Visco Corporation may not be the first arcade developer that springs to mind when you look back at the 1990s, but they certainly made a little bit of a splash with a handful of third-party offerings they came up with for SNK’s legendary Neo Geo hardware. Their most famous, and arguably best title during this period was the excellent isometric racer Neo Drift Out: New Technology, which still gets regular outings in my yard to this day. But just like Fighter’s History, World Heroes and Violence Fight, they also attempted to ride the wave of one-on-one scrapping popularity with their own spin on Capcom’s Street Fighter 2 globe-hopping fighting tournament template.
Arriving unfashionably late in 1996, Breakers (and now Breakers Collection) was technically obsolete when it dropped. Capcom, SNK, and Midway led the way in classic arcade titles and on the surface, it looked dated and with very little to make it stand out from the crowd. It never made it out of Japan, and as such many Western players will be familiar with it. But don’t let that put you off the fine compilation that is Breakers Collection, which shows that there was and is more than meets the eye to Breakers and its 1998 revamp-psuedo-sequel Breakers Revenge.
Thanks to a healthy buzz from the competitive scene and indeed what I have discovered is a fervent fanbase, developer QUByte Interactive has packaged the two games together, added solid, stable cross-platform online capabilities, and added new Team Battle and Training modes.
Whilst still a competent and fun effort, the first Breakers is effectively rendered obsolete by the inclusion of its sequel, which adds a new character and the ability to take control of the boss from its predecessor. The combatants on offer are well designed but derivative and their inspiration can nearly all be traced back to more well-known names from better known games. There is a beefy Native American wrestler, a dude with stretchy limbs, and a monstrous hellcat from the wilds of Brazil.
One thing that Breakers does that I have never seen in any other fighter is to bestow a separate identity and even backstory for the dupe characters when you have a mirror match. This throws up some unintentional comedy in places; flamboyant, rapier wielding Italian Pielle has a French counterpart called George, who allegedly hates Italians as he was once robbed on a visit to the country. You just don’t get this kind of bonkers stuff in Street Fighter II.
Gameplay wise Breakers appears upon first glance to be simplistic, but thanks to the ability to cancel super moves into a chain, and some bonkers juggling potential, it is deceptively meaty and in-depth. It is fast paced, satisfying to play and has a timeless visual quality that stands the test of time just as well as the early SF/KOF/Fatal Fury titles. The new team mode is reminiscent of KOF and sees teams square off with the victors regaining a smidge of vitality after each win.
Whilst fun, I would argue that even with the mirror guys, the Breakers roster is probably stretched a little too thin for this mode in terms of variety and possible team options. Online wise, there are already plenty of people playing and the rollback netcode meant I experienced smooth, lag free battles – even if I generally got my ass handed to me.
The package may not have a ton of content, but it is as comprehensive as you could wish, is incredibly fun to play, and is with hindsight arguably the best of the non-SNK fighters that came out for the Neo. Best of all you now won’t have to break the bank to get arcade perfect Breakers action.
Lovely old school visuals
Much better fighters available
Not much difference between two games