| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Action_Variety; loc=JPN] |
|Taito hits us with another slew of 25 arcade game ports, all squished in slightly blurry form through your PS2's video output. As usual, none of the games that played on a vertical screen have that option here--they're all shrunk down with sidebars. Of the 25, 10, ie Continental Circus, Exzisus, Ohgun no Shiro (aka "Gladiator"), Operation Thunderbolt, Rainbow Islands, Return of the Invaders, Space Gun, Ninja Kids, Super Qix, and Scramble Formation (aka "Tokio"), all appeared already on the North American compilation, Taito Legends (see entry 945). The full 25 are (dates are from the back of the case):|
Space Chase (1979)
Grand Champion (1981)
Time Tunnel (1982)
The Undoukai (1984)
Ben Bero Beh (1984)
Return of the Invaders (1985)
Ohgun no Shiro (1986)
Kick and Run (1986)
Scramble Formation (1986)
Super Qix (1987)
Rainbow Islands (1987)
Operation Thunderbolt (1988)
Continental Circus (1988)
Chuka Taisen (1988)
Asuka & Asuka (1989)
SCI: Special Criminal Investigation (1989)
Darius II (1989)
Champion Wrestler (1989)
Fighting Hawk (1989)
Space Gun (1990)
Ninja Kids (1990)
Dino Rex (1992)
Bubble Memories: The Story of Bubble Bobble III (1996)
What this compilation reminds us of yet again is that while Taito had some brilliant games in their arcade history, they also had a ton of crap. In my book, this edition is worth it for Darius II, Fighting Hawk, Rayforce, and Bubble Memories; the rest are all mediocre or worse. But let's cover them in more detail, shall we? Even the ones I've covered on Taito Legends, just to show how inconsistent I am!
|Download added: 01spacechase.gif (55840 bytes)|
"Space Chase: That pink missile is gonna get me from behind!"
Ugh. Disturbingly similar to another crappy old two-character maze game, "Head On" (see Sega Memorial Collection, entry 1006), in this game you run around collecting the dots while being chased by a pink missile (?!). Cornering is ludicrously clunky, as are the graphics and sounds. On the other hand, you can see how it might have inspired, say, Pac-Man. But it's still horrible to play.
|Download added: 02grandchampion.gif (76017 bytes)|
"Grand Champion: Spin-out after being hit by a lane divider at about a billion mph."
So many of these old Taito efforts were decent concepts ruined by horrible graphics/sounds or controls. Grand Champion hits you more in the controls department, as the scenery, once you shift into high gear, zooms downscreen waaaaay faster than you can possibly react to, so you just kind of floor it, smash into something, wait to recover, floor it again, etc. Ugh. The LOW/HI shifter (right down to the look of the graphic, I mean) will show up in several more games on this collection.
|Download added: 03timetunnel.gif (55431 bytes)|
"Time Tunnel: Your train is menaced by low fuel, cows, and the sun."
Now this one's kind of interesting. The sound is horrible, but anyhow, you drive your train around various levels, picking up more train sections, or passengers, and getting to the far tunnel to get to the next level. Weird random obstacles like the sun or alien tripods menace you on the track, as well as a rival train. Up/Down are forward/back, and pressing the button toggles the switch on the track intersection ahead of you (the yellow "T" intersections in the screenshot). Takes some getting used to, but does feel "train-like." Rather slow and methodical, as you have to back into the train-car-pickups, and stop and pause for passengers at the stations. This gets a little frustrating, especially at the rate your fuel drains. And did I mention the sound sucks? The control is pretty neat, though.
|Download added: 04theundoukai.gif (73441 bytes)|
"The Undoukai: Looks way more fun than it actually is."
I dunno what the arcade controls looked like, but I'm betting it wasn't a row of three buttons. That's what you have on the PS2, and you have to hammer them repeatedly to try to get your volleyballish heroine to pitch her aim up and down and modify her power to get the balls she's chucking into the hoop. Meanwhile, the CPU is doing the same, only it knows what it's doing. I beat it a few times (one stage, I mean) hammering on the right buttons really really fast, but it wasn't like it was fun or anything. Who comes up with this stuff, anyway? Is there an actual sport of this? Or is it some kind of horrible misunderstanding of basketball?
|Download added: 05benberobeh.gif (70547 bytes)|
"Ben Bero Beh: The holes in the wall sometimes explode in deadly gas."
