When I’ve thought about taking time out for videogames lately, my general energy has been perversely tinged with a lack of enthusiasm. The problem may have been most evident to me in the last few months or so, when I recognized I was more excited about going over to my friend’s house and playing the downloadable Xbox Live arcade games.
Oh, the joys of Zuma Deluxe! Sure, I could write a blog about that game. It’s fantastic. So much depth of gameplay there! Shoot some different colored balls with a Mayan statue guardian and hope all the bad gaming demons go away.
I am now officially in the realm of fun multi-game package land where no one has to be involved for more than fifteen minutes a sitting and all that is involved is grunting while you play. I am almost thirty and already turning into a buffet gamer. Where is my undead gaming support group?
Granted, the industry knows there is a history of decent and much-passed videogames waiting for us older gamers to retro-activate, but I am desperately hoping I will find genuine interest in new titles. (Uhh—should I care another over-hyped mainly FMV dominated game is being produced?)
So, when I visited my local Gamestop and convinced my boyfriend to buy us Taito Legends 2, I kept a calm demeanor. For just $19.99, we would add 39 arcade games all released between 1979 and 1997 to our very splendid gaming collection. I justified it as an economical buy, though my feeling old meter was teetering dangerously into the red.
Now, I am not going to say all 39 games are worth your time and hard-earned money. Some of them are rip-offs and reincarnations of other gaming gems that Taito thought it could come up with its very own Japanese-esque lovable version of for your quarters at the local arcade back in the ‘80s. However, here are a few gems I absolutely could not believe how much I loved.
I’ve always been attracted to high fantasy RPG dungeon crawlers, and although I thought this game came off initially as generic as Joe Cola, I was surprised to find high playability, fairly well planned gauntlet levels with optional room progressions and 3D graphics that, though garish, were definitely stylistically unique. You start out in an inn with a choice as the brutish, sword-slinging warrior, sensuous female elf bowyer, rogue type puncher or the old master wizard with glitter magic. The princess has been captured, of course, and they all feel compelled to worship royalty, like we all do, since they will at least get some money out of the deal, if not prestige, and run madly from dungeon to dungeon beating up on werewolves with swords, nasty mimics, and facing skeleton hordes with endless weaponry.
You get two-player cooperative, a standard spell and/or upgradeable weapon, and some basic fighting moves. From a fighting stand point it’s interesting they include wrestling type throws for the fighter types, elf and rogue. It hearkens back to the days of Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja and leaves a small, sappy smile on my face. I won’t bore you with the “story” although I think it attempts at more quality than anything I’ve ever seen of Gauntlet Dark Legends, which seems more in love with its netherworld than presenting itself as a genuine gauntlet style dungeon crawler.
ELEVATOR ACTION RETURNS
Not that Elevator Action game, where you feel like you’re playing something as abstract as a Spy Vs. Spy comic. This game follows the form; otherwise, it has little in common with the first incarnation of the game. In this Taito sequel, your characters are hardened military operatives. The anime graphical style is more in line with Tank Police. There is the spunky, but very cute, tomboy girl, the effeminate other man with the silly walk and the hard core hetero-male who probably has a gay name. With mission-based gameplay, a mentality more NARC than Bad Dudes, you are given your gun, one limited secondary weapon and sent on your way to seek out red mission doors, avoid getting crushed by elevators, and endure endless attacks in a new world order of fascists and thieves equipped with grenades and machine guns.
As you dispel the masses of opponents with your pistol, you can kick over canisters of gasoline and time blowing up bad doers into a flaming napalm-like death. It’s all American clean and violent fun. What more can I say?
Another side-scrolling spaceship shooter? Yeah, I’ve seen this knock off before, but wait, there’s more! Cheesily, I say unto ye gamer, there is elegance in this here once released Saturn game. Poorly translated Japanese hurriedly explains something about a colony of Vater and how now they must defend the Earth against a strange type of eco-alien terror. Insectoid like mecha-beasts emerging from broken planets converge upon you. Quickly you must collect tri-colored spheres, known as neurons, which allow you to build your charge beam. With one press it will drain itself completely into your opponents, while you build it up again with your regular laser shooter from destroying piddling enemies. But that isn’t the really cool part.
You’re given an arsenal of black hole bombs when released creating a pitch black gravitational vortex and your metal opponents have their hulls ripped off from them if in the damage path. In this way, you can access your targets more easily for taking them down, or just wave goodbye as they go to a spiraling abysmal death. The bosses are strangely organic but allow enough challenge for you to desire their destruction. The bonus level I played offered some intriguing variety. I had to target some flying mecha with heat seeking missiles which was rather disorienting at first since I didn’t quite know what I had to do at first. But when I saw the little reticule grid floating in front of me, I knew I had found a good game.
Out of the two puzzle games I played out of this compilation of games, this one is vastly superior to me. Now I could be biased since I couldn’t win on Bust a Move 2 to save my life, mainly because I had trouble shooting colored bubbles with some strange steering wheel carnie device as my aiming meter. Puchi Carat, similar in disposition and design to Puzzle Fighter 2’s game objectives and attacks, is a puzzle game where you destroy as many brightly colored jewels on your side of the screen while your opponent does the same. You have characters you select, in this case insanely cute anime style manga boys/girls fit for a Card Captor Revival, who differentiate themselves by their puzzle countering pattern. Not to mention, the special brand of silly gesticulations which range from a sexy body taunt from our bunny eared hedonist Perydot, furry cat paws and all, to the intellectual male anime super villain who tweaks his glasses and demands his puzzle fighting to be taken seriously.
It wouldn’t even catch my attention much except instead of simply combining your jewels Tetris-like in this case you are playing Arkonoid a.k.a. Pong against the jewels on your side of the screen while your opponent does the same. When the ball hits the out of play zone, which normally causes the traditional Arkonoid game to end, you simply receive a punishment of more stacking jewels from your opponent and their character celebrates the victory. As you build jewels, you can better organize counter attacks on your opponent. This allows for an interesting timing strategy.
In this case, I feel it is the best of both worlds meeting. A classic game everyone loves melded into the complex of another game only adding further dimension to a puzzle gaming experience.
Those are the main games I found entertaining while checking out Taito Legends 2. Yes, there are other good ones I’m sure. But frankly when I checked out the fighting game Violent Fight and my boxer buddy was named “Lick Joe” I felt it was time to turn off the system. Though, my faith in gaming at large has somehow been reaffirmed. If Growl exists, a side scrolling fighting game about rescuing animals from poachers, and can seem somehow new and spectacular, then anything is possible.