The desire to own vintage-based gaming hardware is usually steeped in originality. We don’t just want to play old games, but do so in a way that reflects our original experiences. The slight increase in miniature variants of arcade cabinets and classic consoles released each year despite the ease of simulation is proof of that. Latest example: Taito Egret II Mini.
The Egret II arcade cabinet was originally released in 1996 thanks to its large rotating screen – a mechanism that allows horizontal and vertical alignment – and the Taito game library. This mini version is almost identical. Featuring its own rotating screen, 40 pre-installed games, and solid controls, the Egret II Mini is similar to some of the Best arcade wardrobes Available now.
Taito Egret II Mini
Taito Egret II Mini – Design and Features
At first glance, Taito’s Egret II Mini looks exactly like its larger counterpart. The joystick and buttons have a blue color scheme instead of pink/purple and there’s only room for one set of controls. Everything else, from the side panels to the placement of the stereo speakers (mounted right above the screen) is basically identical. Just much smaller.
Egret II Mini does not take up much space. Weighing about a pound or two, and measuring about 5.10 and 8.5 inches in width and height respectively, it can be safely grown on most coffee tables. The joystick and buttons are relatively sized, with a shrunken control surface that only allows for single play. However, the placement of each component mirrors the design of the original Egret II.
While the Egret II Mini is small, its screen looks large when compared to the rest of the unit. The 5-inch 4:3 screen (1024 x 768 resolution) takes up a fair amount of real estate, making Taito games look bigger than they really are. This becomes even more impressive when you start rotating the screen. Tap on its sides and you’ll get a nice “click” just before the screen appears. From here, you can rotate it left or right (depending on its current position) for landscape or portrait mode. Vertical scrolling Shoot’em Ups like RayForce, for example, look better when using the correct orientation.
When it comes to its frame, the Egret II Mini looks rather sturdy. I didn’t get the impression that it was made of cheap materials. I wouldn’t recommend dropping the Egret II of course. Wrapped in what appears to be hard plastic, I imagine landing on a hard enough surface would result in more than one chipped corner. However, it feels solid enough to fall from a low height.
In addition to the vintage aesthetics and durable casing, there are also some modern elements. The back of the Egret II, for example, is where all of its wires are connected. To the left of the power switch are two USB Type-A ports for additional controllers, an HDMI out, a 3.5mm jack, and a USB Type-C port for power. Note that the unit we got does not come with a power brick; You can use a computer or laptop to run the Egret II if your phone charger doesn’t use a USB Type-A connection. The right side of the Mini has an SD card slot for additional games. At the bottom, below the joystick is a toggle switch that switches between 8 and 4 directional inputs while the top makes room for an instruction board that holds small interchangeable instruction cards.
The Egret II Mini will be sold in three different packages. Each comes with different items, although the arcade machine itself is always the same. The edition I received for review was the Limited Blue Edition – the basic package that comes with a special mug, cup holder, and mini instruction cards. Our early model didn’t come with any of these extra items. However, my two units included two optional controllers that are usually sold separately.
The Egret II mini-controller looks a lot like most of the old console-based consoles. It features a six-button design, a slightly raised D-pad, and a two-meter USB cable. The control panel worked well with most of the games offered on Egret II. The Paddle and Trackball expansion set proved to be much more interesting. This special console comes with an SD card with 10 additional games, all of which require a trackball or paddle to be played.
Taito Egret II Mini – Performance
For the most part, I enjoyed my time with Taito’s Egret II Mini. This was in part due to the list of solid games. Darius Gaiden is still the classic Shoot’em Up. My wife and I can’t get enough of Puzzle Bobble (aka Bust-a-Move). And while my nostalgia did most of the heavy lifting, I found myself enjoying some games I hadn’t played before; Although not as popular as Street Fighter or Samurai Shodown, Kaizer Knuckle is a fighter worth trying.
I spent hours jumping from one game to the next. Rotate the screen to play Gun Frontier vertically before returning to landscape view for some Rastan Saga – think Rygar but better. Adding a second player was as easy as plugging in one of the extra controllers. Simply press the little blue button at the top of the control deck to “Insert Coins”, and have both players press the start and end buttons.
Going back to the originality, it’s not just the classic ROMs that make the Egret II Mini look great. It is also the comprehensive presentation. The front of the mini-locker lights up when you turn it on, the demos of the autoplay, the sound it makes when you choose a game or add credits – all add to the retro look. Honestly, there’s a lot to love here. And that’s before adding the ten additional games in the expansion set.
Egret II Mini also comes with some modern features. Save states is fairly standard at this point. I was pleased to see the rapid fire return though. This function really helped alleviate the control issue. Since the control surface is rather small, playing a game that requires a lot of repetitive pressing of the buttons quickly led to muscle fatigue and hand cramps. I didn’t suffer from carpal tunnel or anything else but had to take breaks, use a quick fire or switch to the control panel.
Everything works as expected. Choosing what to play was simple thanks to the grouping mechanic that sorted the games by name, release date, or by favourites; Put a star next to the ones you love while excluding everything else. All games load quickly even when connected to a TV with the included HDMI cable.
As good as the Egret II Mini sounds, it does have a few issues that are worth noting. For one, there is no volume tweaks on the locker. The only way to adjust the volume is via the console settings on the home screen. There are no options available in the game. Meaning that you will have to exit any game you were playing every time you want to change the volume. Same goes for brightness, filters, language settings, etc.
Speaking of language settings, a lot of the games included are in Japanese with no option to change them. Global Settings (serving Japanese, English, and Simplified/Traditional Mandarin) are only relevant to the Egret II menus, not the games themselves. This isn’t always a problem – it shouldn’t be too difficult to choose a mode in Puzzle Bobble – although some games like Action RPG Cadas can be difficult to understand and play.
There is also an SD card for the expansion kit. With a Paddle and Trackball controller, it offers an additional 10 games that can be played on the Egret II. Unfortunately, you can’t just insert the SD card and start playing. First you have to turn off Egret II because doing so will allow the locker to swap the included 40 games for an additional 10 games; You cannot download them all at the same time. This minor inconvenience will not necessarily ruin a particular gaming session. However, since I could only play Paddle or Trackball games (including three different versions of the Arkanoid) when the SD card was in use, I often chose to forgo the expansion kit.
What spoiled my fun was the inclusion of The Ninja Kids Arcade due to its depiction of some people of color. All the characters of the game are designed to look like puppets, and everything is exaggerated or exaggerated. However, there are some enemies that resemble negative stereotypes. This includes blacks with bright red lips and Arabs who have been portrayed as terrorists. The enemies of the sect are very similar to klansmen. Basically, ninja kids seem to be quite racist.