The game title with multiple taito classics pictured in the background

TAITO Milestones 2 Review

Game: TAITO Milestones 2
Genre: Arcade, Action
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PS4)
Developer|Publisher: TAITO, Hamster | ININ Games
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US Teen
Price: US $39.99 | UK £34.99 | EU € 39,99
Release Date: August 31th, 2023

Review code provided with many thanks to PR Hound. 

Back For Seconds

With such a rich history of video games in the arcades, it’s no surprise Taito would return for a second milestone collection. Much like the first volume, these are ten titles developed by the arcade magician Hamster, all collected together in one neat package. As is the case with these retro collections, you have some brilliant hard hitters in this one, but it’s likely not every game will resonate. Three of the games in this collection are exclusive, whereas the others are available individually to purchase on the eShop. If you love your retro, this collection comes highly recommended. If you want to learn a bit more about the games in the collection, then read on my friend. 

Hamster Does Good Work

Before we jump into the games, let’s talk about the ports. I usually do this towards the end of the review, but I fancy being different this time. Each of the ten games has been ported with great care and attention by developer Hamster, famous for the Arcade Archives series. It’s important to remember that these games are ported with all warts and flaws you expect from the game, just as they were in the arcades.

What you do get instead is the ability to tweak display settings, customize control mapping to your liking and even customize various options for each game, such as difficulty settings. Another draw for some is the ability to post your high scores onto the online leaderboards and show off just how awesome you are to your friends and the world. You can set up a save state, but the game is lacking some of the modern features you tend to see in retro collections, like rewind functions (or, as I like to call it the oopsie button) or fast forward.

The same problem also presents itself in the first collection for me, where this game makes no effort to celebrate Taito’s significant presence in gaming history. No documents, videos or artwork. It’s a bit of a shame since previous collections back on the PS2 and Xbox had this. If you’re just here for the games, this is a great way to play them on modern systems without hunting down an absurdly expensive arcade cabinet.                

A kiwi is swimming in some water while wearing some cute goggles
New Zealand Story – Just taking a dip

The Games 

So, let’s talk about games and my brief thoughts on each.

New Zealand Story – easily my favourite in the collection. I have a history with this game. I used to play it back on the Amstrad computer and have always had a soft spot for it. It’s a cute little platformer where you play a Kiwi trying to save his family from an evil Walrus because, of course. The idea is to find your captured Kiwi brethren hidden at the end of the level. You must take out enemies along the way using a bizarre mixture of weapons like bombs, arrows and whatever gets dropped by the enemies.

You can also take control of some flying devices like balloons, provided you don’t accidentally pop them. On top of all that, you have a boss to deal with at the end of each stage. Did I mention each of the stages is set in an area of New Zealand? All these years later, this still remains a solid action platformer, and I love it.

Ben Bero Beh – This is probably one of the more obscure titles in this collection. It is a platformer where you play a superhero making your way gradually through an apartment complex, putting out fires and saving your girlfriend. This one takes a bit of getting used to with its slow movement. Ben doesn’t exactly move like a superhero. Although, it certainly is a game that grows on you with repeat playthroughs. As you progress, it does open up more, with more hazards to contend with. It’s unusual games like this I love seeing on these collections.

Ben can bee seeing putting out fires with a hose
Ben Bero Beh – No need to fear. Ben is here

More Games

Liquid Kids – another platformer, you control a cute, big-eyed doggie who has the ability to fling bubbles at enemies. It feels like Bubble Bobble but turned into a full-blown platform. It even shares some of the game design, like having the water bubbles pop and flow down platforms like a stream and removing enemies in its path. It’s easily the cutest game on the list.

Metal Black – One of three shooters in the collection. Metal Black feels like a pretty simple horizontal space shooter on its surface, but it does have its charms. You fly around space, taking out a plethora of enemies and gigantic bosses. You have a special weapon that can be powered up by collecting what looks like space sweeties (or candy if you’re American). Be patient and collect enough of these, and it unleashes a highly destructive laser beam, which is very satisfying to see. It’s a blast… pun intended.

