Last Updated on October 5, 2023
TAITO was one of the biggest names in arcade gaming, and following a few quiet years has been slowly rebuilding its brand. This has enabled the company – formed in 1953 but not dealing with electronic games until 1973 – to become increasingly prominent.
Of course, these days TAITO is owned by Square Enix, and in 2018 announced its intention to re-enter the software market. You’ve no doubt seen the results over the years, with TAITO titles re-released on various platforms.
In 2022, the TAITO Milestones collection was released, featuring Alpine Ski, Elevator Action, Wild Western, Front Line, The Fairyland Story, Halley’s Comet, The Ninja Warriors, Qix, Space Seeker, and Chack’n Pop. Then, as now, several of the games were already available, but not grouped in this way.
So, 2023’s TAITO Milestones 2 collection brings together a similarly mixed collection of memorable names and less recognizable titles. If you frequented arcades in the 1980s and early 90s, you’ll be familiar with most of these games: Ben Bero Beh, The Legend of Kage, Kiki Kaikai, New Zealand Story, Darius II, Gun Frontier, Liquid Kids, Solitary Fighter, Metal Black, and Dinorex.
The TAITO Milestones 2 collection rated, game-buy-game
You typically know the games, and if you are reading this review you’ve got a good idea about what to expect from this collection. So, I’ll tackle each game with a brief review and rating. Note that each title requires credits (left shoulder/L) and the start button is the right shoulder (R) button. Save states and other management options can be reached via the -/+ buttons.
New Zealand Story (1988)
A platform game where you play as a kiwi bird trying to save your friends from an alien invasion. I first saw the game in Zzap! or Commodore User in about 1990, and fell in love with the graphics. It was a while before I saw the actual arcade game, and after spending a few quid in it, it was a while before my parents let me anywhere near the arcades again.
Easily one of the best arcade games of its type, this is a great presentation of New Zealand Story. 10/10
Kiki Kaikai (1986)
This is a sort of shoot’em’up/JRPG hybrid, basically, in which you control a shrine maiden as she tackles mythological beasts. It’s easy on the eye, and challenging, but not quite my cup of tea. 6/10
Darius II (1989)
The 3-screen arcade version of the second instalment of a now-legendary series, you pilot a spaceship through a variety of alien-infested environments, with each completed level leading to a choice of paths. I discovered the series via the G-Darius HD release in 2022, and I’m grateful I did. If you’ve never played a Darius shooter, this is a good one to start with. 8/10
Gun Frontier (1990)
A 1941-esque futuristic airplane shooter, this is fun, but my goodness it is frustrating. The craft’s various upgrades don’t make it particularly manouvreable, leaving you a sitting duck in this early bullet-hell shmup. 7/10
Ben Bero Beh (1984)
Attempting to put out fires as some sort of super hero fire fighter, Ben Bero Beh is arguably the worst game in this collection. While the game itself is straightforward, the control mechanism of the original was clunky enough and this has sadly translated to this direct port. 4/10
The Legend of Kage (1985)
A ninja-themed platformer where you must rescue your kidnapped master, The Legend of Kage reminds me of Yie Ar Kung Fu. It’s the somewhat ridiculous moves the main character pulls off, throwing stars, and immense jumping ability, I think.
That aside, it’s enjoyable enough, sports some decent graphics for the time. 7/10
Liquid Kids (Mizubaku Adventure) (1990)
A water-based platform game where you guide a small dog or bear through various landscapes, equipped with bubbles of water. these can be used to scupper other creatures, create floods, or interact with the landscape in other ways to help you rescue imprisoned creatures. It’s as cute as New Zealand Story, and definitely worth your time. 8/10
Solitary Fighter (1991)
A fighting game where you take on a variety of opponents in one-on-one matches, this is a sequel to Violence Fight, and is essentially arcade bare knuckle fighting. Controls and moves are disappointingly tame, but you get the added challenge of girls with knives and the option to throw boxes. Overall, forgettable. 5/10
Now this is a game I recall from the local arcades. With a Golden Axe-like menu screen and Barbarian-esque side-on action, this is basically dinosaurs fighting. it’s better in two player mode than versus the CPU, but fun in either case. 6/10
Metal Black (1991)
A fast-paced shoot-em-up where you must destroy enemy ships and bosses. This has an unusual appraoch to power-ups – they’re everywhere, with the aim being to top up your blasters and build a reserve power source for the beam weapon. Great graphics, a worthy companion to the Darius 2 game in this collection. 8/10
TAITO Milestones 2: The 10 games in the TAITO Milestones 2 collection represent a good mix of classic arcade titles. While I'd rate the Darius 2 and New Zealand Story titles as among the highlights, you'll find some hidden gems, too. But I've got absolutely no time for Ben Bero Beh. – atomickarma75
Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine and MakeUseOf.com.