Category Archives: Taito

PS2 Essentials: Energy Airforce

A core part of my gaming “diet” in the 16-bit home computer era and onwards into the early days of mainstream PC gaming was the military flight simulator.

I have many fond memories of piloting numerous pieces of military hardware around the virtual skies, dropping bombs on filthy commies (this was the height of the Cold War, after all) and dictators in the desert — but for me, it wasn’t necessarily the action-packed parts of these games that was appealing. No, it was the simple satisfaction of remaining in control of several tons of metal that really had no business being up in the air and not immediately plummeting to the ground.

This was a feeling I hadn’t really experienced for a while, to be honest; the Ace Combats of the world have their considerable appeal, but they’re not exactly realistic. Taito’s 2003 release of Energy Airforce, on the other hand… well, let’s take a look.

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Taito Essentials: Lunar Rescue

When someone mentions Taito arcade games from the 1970s, the first one that doubtless immediately springs to mind is the genre-defining Space Invaders.

However, this is far from the only game Taito put out in these early years of the games business — and moreover, it’s far from the only good one, too.

Today, we’re taking a look at a game that, while simple, built on the basic formula of Space Invaders with additional mechanics — and likely played a role in defining subsequent games with “rescue” mechanics such as Williams’ Defender and Dan Gorlin’s Choplifter.

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Taito Essentials: Super Qix

Super Qix is an immensely irritating follow-up to an immensely irritating game.

And, like all the really good immensely irritating games of the world, there’s a magic ingredient in there that keeps you coming back for more.

Super Qix is also an interesting game from a historical perspective, in that it’s a game that Japanese developers decided to build on after an all-American original.

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Taito Essentials: Continental Circus

Ah yes, Continental Circus, the game which UK magazine Sinclair User declared “Cock-Up of the Year” in 1988 for the assumption that its peculiar title had rather prominently misspelled “Circuit”, only for it to become apparent sometime later that this was, in fact, deliberate.

The term “Circus” has been used over the years in both French and Japanese motorsports, and indeed there was even a 1972 French documentary called Continental Circus, which Taito’s 1987 arcade racer rather cheekily lifted a voice sample from to mark the beginning of each race. Although you can see how Sinclair User might have got confused; many of the original arcade machines for Continental Circus were actually branded with the title “Continental Circuit”.

The game itself is a “vanishing point” racer that attempts to build on what Namco had been doing with its Pole Position and Final Lap series since 1982. And, despite appearing superficially similar to those classic titles, it remains, to this day, a unique take on the racing genre with some very interesting ideas.

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Taito Essentials: Cameltry

What a glorious name for a video game: Cameltry. Say it to yourself a few times. Cameltry. Cameltry. Cameltry.

So far as I can determine, there is no meaning to the word beyond “a 1989 arcade game by Taito”, which is sort of a shame, but, well, a game having such a peculiar name is at least one way to ensure it is memorable.

Fortunately, Cameltry is also a highly enjoyable if often overlooked installment in Taito’s arcade back catalogue, and well worth your time if you enjoy fiddly puzzle games and obstacle courses.

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Puzzler Essentials: Puchi Carat

I’ve always had a soft spot for block-breakers, ever since Arkanoid on the Atari 8-bit, and Puchi Carat makes me happy in all the right ways.

Combining elements of traditional classic block-breakers with mechanics from puzzle games such as the Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move series, it’s an enormously addictive, highly unusual game that is simultaneously unique and absolutely representative of the time in which it came out.

In short, if you like adorable late ’90s anime style characters, coloured things going “pop” and gameplay that is as much about skill as it is about intelligence, Puchi Carat is definitely a game that you should check out.

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Taito Essentials: Zoo Keeper

The technological constraints of old video games often led to some highly creative experiences.

In logical or narrative terms, these games would often make very little sense whatsoever, but taken from a strictly abstract, mechanical perspective, they had the potential to provide extremely compelling, addictive experiences.

One such example was 1983’s Zoo Keeper, a game developed by Keith Egging and John Morgan from Taito’s American division. This game clearly drew influences from a number of popular Eastern and Western games such as Qix, Donkey Kong and Frogger, ultimately leaving it as a rather intriguing and underappreciated title with a strong sense of its own identity.

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