Ben Bero Beh
Nice bold, cartoonish graphics highlight this Elevator Action (see entry 877) -ish building platformer where you have to hose down raging fires on your way to your beloved at the bottom of the screen. The random nature of certain obstacles is frustrating--like the mass raining fireballs on the second or third level. The character also moves pretty darn sluggishly, and you have to stand there holding the button for a while to put anything out.
|Download added: 06returnofinvaders.gif (65682 bytes)|
"Return of the Invaders: They circle now, but it isn't quite as charming."
Return of the Invaders
Not particularly thrilled by this update to the classic. Much sharper graphics, and the aliens move in funky formations sometimes, oh and do tricks like deflecting your shots back at you or something (ow), but it doesn't seem very inspired somehow. Or maybe I'm just missing being able to shoot a little hole in your own base-blocker thing--no holes here, they just disappear.
|Download added: 07ohgunnoshiro.gif (51518 bytes)|
"Ohgun no Shiro: Doh! How'd he know I was gonna swing low?"
Ohgun no Shiro
Known as "Gladiator" in the States. I always thought this was a neat control concept, with one control thingy (I don't actually remember what they were in the arcade) moving your shield up/middle/down, and another moving your sword thrusts in similar fashion as you progress down a tunnel packed with individual opponents. Only problem with it is that you have to watch your opponent very carefully to block where he's aiming, or he'll knock off your armor at that point (pretty cool) and then kill you there (not so cool). Mm oh, that's a problem because I don't have the patience to watch the CPU that closely. :p
|Download added: 08kickandrun.gif (67614 bytes)|
"Kick and Run: Yeah, that's another one going in."
Kick and Run
Cute graphics, but horrible control. Kicks just don't seem to travel like you'd want (hm maybe I'm missing something; mine wouldn't go very far, but the CPU could loft them a halfway decent distance into my goal...), and on defense, it auto-switches which character you're controlling so frequently that you can't maintain any kind of pursuit whatsoever, so all the CPU has to do is dribble downfield and shoot it, more or less. Urgh.
|Download added: 09scrambleformation.gif (91122 bytes)|
"Scramble Formation: Looks better in still shots than it actually plays."
Known as "Tokio" in the States, this vertical shooter looks okay in still screenshots, but the motion is pretty darn jerky, and enemy bullets really hard to see. You get little option planes as powerups, and can trigger them into different formations. Eh. Stage/enemy designs are pretty generic from what I saw.
|Download added: 10exzisus.gif (41037 bytes)|
"Exzisus: Bless you."
Feels kind of like Moon Patrol (see entry ), except you're a guy who transforms into a ship while moving along some planet far out in space. Control is jerky (actually moves too fast), the hitbox is huge, and the abstract alien enemies kind of dull. Gets difficult in a hurry, too.
|Download added: 11superqix.gif (60171 bytes)|
"Super Qix: The "HURRY" object is actually a good thing."
Maan these games are hard; I always seem to pick the wrong moment to make a rush to seal off the level. Graphics are far from the best, especially the blank background that's in place until you fill in the stage, but the control is sharp.
|Download added: 12rainbowislands.gif (54997 bytes)|
"Rainbow Islands: Rainbows are for building stairways to turnips."
I've decided I hate this game. I think I wanted to like it ever since reading in some Amiga magazine way back in the day that the Amiga port (European apparently, never played) was awesome. But the fact is that despite its vibrant, lively cartoonish graphics, and fruit/sweets powerups that pop up everywhere, the control is really frustrating. The character's jump has a weird rigid up/down movement to it, and running along your little rainbow bridges (which you throw out and climb in order to get to the top of the platform pit in which you start) is a slidy affair that has you sloshing straight into a badguy more often than not, it seems like. Mehhhh.
|Download added: 13operationthunderbolt.gif (68912 bytes)|
"Operation Thunderbolt: Central Americans have no rights! Yar!"
This uzi-light-gun-toting game was pretty fun in the arcade, but isn't very fun with a PS2 pad. The bad guys just light you up constantly.
|Download added: 14continentalcircus.gif (93366 bytes)|
"Continental Circus: If only the game itself would do that."
See that shifter again? Down in the corner there.
