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I don't know about you, but I love good, old arcade games. Especially the ones from late eighties and early nineties. Whenever I see a decent compilation of arcade ports, I just buy it. No two ways about it.

Taito was certainly not first to re-release their oldies in a brand new package. We've seen countless compilations of Namco classics and even though I love Pac-Man and Galaga, how many times can you buy those five games? Not many. Taito was smart enough to include some of the less known titles along with the popular classics.

As you can tell from the photos, I have scored a pair of Taito Legends released for the PlayStation 2. They were wasting away in a bargain bin so I just had to save them. Not only were they insanely cheap, byt they turned out to be worth their full retail price.

Taito is well known for their Space Invaders and yes, the game is present on both compilations in various versions, including a quite entertaining update - Space Invaders '95. We do have Rainbow Islands, Bubble Bobble and New Zealand Story, but aside of the titles that have already been ported to tons of platforms over the years, we have some goodies that you don't want to pass on.

This is where Taito Legends 2 shines. It includes the more recent and accessible releases. If you're not into the extreme oldies and you want to get most play for your money, this compilation is the one to choose. Among the titles worth checking out are Elevator Action Returns - a sequel to an old classic present on the first disc, Cleopatra Fortune - An addictive tetris-esque puzzle game with great music, also available on Dreamcast, Liquid Kids - A cute platformer with interesting game mechanics including throwing water as weapon.

There are also plenty of shooters to choose from. We have Metal Black [not to be confused with Twisted Metal Black, which is not a shooter and wasn't developed by Taito], Darius Gaiden and Insector X, among others. Also, exclusive to PlayStation 2 is an arcade perfect conversion of G Darius. If that's not a treat for every shmup fan, I don't know what is.

Ok, do does all that mean Taito Legends 2 is so much better than the first collection? Yes and no. That depends entirely on what you're looking for. If you ask me, Taito should have distributed the games more evenly, mixing the old with the new and giving us more reasons for purchasing both of their releases. They chose however to include older titles on Taito Legends but like I said, this should not discourage you in any way. Older games can still be great.

Compilation number one includes one of my favorite arcade titles in its genre - Rastan. Not only was Rastan a great game, but for its time it featured some amazing music and I would sometimes play it just to enjoy the soundtrack. The fun doesn't end with Rastan though. We've got Operation Wolf, Space Gun and Battle Shark which are all excellent lightgun games. Sadly, Taito didn't implement the lightgun support so they can only be controlled with analogue stick, which is pretty damn annoying with first two games since they automatically return the crosshair to the center of the screen if you let go of the analogue stick.

That being said, don't let the minor flaws get to you as each and every game on both of the discs can still be enjoyed and as I said, it's certainly a great buy for an arcade game fans, Taito fans and casual gamers alike.

These days we associate the term of casual gaming with some middle aged, going bald, Microsoft PR guys and we somehow don't find that appealing. Taito Legends is fully loaded with games that one could classify as casual. After all, isn't all arcade gaming casual by definition? You pop a quarter into the machine, enjoy yourself for a bit and you're on your way.

If you're looking for some good arcade fun with learning curve basically non existant, treat yourself to these fine compilations and you will not regret it. Surely, buying these discs is money well spent and you can post hate comments here if you buy Taito Legends and feel that I overhyped the subject.

If Taito Legends can't be found in bargain bins near you, check out the official website by clicking HERE. From there you can visit the Empire Interactive online store. Alternatively, look it up on eBay and get it for cheap. Happy hunting and have fun!

Ah, The OneeChanbara. What's more appealing than half naked, computer generated women, with big katana swords, slashing through the hordes of undead, half-dead and zombiefied foes? Nothing. OneeChanbara is just one of these series that you have to get to know before you can really appriciate how much fun it actually is. But let's start from the beginning.

The OneeChanbara is a series of hack and slash titles developed by Tamsoft Corporation [株式会社タムソフト] for D3, a publisher responsible for the Simple 2000 idea. "Simple" is a series of budget priced titles developed mostly by smaller companies for various platforms including PlayStation [Simple 1500], PlayStation 2 [Simple 2000] and Simple Wii.

"Simple" titles do not have the same production values as big, commercial titles, but they can be enjoyable nonetheless. One could say that the Simple series is the equivalent of Xbox Live Arcade or Wii Ware, offering titles developed by smaller companies, for reasonable cash. But back on the subject of The OneeChanbara ...

The developer behind The OneeChanbara is the previously mentioned Tamsoft. If the name doesn't ring a bell, try thinking of Battle Arena Toshinden or Choro Q. That's right. The guys didn't make it on the big market, so they decided to conquer the budget price world and to a degree, they succeeded.

