The *”@! is Border Break?!

I think I’ve mentioned this series a few times now (at least on Twitter, if not directly here on the blog) so I thought it was only fair to share what little this nerdy housewife happens to know about a game that’s been doing well in Japan since 2009.

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The long and short of it is that Border Break (ボーダーブレイク) is what happens when the Japanese hear about team deathmatch – they take the basic concept and then add giant customisable robots, a brilliant soundtrack and sling it all inside a specialist arcade cabinet.

There are currently three proper entries in the series – Border Break, Border Break Airburst and Border Break Union, with each having numerous updates over the course of their lifespan. The all run on Sega’s Ringedge arcade hardware, yet another PC-in-a-box configuration that’s also used with Shining Force Cross and Project Diva Arcade.

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The cabinets all come with a touch panel monitor, a stick and a tethered mouse-like device. The stick’s used for movement as well as jumping, dashing and generic “action” commands, while the mouse is used for aiming and attacking. The touch panel’s used to quickly send out communications from a selection of pre-set topics as well as highlight enemies to other team members. As with a lot of modern arcade games it also supports IC cards to save your customisations/rank/clan/unlocked items. Money is used to buy playtime rather than traditional credits, with 1GP equalling 1 second in battle – arcade operators can set the machines to offer a bulk buy discount although it’s not a requirement.

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All the games support 10 vs. 10 play, and a standard match appears to consist of a base defence style of play: the first team to destroy the opposing sides “Core” is the winner, and if neither side manages it then whichever team did the most damage to the opponent’s Core wins. If a player dies they respawn, with death/kill ratios apparently not factoring into the end result.

Border Break Union introduced Union Battles, where both teams have to destroy giant (no, imagine something even bigger) AI controlled enemies. During these battles “Union Orders” may occur, which seem to be similar to Phantasy Star Online 2’s “CODE:” sequences – randomised mini-events that need to be seen to immediately and grant rewards if completed successfully.

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The player-controlled humanoid robots are called Blast Runners (ブラスト・ランナー) and they all fall into one of three weight bands – Standard, Heavy and Light, and carry weaponry from one of four classes – Assault, Heavy, Sniper and Support. Customisable body parts (unlocked through gameplay and saved onto an IC card) and chips can further enhance each Blast Runner in various ways, for example reducing weapon recoil or reload time. The weight of these additions needs to be taken into consideration too as being a little overloaded will reduce movement speed (and being significantly overloaded is plain not allowed).

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A series this successful has naturally spawned a lot of merchandise – soundtracks, bags, shirts, caps, model kits, mugs and plenty more items have been Border Break’d and no doubt there’s more to come. While there’s no home version of the game it does have the seemingly-ubiquitous iOS/Android social card game available (Japan only) as well as a crossover boss battle with Phantasy Star Online 2 where Hunters get to fight a Cougar NX (see below image).

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Crossovers work the other way too – with Border Break hosting more than a few Sega-inspired bits and pieces from popular series like Puyo Puyo, Valkyria Chronicles and Sakura Taisen.

Players who still can’t get enough can access BB.net (483Yen for a one-off 30 day period, or 420Yen recurring) where they can view their stats, find out info on upcoming Event Battles, customise their personal emblem and more. Judging from all the videos on Youtube it would appear that players can upload videos of previous matches, but at the moment I don’t know if that’s done through the cabinet or via the BB.net service.

The original Border Break had a slightly-international release in 2010, when the original game officially launched in Hong Kong and Taiwan. I haven’t been able to confirm if Airburst or Union got the same treatment yet.

Chances of an English release are virtually zero, but I’d very much like to be proven wrong on that point!

Official website - http://borderbreak.com/

Official Youtube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/SEGABBch?feature=watch

iOS/Android game website - http://bb.sega-net.com/

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