Developer: Mega Cat Studios
Publisher: E360 Technologies LLC
What if I tell you I’ve just played and reviewed a Sega Mega Drive/Genesis game? Developed by North-American studio Mega Cat Studios and released in real cartridges in those lovely plastic cases, with manuals and everything (which you can know more about in their page) and now published for Xbox One by E360 Technologies, Coffee Crisis is a retro side-scrolling beat’em up in which you fight alien invaders who are trying to steal our beloved heavy metal! Playing as Nick and Ashley, two barista from Pittsburgh, you will fight your way in real-life areas of the Steel City to space using the power of coffee. Pick a cup of your favorite flavor of coffee and follow us in this galactic adventure.
What do you do?
In this retro beat’em up you play as Nick and Ashley, two barista from the Black Forge Coffeehouse who, using the combined power of caffeine and rock and roll, must stop the Smurglian threat. If it isn’t enough reason for you to give it a try, add to the formula a killer soundtrack by Pittsburg metal band Greywalker, lots of pop culture references and a challenging gameplay that fans of old-school games like Streets of Rage will love.
What is Good?
- Visuals: When you read retro, expect hand drawn and hand animated sprites with colorful and very well detailed scenarios and characters. Characters have a very fluid animation which made me impressed.
- Sound: If you’re a rock and roll fan, consider yourself very well served! From the moment you start the game to the minute you stop it (and maybe even after it) you will listen to great compositions from the death metal band Greywalker. Sound effects don’t fall behind, with a decent enough sound of your punches. Although sparse, voices have a comical thing which works great for the game!
- Gameplay: Game is a very basic brawler with few twists. You walk left, stage after stage, distributing punches and flying kicks to every enemy that crosses your way. You can also grab and throw them or use a special attack by pressing jump and punch at the same time, delivering a swivel blow (which is perfect to save you when surrounded) careful though as this will take some of your health. You can find pipes, baseball bats and other objects which can be used as weapons to help you get rid of the Smurglians. The twist comes in the form of power ups and modifiers: breaking objects like trash cans and traffic cones, you can find some special items that grant you temporally invincibility or extra damage. You can also find some screen modifiers that change the appearance of your screen, giving it the aspect of an old CRT TV. In some stages, you’ll face challenging bosses at the end of it while in others, all the stage consists in fighting a tough boss.
- Mixer integration: One of the main aspects of the game is the Mixer integration: besides sharing a controller with you, in determined moments during the stages, a vote window is opened so the audience can choose between giving you some pretty welcome power-ups, turn enemies stronger, make more enemies spawn on the screen or use a random screen effect (which obscure your view) in exchange for some sparks (mixer currency). A sweet use of the platform in this game.
- Enemies: Game has a good number of different enemies varying between aliens and humans being mentally controlled by the outsiders. Their behavior varies between going all out to trade some punches with you while others stay at a safe distance firing their weapons. They’re tough. Even the elderly, with their walking sticks or walkers, pose a real treat for you. This isn’t an easy game.
- Passwords: After each stage, you receive a password to continue the game from your last stage, if needed. And every time you die, the game will provide you a password to continue your adventure. Remember to take note of this password! This is a retro game, and like back in the 90’s, most of the games didn’t have a save option (most of them not even the continue option). And you don’t want to be taken by surprise, trust me.
- Combat system: The combos lack variation. All you do is press the punch button indefinitely and your char will connect, hit after hit, punches, kicks and strikes with a coffee beans bag or a coffee filter (depending if you’re playing with Nick or Ashley, respectively). You can also hold the attack button for a charged attack, but it isn’t very effective: you must be close to the enemies for this hit to land and the reach of your characters is very short, while your enemies have a longer one.
- Mixer integration (yes, again): Although great, the integration wasn’t flawless. The option to vote on power ups was only available when watching on a computer screen. So, mixer users on mobile won’t have the option to vote in your poll. Also, I was unable to play in 2 players coop when sharing controllers through Mixer. Not sure if it was an issue with the platform or a bug in the game.
What is Bad?
- Lack of replay value: Back in the time I had a Mega Drive (take that, SNES fans! – haha… The first of console wars), I could play games like Golden Axe and Streets of Rage on a daily basis. This last one, in particular, I finished countless times (And only a few months ago I discovered there was a secret ending on it… Time to revisit this classic). And I was happy doing so. Well, all of this story was to tell you that, except for playing with another character (you must choose between Nick and Ashley) or in another difficulty level, Coffee Crisis has very little replay value. Well, if you have a friend to play along with you (couch-coop, please! Although the mixer integration is a nice add), it isn’t going to be a problem to revisit the game.
Coffee Crisis [Score: 80/100] Combining impressive old-school visuals, great soundtrack and lots of coffee, Coffee Crisis as an obligatory game for beat’em up enthusiasts, especially for those who have a friend available to a good and old couch-coop action! Mad Cat Studios did a great job with this title and can easily recommend it for anyone! Well… except for you who can’t stand rock and roll.