Review – Taito Milestones 2

There is nothing more annoying than someone demanding that you list any number of pieces of art created by an artist or group. Most people could probably name three Beatles songs off the top of their heads with zero hesitation, but there are plenty who can’t, and that’s perfectly fine. You can listen to “Yesterday” and just enjoy it without needing to defend your tastes by naming which album it’s from, and eight other tracks on said album. Additionally, this is super annoying because not every song by the Beatles is good. Look, for every “Ticket to Ride” or “Paperback Writer”, there’s also “Another Girl” or “Your Mother Should Know”. You can just like what you like and not need to enjoy EVERYTHING that someone did.

With Taito Milestones 2, famed developer and publisher Taito again digs into their back catalog of games from the 80s and early 90s to showcase all they were doing in a time when arcades were king. This collection is a bit of an oddball one in comparison to their previous release. Like the previous set, these ten games are a healthy mix of some familiar faces (The Legend of Kage, Darius III), and ones that I had literary never heard of before (Liquid Kids, Dinorex). Each and every title is available to play from a fully arcade perspective, which is to say that you can just keep adding digital coins and brute force your way through everything. Most games ask for two buttons at the most plus a joystick, and everything after that is just plain as butter gameplay.

Taito Milestones 2 molecules

Collect the molecules, shoot EVERYTHING ELSE.

This is a bit of a tough sell because there’s three factors at play: history, nostalgia, and modernism. Since these titles come from later in Taito’s development cycle, the quality for everything is significantly higher. Most of the graphics of the classic arcade cabinets would feel right at home in your average pixel indie game nowadays, with some being on the money for modern titles of specific genres. The sound fidelity is equally as high: Gun Frontier has some of the best music I’ve ever heard in a vertical shmup, actually bringing some real emotion to the forefront of my otherwise uninspired shooting rampage.

Additionally, there are games that hold up in a MASSIVE way. Darius III obviously holds a torch as a beloved danmaku title, but I was stunned by how much I was drawn into Metal Black, a game I had sadly never played before. Another “get in a spaceship and shoot invading aliens” deal, the graphics and set design were AMAZING. When a downed aircraft carrier turned out to be the shell for a massive crab, my jaw hit the floor. There are concepts that exist here that could be used in modern ideas. New Zealand Story, a quirky platformer about a kiwi bird with a bow and arrow, was a collectathon romp, grabbing fruit and items as quickly as I could while avoiding violence from all sides.

Taito Milestones 2 circus

I have no idea if this is offensive or not, but it’s from Japan in the 80s, so probably.

Some are first time titles for the West, which works out and also doesn’t. The aforementioned Liquid Kids is about a dog who throws water to knock out enemies, and sometimes the water converges into a river that can take out a lot of enemies at once. While cute and interesting, it slows down a ton after just a few screens, which lends to stuttering deaths and the already repetitive music to repeat itself multiple times over. Ben Bero Beh is an absolute mess of a firefighting game that left me utterly perplexed as to how it even got made. There’s fire, but also random people running out of doors, and sometimes fall damage, and I couldn’t stop playing it fast enough.

Taito Milestones 2 putting out fires

Remember how we relied on masked super heroes to put out fires and rescue women? No? Me either!

But you can see how things like Ben Bero Beh gave inspiration to later games, like Bubble Bobble (not featured in this collection). The historic elements are probably the most important point to this collection. Without Kiki Kaikai, we never would have had Pocky and Rocky. Yes, the tanuki is missing from this game, but the core elements of using shrine-adjacent tools and items to fight off enemies is important. The Legend of Kage, despite being very repetitive and floaty, is a direct line to Demon Sword (such an excellent NES game) and Ninja Hayate, which, in turn, paves the way for Time Gal. Being able to pick these up is like finding early drafts of stories you love or rough demos of the music you listen to every day. 

boss battles

This soybean throwing boss will definitely make his return in future installments.

The one that really had me scratching my head was Dinorex, which is so similar to Primal Rage that I had to check release dates. Dinorex, a stop motion dinosaur fighting game where cavemen cheer you on as you brutalize each other. This is one of those record scratching moments where you see the way that two companies, who had no contact or influence whatsoever, managed to craft something eerily similar. However, Primal Rage is still a competent fighter to this day and also has an insane primate with a urine fatality. Dinorex handles like six drunk prairie dogs fighting over a Colecovision controller and creates the same atmosphere: fascinating to behold but not really how you’d want to spend more than five minutes.

Taito Milestones 2 dinosaurs

Plus every dino fight looks like a one night stand between two people who hate each other.

While this isn’t going to become a regular rotation for me, I sincerely admire and appreciate what Taito Milestones 2 is doing. Taito has such a wonderful history of creations and I don’t have access to most of them, nor do a majority of the world. The ability to look at these games and see them on modern hardware with a genuinely focused attempt at porting them brings a smile to my face. Fans, especially physical collectors, will want to own these relics, and game enthusiasts will want to see the sheer variety of arcade titles that Taito could create. Now to wait patiently for Taito Milestones 3 (confirmed for 2024) and see if we get a modern way to play Lufia II…


Graphics: 8.0

Pulling from newer hardware and some choice arcade boards, graphics are still mostly pixels, but a lot of anime influence in the Japanese titles, plus some wild swings with the stop motion dinosaur designs.

Gameplay: 6.5

Many games suffer from slowdown when the going gets tough, and the flickering can be distracting and disarming for players unprepared. Ultra simple arcade mapping means sometimes having a great time and sometimes being incredibly bored.

Sound: 7.5

Wildly fluctuates from game to game. Didn’t like anything about the sounds for Liquid Kids or Ben Bero Beh, but Gun Frontier and Metal Black have amazing soundscapes, especially considering the era.

Fun Factor: 7.5

Being able to quickly toggle between ten decent arcade games with infinite quarters speaks to the kid in me in a big way. While they’re not all my favorites, they capture what made my childhood excellent.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Taito Milestones 2 is available now on Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Taito Milestones 2 was provided by the publisher.