If you owned a PS1, there’s a good chance you were playing Street Fighter Alpha, Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors, or Tekken 2 in 1996. You probably weren’t playing Breakers, a cult fighting game from Visco Corporation which first launched in Japanese arcades at the very end of that year, and was later ported to the NeoGeo AES and NeoGeo CD in 1997. It seems like an odd title to resurrect, then, but time has been kind to this colourful Capcom-inspired brawler – and we live in an era where retro re-releases are becoming ubiquitous on modern consoles, especially from industrious publishers like QUByte.
If you haven’t heard of Breakers or its revamped, rebalanced pseudo-sequel Breakers Revenge, then it’ll harbour few surprises. These are textbook mid-90s fighters, filled with quarter-circle special moves and stereotypes. Pielle Montario, an Italian stallion armed with a fencing sword, attacks with cyclones of roses; Alsion III, meanwhile, is an undead Egyptian with poisonous breath. The pixel art and animation is robust if rarely awe-inspiring, but the sprites are chunky and the combat is surprisingly accessible – save for an almost impossible boss skirmish, as is so fist-clenchingly common for the genre. It’s one of those games where, if you have even the slightest familiarity with 2D fighters, you’ll pick it up really fast.
That means there’s none of the unique gameplay complexity we observed in the recent Rumble Fish 2, but it’s more instantly enjoyable. The package also feels more robust overall: there are online lobbies, ranked play, and rollback netcode. There’s also a team battle option, and an art gallery featuring various sketches and design documents from the original release. The emulation seems rock solid from our experience, although we must concede we have no familiarity with the original, as even the aforementioned home console NeoGeo port never made its way out of Japan.
Nevertheless, we like this little collection. As a game, Breakers and its refreshed Breakers Revenge re-release does little to set itself apart from its peers of the era, but its simplistic gameplay and vibrant aesthetic still manages to ensure it’s an entertaining time.