Taito, the Square Enix subsidiary behind arcade classic Space Invaders, is jumping on the mini hardware trend in a big way. The Japanese company has unveiled a desktop replica of its sit down arcade machine, the Egret II. Originally released in the mid to late-nineties, the so-called candy cabinet stood out thanks to a rotate mechanism that allowed the screen to be configured vertically for tate-mode games like shoot-em-ups.
Fittingly, the micro-version retains that feature with a 5-inch 4:3 LCD display that you can pop out and turn to fit in either orientation. The main controls include six primary buttons and a stick that can be adjusted from four to eight directions based on the game. Alongside the replica cabinet, Taito is also releasing a seperate controller featuring a paddle wheel and trackball for compatible titles like Cameltry, which originally saw players guiding a marble through a maze by rotating the screen. If that sounds familiar, it's because the concept inspired the special stages from the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
In all, Taito is promising a library of 40 pre-loaded titles. Though it hasn't revealed the full line-up yet, the current list includes Space Invaders, Lunar Rescue, Qix, Elevator Action, Chack’n Pop, Bubble Bobble, among others. One of the more recent titles on the list is Global Champion (Kaiser Knuckle in Japan), which jumped on the beat-em-up bandwagon in the wake of Street Fighter II.
The expansion controller, meanwhile, comes with an SD card pre-loaded with ten games that use the trackball or paddle. They include confirmed titles like Strike Bowling, the aforementioned Cameltry, Plump Pop, and Syvalion. Another notable addition is Arkanoid, a block breaker arcade game published by Taito in 1986. Aside from the rotating screen, the Egret II Mini features a USB-C port for power, two USB-A ports for controllers, an HDMI port for TV output, and a headphone jack.
Including the replica itself and the peripherals, the cabinet won't come cheap. On its own, it costs 18,678 yen ($170) and the expansion controller is 12,078 yen ($110). Taito is also offering an extra arcade stick for 8,778 yen ($80) and a gamepad for $3,278 yen ($30). If you want the lot, you can grab a 49,478-yen ($450) limited bundle that throws in extras like soundtrack CDs, and a 32,978-yen ($300) bundle sans the arcade stick and the gamepad.
But, there's still a while to go before it lands: The Egret II Mini ships March 2nd, 2022. Fortunately, you can still get your arcade fix from other, cheaper replicas such as My Arcade's Micro Player machines. And, maybe, Sega will release another limited batch of its Astro CIty Mini arcade.