• Graeme Mason

Brand New on Antstream Arcade: Taito Special – Part One!

Updated: Mar 27

Japan has a rich history of arcade game design and manufacture, and Antstream Arcade is proud to present much of the back catalogue of one its most famous companies. Formed in 1953, the Taito Trading Company initially began jukebox leasing, before moving into the video game industry in the mid-Seventies. But for most of us, Taito began in 1978 with the release of the legendary Space Invaders, one of the many new classic games landing this week on Antstream Arcade!



Space Invaders, 1978


What better place to start this round up than with the undisputed king of video games. While it may appear superficially uncomplicated by today’s standards of gaming, there’s a wonderful and unsophisticated glint to Taito’s 1978 classic. Aliens have arrived and are hovering over the Earth, slowly, inexorably, descending. The fate of humanity, and indeed the entire planet, rests with you brave defender, ensconced within your mobile tank and ready to take the fight to this extraterrestrial menace. The joy of Space Invaders remains its iconic aesthetic: the enemy approaches, the pace increases, piling the pressure on the poor player as the protective buildings start to take on an apocalyptic appearance, peppered by the lethal alien bombs.


Ant-Fact: Originally, Space Invaders featured humanoid figures instead of aliens. It was suggested to the game’s designer that extraterrestrial foes might be a little more politically correct.


Ant-Tactic: There’s a special bonus (300 points) for hitting the flying saucer with your 23rd shot, and then each 15th shot. A bit random, maybe, but a great way of boosting that score!


Ant-ernative: Based on a game that was popular in the wake of Space Invaders, the ZX Spectrum arcade clone, Pheenix, is a real treat for fixed screen shoot-‘em-up fans. Test it out on Antstream Arcade.


Note from the AntTeam: We've got two awesome Space Invaders challenging debuting this week too! Challenge yourself and your friends with Alien Ambush and Laser Accuracy!



Bubble Bobble, 1986


We skip forward eight years now to another famous game from the Taito stable, and this cute bubble-‘em-up couldn’t be further from the alien-repelling classic. Bubble Bobble stars twin dragons, Bub and Bob, who must brave the cave of monsters in order to rescue their girlfriends, with the malicious horde of Baron Von Blubba standing in their way. Each of the one hundred levels contains a variety of platforms, power-ups and villains, of which the latter can be encased in a bubble from the dragon’s mouth. Burst the bubble and the enemy is defeated, and the endearing dragons a step closer towards being reunited with their loves. Charming and immensely playable, Bubble Bobble is a true superstar of arcade gaming that we are honoured to host on Antstream Arcade.


Ant-Fact: There are three different endings to Bubble Bobble which depend upon which mode you are playing in. Can you unlock the True Ending?


Ant-Tactic: The yellow candy is our favourite of all the power-ups: it gives you furious rapid-fire bubbles.


Ant-ernative: If you’re in the mood for more cute platforming, you should definitely check out Blue’s Journey by SNK, also available on Antstream Arcade.


Note from the AntTeam: Bubble-blowing dragons? Challenge accepted! We've got five brand spanking new challenges launching with this cute and classic retro game too!



Alpine Ski


Ever wanted to try skiing but don’t like the cold, or possibility of broken limbs? Then, we’ve got you covered on Antstream Arcade with the snowy Alpine Ski from Taito, the object of which is to skilfully manoeuvre your skier down the slopes, past rocks, trees and rivals, both on skis and in snowmobiles. Make it all the way down the hill and it’s off to the slalom course, completion of which gives you a chance to sail into the air via the ski jump. With just three buttons utilised (for swinging left or right and increasing speed), Alpine Ski is a thrilling and uncomplicated arcade simulation that’s easy to start – but immensely tricky to stop, once you’re off – just like real skiing!


Ant-Fact: Skiing over icy ponds is possible, but extremely hazardous. Glide with care.


Ant-Tactic: With time of the essence, it’s imperative to avoid crashing as it eats up a valuable 10 seconds each time.


Ant-ernative: The ZX Spectrum game Horace Goes Skiing couples a Frogger clone with a decent rendition of the piste.



Crazy Balloon


If you’ve ever tried to guide a helium-filled balloon through a maze laden with spikes, then you’ll have an idea of the challenges that await you in Taito’s Crazy Balloon. The player controls a small box, tied to which is the eponymous inflatable, and both must be guided through the maze to the exit. Only this balloon doesn’t float happily above. Oh no. This is a crazy balloon, gyrating constantly, and usually unerringly towards one of the deadly barbs that are strewn around each screen. With moving spikes and shifting mazes, there are plenty of devious tricks awaiting brave retro gamers in Crazy Balloon. Can you stop the pop?


Ant-Fact: Recognise that tune whenever a level starts? That’s because it’s an excerpt from the famous western song, Oh Susanna.


Ant-Tactic: Take too long to study the screen and a disembodied head (oddly resembling Bart Simpson) will appear and blow your balloon until it bursts, or you move away.


Ant-ernative: More balloon antics can be enjoyed in SNK’s Fantasy, also on Antstream Arcade.



If those fabulous games don’t quite offer enough action for you, here are four more terrific Taito games debuting this week:

Love a bit of Bub and Bob? Then why not try The Fairyland Story, released a year earlier than Bubble Bobble, and containing many of the winning elements and themes that made it into the bubble-blowing classic. Meanwhile, Cadash (1989) is a smooth and beautiful action platform game with significant RPG elements, set in a Lord Of The Rings-style universe. And to conclude this Taito special, take control of a hyperactive yo-yo in the Pac-Man homage, The Electric Yo-Yo, while swinging from ship mast to ship mast in Pirate Pete. Arrrrrrrrrr!


So what are you waiting for? It's Taito time! Get your hands on all these new games on Antstream Arcade right now!