Mach Breakers plays in very much the same way as Numan Athletics, just a bit prettier and with some expanded options and a lot more events. The main difference is that bar the very first and very last event you’re given a set of three to play through in any order you choose, and if you find you can't do one you can skip it entirely instead of having to replay it over and over until the pass requirement matches your skill level (although this wastes a credit and you don't get your characters proper ending that way).
The game came out around 1995 and runs on the next board up from Numan Athletics, which in real terms means you get some smart (for the time) scaling effects thrown in with all the big sprites.
This post would get rather long if I went through every event on offer, so I’ve picked out a few of my favourites instead:
Drag a Godzilla-alike through the streets by carefully timing your button presses with the bars on either side - a good rhythm gives much better pulling power than simply mashing away. Fail and get squished!
I love this one, which naturally means I’m utterly terrible at it. It's basically a re-skin of VS Express from the first game, only this time you're catching and then throwing a giant warhead instead of catching and pushing back a bullet train.
Gymnastics, Mach Breakers style! This is a lot like puny human vaulting, only this time the vault you’re sprinting towards is attached to the front of a drag racer that’s speeding towards you.
Hop across a few platforms. Tiny platforms. Floating on lava. Miss and get eaten by the giant volcano monster!
A very simple event on the surface (pun not intended – sorry!); you simply have to dive as deep as possible. What makes it interesting is that if you want to actually pass you have to keep an eye on your oxygen level – diving deep means nothing if you suffocate on the way back!
This is the final event! The aim is to jump out of an airship and hit the ground as hard as you can, there's even a cute Dig Dug cameo if you stop at the right point, not that I could manage to get a screenshot of him *grumble grumble*
(Bad) Ending screens -
To not put too fine a point on it, what you have here is the perfect sequel; it greatly expands upon the original without feeling bloated, changes what didn’t work so well last time and yet still doesn’t lose sight of what drew people to the game in the first place. I’d recommend this game highly if there was any sort of home port available… but Namco haven’t bothered with one, which is a real shame because this and Numan Athletics have got “PSN/XBLA double pack” written all over them.