Ports, remasters, collections, and other re-releases are common in this modern age of gaming. Hell, game’s from the last gen are still being updated for new technology, which is some of the quickest turn around we have seen yet. Ports were far and few in between in generations past, but the further the gaming-sphere progresses, the more concerns about preservation (and ways to make money off of nostalgia) arise. Some full remakes are complete passion projects, staying true to what made these originals so great while bringing them into a new light. Some remasters, on the other hand, add new content or commentary, restore deleted features or include some other element to make it the “ultimate” release at that point.
And then you have collections like the one we are taking a look at today: Taito Milestones. This collection takes 10 of the companies definitive arcade hits to bring players down memory lane, or down a gaming street they have never traversed. It features the following 10 titles: Alpine Ski, Wild Western, Front Line, QIX, Space Seeker, Elevator Action, Chack’n Pop, The Fairyland Story, Halley’s Comet, and The Ninjawarriors. For full disclosure, I was only familiar with Elevator Action, QIX, and Front Line prior to playing the collection. In my defense, I was born 6 years after the most recent game in the series, so I ended up playing the ones I was familiar with my dad via bootleg ROM controllers, or as I call them now, historical preservation devices from the flea market.
There is a lot of variety here, and I had some great experiences with a few of the titles, and found the controls and gameplay on others heavily dated. The actual collection, I have no problems with, but the presentation and subsequently, its price point, are where I feel the mark was entirely missed. At $40 digitally, what you see is almost entirely what you get. No music player, no rewind feature, nothing really…. And I suppose that isn’t entirely promised, nor does it have to be. At $40, however, I feel like players wanting more would be entirely warranted. Sure, some titles are going to carry nostalgia that would be worth it for some, but for being such a historic collection, you think there would be something else here that shows the appreciation for such a notion. Now, these titles are technically part of the “Arcade Archives” releases, which are standalone retro titles on the eShop, so presumably those versions also lack unique features. At $7.99 per game, you are technically saving with this collection of 10 games, but it still feels like it is missing value.
The features you do get are some screen adjustments and rotations, as well as access to manuals, and saving where you currently are. Even that saving option is a bit lacking, as its just a quick save of sorts that boots you to that spot when you relaunch the game. No slots, images, or timestamps to help you recall when and where you left off. When reviewing your control schemes, there are some ROUGH edges around the button displays. It is small things like this that, when you play these bite sized experiences, you start to notice all the other details around the collection that again do not warrant the price tag.
The games themselves though, have some saving graces. I don’t want to review each individual title, as my play time with each was varied and everyone that takes part in the collection will have different thoughts across the 10. Alpine Ski, Front Line, and Wild Western were my least favorite, as the stiff controls and low margin of error made them hard to want to continue playing. Having played Front Line before, I didn’t remember it being that hard out the gate, and felt the amount of enemies that immediately enter the battlefield was quickly hard to deal with. Space Seeker is funky in presentation, as it is hard to tell what you are doing and what the objective is at first, but becomes a lot more engaging once you figure out the overworld and how to aim once in battle. Chack’n Pop and The Fairyland Story both offer some platforming goodness in very different play styles, and are equally as difficult as some of the other games on display. I really liked the concept of Halley’s Comet, as a sort Galaga meets 1942. That is one of the more core arcade experiences on hand.
Elevator Action is a classic in my book, a notion that has be forced onto me since it is one of my dad’s all time favorites. There is a surprising amount of depth to it, with movement and mobility being core to survival, as well as the need to quickly map routes and react quick to incoming shots and sending them back. It’s a fun spy romp for sure. Though familiar with QIX prior, I do not think I had ever actually played it in the past. Shame on me. It is a damn captivating game, which is not what I thought I’d be saying when I first booted it up. The creepy science-sci-fi music(?) playing as you avoid bombs and a cryptic, daunting color prism monster sets the mood. Once you realize there is a risk/reward sort of strategy to the gameplay, the desire to continue playing goes way up, with it becoming a “ok just one more time” sort of deal. The most fun I had with the collection was with The Ninja Warriors
The Ninja Warriors has survived the test of time. The aspect ratio on a modern 4K set looked gorgeous. Colors were vivid, and the wide screen let you see incoming enemies and bullets with ease. It has fun, arcade worthy tunes playing as you beat up military men, ninjas, and hunchback assassins with a friend. I played as many games as I could in 2-player mode, but most were in a way that you take turns. This one allowed my brother and I to share in that classic arcade gameplay that beat-em-ups consistently showcase. I was also impressed by the ahead of its time damage system, with your characters losing skin and showing damage over time as their health bar’s dwindled. I was truly surprised at how cool The Ninja Warriors is.
So, there is fun to be had, especially if you bring nostalgia into the whole deal. Again, I think the $40 price tag is steep, and maybe should have been reserved for the physical edition. For that price point on a digital version though, it’s a shame it does not offer something of value to those with nostalgia and preservation front of mind. Some fan service or additional passion features could have made this feel more complete, and less like a paint by the numbers assortment. There are certainly cheaper and better collections on the market, but if you want to get these 10 games in one place, look no further.
*Note: A copy of the title was provided for the purposes of the review
FINAL SCORE: 6/10
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