Having fallen prey to the Mini game machine phenomenon, I have pretty much now wholeheartedly given myself over to just being a sucker for almost all of it.
Initially, I resisted the NES and SNES Classics, because other than Starfox 2, I pretty much already had all the titles on them, at my fingertips and ready to play on their native consoles. But as the Genesis Mini, PC Engine Mini, Neo Geo Mini, and Astro City Mini started offering more bang for our gaming buck, I’ve totally embraced the convenience and value of the Mini machines. With lots of rare and desirable titles now readily available to plug and play (or, in the case of the mini arcade cabinets, just play), I’ve eschewed any elitist predispositions toward not playing on original hardware in favor of just getting to play them at all.
Which is good, because I have no prospects of obtaining a Sega Astro City or an original Dragon’s Lair cabinet anytime soon. But their Mini versions are just thrilling the pants off me!
Which leads me to the whole point of this post: I’m super excited for the next entrant into the Mini fray, Taito’s Egret II Mini!
Dropping in March of 2022, the TE2M looks like it may be the coolest official Mini yet. Not only does it have a variety of controller options, a changeable marquee topper, and an SD card slot, but it has probably the most-desired feature of any arcade machine, big or small: a rotatable monitor. Yes, you can turn the screen from yoko to tate and back, depending on the game you’re playing, for that true game center feeling!
Of course, what really matters is the game lineup. And with 40 titles crammed into this little cab, a very thorough cross-section of Taito’s first few decades is represented. If you’ve got seven minutes to spare, why not watch their video detailing all of them?
So what am I most excited about?
First, I love that they’re going all the way back to Space Invaders. I mean, it’s Taito — they kind of have to at this point.
But they don’t stop there: they include other early works like Lunar Rescue and even Lupin III, and moving right into Golden Age classics like Qix and Pirate Pete.
Pirate Pete is interesting because it’s a re-skin of the well-loved Jungle King/Hunt. Taito released Pirate Pete around 1983, presumably to draw in quarter-tossers (or 100-yen-tossers) who had already played the original jungle adventure by giving it a fresh coat of paint. While one might think Jungle King/Hunt might be a more obvious choice to include on the E2M, I have my suspicions that a number of factors contributed to their decision to feature Pete instead. First, Jungle King was already a controversial can of worms for Taito when the owners of the rights to the Tarzan character tried to sue Taito for copyright infringement, forcing them to tweak the game into Jungle Hunt. But let’s be honest — Jungle Hunt’s cannibals and witch doctors would be considered a bit culturally insensitive these days, so Pirate Pete, with its enemy pirates, is probably the least-controversial way to include this classic game. Bonus — it’s a fairly rare piece of Taito history, so I’m actually really happy that Pirate Pete is coming back!
Then, of course, we have one of my all-time favorites, Elevator Action. Even as the owner of an original EA arcade machine, I will still take as many versions and releases of this game as they want to put out.
Other Taito staples like Chack’n’Pop, Legend of Kage, Bubble Bobble, and KiKiKaiKai are filled in with more obscure fare like Outer Zone and Adventure Canoe.
Continuing into the later ’80s, we have Rastan Saga, Tatsujin, New Zealand Story, Cadash…the hits just keep coming!
Representing the ’90s are games like Gun Frontier, Metal Black, Rayforce, Darius Gaiden — shmups galore, as we all know that the shooting game is one of the best reasons to visit the arcade! A few fighters and beat-em-ups like Runark, Violence Fight, and Kaiser Knuckle expand the genres a bit.
And while there are plenty of titles I haven’t even mentioned, the last one that absolutely sold me on the Egret II Mini is, of course, Elevator Action Returns — the white-hot 1994 sequel that will run you just as much on the Sega Saturn as an original Taito F3 motherboard and EAR cartridge would, so its inclusion alone makes the Mini worth it to me!
These are just the highlights, but I’m looking forward to playing ALL of the titles on the Egret II Mini.
After the Astro City Mini improved on the build quality of the Neo Geo Mini (the Astro City felt more like quality gaming equipment than a toy), I’m expecting the Egret to feel equally solid, if not moreso.
Anyway, next March is still a long time away, but I’m already excited to add the Taito Egret II Mini to my mini arcade lineup!