Taito Legends Hands-On

We travel back to the Taito-filled arcades of yesteryear with a near-finished Xbox version of this upcoming classics compilation.

Currently scheduled for release in North America later this month, Taito Legends is a compilation of no fewer than 29 classic arcade games for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and the PC. We recently had an opportunity to spend some time with a near-finished Xbox version of the collection, and we can report that at least some of Taito's earliest offerings are as enjoyable today as they ever were. As is generally the case with classic compilations, Taito Legends is a collection that includes the good, the bad, and the ugly, and your level of interest will essentially be determined by just how fondly you remember all, or at least some of, the included games.

Among the 29 games included in Taito Legends are a number of real gems, such as Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, Operation Wolf, Rainbow Islands, and The New Zealand Story. Less obvious games that we found difficult to put down once we started playing them included Elevator Action, Thunder Fox, Exzisus, Super Qix, and the most recent game on the compilation, 1993's Tube It. You'll choose which game you want to play using a menu that includes pictures of the original arcade cabinets, a basic description of the game, and your current high score.

Once you've chosen a game, you'll be taken to a menu from which you can read a more detailed game description, check out the game's controls, read hints and tips from Taito, and take a look at the original sales flyers used to promote the game. You can also watch developer interviews for a handful of the most popular games. These interviews aren't very long, but they do occasionally contain some really interesting bits of trivia.

Some of the less obvious Taito classics are actually very addictive.

Another interesting feature of Taito Legends is that, unlike the arcade originals, many of the games will give you the option to change certain options before you play. You'll be able to choose from multiple difficulty levels, decide how many lives you start with, and even specify at what score you'll be awarded a bonus life. The options available to you will vary for each game, of course, and while the purists among you might not appreciate some of the custom options, you'll be pleased to hear that it's possible to disable the infinite continues feature that so often makes home console versions of arcade games a cakewalk.

You might be a little disappointed, however, to learn that there's no way for you to compare your scores against those of other players using online leaderboards, and that none of the games let you customize their occasionally less-than-perfect control setups. These are minor gripes, though, and we really didn't have any problems with the controls once we familiarized ourselves with them.

Puzzle Bobble and Chase HQ might be conspicuously absent, but Taito Legends is a decent-looking compilation nonetheless. Expect a full review of the collection as its release date nears.

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