the fan-dusting feels superfluous (you can shoot cards, or wave a fan to brush baddies away at close range). The dull color palette and weird sprites do little to charm the eye; the SNES version looks significantly better--entirely overhauled, in fact. Also, the sound effects and music are awful.
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"Bubble bobble: a wild exchange of bubbles and fireballs."
Bubble Bobble, 1986
Well, it's Bubble Bobble. The PS1 port (see entry 31) is preferable due to the nice clean jaggies there. Although this one is more accurate in terms of framerate (the PS1 port runs almost too fast), and you have unlimited continues.
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"Rastan Saga: welcome to Cave Suck with Axe and Bat!"
Rastan Saga, 1987
I never liked this game in the arcades, and I still don't like it here. Nice graphics but incredibly stiff control and unforgiving stage design.
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"Kuri Kinton: in the running for Ugliest Background Ever."
Kuri Kinton, 1988
Seems promising as an exuberant karate-kicking sprite runs along bashing thugs with a single action button, but then you get to a fighting-game-style boss fight against a guy who can throw fireballs and stuff, and the frantic controls just get frustrating. Horrible backgrounds, too.
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"Syvalion: trapped between lots of little ships, bullets, and big metal spikes = fun?"
Thumbs down on this one as well. You're a snakey sort of fire-breathing dragon flying through colorful caverns in a four-way shooter, but the movement is incredibly twitchy and barrages of scattered shots come in from all directions constantly. Just not really fun.
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"Jigoku Meguri: They mostly come out at night. Bubbles will fix 'em."
Jigoku Meguri, 1988
NCS, from who I stole this list of names and dates, noted "aka Bonze Adventure" for thi sone. The game surprised me because I was thinking it was a shooter (Gokuraku Chuka Taisen, I guess--see entry 522) from the screenshots. It's a platformer though, where you throw balls at a variety of Eastern-style spirits and mythological creatures. Good control and lively graphics, but very difficult, with lots of fast-moving enemies.
|Download added: 11_cameltry.gif (94648 bytes)|
"Cameltry: falling/rotating/bouncing toward the finish line."
A game where you rotate the level around your falling marble, trying to get the marble to the end of a big maze. The level rotation is quite similar to that found in Korokoro Post Nin (see entry 148). Very smooth movement, great sound effects and challenging obstacles. Interesting Vs. mode where you each race the course separately and the winner gets a time bonus--and remaining times carry over to the next course.
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"Don Doko Don: let's see, now: who to konk on the noggin first?"
Don Doko Don, 1989
Single-screen platformer with luscious sprites and sound and badguy-squishing action involving large mallets wielded by your brightly-dressed burly dwarf. Squish a monster and throw him at others to knock the giant fruit stuffing out of them. You can play it co-op. Outrageously fabulous. I love the PCE port to death (see entry 452), and the sprites here are larger, better animated and more colorful, not to mention the screen-filling zoom and rotation effects, so you can imagine how much I love this port. In fact, the enemies move somewhat differently than in the PCE version, and the platform layouts aren't exactly the same--some of the jumps are spaced slightly differently--so even though they have the same stages, each version requires slightly different strategies. It's like having two Don Doko Dons! Anyway. Oh, but this version has a bonus level (you may find a key appearing on the first stage with tons of pink rabbits) that I never saw in the PCE version. Gonzo!
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"Flipull: match carefully, young blobbo."
Surprisingly cool puzzle game where you drop blocks on the top or side of a pile of blocks, trying to pair matching blocks together. If you can find multiple blocks in a row that you can hit, you get a combo. The block after the block you match becomes the next block type that you throw, so there's real strategy in each move. Two players can play at once but you're both pretty much just playing at your own pace and on your own puzzle to clear a certain amount of blocks per level.
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"Aa Eikou No Koshien: a mighty wiff."