The rendered terrain goes 3D this time, but the steering doesn't quite feel like it has all its Ds in a row, if you know what I mean. Corners jolt out of nowhere, and it seems like your car is either turning full-bore, or not at all, which doesn't help at all with the aforesaid corners. Get too far off the track and your car explodes, whee.
|Download added: 15chukataisen.gif (57744 bytes)|
"Chuka Taisen: all your bowls of soup (?) belong to us."
Previously ported to the PC Engine, it looks slightly better here. Stuff comes at you faster than I remember it having done in the PCE version--meaning this is hard!
|Download added: 16asukaandasuka.gif (98702 bytes)|
"Asuka & Asuka: Under attack by...flaming pink flying eyeballs?"
Asuka & Asuka
Vertical shooter, and not really a good one. Graphics are without flair, without really smooth animation, control is jerky, and the gameplay is very generic.
|Download added: 17sci.gif (95116 bytes)|
"SCI: Nothing like having a buddy in the bitch seat with a bazooka."
SCI: Special Criminal Investigation
This is actually a pretty cool driving combat game. Staying on the road isn't a problem, there are lots of cars to dodge, and then you get to have long chase battles with the bad-guys you're supposed to apprehend/blow-up.
My only problem with it at the moment is that I suck at it. With the first criminal boss, you get a bazooka with four shots or so, that can take it down pretty good if you get in all the shots, but I'm not so good at that. Once you're out of shells, your gunner buddy can shoot a handgun, but it doesn't actually do any damage, with is...extremely unintuitive. Instead, you have to ram the bugger repeatedly, which is tough because you lose some control each time you do that, and he goes zipping off ahead, and you have to catch up again. Meanwhile your gas/timer thing is ticking down, and I always just run out mid-fight. You can continue, but you have to redo the fight from the beginning, so that doesn't really help. Darn my lack of skills!
| paleface 19:14:26 03/17/07 [relations updated] |
|Download added: 18dariusii.gif (69713 bytes)|
"Darius II: Leetness in 8:4 display."
This game got an exemplary CD port to PC Engine (see entry 547), but the kicker here is the option to play it in an 8:4 aspect ratio that simulates the arcade version's super-wide dual-screen display. It's an awesome setup for a side-scrolling shooter. Interesting though that it does make the game feel a bit sluggish, since you can see things coming from way off in the distance; that doesn't really diminish the cool factor, though. You can switch it down to 4:3 if the wideness is messin' with you.
It's a touch shooter 'cause there are a ton of environmental hazards (like giant flaming lava balls), your ship has a huge hitbox, and you don't have a Bomb weapon to blast your way through the really tough parts; you've just got to grind it out with your gun. But the graphics are lush, the enemies inventive, and the orchestrated music incredible. I'm complete garbage at the game, but I love it nonetheless.
| paleface 19:19:53 03/17/07 [relations updated] |
|Download added: 19championwrestler.gif (111946 bytes)|
"Champion Wrestler: Round and round he goes..."
This button-mashing wrestler got a pretty good PCE port (see entry 514), and a mostly name-only PS1 port (see entry 45), but this is by far the best version I've seen so far. The control is very responsive, and the wrestlers really fly across the mat and smash each other with satisfyingly strong animation and sound. You can climb up on the turnbuckle and do a flying elbow nearly all the way across the ring!
Yes, it's some stompin' action indeed. Playing on a PS3 with the SixAxis, I find that I can't really do enough button-mashing/stick-waggling to fight off the CPU's pins after the first fight--you have to thrash the controls to build up your power meter, see. Man, when is a real PS2 controller adapter for the PS3 gonna come out...
|Download added: 20fightinghawk.gif (87857 bytes)|
"Fighting Hawk: missile bomb against a midboss."
I hadn't heard about this vertical shooter before, but it's a good'un. Sure, the military-themed sprites aren't incredible, and you'll see some weird draw-order problems when they go under/over/through trees and stuff sometimes, but it's still a very solid, challenging shooter with plenty of action.
The first level is surprisingly easy to beat on one life, but once you get to the second level, the difficulty level goes way up, unless you have your gun powered up four or more stages--it shoots straight in more and more streams, then around five or six starts branching into a wider cross-spread shot, which is pretty awesome. So with it powered up you can bull your way through most everything, but if you happen to get hit by a stray shot or something, and you're back to the default power level, you are in for a sore time of it indeed.
