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Taito Legends: Power-Up (PSP) artwork

Taito Legends: Power-Up (PSP) review

"Most arcade compilations from even the best of companies will include a few obvious misses. Taito was never the best of companies, but it was solid and enjoyed its fair share of classics. Taito Legends: Power-Ups combines games from two different classics compilations, leaves out quite a few good ones, and mostly makes it clear that someone figures there will be a sequel."

Like most kids who grew up during the 80s and 90s, I was of the opinion that arcade games were meant to be played, that every time I walked by one without dropping in a quarter, it was an opportunity wasted. Unfortunately, I didn't get much in the way of an allowance, and my parents were of the mistaken impression that quarters were for laundry and pay phones. That meant I missed out on a lot of those opportunities. That's why retro compilations are so exciting. I get to go back and rectify so many of the injustices in my past. Taito Legends: Power-Up for the PSP is the chance to make up for a whole lot of wrongs, and it all fits on a handy UMD!

Most arcade compilations from even the best of companies will include a few obvious misses. Taito was never the best of companies, but it was solid and enjoyed its fair share of classics. Taito Legends: Power-Ups combines games from two different classics compilations, leaves out quite a few good ones, and mostly makes it clear that someone figures there will be a sequel. After playing what you get here, though, you might be wondering if one is even necessary or worth your while.

The majority of the games here simply aren't that impressive. That's not to say they're bad, since most of them aren't, but for every New Zealand Story you have a Chack 'n Pop. For every Alpine Ski, there's something like The Fairyland Story that balances things out for the worse. The result is a collection with more misses than hits.

Fortunately, there are the good games to consider. One example of that is Cameltry. It's a simple game where you guide a marble through a maze simply by moving the analog stick left or right and pressing the 'Square' button to shake things up so that your marble effectively hops into the air. It looks a little bit like the bonus stages from the first Sonic the Hedgehog, but is obviously a more involved affair. The graphics are pretty simplistic, but the rotation works better than I expected and the stages quickly become addictive. Since your time at the end of each stage carries onto the next, there's definitely a drive to improve on your performance and to challenge yourself to reach the end in the best shape possible. Don't waste your time with the training area and you'll probably like this one a lot. Plus there's a camel in the logo. How can you go wrong with that?

Another interesting option is the afore-mentioned Alpine Ski, which is pretty difficult but oddly enjoyable. You're skiing down an alpine slope where you must collect as many points as possible within the time limit. Crashing costs you 10 seconds, so you need to do what you can to avoid the many logs and stands of brush, even though you don't have a limited number of lives. Only by exceeding 10,000 points in a given area can you advance to the next segment, which gets even more difficult. High score chasers should love this one.

Most of the other good games here were ones I already knew fairly well. New Zealand Story was ported to the NES here in the United States as Kiwi Kraze. If you like that game, you'll be interested to find how it differed from the original arcade version that is available here. Also on display here are three versions of Spade Invaders, which is nice I guess but doesn't really do much for the pack's variety. Elevator Action and Lunar Landing are also here, and both are as enjoyable now as they were at the time of their original release.

Then there are the other games, which start out promising but quickly stumble over their attempts at ingenuity. Space Chaser is fun for approximately 10 seconds before you get sick of crashing into your enemies while wandering simple mazes. Raimais is just an updated version of the same basic game, and the addition of special weapons doesn't change the fact that this is a product with short-term appeal. Balloon Bomber plays kind of like Space Invaders, only your movement grows increasingly limited with each shot your enemies drop toward the ground.

One other thing worth mentioning is that most of the games aren't the appropriate size for the PSP's wider screen. The developer handled this by adding the expected border around things to maintain the appropriate aspect ratio. If you don't like that, you can also stretch the image a little bit more to make things larger, or you can stretch it so that it fills the whole screen. The latter option works just fine for a lot of these games because of their simplistic nature, but even then things look quite distorted.

As a portable compilation, Taito Legends: Power-Up is only moderately successful. A wider selection of games should have been quite possible, even on the limited UMD medium. It could have included more of the games people think of when they remember Taito, like Bubble Bobble and the Darius games. If you find this package for $20 or less, though, you're probably going to get at least a few hours' use out of it. Besides that, it's perfect for a quick road trip or 10. Heading to the arcade to play each of these games a few times would cost you more than $20 pretty easily, so this is a good purchase for the retro gamer who wants to own legitimate copies of some of Taito's classics.

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Staff review by Jason Venter (August 10, 2007)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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