Before I stant telling you about the gameplay, I'll explain the title. The OneeChanbara is actually a wordplay, combining two words: oneechan [older sister] and chanbara [sword fighting, a term commonly used to describe samurai themed movies]. So there it is. Sword fighting older sister. Different parts of the series can have slightly different titles and they usually are a pun of some kind aswell. The game you can see on the photos for example, The OneeChanpon: The Oneechan 2 Tokubetsuhen. Chanpon is a noodle dish originating from Korea consisting of fried pork, seaweed, vegetables and chicken soup as a base. The name itself means "a mix".

OneeChanbara games are often compared to Devil May Cry, and while both games are a hack and slash type titles, the way our character is controlled is completly different in Tamsoft's title. Controls are a bit crude, but there's not that much to complain about and all the flaws of the camera and steering are compensated by the auto aim funtion.

The game mechanics are simple. You can slash, you can kick and you can jump. While you're killing off your enemies, your sword starts dripping of blood, your attacks become slower and if the sword is too dirty, it will get stuck in the bodies of your enemies. You can easily clean it by shaking off the blood and that's pretty much it. You level, you have special moves, but the moves you'll be using will be short sword and kick combos.

The only upgrades that can be made to your character and that are worth mentioning are the costumes. You have to dress your babes for killing and you can dress them pretty nicely too. You can tell that most of the processing power is poured into how the main character looks.

If you think only Tecmo can make a game full of bouncy breasts and violence, think again. The OneeChanbara series is the number one with a bullet when it comes to babes and gore. There are six games out [seven, if you count the mobile phone title, but you can't get it aoutside of Japan, and without a phone registered with a japanese network] and I'll be reviewing them shortly, so be on the lookout and pick up this title now.
Shadow of the Colossus. A great tale that captured the hearts of gamers all over the world. Despair, unanswered questions, killings of the colossi... We've all been there. There are few games which hold as many secrets as this one. One of those secrets is the myth of 17th Colossus. That's right, 17th.

You've reached the secret garden, you've grabbed onto the doves, you've seen the headless girl but the 17th colossus still eludes you. But worry not! Finally, after all this time, the final Colossus has been found!

I guess this proves it! Now you know it's there somewhere. Lurking in the woods, or in the mountains maybe? You've seen him, now go find him!
『 サムライスピリッツ零 / Samirai Shodown V 』

Two new titles join my ever growing collection. This time some classics, or semi classics at least, when you think about the Samurai Shodown.

I must say that Samurai Shodown V was somewhat of a dissapointment when I tried it out on Neo Geo a while back. Compared to titles such as Garou: MotW, the game looked unfinished to say the least. The lack of polish or noticable graphical improvements made it to a moderate success at best.

Despite this, it is still the old Samurai Shodown you remember [if you ever played it, that is]. Some prefer the series never to change, never to improve, and this is pretty much what you get when you buy Samurai Shodown V for the PlayStation 2.

So does the console port improve on anything, not being bound by Neo Geo limitations? Arranged soundtrack aside, no. The game offers a somewhat changed introduction sequence, arranged version of the soundtrack and incredibly long and annoying loading times. Samurai Shodown V is one of the few games released on CDs instead of DVDs. I guess that's something, right? Who doesn't like the CD blue?

Is the game worth buying then? Let me put it this way. If you're a Samurai Shodown fan, you'll get it. If you're a Neo Geo / SNK fan, you'll probably get it. If you're relatively new to 2D fighting games, you might end up dissapointed. You're better off with Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.

Extra content is what the console version needs, and sadly it fails to deliver not only that, but any kind of improvement that would make this title into something more than just another 2D fighting game ported directly from Neo Geo. Ignition can do so much better than this. Give me "The making of", give me a gallery, give me new modes, give me SOMETHING!

『 テクモクラッシックアーケード / Tecmo Classic Arcade 』

Appearing on Xbox, Tecmo Classic Arcade is exactly what it claims to be. A simple compilation of old arcade classics such as Bomb Jack, Pleiads or the immortal Rygar. Most people pass by these compilations. They go for the new and fancy titles, the best sellers and hyped smash hits. If you're on a tight budget and have to choose your games carefully, go for something new. But if you have some change to spare, do not hesitate and give Tecmo's arcade classics a chance!

I've been a die hard Solomon's Key fan ever since this game came out. The game made its way into this compilation and if you're looking for a great logic / action game, you just have to try it. This game will appear in both your dreams and your nightmares. It's nearly impossible to beat, but it somehow makes you want to try once more.

