Review: Taito Milestones 2
Kiwi on my wayward son
Do you remember Taito Milestones? I do, because I talked about it here. I wish I hadn't, though, because it were rubs. An astonishingly limp compilation of "classics" that were mostly completely uninteresting (though with a handful of Funs such as Halley's Comet and Qix), it came and went with very little attention; there was zero additional content with any kind of historical context for the lesser-known titles, and the anaemic game selection had people rightfully asking "where's Bubble Bobble".
Booting up sequel Taito Milestones 2, then, immediately raised a pertinent question in "where's Bubble Bobble", because for some reason it's still not here, and nor is Rainbow Islands. If they're being held back for some sort of Bubble Bobble Legacy Collection then you need to tell me, because otherwise I'm going to keep asking where they're at. Yes, you have marginally appeased me by slating Parasol Stars - the best one - for an upcoming re-release, but I hear "Taito arcade games" and one's mind turns to thoughts of Super Drunk and the whereabouts thereof. I once got super drunk and my own whereabouts became briefly imperceptible. I digress. I was in Harrogate.
Rather than harping on about what's not here (Bubble bastard Bobble) let me talk about what is, because this second compilation is way, way, way better than the first in terms of its included games. I believe it to be list time:
New Zealand Story, Kiki Kaikai, Darius II, Gun Frontier, Ben Bero Beh, The Legend of Kage, Liquid Kids, Solitary Fighter, Dinorex and Metal Black. I mean, come on; better than bleedin' Front Line at any rate! With all titles once again powered by Hamster's Arcade Archives, you'll note that a few of these have been available elsewhere; Liquid Kids is a game I proudly own on Switch already (because it whips ass) and Darius II is of course part of the Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade - unless this is a version that set doesn't include? I'm not exactly a Darius academic.
As you should be able to see, this is a much harder-hitting collection of games; New Zealand Story, Kiki Kaikai, Darius II and Legend of Kage are established name classics, which is what should have been represented more on the first Taito Milestones. Gun Frontier, Liquid Kids and Metal Black are less well-known but still very good fun to play, with Liquid Kids being my pick of the entire set - it's like a cross between Bubble Bobble and New Zealand Story, a linear platform game with fun water mechanics. All that leaves are the games which - in my opinion - are less interesting, meaning Ben Bero Beh, Solitary Fighter and Dinorex. While the latter prehistoric fighting game has a cult following, Ben Bero Beh is a tedious, slow-paced fire-fighting game and Solitary Fighter is a sequel to Violence Fight, which I also don't care about beyond the incredible title.
That's a much better batting average, then, but it's still disappointing that the games lack any kind of extra content outside of the usual customisation features offered by Arcade Archives games. Nothing to sniff at, of course, but it's still a little bothersome that what should be a bespoke compilation really offers nothing beyond the experience you'd get buying these games individually. Despite this caveat, Taito Milestones II is a much better effort than the original, and with a third compilation already announced we may finally be getting Bubble Bobble after all. Failing that, I will accept the inclusion of the sublime Space Invaders '95: The Attack of the Lunar Loonies. Actually, I'd prefer that to Bubble Bobble.