Thanks to ININ Games for the review code
Title: TAITO MILESTONES
System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 04/15/2022
This compilation is a bit unusual, since it’s a lot like the Konami Arcade Classic compilation from several years back. However, those, while based off ACA versions, didn’t quite include all the features of those ports, and were pretty different, plus the fact I hadn’t covered them in depth before save for one I gave a fuller impression of later.
Taito Milestones on the other hand? Much closer to the ACA presentation and style, and I have covered some of these versions before on SFG. Those I have, can be followed up by via a link I’ll embed in the respective games, but there’s also some currently-exclusive ACA stuff to be put out from this compilation, and some odd differences I’ll note when able. Since I’m familiar with some of these games and it’s a compilation, I’ll try to make things concise.
Starting the game up, I literally accidentally went straight into the first game due to how barebones this compilation is portrayed: the title screen also serves as the game select screen, with each square of it being a game you can select, for ten in total. Choose a game, and you’ll be sent into the ACA version of it… Sans the bonus modes such as Caravan and Hi-Score. Still, your usual screen options and such apply to all games, including vertical support for the games which are that format.
Emulation wise all games look sharp and great and most sound accurate… Except for Qix, which somehow was unbelievably screwed up here compared to the ACA version, and even the inaccurate port on Taito Legends Powered Up on PSP. (which was my prior go-to arcade port before that ACA version) The visuals still look fine, and likewise can be made vertical… But the sound is horrendously bad, sounding as if the entire game is drowning underwater with a filter that can’t be remedied by any of the in-game sound options. I do not know why it’s butchered here, but it’s really depressing for my favorite game in the set to be somehow messed up.
Otherwise, this is very, very barebones. No galleries, bonuses, or anything of the sort, just a title screen loading you into ACA games in a very, very barebones compilation wrapper that’s even moreso than the last Hamster Arcade Compilation.
The usual drill applies, etc etc: I mentioned the presentation woes earlier, so this section pretty much focuses on the games and what they have to offer (along with how well they play).
Space Seeker: An oddball title that I don’t think has been ported much, if at all. An interesting shooter hybrid, where you move a marker on a globe in order to take on invading enemies as you move closer to their bases: shifting between first-person aiming stages and horizontal shooting levels, with the main goal being to clear out the map and aim for a high score!
Not much really to say here: the side view segments play a lot like Konami’s Scramble, and the first-person shooting sections remind me of Namco’s Star Luster. Both of them are pretty fun, though I personally prefer the first-person segments due to the controls being a bit more forgiving in that perspective. All in all, a great scorechaser with an interesting perspective, and one I honestly may very well buy on ACA when it eventually launches there, and is one of my three favorites from the set.
QIX: Let’s just get this out of the way. On ACA? Godly game, and in this compilation it should easily be the game of the set. But that atrocious audio along with oddly different game settings lead to this version being less than desirable. Either they patch this quick, or I strongly advise you avoid the muffled mess here and buy the real deal on ACA. I do not know what the hell happened here or if it’s this way on the Japanese compilation. As an odd note, online leaderboards seem to be the same between this and the ACA version, so my online score was still here, but I nearly overwrote it with a lower score by complete accident.
Turning the online rankings off however, and I realized that high scores do not save locally at all, unless you somehow record it on the leaderboards, which then saves your local leaderboard. I thought it was this compilation being buggy, but it turns out the ACA version is the same way… So with this version being worse in every way than ACA, I’m sad to say this is a poor port.
Front Line: Think Ikari Warriors, but ancient and verrrrrryyyyyy slooooooow. It uses a rotary joystick, mapped to the right joystick in this port, and you shoot grenades and your normal weapon to take out the enemies in your path, attempting to slowly progress through the Front Line. Pretty simplistic, and brutally difficult, but still a game with some charm, not much else to add.
Wild Western: A strange western themed action game, where you guard a train on horseback and aim to defeat enemies trying to invade it! Pretty typical stuff, and it’s yet another rotary game, and one that didn’t hold my interest all that long. I personally like The Tin Star way more, which is why I’m bummed that wasn’t the Western game chosen for this compilation.
Alpine Ski: A very simplistic skiing game, where the goal is to race against the clock, avoiding trees to make your way to the goal, before taking part in a jumping competition! Unfortunately, this game does not save scores locally at all, even with online leaderboards enabled, and it’s like that in the ACA version as well, so my interest in this run melted away.
Elevator Action: A rather interesting action game: you take control of an agent who must infiltrate numerous buildings, heading to specially marked doors in order to obtain briefcases, all while taking out criminals on your trail and making your getaway! Rather famous in Taito’s lineup, and while I did find some enjoyment for a couple minutes, the fun factor wore out really quickly, with the game getting rather repetitive, and not even that fun of a score chaser. The sequel is far better in every regard, but that’s not included here unfortunately.
Chack’n Pop: Before Bubble Bobble… There was Chack’n Pop! Here, you take control of a bird of some kind, with the ability to lay bombs. With all of your love hearts stolen by monsters, it’s up to Chack’n to go inside a labyrinth and free them all, helping his lover find regain happiness!
While this initially seemed a bit bland and very frustrating at first, this game actually became one of my three favorites on the set, mainly thanks to the secret score bonuses that you can pull off for crazy points: whether that involves defeating every fully hatched enemy on-screen, or avoid harming a single foe, these bonuses add an extra layer of strategy, leading to some pretty darn fun scorechasing for a deceptively simple game!
The Fairyland Story: Another pre-Bubble Bobble game, here you take control of a witch with the ability to transform monsters into cakes, as you set out to free the land of evil and all that. While you can normally kill enemies by just shooting them to death, the main secret here is to drop cakes off platforms and squish other enemies with them for score. Not quite as fun as Chack or Bubble Bobble, but still an interesting part of Taito’s history, and definitely fits the bill for this compilation.
Hailey’s Comet: Now this was a real surprise! A vertical shooter, this tasks you with defending the Earth from the titular Hailey’s Comet, shooting down incoming asteroids and aliens, all as you approach the core of the Comet to save the planet! A very simple shooter, this game offers some fun powerups and an addictive scoring system, leading to this quickly becoming one of the three big time sinks for me. Definitely the one to nab on ACA for Caravan Mode alone!
THE NINJA WARRIORS: I wrote a full review of this one: this version is 1:1 that port, but with hi-score, caravan, and the other regional versions all removed, so you get an excellent three-screen experience represented here in great quality! An odd pick for the “modern” game here, but it’s a great choice nevertheless.
In conclusion, Taito Milestones should have been a slam dunk: even if it didn’t get the best greats from Taito, or even the fact that it pales compared to the Egret II Mini’s lineup, preserving ACA games in any form is worth some praise alone… But when there’s baffling bugs and weird exclusions, and the whole set is so barebones it makes my PSP compilation from 2005 look more content-rich, this could have been way better.
Sure, the current exclusives here aren’t that bad, and Chack n Pop along with Space Seeker became some good new favorites of mine: But if you own some of these games on ACA already, you really don’t need this at all, especially since the other exclusives will become non-exclusive as Hamster works through the backlog it has. Considering that even Konami’s collection had an exclusive interview section in it, Taito Milestones feels incredibly barren as can be: hopefully future volumes add some more bonuses such as key art and the such.
I give Taito Milestones a 6 out of 10.