Thursday, April 29, 2010

Oddities: Break Street

The early 80's was a time of experimentation in the video game industry -- almost anything could be made into a video game, whether it was a good idea or not.  Somebody at Creative Software apparently noticed that the movie Breakin' was doing decent business, while the company's plate-spinning game Chinese Juggler was gathering dust in the warehouse, all the cool kids being largely unfamiliar with the Ed Sullivan show.

Thus was born Break Street for the Commodore 64:

The in-game tune "Whiprock" is pretty good generic 80's pop, rendered on the Commodore 64's capable SID music chip.  There's a solid bass line that owes more than a small debt to Michael Jackson's inventive pop hookery, and the animation is synched up with the music (including the dancer's incongruously toe-tapping buddies standing over there by the boombox.)

The game also does a pretty good job of implementing a variety of animated dance moves -- the player's character can do the Tut, moonwalk, pop and check, and more, all with fluid animation by Commodore 64 standards:

Which is all well and good, but Break Street isn't ultimately much of a game.  Most of the fun comes out of just dancing around and pulling off the moves, and there aren't really any objectives or goals beyond putting together a sweet routine and recording it for posterity.  It's just a straightforward simulation of break dancing, with one decent background tune and a handful of dance moves to master, making the most of the limited joystick-and-button controller.  It was probably best when played with a friend, sharing the joys of nerdy wish fulfillment as one jockeyed a joystick around, imagining the joys of being hip and urban and even slightly tanned.

But there's nothing necessarily wrong with a "game" that might more accurately be called a video toy.  And Break Street is a LOT better than the competing Break Dance on the same platform, a game from Epyx (Summer Games) that sullied that company's stellar reputation with unrealistic animation, poorly-defined gameplay, and lousy music.

Unfortunately, there was never a Break Street 2.


No, I'm not going to say it.

It's been done.

Really, it has.

Sigh.  Okay.  Give the people what they want and all that.



  1. have you played this? how did it work exactly? You just kinda moving the joystick around and stuff happened?

  2. I have played it -- the game keeps itself in rhythm, so it's not like modern rhythm games where timing of button presses is everything. With only one joystick and a single button, it's mostly hitting a particular direction and button at the same moment to get the dancer to shift into a different move. There are definitely moves in the game that I wasn't able to pull off using a PC gamepad, and it was a lot easier to get INTO the Check! move than to come out of it. A real Atari-style joystick might make it easier to hit the diagonals. It's more of an animated toy than a game, really.

  3. thanks! I loved the look and concept of the game, I was thinking of building a simple version of it in flash. Seems like I'll have some freedom as to how it works.

  4. I own the game still on the c64. something you left out was the chosing of other characters. the 2 by the wall are "double trouble" and they do an in sync routine. the guy in the yellow is "showrock" i believe. the guy in the white is "whiprock", so i don't think that is the name of the song. and their is a guy underneath named d-dog that moonwalks up when you choose him. There is a small objective. When your time runs out, your routine ends abruptly. you have to finish your routine with either a freeze or a check as close to the end of the time as possible. If you do sweet combos "scopion, windmill, headspin, 1990 and finish with a backspin, you will rack up bonus time for more point options, but it tires you out, so you have to do some top rock to give yourself more energy. the check and the freeze only work from specific moves, so you can flub it up easily if your not careful.

  5. i like recording music of my fav c64 games.. whether its the background music, level completion music, sfx, etc. check out my break street jam

  6. How about when D-Dog shows up moon walking out of the ground! Loved this game.

  7. He's actually moon walking into frame from in front of 'the camera'. That was quite the fun game! I'm 10 years older than my sister. When she was about 13 or 14 I found and fired up the old C64 one day and we played Break Street for quite a while.