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Circuit Breakers Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . While it looks the part, Circuit Breakers is undone by repetitive level designs and an simplistic gameplay. The core mechanics may be unique, but they ultimately lead to a much less interesting dual-stick shoot-em-up. Circuit Breakers is the type of game you won't remember in a few weeks. Rating: 57%
Circuit Breakers
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
With the promise of big money and prizes, I couldn't help but fall in love with Smash TV back in the early 1990s. This was my first taste of dual-stick shooting and I made every excuse in the book to sneak off to the arcade and dump quarters into the colorful cabinet. In fact, I loved Smash TV so much that I happily plopped down $60 for the Super NES port. And despite being toned down and a little harder to control, I played that game until there wasn't a vacuum, VCR or toaster left to win.

While a lot of dual-stick shooters have come and gone in the last 25 years, few have reminded me of Smash TV. Instead of giving us a story and proper level designs, they focus heavily on high scores and waves of relentless enemies. But Circuit Breakers ditches the innovations of Geometry Wars and offers players a throwback that is more in line with what Midway was doing in the 1990s. I'd buy that for a dollar.


Circuit Breakers tells a simple story of four action heroes who rush through different colored factories in an effort to defeat an army of aggressive robots. There are no cash prizes here; just the satisfaction of saving the world from the rise of the machines. And if that isn't enough, maybe the rocking chip tunes soundtrack will work as a consolation prize.

With names like Aldo, Tay and Samson, these four heroes are more than just a palette swap. Each comes equipped with their own weapon, which includes everything from lasers to shotguns to a high-powered rocket launcher. But even with the variety of firepower, I found myself sticking with Aldo's tried-but-true machine gun. While certainly not as explosive as the rest, the rapid fire rate helped me escape certain death on multiple occasions.

Circuit Breakers (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Instead of picking up new weapons and power-ups along the way, characters will be forced to grab the tiny crystal shards that explode out of each destroyed robot. Collect enough of these items and your weapon will grow more powerful and make fighting large crowds of enemies a lot easier. But beware, because every shot you take will eat away at your meter. Fire too many bullets and you'll lose the powered-up weapons and tactical advantage. This creates an incredibly tense dynamic where players need to conserve their ammo while simultaneously rushing around to pick up crystal shards. It's a neat idea, but there are times when I just wanted to hold the shoot button and never let go.

While solo players will certainly have a good time shooting through dozens of challenging stages, the chaos is ratcheted up to a whole new level when four people lock and load. This is where the game finally comes to life, and it's a good thing the developers have loaded Circuit Breakers up with lots of fun multiplayer content. There is an online mode, but it's currently in beta and the functionality is less than ideal. At least for now, you're better off piling everybody around the computer.

Circuit Breakers (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

For as much as I liked the throwback look and old school gameplay, I was less thrilled by the repetitive level designs and uninspired boss fights. Even with changing color schemes, it won't take long before the stages begin to blur together. The few levels with genuinely clever ideas are overwhelmed by large open areas with nothing to offer. There simply wasn't enough variety to keep my attention for long, and I grew sick and tired of playing the same few levels every single time.

So much of the fun of Smash TV was picking up different weapons and items, something that made you change your tactics from one minute to the next. But there's nothing like that in Circuit Breakers. Even though the weapons will increase in strength, it always feels like you're firing a machine gun, rocket launch or shotgun. The changes made to the combat mechanics are certainly unique, but they lead to a much more repetitive affair. While it looks the part, Circuit Breakers is the type of game you won't remember in a few weeks.
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