Retro Gaming

Taito escalates the mini-arcade arms race with the Egret II Mini

Taito’s plug-and-play arcade mini-cabinet options pioneering new capabilities, distinctive further enter strategies and a rock-solid catalog (even with out Pu-Li-Ru-La).

It has been nearly 5 years because the launch of the NES Basic Mini, Nintendo’s would-be vacation stopgap turned smash digital toy, and since that point we have been inundated with a cavalcade of miniature and not-so-miniature playable online game replicas, together with competing plug-and-play mini consoles and tabletop arcade cupboards straight from the likes of Sega, Konami and SNK, ever-so-slightly-more-compact duplicate arcade cupboards from distributors like Arcade1UP, cartridge-based methods like Evercade and even that massive ol’ Capcom brand with buttons on… and now, a little bit late however no much less welcome, Taito’s upping the plug-and-play arms race with the Egret II Mini, a playable miniaturized model of their ubiquitous Egret II arcade chassis with dozens of video games, some extravagant new options and that premium value that Taito maniacs have come to tolerate.

At a look, the Egret II Mini appears to be like remarkably just like final yr’s Astro Metropolis Mini from Sega: it is a miniature tabletop arcade machine with a working show and stereo audio system, replaceable marquee and micro-switched joystick & six-button management structure, that comes outfitted with HDMI out, two USB ports for exterior controllers (an arcade stick and pad) and a headphone jack alongside the facility socket and a SD card slot, which I will get into later. (The size are 155mm x 200mm x 209mm huge/deep/excessive, so it is considerably taller and a little bit girthier than the Astro Metropolis Mini.) What units it aside, nevertheless, are among the further design touches: the 5-inch display screen — genuinely sized at Four:three ratio  could be twisted and rotated vertically to be able to play video games that initially displayed on vertical displays, and the stick could be manually locked to just accept Four-or Eight-directional inputs for added per-game authenticity. (A lot of the Egret II Mini’s two-and-a-half-year pre-production section was spent making certain these non-negotiable options could possibly be applied, apparently.)

In fact, the video games themselves are the actual attraction, and for these of you who’re pondering whether or not an organization with a comparatively low worldwide profile like Taito may probably supply sufficient video games to compete with the likes of Nintendo and Sega, relaxation assured: whether or not you are acquainted or not, the Egret II Mini accommodates 40 classics, curios and cult cuts spanning the late ’70s to the mid-’90s, a lot of which have by no means been reissued earlier than. For the whole unfamiliar, I like to recommend watching the overview trailer:


…and for comfort sake, here is the Egret II Mini lineup, listed chronologically:

Area Invaders (1978)
Lunar Rescue (1978)
Metal Employee (1980)
Lupin III (1980)
Qix (1981)
Pirate Pete (1982, heavily-reskinned model of Jungle King/Jungle Hunt)
Journey Canoe (1982)
Elevator Motion (1983)
Chack’n Pop (1983)
Outer Zone (1983)
The Fairyland Story (1985)
The Legend of Kage (1985)
Halley’s Comet (1986)
Bubble Bobble (1986)
Kikikaikai (1986, a part of the sequence generally identified in English as Pocky and Rocky)
Scramble Formation (1986)
Rastan Saga (1987, launched abroad as Rastan) 
Kyuukyoku Tiger (1987, launched abroad as Twin Cobra)
Rainbow Islands Further (1988) 
Raimais (1988)
The New Zealand Story (1988) 
TATSUJIN (1988, identified abroad as Truxton)
Don Doko Don (1989) 
Violence Battle (1989) 
Cadash (1989) 
Volfied (1989, generally identified abroad as Final Qix or Qix Neo)
Mizubaku Daibouken (1990, launched abroad as Liquid Children) 
Gun Frontier (1990)
Runark (1990, launched abroad as Growl) 
Hat Trick Hero (1990, launched abroad as Soccer Champ) 
The Ninja Children (1990) 
Metallic Black (1991) 
RayForce (1993, generally referred to as Galactic Assault, Layer Part and/or Gunlock)
Kaiser Knuckle (1994, launched abroad as World Champion) 
Darius Gaiden (1994)
Bubble Symphony (1994) 
Elevator Motion Returns (1994) 
Puzzle Bobble 2X (1995, launched abroad as Bust-A-Transfer 2X)
Bubble Recollections (1995)
Dan-Ku-Ga (developed in 1994 however by no means formally launched; revision/steadiness replace to Kaiser Knuckle) 