Not a fan of logic games? Fine. Do you like shoot 'em up's then? If you do and you've somehow managed to miss Strato Fighter, which by chance can also be found here, take it for a spin NOW! Strato Fighter is a horizontal shooter and it's one of the best. Great gameplay, great sound, great graphics. The game starts off easy and evenly distributes the difficulty over the levels. All in all, Tecmo Classic Arcade is worth getting just for the sake of these two titles. If you're looking for some more info, check out the official webpage by clicking HERE

Yesterday I got my hands on three new titles for the PlayStation 2. King of Fighters Maximum Impact, Gregory Horror Show and last but not least, SOS: Final Escape.

I've had my eye on the lastly named title for quite some time now, and before I start praising the game, let's clear up some of the confusion concerning the title. Games often get different titles in different regions. Why? I have no idea. But it's pretty common, and this game is no exception. The original japanese title is 『絶対絶命都市』, which reads "Zettai Zetsumei Toshi" and translates roughly into "Completly Destroyed City". The title was obviously not catchy enough for the american market, so they've decided to rename the game, thus the US / Canadian release is called "Disaster Report".


The name changing circus usually ends here, and while the game is called one thing in Japan, the US and european releases share the same title, even though it's different from the original [ie. Biohazard in Japan / Resident Evil US and Europe]. This time however, someone thought it would be nice to throw one more title into the mix and the european release got labeled: SOS: The Final Escape. Confused? You wouldn't be the only one. Strangely enough, the Korean release kept the original japanese title, kanji included.

So this is what we know. Zettai Zetsumei Toshi in Japan, Disaster Report in US and Canada, and SOS: The Final Escape in Europe. Now what would the puglishers have to do to make it even more confusing for us, consumers? Why not make a completly new boxart for the european edition? Oh wait, that's not confusing enough. Let's make two then. One completly new, and one just like the US version. That will work!


Enough about the titles. What about the game? You might be surprised when I say this but SOS: The Final Escape truly is one of the most underrated, if not the most underrated game for the PlayStation 2.

There are plenty of titles out there that deserve gamers' attention and this must be the number one with a bullet. Many people haven't heard about it, haven't read about it and have no idea it even exists and that's just plain wrong, because this game deserves better.

So what's it all about? You are a reporter on an assignment. You're on your way to town when suddenly something goes terribly wrong. The train you were on derails, the brindge that train was crossing starts falling apart.

Without any delays or lenghty intros you get to play and have to get your ass out of the danger zone [which is basically everywhere]. It appears that an earthquake and its aftershocks are tearing apart the island you were headed for, and at the moment this very island is the only place you can go.

The game doesn't feature any pre-rendered FMVs, so all you get to see is drawn by the ingame engine. The game looks great. I would even go as far as calling the graphics stunning, but only at times. The first level might seem a bit grey, but play a bit longer and you'll see more color, I promise.

The locations are massive and well designed. You won't complain about low polygon count and you'll get to see some extremly large objects falling apart in pretty cool ways you've never seen before in a game.

The character design is your standard japanese "job well done". Nothing too outrageous or oridinary. If you thought Ryo Hazuki from Shenmue was nothing to complain about, you won't complain here either. Plus if you're bored of your look, you can always upgrade it by picking up some new clothes, backpacks, shades and crowbars. Yes, you pick those up too.

A nice feature is that when you switch to a first person view when you have a pair of sunglasses on, the picture will actually be darker. I haven't played long enough to know if it actually has a practical use, but it's there and now you know it.

One thing that threw me off a bit was that the characters in european version are a bit changed. Someone figured that brown doesn't sell too good in europe, thus the characters' hair are dyed blonde [judging from the cover, the change was applied in the US version aswell]. Beats me why they did it. English localization team must have been german.

Like any game, this one too must have its flaws. There's really not that much to complain about aside from few things that could have been more polished. One of such things is swimming, or rather the sound effects that come with it. No matter how fast or slow you swim, you hear constant splashing played by one sound sample. If you get into the water where the current is string enough to carry you, you'll hear the same splashing as if you were swimming. I don't know how big of a role does swimming have in the game but it seems more like an additional feature rather than something you have to do to complete the game. Thank God for that.

All in all the game is quite a catch for people who like a cool game and gave up the hope in waiting for titles such as Shenmue III. If you don't own it, pick it up today. You certainly won't regret it. Just check out the video below and see how much fun you'll have, or how much fun you'll miss out on.

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