Inin and Taito have followed up their modern, vintage collection of arcade games, Taito Milestones, with another collection – aptly titled Taito Milestones 2. As with the first retro collection, this one is another collection of ten games from Taito’s arcade history, ranging from 1984 to 1992. As with many retro collections, there’s a fairly wide variety of genres on display here, essentially giving you something for everyone – but also a few duds.
Of course, with retro collections, there’s also a fair amount of nostalgia involved as well. Unless you’re looking back into gaming history and are a fan of preservation, that nostalgia factor keeps you going and is a key selling point. That isn’t to say that there aren’t good games from the old-school era, but journeying back to how we actually felt playing many of them all those years ago is a big feature.
What’s in Taito Milestones 2?
In that regard, beyond appreciation for more easily accessible forms of preservation, this collection is no different. How much you’ll appreciate what’s on offer will come down to your history with the individual games. That said, there are some gems here that, even if you hadn’t played them before, still hold up really well today.
Ben Bero Beh (1984)
A game in which the hero, Dami-Chan, has to save his girlfriend from an apartment fire. This plays somewhat similarly to Elevator Action, except it’s all set on one screen and you have to put out fires before the floor collapses.
The Legend of Kage (1985)
It’s ninja time here where you, the good ninja, have to save a princess from evil ninjas in a rather traditional side-scrolling beat-em-up.
Kiki Kaikai (1986)
This is the precursor to the Pocky & Rocky games and has you fighting Yokai to save the Gods. Technically, it’s a “schmup”, and it’s interesting to see the origin of the Pocky & Rocky games, which recently received a stunning remake.
New Zealand Story (1988)
Somewhat of a legendary platformer from my youth, as there was only one shop in my area that had it. The chance to save your cute fellow kiwis (the birds, not actual New Zealanders) in this action platformer always had kids grouped around it.
Darius II – 3 Screen Arcade Version (1989)
More side-scrolling “schmup” action here as you have to save the solar system from the mysterious Belser. We’ve seen Darius many times before, but this is the first time the “3-screen arcade edition” has been released outside of arcades. It makes for an interesting viewing experience.
Gun Frontier (1990)
Yet another “schmup” as space becomes the new Wild West. The dastardly Wild Lizard faction, space pirates extraordinaire, need a good whupping.
Liquid Kids (Mizubaku Adventure) (1990)
This is a colourful platformer that takes its cue from the Bubble Bobble series as you have to save Woody Lake from Fire Satan.
Metal Black (1991)
Rogue pilot John Ford has to stop an alien invasion by using their own technology against them. Yet, another side scrolling “schmup”.
Solitary Fighter (1991)
Fighting fans rejoice as you journey back to the 1950’s to become the strongest fighter there is in underground tournaments. This is an updated version of Violence Fight.
Another fighter… but this time you take control of dinosaurs who are used by Amazons to fight for them. Somewhat reminiscent of Primal Rage.
Brief impressions and QoL additions
So there’s a fair amount of variety across these ten titles, taking into account what was capable with the technology at the time, and what genres were popular in the arcades. Some of these games stand up really well, like New Zealand Story, which is still a fun platformer. As is Liquid Kids, whose use of the Bubble Bobble mechanics looks wonderful still.
Darius II – 3 Screen Arcade Version takes a while to get used to what is, essentially, an ultra-wide display compressed onto a handheld screen. Meanwhile Metal Black and Gun Frontier proved two surprisingly great “schmups”, with interesting ship designs and stages that kept me playing longer than I thought I would. Kiki Kaikai is also a solid “schmup” set in Japan, which is rather challenging thanks to the controls. That said, fans of the Pocky & Rocky games will really enjoy this one.
Less successful in standing the test of time is Legend of Kage, with gameplay that may be quite simple but hasn’t aged well. Finally, there are only two games in this collection that I don’t think are great no matter how much nostalgia you may have for them: Dinorex and Solitary Fighter. Solitary Fighter is simply far too awkward to play now, and the same goes for Dinorex, whose mechanics simply don’t work well either. I loved the animation that brought to mind old stop-motion creature features – even when it looked like the body parts weren’t connected to the rest of the dinosaur – but, sadly, the mechanics just don’t feel fleshed out or responsive enough to be fun.
Rounding out the package are the usual quality-of-life improvements that we’ve come to expect from retro collections. You’ve got difficulty and life settings, button remapping, interrupt saves, CRT filters, and the ability to resize and rotate the display frame or wallpapers.
One major noticeable omission, because most retro collections have now made it a standard, is a gallery to view artwork, listen to music, or view production material. It’s a small omission, but one I wish would have been included as I find these behind-the-scenes materials fascinating. Taito Milestones 2 dropped the ball here and we hope that any future collection includes more bonus materials.
Outside of Dinorex and Solitary Fighter, Taito Milestones 2 is another, solid retro collection that might both appeal to your sense of nostalgia for some of the classic arcade games available, and possibly introduce some new favourites into your life.
Taito Milestones 2 (Nintendo Switch) ReviewTaito Milestones 2 (Nintendo Switch) Review
- A solid collection of titles
- Useful quality-of-life settings
- Some great schmups are a personal highlight
- No gallery or behind the scenes material
- Dinorex and Solitary Fighter. Nuff said