HomeEntertainmentEgret II Mini REVIEW: Bite-sized arcade cabinet is an essential purchase you won’t rEGRET
Egret II Mini REVIEW: Bite-sized arcade cabinet is an essential purchase you won’t rEGRET
September 28, 2022
Egret II Mini contains 40 games, including Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, Darius Gaiden and more (Image: ININ)
The five-star Mega Drive Mini and the superb SNES Classic may have more mainstream appeal, but if you love retro gaming and fondly remember feeding arcade machines your hard-earned pocket money, then the Egret II Mini could be this year’s must-have gaming device. The Egret II Mini is a pretty faithful recreation of Taito’s iconic arcade cabinets that were extremely popular in Japan. It contains 40 built-in games, a rotating screen, stereo speakers and an adjustable joystick, making it one of the more feature-heavy devices in the ever expanding miniature market.
Other than the games list (but more on that later), it’s the adjustable screen that really makes the Egret II Mini feel like something special.
An absolute godsend if you’re a fan of vertically-scrolling shoot-em-ups, the Egret II Mini features a satisfyingly clicky rotating screen. Just click it in, pop it out and twist the screen around for when you want to play vertically scrolling games the proper way – such as Space Invaders, RayForce and Gun Frontier.
When you want to play the more commonly available side-scrolling games, simply rotate the screen back to its original position and it will adjust the aspect ratio automatically.
Being able to play games with a suitable aspect ratio is boosted further by the fact that the LCD display measures in at a solid 5-inches, meaning you’re never squinting to make out the action onscreen.
It’s a far cry from the original Sega Astro Mini, where certain games were borderline unplayable due to the dinky 3.9-inch screen and pointless 16:9 display mode.
You can see a comparison of the two devices and their respective game-to-screen ratios below.
Not only is the Egret II bigger than the Astro City Mini, but it makes better use of the display (Image: ININ SEGA)
The difference between vertically scrolling games is even more pronounced (Image: ININ SEGA)
Another really nice touch is the ability to switch the joystick between four directions and eight directions, while the glowing marquee and instructional panel with swappable cards adds an extra layer of legitimacy.
Factor in the solid build quality and sizeable form factor that’s actually comfortable to play out of the box, and the Egret II Mini strikes the perfect balance between practicality and authenticity.
The games list is another big tick in the win column for the Taito Egret II Mini, both in terms of variety and overall quality.
The base unit ships with 40 games, which is far greater than the paltry 16 games on the Capcom Home Arcade, and the 22 titles bundled with the Astro City Mini V. It even tops the original Astro City Mini, which comes with 37 games.
The Egret II Mini doesn’t feature as many household names as some of its rivals – Space Invaders is the earliest and most historically significant of the bunch – but there are very few games that don’t have at least some redeeming qualities.
The rotating display means you can play vertical games like Space Invaders without squinting (Image: ININ)
EGRET II Mini games list
• Adventure Canoe (1982)
• Bubble Bobble (1986)
• Bubble Memories (1995)
• Bubble Symphony (1994)
• Cadash (1989)
• Chack’n Pop (1983)
• Dan-Ku-Ga (unreleased update to Kaiser Knuckle, 1995)
• Darius Gaiden (1994)
• Don Doko Don (1989)
• Elevator Action (1983)
• Elevator Action Returns (1994)
• Fairyland Story (1985)
• Growl (1990)
• Gun Frontier (1990)
• Halley’s Comet (1986)
• Hat Trick Hero (1990)
• Kaiser Knuckle (1994)
• Kiki KaiKai (1986)
• The Legend of Kage (1985)
• Liquid Kids Adventure (1990)
• Lunar Rescue (1979)
• Lupin III (1980)
• Metal Black (1991)
• New Zealand Story (1988)
• The Ninja Kids (1990)
• Outer Zone (1984)
• Pirate Pete (1982)
• Puzzle Bobble 2X (1995)
• Qix (1981)
• Raimais (1988)
• Rainbow Islands EXTRA (1988)
• Rastan Saga (1987)
• RayForce (1993)
• Scramble Formation (1986)
• Space Invaders (1978)
• Steel Worker (1980)
• Tatsujin (1988)
• Twin Cobra (1987)
• Violence Fight (1989)
• Volfied (1989)
Personal favourites include Elevator Action Returns, Rastan Saga, Runark (Growl), Darius Gaiden, Dan-Ku-Ga (and Kaiser Knuckle), Metal Black, Rayforce, Tatsujin, Gun Frontier, Kyukyoku Tiger (Twin Cobra) and Puzzle Bobble.