Kiki Kaikai – A more unusual shooter where you play as Sayo, a shrine maiden on a quest to defeat some evil spirits. Your weapon of choice is some spells that shoot out of a wand and a rod to swing for some close-quarters melee. You scroll through the level at your own pace, both horizontally and vertically, whilst taking on several incoming ghouls. At the end of the level, a bigger, meaner ghoul awaits. I really liked the design of this game. It is another example of something different you don’t see often in gaming. My favourite moment is when Sayo loses a life. She just seems to take a humorous tumble to the floor rather than looking upset. 

The main character taking on a big but cute boss
Kiki Kaikai – the ghouls are kind of cute in this game.

Gun Frontier’s – Another shooter that flips things to vertical scrolling. I wasn’t so fond of this one since its difficulty was pretty steep. For this one, you’re taking on huge mechanical vehicles and avoiding a flurry of bullets in the process. The barrier to entry is pretty high. On death, you don’t respawn instantly, instead getting placed back further in the level, meaning you often need to repeat very difficult sections. Sure, it’s an arcade game, and you can sink as many credits in until you learn and win, but it doesn’t feel as accessible as other arcade shooters. It does, however look very pretty with its gritty mechanical design.

The Legend of Kage – a side-scrolling action game where you play as a ninja on a quest to save the Princess. Running through various locations like forests and temples, you must deal with many sneaky ninjas trying to stop you on your quest. You can throw shurikens or use a melee attack for close quarters. The attack for this is rather amusing as it makes the characters appear to have incredibly flexible limbs. One for the Ninja fans.

Several ninjas are jumping about with one just behind the lead character
The Legend of Kage – Watch Your Back

The Collection Keeps on Giving

Darius II – The first collection exclusive and easily the best of the three. Darius needs no introduction to Taito fans. This series has seen multiple releases on Switch and easily become one of my favourite space shooters to date. Or, in this case, weird fishy shooters. It is a side-scrolling shooter where you power up your laser weapons to take on massive fishy-looking monstrosities. This game version is presented in the three-screen format like it did in the original arcade. It’s not so bad in TV mode, but it’s a bit tricky to see in handheld. Much like other games in the series, this is a solid entry and one of the best games in this collection.

Solitary Fighter – the second exclusive on the collection. A one-on-one fighter where you take on opponents in street fights. What’s different about its design to most fighters is you can roam all around the level above and below your opponent. While fighting, often another baddie will jump into the fight to try to harm you by bringing a knife to a fistfight, which seems a little unfair.

Sprites are massive and detailed, and the animations are pretty impressive. As for the gameplay, it’s a bit clumsy. It is not exactly pick-up and-play and certainly will take many attempts to get used to. It’s probably more fun with a second human player. Like many arcade fighters, the game seems to let you win the first round with minimal skill, but after that, you get obliterated. Arcade games were mean.

Dino Rex – The third exclusive. Dinosaurs fighting in an arena sounds like an awesome time, but this was probably my least favourite in the collection. Select a dinosaur and waggle or button mash your way to success if possible. I had a lot of trouble just figuring out how to play this game. Seemed like you needed to rotate the stick and press an action button to do the best moves. But often, things just seemed to happen randomly. Like many arcade fighters, the AI was just too good for me to figure things out. It might be fun to play with a friend, but this didn’t do much for me. My kid might like it when he’s older if he’s still into dinosaurs.

A large pink dinosaur has collapsed in front of a green dinosaur
Dino Rex – How I feel most mornings

Conclusion: Insert Coin

Taito Milestones 2 is a second helping of arcade goodness that comes highly recommended for any fan of retro gaming. Much like the first collection, what stands out most about this is the games are more unusual and different than you may be used to, which is something I’ve always admired about Taito.

Of course, that means some of the games will be better than others but even those that didn’t click, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to try them on a modern system. It would have been nice to have more love for the history of Taito, but this still stands as the best way to enjoy these classic games on modern systems. Insert a fictitious coin and have fun.

Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot

I like it a lot

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