The NES is legendary for having the widest library of games where you just blow the hell out of things and scroll right (or up), and Breakthru is another one of them. I had a blast with this game as a youngster despite not getting anywhere in it due to either the difficulty or the fact that I was seven and at this point in my gaming tenure, I was getting killed just bringing up the menu to Ghosts N Goblins.
Most arcade ports to the NES seemed to go pretty well for the NES, as far as I can remember. I only briefly played this in the arcades at Chuck E Cheese and decided that getting killed in Zaxxon was more fun because it was in space. As far as a home port goes, this isn’t too bad, though it is hindered by some of the many problems most NES games had that drove you nuts.
GRAPHICS 6.5/10: While this game may not tap into the complete power of the NES, it does look pretty solid, with some mild hiccups and caveats. One of those is that flickering lag thing you get when there is so much action on the screen that it can’t be contained. While it’s not as bad as Super Dodgeball or that robot dragon fight in Dr. Wily’s stage in Mega Man 2, it does disrupt your view a little bit and suddenly a flamethrower gets you out of nowhere. Mines are scattered about and it’s pretty easy to run into one if you aren’t paying attention. I thought about complaining that it’s hard to see them since they blend in with the dirt, but on second thought, they’re damn mines, that’s kind of the damn point. Laughable are the infantry soldiers, who bravely stand in your path armed with only a semi automatic and fire upon you while walking in place. I’d feel confident too, if I could take out a fast-approaching, high speed, armored vehicle with only one shot from a sidearm.
The levels look pretty good, and obstacles in your way are defined nicely, so even at high speeds, you won’t often be thrown off by an obstruction that you won’t think you can cross over. Despite the flickering imagery at times, there’s hardly any slowdown in the game, which suprises me, since so much stuff can be all over the place. Enemy fire can hard to spot, however, mostly due to the erratic patterens certain tanks and jeeps launch projectiles in, so pacing is essential. One other note, the buggy looks like the Batmobile variation in the Chris Nolan movies, painted blue.
GAMEPLAY 8/10: The controls are pretty fine for such a fast paced game. There’s never a point where I feel like bashing the controller into the ground and blaming faulty lag time for missing a jump, even when some jumps are very tricky. It’s not the game’s fault I died 13 times in a row missing the leap over the pond or forgetting which part of the bridge is out. That being said, you are at a distinct disadvantage one properly timing a challenging leap of faith when rockets are fast on your tail near a gorge. tapping foreward gradually accelerates you and pressing back slows down. Firing isn’t automatic, so unless you have an NES Advantage nearby, your thumb will tire after a bit.
DIFFICULTY 7.5/10: You’ll rack up a lot of cheesy deaths from poorly timed jumps, hard-to-track bullets, precise aimed rockets, and boulders that may as well have a life of their own and an intense hatred of you and everything you stand for, but you can quickly pick up on the speed and timing of this game after a couple of go-arounds. there are checkpoints a plenty and the game isn’t cruel enough to reset your progress when continuing. It gets pretty hard very quickly, and can get frustrating to die, especially after getting over a huge hurdle only to get wiped out a half a second later. One hit kills bite big time, namely when you get marked by one of those aformentioned infantry soldiers for just trying to run them over. I made light of it earlier, but it’s still kind of bullshit. I feel bad for people who blew X amount of dollars in arcades on this.
IN CLOSING: I spent years hunting this game down again because I had some great memories of it, and it’s a pretty fun combat action game. Breakthru might be easy enough to put down after dying a couple of times, but something kept pulling me back to it and play it until i defeat the hell out of it. It probably doesn’t rank high enough to make the board of vehicle shooters like Master Blaster or Jackal, it’s still a pretty solid effort that has some merit in the challenge department for such a short game. OVERALL SCORE: 7/10
PROS: Good, fast-paced action. Solid buggy controls. A fun challange
CONS: Annoying ass falling boulders that are self aware. You’ll die a whole lot. Music is repetitive