Taito Milestones – Review
Follow Genre: Arcade collection
Developer: Taito, Hamster Corporation
Publisher: ININ Games, United Games Entertainment
Platform: Switch
Tested on: Switch

Taito Milestones – Review

Site Score
5.8
Good: Top-notch emulation
Bad: Feels like a cynical cash grab
User Score
8.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Whether it’s the games included with a Switch Online subscription or Square Enix’s ports of PS1-era titles, owners of Nintendo’s hybrid handheld are certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to accessing the games of yesteryear. The majority of these titles hail from the late ‘90s and early 2000s, but Hamster Corporation is now offering gamers the chance to revisit an earlier era with Taito Milestones. This collection of early ‘80s games features a selection of ports previously released through Arcade Archives and supplements this with additional titles. It does come with a rather hefty price tag, so read on if you want to know it’s worth picking up.

As Taito Milestones comprises no less than ten titles, from a wide variety of genres, we’re deviating from our usual review format to look at the collection as a whole. None of the games presented here are substantial enough to warrant a full individual review. That’s not to say that these are bad games, but they hail from a very different era when the video game industry was just getting started. As such, they are rather simplistic by today’s standards. Having a story didn’t really matter and audiovisual presentation was limited by the technology of the time. It’s impressive to see the evolution of ’80s hardware, as there is a massive difference in presentation between 1981’s Qix and 1987’s The Ninja Warriors but the collection doesn’t really give context on how things evolved during the six years between these two releases. The games included here also weren’t designed to be played at home, but rather in arcades, aiming to gobble up as many coins from unsuspecting gamers’ wallets as possible. However, rather than the predatory practices that we see with microtransaction-fueled titles these days, a game wouldn’t turn a profit unless it was also simply fun. This is where the gameplay comes in, and it is through gameplay that these games aim to prove just how timeless they are.

The full list of games comprises the following titles: Alpine Ski, Chack’n Pop, Elevator Action, The Fairyland Story, Front Line, Halley’s Comet, The Ninja Warriors, Space Seeker, Qix, and Wild Western. Full disclosure: seven out of these titles were already available as separate Arcade Archives releases on the eShop, with Qix, Space Seeker, and Chack’n Pop exclusive to this collection. Given the price tag, having three exclusives feels like a scummy move as Hamster Corporation is essentially forcing completionists to double-dip. This isn’t a new practice, of course, and we’ve seen something similar with Neo Geo Pocket Selection Vol. 1. For a collection subtitled Milestones, we also felt disappointed with the selection of titles included here. The original Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble, arguably Taito’s most famous games, are conspicuously absent here.

On the upside, the emulation of the included titles is top-notch, and the wide gameplay variety means that there is something here for everyone, whether you’re a fan of platformers, puzzle games, or beat ‘em ups. Even some of the trickier titles to emulate, such as The Ninja Warriors, which features a rather unusual horizontal screen setup, are rendered here cleanly and lovingly. If you’ve ever played an Arcade Archives release, you’ll already be familiar with the options present here, allowing you to tweak visual options and control schemes to your liking. Online leaderboards are also present for every game, if you wish to show the world just how skilled you are at Qix.

As for the gameplay itself, the offerings here are a bit of a mixed bag, with some of the titles having stood the test of time better than others. The weakest offering here is Front Line, a vertical scrolling game that sees you lob grenades and gunfire at your enemies. The game is -perhaps a bit ironically- outclassed by a title within the same collection, namely Wild Western, which features similar gameplay with a different theme. Our personal favorite title included in Taito Milestones is probably The Fairyland Story, a frankly adorable single-screen platformer where you need to cast spells to turn enemies into cake, before pushing them off platforms, preferably so that they land on other enemies and crush them.

All in all, Taito Milestones’ games are all worth checking out, if only for like an hour or so, but we’re not sure of their lasting appeal, especially with a younger audience. We feel like this collection is aimed at retro game enthusiasts first and foremost, rather than enticing a new audience to give Taito Milestones a shot. This is further enhanced by the fact that the price, for what is essentially ten emulated ROMs, seems excessively high. Yes, you’re getting ten games here, so if you divide the €39.99 asking price by ten, then things seem far more reasonable, but realistically, the only people that are going to want all ten of these games are completionists that likely already shelled out for the individual releases. If these had been ten bona fide classics, including the aforementioned Space Invaders, then paying full price for the collection would have been easier to swallow, but as it stands, this feels more like a quick cash grab rather than a must-have piece of video game history.

Speaking of video game history, another missed opportunity with Taito Milestones is that these games are presented as is, without adding some sort of bonus content. A digital gallery featuring concept art or box art would have gone a long way here, as would have short blurbs about the games themselves. Taking The Ninja Warriors as an example, an explanation of how the original arcade game was built around the screen setup would have gone a long way. Extras like this would have made Taito Milestones feel more like an essential purchase rather than a hastily slapped together bundle of previous releases, with three exclusive games to draw in completionists. There is a lot we can say about video game preservation, and we understand how important it is that games like these aren’t lost to history, but the way they are presented here feels like it’s not the right way to do so.

Conclusion

Taito Milestones reeks of a cynical cash grab first and foremost. While the emulation is top-notch, the work for this had been done previously for the individual releases. The selection of titles feels underwhelming because some of the actual milestones are missing, and the lack of extra content makes this an extra sour apple to bite through for completionists that shelled out for 70% of the content when it was released through Arcade Archives. Unless you absolutely have to have the three exclusive titles included in this bundle, we suggest simply picking up the individual games and skipping Taito Milestones as a whole.

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Rating: 8.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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Taito Milestones - Review, 8.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
SebastiaanRaats


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