Taito finally gets into the retro act with a decent compilation that feels just a tad lesser than similar titles.
Taito released several well-known titles, most notably the title that really started the arcade craze to begin with: Space Invaders. Through the 1980s, they put out hits like Rastan, Bubble Bobble, Operation: Wolf, and Elevator Action. All those titles, and several more, are represented here in all their old-school goodness.
One of the strongest assets this title has is the number of genres it covers. Shooters, fighters, puzzles, platformers, and driving are all here, along with a host of oddball, indefinable titles. As many of these titles do, there are a fair number of titles that will likely be unfamiliar to American audiences, and out of those you're certain to find another favorite new addiction. The sounds are all just like they were, and any language translation glitches (there's a ton of "Engrish" in many of Taito's games) have thankfully been left uncorrected in all their misspelt glory.
Like many compilations, there's a few head-scratching omissions, like Arkanoid and its sequels, but I prefer to think they've been saved for next time. A few titles, like Jungle Hunt, almost don't look bad enough, leading me to suspect some graphical tweaking. And while you know these games are all being emulated, a few titles "feel" emulated, something I've never felt on a compilation before. Most agitating is the need to manually set each machine individually to the actual lives/difficulty from the arcade game. Nothing against easy and hard modes, but the original settings should have been the default. Obviously games that had a light gun suffer a tad, but a generous sweet spot in the aiming reticle mostly compensates, and I found myself getting nearly exactly as far as I ever could on those games when I played them in the arcades.
The gameplay is good, but no better, and the lack of control mapping, despite tons of unused buttons, makes playing a bunch of games in one sitting potentially frsutrating, especially when some games are X-Jump, O-Fire and others are X-Fire, O-Jump. The graphics and sound are like they were in the arcade: not quite as good as the competition, but made up for in fun. At less than 70¢ per title, the game packs in value. While Taito may have had an admittedly deserved reputation in the arcades as being a bit low-rent compared to the big guns, and this disc continues that trend to a degree, it's still a worthy addition to an old-school gamer's collection, or as a great stocking stuffer for someone too young to have played them originally.