Monday 11 September 2023

Taito Milestones 2 Review (Switch)


Taito has one of the best catalogues of games in the industry, but the first Taito collection on the Switch was uncommonly stingy in terms of both content and its price point. Even though the days of the massive collections seen in the days of the PS2 are long gone there is still a balance that can be struck between offering players something decent and a company valuing its legacy. With that in mind we are pleased to say that Milestones 2 is much better in terms of the games selected.

Even in this collection of ten titles though there is some filler that will likely serve as little more than a curio to most. Dino Rex is a one-on-one fighting game in the mould of Primal Rage. That game itself isn’t the best and Dino Rex proves to be even more clunky. Solitary Fighter is another that falls into this category. A sort of better looking cross between Street Fighter and Pit Fighter, it’s not something that is strong enough to hold your attention for long.

Aside from these two games though the others all have some real merit. The NewZealand Story remains a classic arcade platformer that it’s worth playing through multiple times. The arcade version is tougher than the home releases, but the bright colours and responsive gameplay mean it’s easy to forgive its difficulty. It’s also full of iconic moments such as needing to be eaten by the whale boss to damage it – something many a gamer will remember fondly.

Metal Black is also on here and is an excellent side scrolling shoot’em up. It uses a unique dual beam power up system with players able to blast it out at set increments on an energy bar. It looks great and has all the mammoth bosses and waves of enemies you could want from the genre. At one point it was going to be an entry in the Darius series but was later turned into its own title.

Speaking of Darius, one of the big selling points of this collection is that the three screen Darius II is included here as an exclusive. It’s an amazing game and if you have access to a big screen, it will blow you away with the scale and the speed of the thing. Inevitably, three screens crammed onto the Switch in handheld mode does make things a bit small, but we still found it playable enough – especially on the OLED screen.

If you are still not convinced, you also get one of Taito’s best platform games on this collection in Liquid Kids. Like some of the others it is available separately but in our view it’s almost worth the asking price on its own. It will please many a Saturn owner who now doesn’t have to pay out the price of a small house to own a copy as well. In the game you control dog thing that chucks bubbles. These trap enemies which can then be bashed off screen. When enough bubbles build up it sends water surging around to clear away enemies and deal with basic puzzles. Imagine a sort of side scrolling Bubble Bobble.

Rounding out the package are four games that we would classify as ones you’ll likely dip into now and again. Kiki Kaikai is first in the Pocky & Rocky series and very tough but fun. In our view it’s probably the weakest of the series and Reshrined is also on the Switch so that would be the one to spend more time with. Gun Frontier is another Shoot’em up with the gimmick of needing to down the end of level boss with a single shot. Again, it’s fun but you’ll be too busy playing Darius II. The fairly well-known Legend of Kage is a platformer that works in short bursts but has no real lasting depth and Ben Nero Beh is a cool little single screen game where a fireman has to reach a damsel in distress avoiding fires and collapsing floors. You may well find yourself addicted to this for a while as once you get used to it there’s a lot of charm here.

Overall, Taito Milestones 2 is a much stronger and better value collection than the first one. There are at least three games here that are major selling points and the majority of the others are good fun and games you’ll likely return to multiple times. There is still room for improvement in terms of options and presentation but it’s all moving in the right direction. Retro fans should find more than enough here to keep them happy.

Overall 8/10

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