Review – Taito Milestones

Taito is one of the most important video game developers of all time. When you are the one responsible for Space Invaders, you have cemented your legacy for eternity. But here’s the thing, Space Invaders was not their only surefire hit. After all, they were also responsible for Arkanoid, Bubble Bobble, Darius, and many other games not a lot of people remember. This brand new collection by ININ Games, dubbed Taito Milestones, is here to remind us of Taito’s output in the early-to-mid 80s, in the golden age of arcade gaming.

Elevator Action

You may have heard of Elevator Action.

There are many games in this collection, which vary massively in terms of genre, complexity, and to be fair, quality. Before I continue, I need to point out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the quality of the emulation in this collection. It was done by Hamster Corporation, the people behind the Arcade Archives series of games, and it’s good. All games run well, look decent enough, and there are a few visual trinkets you can play with, such as screen filters… and that’s basically it. No extra features, no art galleries, no concept art, no regional variants. You are here for the ten or so games in the collection, for a brief history lesson. Whether you think the overall quality of the games in the collection is worth your money is up for debate, however.

Taito Milestones Qix

Qix has aged like an 80s hair metal music video.

Taito Milestones is a tremendous mixed bag of a collection when it comes to the quality of these titles. Some of them are pretty good. Others have aged like spoiled mayonnaise. I try to be as fair as possible when it comes to dealing with really old titles, but there are some games in here that are simply not fun to play at all, and I really cannot imagine people back in 1981 having a crack at them either. Front Line might be considered a pioneer in the twin-stick shooter genre, but my goodness, these controls are clunky. It is almost unplayable. Qix might have been innovative for the time, but the damn thing is ugly to look at, even for 1981 standards, and borderline cryptic.

Taito Milestones The Ninja Warriors

The Ninja Warriors is fast-paced, cheesy and absolutely ridiculous. It is my favorite game in this collection.

On the other hand, there are some bangers in Taito Milestones. Elevator Action might be the most famous of these unfamous games. Granted, its platforming is lethargic, but it’s really fun, and its premise feels fresh even in 2022. I even remember having a blast with a Dexter’s Laboratory-themed Elevator Action clone released for the Game Boy Color back in the day. I have to say, if there is a reason to buy this collection, that reason is Elevator Action… until you realise the same Hamster Corporation had already released a standalone version of this emulated arcade ROM three years ago. Logic.

Other highlights include The Fairyland Story, which is basically a spiritual successor to the Bubble Bobble games, and The Ninja Warriors, which is not only the “newest” of the games in this collection (1987!), the best looking, and the best sounding (for real, its soundtrack is a collection of utter bangers), but arguably the best and most fun title you can enjoy in Taito Milestones. It is a simple beat ’em up, sure, but it controls well, it’s fast-paced, and it is so damn ridiculous in terms of its premise I can’t help but smile when playing it. You control a robotic ninja trying to rescue the President of the United States, for crying out loud.

Taito Milestones Front Line

Front Line is the template for what would eventually turn into the twin-stick shooter genre… but damn, this ain’t a fun game.

Taito Milestones is a reminder that Taito has released more than just Space Invaders and Breakout clones. Sadly, it is also a reminder as to why none of the games included in this collection are fondly remembered. Some of the games included in this collection are just not fun to play at all. There’s also the fact that there is nothing included in this collection besides the games themselves; there are no extras, no art galleries, nothing. It is a barebones collection of both great and terrible arcade games. When you average them up, you get a resounding “it’s fine, I guess” as a result.

Graphics: 6.0

Nothing inherently wrong with the quality of the porting. Some games look great, while others look terrible.

Gameplay: 6.0

Some games control pretty well, such as Elevator Action. Others, like Front Line, are a pain to deal with. Bear in mind that there’s nothing wrong with the emulation per se; those flaws are a consequence of these games’ dated design choices.

Sound: 6.0

Yet again, it depends on the game you’re playing. I loved The Ninja Warriors‘ soundtrack, while other games barely featured anything more than a few blips and noises. When you average them out, you get a resounding “meh”.

Fun Factor: 6.0

Taito Milestones is a reminder that Taito has released more than just Space Invaders and Breakout clones. It’s also a reminder as to why none of the games included in this collection are fondly remembered.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Taito Milestones is available now on Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Taito Milestones was provided by the publisher.