Taito Memories Pocket
We hit the import scene with Taito's retro collection for the PSP. And it rocks.
The import scene is overloaded with must-have games right now. You wouldn't really be a hardcore Nintendo DS owner without a copy of Ouendan, and I'm sure a few of you have dipped into the Bleach games to see what potential that series has. Me? I take a different approach, importing the most quirky of titles (Taiko Drum Master for the PSP, for the win!) and some arcade classics now and then. So it's probably no surprise that I decided to go ahead and import Taito Memories Pocket, a collection of retro Taito games made for play on the PSP. This game probably won't blow you away like Namco Museum Battle Collection did, but it certainly has its moments of sheer joy.
Taito Memories Pocket includes the following...
Crazy Balloon- original and 2005 edition
Balloon Bomber- original and 2005 edition
Chock n' Pop
Legend of Kage- original and 2005 edition
Kiki Kaikai Ninja
New Zealand Story
Cameltry- original and 2005 edition
So, as you can probably see, there's a few titles that you probably never even heard of. "What the hell is Fairyland Story?", you're asking yourself. Some of the hardcore, more dedicated arcade gamers out there will recognize most of the games on here, and others may notice a couple of games that didn't make the cut in the console Taito Legends release, notably Legend of Kage and Cameltry. Well, the game choices may not be everything you wanted (I personally wouldn't have minded Elevator Action Returns), but there's still lots to do here.
The game controls are fine for each title offered, although some offer a bit more depth than others. Kiki Kaikai Ninja, for example, is just a simple brawler, lacking the finesse of Kage. But some might prefer that path. And who can deny the addictiveness of Elevator Action and Cameltry, better known on these shores as On the Ball back on the SNES? They're mostly fun to play again, and bring back memories of when you were younger and standing in front of an arcade cabinet. Well, the older audience, anyway. C'mon, you remember the first time you fumbled around with Alpine Ski, don'tcha?
Game sharing is also offered, but a bit more limited than what the Namco Museum collection did. You can still give gamers a taste of Taito glory but it's very limited in its presentation. I guess this just prompts more people to go out and buy the game, huh? Oh, well. The presentation is fine for each title, fully emulated to near perfection, and you can change the way it's laid out on your PSP screen with a press of the triangle button. Real simple. The menus, however, are hard to navigate unless you speak fluent Japanese. At least the difficulty and lives are easy to adjust. They're in English.
One thing I should note here are the "remixed" games, in which there are four. Balloon Bomber and Crazy Balloon are alright, but, really, it would've been great if the effort went into a remixed Rainbow Islands or Rastan instead. The other two, Legend of Kage and Cameltry, are terrific, with Kage looking more contemporary and Cameltry looking more high-tech, while keeping its revolving gameplay in check. The collection also comes with a limited edition booklet with cool little box art...and more Japanese. Sigh.
The likeliness of Taito Memories Pocket reaching our shores is very slim, although, hey, Exit's coming over, so maybe Ubisoft will spark an interest in a domestic release. Here's to hoping. It's not the be-all end-all retro collection, but it looks fine, plays fine, and has a decent get-together of classic favorites. It's a nice complementary piece to the Taito Legends game and should be imported by the arcade nuts out there. Yes, I know you exist.
What's Hot: Plenty of classic games; solid presentation and gameplay; Cameltry!
What's Not: Not every game's a winner; a US release probably won't happen.