Aa Eikou No Koshien, 1990
An arcade baseball game. Lots of Japanese text in the player menus but all you really need to see are their letter-based skill ratings, A-E. Hold a Power button to pull off power pitches or hits, but power drains quickly and using it all leaves your player exhausted and relatively ineffective. You can sub in fresh players, fortunately. Simple but fun two-player pitching/batting competition. Making contact with the ball takes a little getting used to, somehow. Unfortunately, every hit either goes as an easy pop-up out, an easy throw to first for the out, or a home run (not so many of these). The final score in our game was 2-1, all on three home runs. Fielding is pretty much automatic, as is base-running. Still, the amusing pitching and batting animations kept us going through the whole nine innings.
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"Majestic Twelve: I guess the bright purple clouds are the majestic part."
Majestic Twelve - The Space Invaders Part IV, 1990
A vertical-screen Space Invaders update, with Breakout-style powerups and enemy ships that do funny things like expand super-wide the first time you hit them. Interesting "Cattle Mutilation" bonus stages where you defend grazing cows from descending flying saucers. Rather more lively and varied than regular Space Invaders but at least as difficult, and still isn't a game that I want to play for very long at any one time. Co-op mode helps a bit. Very hard to see the ships against some of the intensely colorful backgrounds.
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"Runark: leave that lion alone, you dirty poachers!"
"Aka 'Growl'," said NCS. Incredibly fast-paced beat-em-up with smallish sprites in which you have to save innocent wild beasts from the King of the Poachers (I am not making this up). It's funny because the regular punch/kick stuff from the main Action button takes forever to knock down a single thug, and you're usually being mobbed by about twenty of them at once. Jump kicks are brutal, though, and you also get a lot of really effective weapons in the form of grenades, pipes, swords, M-16s, whips, etc. So the regular beat-em-up parts are pretty fun, but then there's a horrid lava-cave jumping level, and badly-constructed boss fights where the bosses just take your puny hit like it was nothing, then knock you down over and over, very fast, and there's nothing for it but to pump in a lot of credits. Co-op.
| paleface 02:50:21 08/04/05 [relations updated] |
|Download added: 17_pulirula.gif (92834 bytes)|
"PuLiRuLa: my summoned purple gelatin-man will make short work of those tentacled feebs."
Bizarre beat-em-up with jaunty English children as the controllable characters, and enemies that start as Yellow Submarine rejects and get weirder from there. I think I prefer the PS1 port (see entry 211); the graphics are much more detailed here, but the slowdown is incredibly bad, and the hit detection feels a bit off (possibly because the framerate is so utterly horrible). They really should have included an option to turn off arcade slowdown. Shame. Has co-op.
| paleface 02:51:34 08/04/05 [relations updated] |
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"Metal Black: when lasers collide."
Metal Black, 1991
Has a big charge-laser thing that you can use to combat bosses as in the Dreamcast horizontal shooter Border Down (see entry 346). You really don't get much juice on the thing at any one time, though, and I found myself wishing that I had a bomb or two to use in repelling the constant hordes of swarming enemies. I particularly dislike how the game materializes guys in right on top of you in later levels, and if they don't kill you outright by collision, they fire off a beam that crosses the entire screen in four directions. Also lots of ships come crashing right into you from behind. It would take wholesame memorization to get through this without quarter-pumping. The bosses are epic on the scale of Darius Gaiden, but again if you don't have a full beam, you'll really feel a lack of firepower. Frustrating, and the graphics use a lot of harsh color contrasts that tax the eye. Has co-op.
| paleface 02:52:49 08/04/05 [relations updated] |
|Download added: 19_gridseeker.gif (120103 bytes)|
"Grid Seeker: using a bomb-ray thing on a big ugly boss."
Grid Seeker: Project Storm Hammer, 1992
A vertical shooter with co-op and three different ships to choose from, but I really only like the jet, as the bomber and helicopter aren't as fast. You have two option thingies mounted on the front of your ship, and holding down fire while moving up/down rotates them to fire outward, similar to Iridion II (see entry 133). They also block shots, and charge up your bomb meter when hit. Not a bad game really but doesn't particularly stand out in the field.
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"Space Invaders DX: wow, the Fairyland Story character is trapped in Space Invaders, just like me!"