In essence, they’ve grabbed a assorted and carefully-curated choice of video games that focuses on fan favorites, highly-requested reissues and deep cuts that deserve wider accessibility and modern-reappraisal — most of the late-’70s/early-’80s video games specifically have been chosen not simply as a result of their shortage however have been hand-picked as a result of their forward-thinking concepts that set them aside from the multitude of different titles Taito launched throughout this period that many would wrestle to play at the moment. A number of of those video games have by no means been formally reissued and a few have by no means been emulated and even dumped earlier than, and Dan-Ku-Ga — the Champion Version-style improve to Kaiser Knuckle that by no means made it previous location take a look at, and the equal to Nintendo’s Starfox 2 or Sega’s Tetris MD — was by no means even formally launched (however once more, like Starfox 2, is one thing followers have had entry to, in a single kind or one other, for fairly some time). Even simply inside this twenty-year window, Taito put out lots of arcade video games, and whereas they have been by no means going to have the ability to embody each recreation one may hope for, they’ve assembled an admirable checklist of video games that places playability forward of mere antecedent: positive, there are many seminal video games right here, however rattling close to each one’s a banger, they usually’ve even gone to the lengths of licensing video games like Kyuukyoku Tiger and TATSUJIN (which are not Taito video games!) and Lupin III (which can or might not be the primary ever officially-licensed online game adaptation of an current media property, and one which simply so occurs to at present be a part of the Sega company household).

…however after all, there’s extra: do you have to purchase the extra Enlargement Set, you may achieve entry to an extra 10 video games by way of devoted SD card:

Marine Date (1981)
Strike Bowling (1982)
Birdie King (1982)
Arkanoid (1986)
Arkanoid: Revenge of Doh (1987)
Plump Pop (1987) 
Syvalion (1988) 
Cameltry (1989) 
Arkanoid Returns (1997) 
Puchi Carat (1997) 

The Enlargement Set contains the exterior USB controller pictured beneath — all ten of those video games require the usage of both a paddle/spinner or a trackball enter, therefore their exclusivity to this optionally available bundle. As for added recreation expansions by way of SD card, nothing’s been introduced or promised, however the producer has steered they’d wish to discover a strategy to make accessible among the video games that could not be cleared in time to be included on the primary unit, and one must think about that is how they’d do it. (One such title: Cleopatra Fortune!)

On the software program facet, we do not know rather a lot concerning the characteristic suite simply but: there are dip-switches per title, pre-set fast fireplace buttons for sure video games and three save states per recreation, however Taito has but to share particulars on the show settings, or whether or not it will embody re-mappable controls or selectable ROMs per recreation, and even an English front-end. The workforce behind the software program hasn’t been disclosed, both: we will infer that it isn’t being dealt with by frequent collaborator Gotch, as they’re busy engaged on a separate arcade reissue venture for Taito, so it might very nicely be the work of their different frequent collaborator M2, whose work graced the Mega Drive and TurboGrafx-16 Minis, in addition to Taito’s personal latest Darius Cozmic Assortment for PS4 and Change. (The menu music, composed by ZUNTATA alum Yukiharu Urita and performed within the above trailer, was written utilizing the sounds of Taito’s distinctive late-’90s MSM5232 sound chip,)

At this cut-off date, the Egret II Mini has solely been introduced for launch in Japan, and it isn’t low-cost: the usual unit will set you again ¥18,678 (~$170 USD). whereas the system + Enlargement Set bundle, and the deluxe bundle with Enlargement Set and extra arcade stick and pad value ¥32,978 (~$300 USD) and 49,478 (~$450 USD), respectively; every bundle additionally features a multi-disc CD soundtrack and a set of 50 duplicate how-to-play playing cards, and the deluxe bundle additionally features a 160-page technique information. The Enlargement Set, arcade stick and pad can every be bought individually for ¥12,078 (~$110 USD), ¥Eight,778 (~$80 USD) and ¥three,278 (~$30 USD), respectively, and you may want a kind of exterior controllers if you wish to play any of those video games with two gamers. (Amazon Japan’s exorbitant listed delivery value is, so far as I am conscious, a placeholder that will likely be lowered to one thing extra sensible as soon as the gadgets are literally able to ship, however do not quote me on that.)

(By the way, that technique information has been promoted as promising the solutions to a hotly-debated however in the end inconsequential element surrounding Taito’s mid-’80s arcade hit, Chack’n Pop: whereas most each Japanese house conversion of the sport wrote the title utilizing hiragana, the title of the arcade model was by no means formally designated in both hiragana nor katakana, and reissues have flip-flopped between both notation, with the hiragana notation being extra widespread; for the Egret II Mini reissue, they’re itemizing the title in katakana, whilst a separate upcoming Change reissue sticks to hiragana, and the Egret II Mini producer has promised to defend and justify this extremely audacious resolution inside the pages of the technique information included in that $450 deluxe package deal. Taito’s gotta Taito!)

 The Egret II Mini is scheduled to go on sale on March 2, 2022, and I’ve a hunch it will be introduced for official worldwide launch nicely earlier than then, however both means, you’ve gotten loads of time to resolve whether or not or to not make the leap. Are you all mini’d out? Does the rotatable display screen and extra enter choices justify the Taito Tax? Are you as upset on the exclusion of Lifeless Connection as I’m? Tell us within the feedback.

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