The bomb is interesting: instead of a big explosive blast type of thing, it launches out a volley of missiles that both eat up incoming bullets, and track separately at enemies. It feels a little less overwhelmingly powerful than nuke-type bombs in other games, but it also seems kind of more hardcore and realistic, somehow.
|Download added: 21spacegun.gif (70587 bytes)|
"Space Gun: The dark headless aliens on stage 2 don't like you much."
This step-by-step scrolling, rail-shooter, light-gun first-person (did all that make sense?) shooter rams a ton of aliens straight down your throat. It's tough to keep up with them using just a control pad, and not really all that fun; I found that I was simply raking my fire back and forth across the screen at about head-height, hoping to decapitate at least a few of the darn tough aliens before they could get close enough to slash me. More of a chore than an enjoyable experience. I'd really like to play this with an actual light gun.
|Download added: 22ninjakids.gif (115662 bytes)|
"Ninja Kids: His ninja power is...summoning small ninjas? Note the Kiki Kaikai poster."
This beat-em-up with ridiculous, rip-em-in-half cartoon violence everywhere has its endearing ultraviolent charms, particularly in the daffy dialogue and character designs shown in inter-level cutscenes, but the control and hit detection is a little rough, so that I just didn't feel like the game was capable of allowing me to dodge in and out as I would have liked, which is, you know, something you'd want to be able to do as a ninja, I would think. Also, hitting a badguy often doesn't interrupt his attack, so you both end up hitting each other. This makes it kind of a clunky slugfest, which is all right, but could have been a bit better.
|Download added: 23dinorex.gif (111643 bytes)|
"Dino Rex: Yeah... This is not going so well."
Wow. This has got to be one of the worst games ever. The battlin' dinos are digitized and animated so poorly that you can't even tell what your own dino is doing, and the special move controls are extremely jerky and unresponsive, at least on a pad. It feels like the slightest hit by the enemy sends you into a long, uncontrollable recoil, allowing him to pounce on you and hit you with another attack that animates so poorly that you don't even see it hit. Stinky stinky poo!
| paleface 19:44:18 03/17/07 [relations updated] |
|Download added: 24rayforce.gif (95212 bytes)|
"RayForce: The first boss-type fellow is impressive."
Day-um this is one slick shooter. I never really understood the fanfare paid to the more 3D follow-ups, RayStorm and RayCrisis (see entry 72), but I found the angled 3D perspective of those games distracting and confusing, whereas this one is a traditional direct top-down view, with mostly 2D graphics that pan so smoothly I think they must be rendered on animated 3D surfaces. One of the early bosses is definitely 3D. This game is the definition of how 2D and 3D should come together. It looks amazing, controls intuitively, and moves so butter-smooth.
It's got the lock-on of the later games, where you wave the reticle fixed ahead of your craft over ground-based, large-target-fixed, or background-based targets and it locks on them automatically, then you hit them with a tracking laser burst from the second button. This takes a little getting used to, and I think I'd still prefer being able simply to shoot everything with a primary weapon, but I guess it does add some variety and depth (literally :p) to the gameplay. But that doesn't mean I have to like it!
Still, the presentation is near flawless, with astounding visual design. There's plenty of white-knuckle action even aside from the lock-on aspect. This is so way much more my thing than the angled-view fully 3D sequels.
|Download added: 25bubblememories.gif (118648 bytes)|
"Bubble Memories: Insane bubble sprite action, plus giant amphibians."
Bubble Memories: The Story of Bubble Bobble III
Yes, yes, yes! This takes Bubble Bobble to several levels higher up, with an incredible amount of sprite animation filling each single-screen platform level. It is unending cute sprite carnage, which is how every game should be, if you ask me. There are bosses that literally fill almost the entire screen, and massive point prizes to grab on all sides. It's incredibly fun and energetic, with extremely responsive control (I'm still not used to how easily you can double-jump off floating bubbles--I keep catapulting myself into flying enemies accidentally ;), and co-op action. It's true that in a way the seemingly endless series of bubble-filled single-screen stages can start to feel repetitive, no matter how much design variation each one has, but darn it, that's the zone I for one want to stay in.
Now come on Taito, and bring on Bubble Symphony! =D
|Some of the games in this collection have sluggish controls. The ship in Darius II, for instance, is noticeably reluctant to respond to changes in direction, and directional changes in Bubble Memories are so delayed that it feels as though every stage is a slippy-slidey ice level.|| ||