Breakneck City Graphics - Marshmallow Mateys Cereal

In front of me at this very moment is a box of Marshmallow Mateys cereal. It’s the Malt-O-Meal brand knockoff of Lucky Charms, but at just $1 — I take Buy 5 for $5 deals very seriously, folks — it’s definitely a steal, and it’s absolutely worth choosing over the leprechaun version, which is typically three to five times that price. Aside from how affordable and delicious it is, part of the appeal of this type of cereal is the candy-coated aesthetic.

Marshmallow Mateys is bright and colorful, and it’s because of this brightness and, um, colorful-ness that it’s so inviting. It pulls you in with its charm — its lucky charm, if you will — and it hooks you with its sweet marshmallow bits and semi-sweet whole grain oat flour pieces. (Yes, I had to read the ingredients to know what these things are made with.)

Similarly, Breakneck City, the 3D beat ’em up from Renegade Sector Games, is bright and colorful, too. Also similarly, it’s that bright and colorful aesthtic that will get your attention like so many loud, vibrant cereal boxes at the grocery store. But Breakneck City isn’t cereal — that should be made clear right off the bat — and it’s not made with sugar and flour, but rather with pixels, polygons, and gameplay mechanics.

Breakneck City

There’s a really cool lo-fi, quasi-PlayStation 1 look to Breakneck City. It’s like a more pixel-y, more jagged Fighting Force. But it’s also heavier on the usage of bright colors, so you’ll see lots of purples and pinks, along with flashing lights and vibrant set pieces.

Oh, it also looks absolutely absurd.

Now, that’s not a knock against the game. Frankly, I love the visual direction of Breakneck City. That said, there’s this purposefully ridiculous look to the player characters, enemies, and bosses that’s impossible to ignore. So long as you’re not a stickler about these kinds of things, you might actually really like the dopey look of it all — I know I did.

Keep in mind: It’s not like this is meant to be some super-serious game with super-serious themes. It’s fun and colorful and dumb, and its audacity is meant to make you smile and chuckle in admiration. Thankfully, Breakneck City pulls this feat off quite flawlessly as it’ll take you through six wonderfully designed stages filled with funny enemies and silly dialogue.

Of course, just like Marshmallow Mateys, Breakneck City thrives because of its presentation, but it succeeds because of its substance — that substance being the game’s beat ’em up action. Simply put, the mechanics work well enough to provide an enjoyable, highly entertaining experience.

Breakneck City Gameplay

All of the classic brawling tropes are here: punches, kicks, blunt objects, and eventually guns. You’re always outnumbered by goons weak and strong, and your main objective is to pummel ’em real good. You’ll get pretty messed up yourself, but it’s all part of the fun, and thankfully, there are some pretty forgiving checkpoints so that you’re never sent too far back if you’re bested by a gang of baddies.

Boss fights in Breakneck City are fun, too. These thugs are usually much stronger, and they have unique offense that typically covers large areas of the game screen versus just punching you like the smaller enemies.

Breakneck City Boss

Interestingly, Breakneck City attempts to make its environments a part of the action by allowing you to knock enemies into hanging hooks, breakable crates, and so on. You can even kick enemies into chairs, forcing them to sit down and allowing you to go to town with some abusive offense of your own.

As cool as it is that you can somewhat interact with the game world in Breakneck City, it doesn’t seem fully realized. More often than not, I found myself merely sending enemies flying toward walls, into other enemies, or off balconies. Sure, I utilized some of the dynamic environmental objects every so often, but this was sparse, and it never really felt like the game world was a meaningful component in the adventure.

Breakneck City 3D Beat 'Em Up

It’s also worth noting that character animations, movement, and behavior can be a little janky. You might get stuck to certain walls or have a hard time moving through areas where there are a lot of objects. Of course, I find it difficult — impossible, actually — to dock the game for this because, oddly enough, this jankiness is a part of its retro allure.

This is because while it can be a little difficult to move around at times, it never feels like the game is working against you. And the fact that the enemies — and even the bosses — are tied to the same physics as you makes it all pretty fair. There were a few times when bad guys would get stuck on walls trying to get to me, but they would slowly maneuver their way around the environment, which was comical to see.

Basically, it’s important to keep in mind that Breakneck City isn’t a perfect game, but it isn’t trying to be. In fact, it knows it’s goofy and a little wonky, but it’s also a lot of fun. Not to mention, the levels are perfectly paced, and the challenge is tough at times but always fair. At about two hours, Breakneck City doesn’t overstay its welcome but rather treats you to a bite-sized 3D brawling adventure that’s pretty solid — just like a box of tasty, sugary bargain cereal.

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