Space Invaders DX, 1994
Just how many Space Invaders remixes can you take? This one has classic Space Invaders, a Vs. Space Invaders (hit colored ships to drop the ships down on your opponent's side of the screen--pretty sucky though), and a version of Space Invaders that plays just like the original but sports colorful sprites from other Taito games. That one is cute but PLAYS JUST LIKE SPACE INVADERS.
| paleface 02:55:07 08/04/05 [relations updated] |
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"Darius Gaiden: black hole-bombing the ugly pirana boss."
Darius Gaiden, 1994
Pretty damn awesome horizontal shooter. Epic bosses, superb orchestral music, branching stage paths, co-op play, rather incredible and FX-heavy 2D graphics, and very satisfying black-hole bombs that suck in enemy bullets and dish out lightning. Much better than the slowdown-plagued PS1 version (see entry 62).
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"Light Bringer: swingin' it with two-headed dogs and Amazon chicks."
Light Bringer, 1994
("Dungeon Magic" in the States.) Fantastic-looking isometric beat-em-up where you proceed through a succession of smallish rooms on your way to a boss fight at the end of each stage. D&D style arcade-action, with four selectable characters, weapon upgrades, traps and treasure, and magic spell bombs. Would be absolutely smashing except for constant trememdous slowdown. Gah.
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"Elevator Action Returns: gritty urban combat!"
Elevator Action Returns, 1995
I didn't really like this much when I played the Saturn version, but I think it's growing on me. Intricately detailed stages and gorgeous sprite animation, in a sort of gritty realistic style that includes muzzle flashes that light up the shooter, fuel tank explosions that broil across a whole floor, and baddies spawning out of doors, Rolling Thunder-style. In fact the only part that isn't awesome is the elevators: you're constantly having to wait for an elevator to come to your floor (they move randomly when unmanned), and missing an elevator and falling down the shaft or getting squished by the car is instant death. Bah! Should have been "Ladder Action"--that would have been a perfect game.
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"Cleopatra Fortune: trying to be the next Tetris. Yawn."
Cleopatra Fortune, 1996
Block-dropping vs. puzzle game, and not one of my favorites in that genre. Joined gems and blocks fall, and you arrange them so that gems get surrounded by blocks, at which point the gems disappear. A full row of block also disappears. Sphinxes and other things get in the way. You can get big gem combos and so on, but did the world really need yet another of these games?
| paleface 02:58:53 08/04/05 [relations updated] |
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"Puchi Carat: all I know is, the background keeps trying to poke my eyes out."
Puchi Carat, 1997
Standard-looking block-dropping split-screen vs. puzzle game, only you use a Breakout-style ball and paddle to remove the blocks. Bust off chunks of them by taking out their top support ala Puzzle Bobble (see entry 756). Impressively animated characters fill up the backgrounds, but they're so active that they distract from the actual gameplay in the foreground. And while I like Breakout-style games, there seems to be little to nothing in the way of powerups or obstacles here: you just paddle the ball up to hit the block (gems) over and over, hoping you do it more efficiently than your opponent. Snore.
|You can configure the game list to show a custom selection of games, which is handy. : D Also, apparently ( http://www.eudict.com/?lang=japeng&word=joukan ) "joukan" means "volume one."|
Five of the games are locked to begin with; several unlock over cumulative play time of all games, but some require cumulative play time of *specific* games, which can be tough to hit, especially since it isn't spelled out for you. GameFAQs has it, but they also list a button combination that unlocks all games immediately, so that's a relief.
| paleface 22:28:56 02/20/17 [title updated] |
|The game is sometimes shown as "Taito Memories Joukan"; since "joukan" means "volume one"--and "gekan," the subtitle for the second compilation, means "last volume"--I'm just going to render the title of this as "Taito Memories: 1st Volume."|
|Some of the games in this collection have sluggish controls. Some are not sharp, but okay--Don Doko Don and Fairyland Story, for instance. Others are awful: Bubble Bobble, for instance, has so much delay in responding to your input that trying to change direction feels as though every level is a slippy-slidey ice stage. : P|| ||