I also got a big kick out of Pocky & Rocky predecessor Kiki KaiKai, especially after spending hours playing Pocky & Rocky Reshrined on Nintendo Switch.
There are quite a few Bubble Bobble style games on the device, which is great if you like that kind of thing, but I’ve never personally been able to get into them. They’re not bad games, just not my cup of tea (maybe I’m out of practice). I also remember liking Rainbow Islands a lot more in my younger days than I do now.
Though slightly limited in the gameplay department, Hat Trick Hero’s chunky visuals and overall presentation represent everything I love about arcade gaming, while Pirate Pete, Lunar Rescue and Space Invaders’ primitive graphics shouldn’t put you off playing these addictive classics.
EGRET II Mini Paddle and Trackball Expansion Set review
Fans willing to spend some extra cash can pick up a whole host of extras for the Egret II Mini, including a hefty arcade stick, a traditional control pad, and the excellent Paddle and Trackball Expansion Set.
The Paddle and Trackball Expansion Set comes with a special controller that plugs into the back of the system, as well as an SD Card containing ten additional games supporting either the paddle or trackball control input.
While the sensitivity of both the paddle and trackball takes some getting used to – particularly the paddle which seems extremely loose at first – it’s well worth persevering, because the expansion contains some real addictive treasures.
Games like Cameltry – where you use the paddle to rotate the stage in order to guide a ball to the exit – are simple enough for anybody to pick up and play, but challenging enough to keep people hooked for hours.
The paddle-controlled Arkanoid games (and Puchi Carat) are the stars of the show, featuring moreish block-breaking action that will be familiar to fans of Atari’s Breakout.
On the Trackball side of things, Strike Bowling and Birdie King are the standout titles, while mecha-dragon, mazed-based shooter Syvalion provides a unique and meatier experience for fans of arcade curios.
The biggest problem with the expansion is that there’s not as much variety in the games line-up, especially given the price. Five of the games are either part of the Arkanoid series (Arkanoid, Arkanoid Revenge of Doh and Arkanoid Returns), or feature similar gameplay (Puchi Carat and Plump Pop).
At the time of writing, the Paddle and Trackball Expansion costs over £100, plus the cost of the Egret II Mini itself. You can purchase bundles containing everything, but again, it’s going to cost you.
If you do have the budget and are willing to pay a little extra, you can at least rest assured that the Paddle and Trackball Expansion won’t disappoint. What it lacks in quantity, it certainly makes up for in quality.
VERDICT – 4/5
The Egret II Mini Paddle and Trackball Expansion Set (Image: ININ)
Arkanoid and Strike Bowling are standout titles in the Paddle and Trackball expansion (Image: ININ)
Perhaps unsurprisingly it’s the Egret II Mini’s weedy speakers that let it down – especially on higher volumes – although you can at least plug in a set of headphones.
Another issue is that the Egret II Mini doesn’t come with an actual power supply, just a cable. While this wouldn’t typically be a problem, the Egret II Mini needs a lot of juice to keep things running smoothly. Use a standard plug and the device doesn’t get enough power, leading to all kinds of performance issues.
The price could also be a sticking point for some, especially if purchasing the cabinet and extras – which will set you back more than £400. It’s not that the Egret II Mini isn’t worth it, it’s just a high price to pay in comparison to some of its rivals.
Still, with a strong games line-up, excellent build quality and some neat features like the rotating screen, there isn’t too much to complain about when it comes to the Egret II Mini.
If you’re looking for a pint-sized machine with more gems than a vault at Tiffany’s, the Egret II Mini might just be the best miniature gaming device yet.