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Taito Legends 2 (PlayStation 2) artwork

Taito Legends 2 (PlayStation 2) review

"A Taito shooter showcase would not be complete without representation from the Darius series of shooters. The side-scrolling fish-featured mainstay makes two welcome appearances here: in the shmup fan favourite Darius Gaiden, beloved for its balance, and the ostentatious bullet storm that is G-Darius, beloved for its excess. "

The original Taito Legends did nothing for me. Where that collection was a sorely lacking assemblage of 29 mostly forgettable oldies, Legends 2 delivers 39 titles, many with star quality, and many with unexpected charm.

Aside from Bubble Bobble, Space Invaders, and my personal favourite, Thunder Fox, Legends was far from legendary. The fact that perennial classic Space Invaders is updated nicely twice over on this newer disc, only serves to enfeeble the first collection further.

What Legends 2 does best, apart from outdoing Legends 1, is supply shoot-em-up action. If that’s your genre, this is your collection. Hard-to-find names among the shooter hardcore are here, like the raging horizontal contest, Metal Black. I was also pleased to find RayStorm here, with its overhead shooting, laser beam lock-ons, and intense Zuntata soundtrack intact.

A Taito shooter showcase would not be complete without representation from the Darius series of shooters. The side-scrolling fish-featured mainstay makes two welcome appearances here: in the shmup fan favourite Darius Gaiden, beloved for its balance, and the ostentatious bullet storm that is G-Darius, enjoyed for its excess.

Even more obscure and unheralded blastathons are here if you still haven’t gotten your shooter fix – there’s the somewhat generic vertical shmup, Gekirindan, which is white bread save for its remarkably sharp visuals; and the quirky-cute Insector-X, which features a fat kid sniping bugs.

Taking leave of shooters, one notable inclusion is the crusty, heavily flawed head-to-head fighter, Violence Fight. As bad as the game is, I can’t help but be happy that it's here. Where else can Bad Blue, the shirtless CK jeans model, take on Lick Joe, a fatty who wields the ‘come hither’ hand motion as his attack of choice. Threats of SAMMY YOU! and battle cries like Brrruuup! abound in a game which employs no logic as to who gets their attacks in and whose are canceled – priority is completely and utterly random, but the game’s kitsch keeps you coming back (that, and getting to knee tigers in the head between stages).

From a stinker to a winner we go, arriving at Puzzle Bobble 2, an addictive entry in that Bust-A-Move series almost everyone has played and almost everyone loves. You know the drill – fire coloured balls skyward at other like-coloured balls, bringing clusters down until the sky is clear. It’s great one-on-one action, where you can clutter your neighbour’s half of the screen as you clear your own, and not too shabby as single-player fare, where you struggle to come to grips with the rapidity of ball release even as the sky is falling.

The sheer number of titles on offer here guarantees enough weird entries to keep you busy just by virtue of oddity-investigation alone. This is a good collection; I might have called it great had Taito not foolishly split eight exclusive titles, doling out four to the PS2 and the other four to the Xbox. Why they should implement this practice with four of their very best titles makes things even worse: Xbox gamers get RayForce and one of my favourite arcade adventures in Cadash, but miss out on RayStorm and G-Darius. Notwithstanding this inexplicable bit of idiocy, Taito Legends 2 is still a compilation I have little trouble recommending.

Rating: 7/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (February 13, 2008)

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