Coffee Crisis Review – Aliens, Death Metal, and CoffeeMay 12, 2018
Disclaimer: This product was received for free
Coffee Crisis is a 2d side-scrolling beat-em-up developed by Mega Cat Studios that channels games like Streets of Rage 2 and Double Dragon, which makes sense, considering it was made for the Sega Genesis. Making new games for old systems is Mega Cat’s M.O., and it’s a pretty cool concept – It’s also a great way to bank on our nostalgia, and I can’t blame them for that.
You play as either Nick or Ashley, baristas working at the Black Forge Coffee House in Pittsburgh – a real place that collaborated with Mega Cat on the game. When the evil ‘Smurglians’ invade earth to steal it’s best musicians, Nick and Ashley must fight back with the power of coffee and metal.
It’s clear to see that Coffee Crisis‘ absurd plot is inspired by those of the era of gaming it’s attempting to recreate, calling back to the time when a game’s story was ‘The president has been kidnapped by ninjas’. It’s goofy, doesn’t take itself seriously, and has a lot of character.
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It’s best played with a controller, and gameplay consists of fighting back waves of aliens and assimilated humans using a variety of pickups and powerups. Both playable characters have a few basic attacks – a chargeable punch and a jump-kick – as well as an attack unique to the character – Ashley uppercuts the enemy with a coffee pot, and Nick has an AoE spin attack, using a sack of coffee beans to become a dark-roast flavored tornado of death. These attacks are more damaging, but slightly drain your health, so don’t become over-reliant on them. I found Nick to be the best choice for single-player, as his spin attack is great at dealing with the large number of enemies you’ll be facing.
Coffee Crisis has 4 difficulties – Easy, Normal, Metal and Death Metal – and is challenging even on the lower ones. The enemies can take a lot of damage and hit hard, and if you run out of lives you have to start back at level one – or you can just enter one of the passwords you get when you complete a level, and go back to the stage you were just on. If you think that sounds cheap and want a real challenge, the Death Metal difficulty prevents you from using passwords or cheats. The game is definitely tuned for 2 players, and I had to use the password system to get through Normal mode – then again, maybe I just need to git gud. There is a large gulf in difficulty between 1-Player and 2-player, since the enemies splitting their attention between two targets makes Normal and below a cakewalk for a duo.
Did I mention the part where you fight country music stars possessed by alien generals?
It’s great fun, but short. The ‘modifiers’ system adds some replay-ability, however, randomly selecting 1-5 effects that can alter enemy spawning and behavior, or player powerups and weapons. Some, as the game puts it, ‘do crazy things’ – this includes stuff like spawning a convocation of eagles to sweep the screen, or making the game look like it’s running on a black and white CRT TV. This adds another layer of difficulty to the game, since it’s a lot harder to survive when, for example, your screen is cracked and the enemies are invisible.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?!
I’m a sucker for pixel art, so Coffee Crisis‘ aesthetic is right up my ally. The character sprites and animations are very well done, and do a great job of emulating Genesis-era graphics – they had to, since they were working within the limitations of a 30-year-old console. The game also has an excellent soundtrack, with 12 metal instrumentals that you won’t get bored of.
I did have a few issues. I’m not sure if you can play co-op using a keyboard and a plug-in controller, since both just controlled player 1, and the boss fights were pretty easy compared to the normal levels. Also, it would have also been nice to see the enemy variations tied more to what stage you were on – it’s a pretty even cut of aliens, senior-citizens, and cowgirls throughout. There was also a minor bug where the first hit on a boss would always take out about a quarter of it’s health bar, with subsequent hits doing a normal amount of damage – nothing huge, and there were no other glitches as far as I could tell.
Coffee Crisis has 10 stages, and took me about 2 hours to complete using level passwords on normal. A permadeath playthrough on a higher difficulty should be significantly longer (although possible in 40 minutes, if the achievements are to be believed), and the modifiers add some decent replay value. The Steam version is available for £4.79, and is definitely worth grabbing if you’re a beat-em-up fan.