As some of you may know, Taito is this year celebrating their 60th anniversary. They began in the 50’s distributing vending machines and jukeboxes, in the 70’s they entered the arcade game industry with their first game, Astro Race, in 1973. It wouldn’t be until ’78 and the release of Space Invaders, they would go on to become one of the worlds biggest arcade game manufacturers. Since then, they created some of the best arcade, and console games of the generation. Although they slowed down a bit in the early 2000’s, they are still going strong, creating new arcade and console experiences, such as the new iOS and arcade game, Groove Coaster.
Here’s why I love Taito.
Lets start with Bubble Bobble,
You play as one of two dinosaurs, Bub or Bob, your goal is to blow bubbles and trap the enemies inside, then pop the bubbles to kill the enemy. Kill all the enemies to move onto the next screen, it sounds easy, but once the game introduces new enemy types and power ups it can get very challenging!
It began in the arcades in 1986, since then the series has had countless sequels, ports and remakes. My personal favorite of all the versions is Bubble Bobble Part 2 for the GameBoy, as one of the first GameBoy games I owned, I played it a huge amount, learning all the levels and even now I can remember some of the passwords! The game gets quite challenging later on and to this day I have still never completed it. As well as the standard bubble bobble game, there were also some sequels and spin off games from the franchise including the excellent Parasol Stars and the less excellent, but still fun, Rainbow Islands. They also created a spin off franchise called Puzzle Bobble,also known as, Bust a Move. With its very addictive gameplay, fun characters and catchy music, the Bubble Bobble series is still going strong, with new games and merchandise coming out all the time.
Taito also made several other platformers in the Bubble Bobble style including Liquid Kids, Chack’n’Pop and the fun “Fairyland Story” and “Newzeland Story” games.
Fairyland Story most closely resembles Bubble Bobble but instead of a dinosaur, you play as a witch with a magic wand that turns enemies into cakes, you can then push the cakes off ledges to kill the enemies or squash the ones walking below. It may sound simple but it does get hard, fast!
Liquid Kids is a fun, cute platforming game and shows its Bubble Bobble roots in the form of the main characters attack, a giant ball of water which creates waves across the stage similar to how the water bubbles power up’s work in Bubble Bobble. In fact, on some releases, the game was titled Bubble Bobble 4: Liquid Kids.
As you might have noticed so far, Taito has a reputation for creating cute game with colourful graphics and simple gameplay mechanics, This is not the only kind of game they make though there are also Shoot’em up’s, Racing games, and even an FMV game called Time Gal for the Sega CD! The “Darius” Series of Shmups were popular in the arcades for the 3 screen display, using three separate screens lined up side by side, it gave the players a much wider view of the level, recently there has been a new Darius game, Darius Burst, released in arcades, and this too utilities the same wide screen format.
Taito have made quite a few other Shooter games, including the action games, Ray Force and Ray Storm. and vertical scrolling shooters including the time travelling(!!) vertical shooter, Gekirindan, which plays a lot like one of the Raiden games. They also published the Castle Shikigami games. Surprisingly they have also made a few RPG’s, most notable, the Lufia series on the SNES, not games I have had the chance to play, but from what I’ve heard, they are excellent RPG’s and some of the best on the SNES, a console which has many amazing games in the genre already.
More recently, Taito have been releasing updated versions of their classic titles, with releases such as Space Invaders Extreme, Arkanoid DS (which comes with a strange attachment which literally turns your DS into a breakout paddle!) several new Bobble Bobble and Bust a Move games also for the DS and other portable systems, Elevator Action and Darius Burst for arcades, among others. They have also released Taito Legends Vol 1 and 2, for PC, PS2 and Xbox. These are a great (and cheap) ways of getting to know their long history and play some really fun games, there is also a collection on the PSP if you prefer to play on the go.
In Japan, there are several “Taito Stations” which are whole arcades dedicated to just Taito games and prizes! As well as games, Taito also has their own range of prize machines. You can win Taito brand prizes including anime figures, Plushes and more! My uncle visited Japan a few years ago and took this picture, to say i’m jealous is an understatement!…
At one point, they did have their own console in the works, the Taito WoWoW, it would be able to play arcade perfect versions of their games, and also link up to a satellite and download games through a service similar to Nintendo’s Satellaview (which also used WoWoW’s satellite signal) or Sega’s Sega Channel services which were popular in the early 90’s. Here is one of the only pictures of the console, it was shown off at a few events before being cancelled entirely.
Hope you enjoyed reading about one of my favourite companies, here’s to another 60 years of Taito games!
Not related to the company, but my girlfriend recently got a new kitten and called it Taito! (apparently named after an owl from Legends of the Guardians… but I prefer to think of it as named after the company!)