When Disney released Aladdin, Michael Keaton’s Batman was facing off against the luscious Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman and Kevin McAllister had managed to find himself in New York alone I was playing the hell out of a side-scrolling beat-em-up called Streets of Rage 2 on my Sega Megadrive (Genesis). This is where my love affair with side-scrolling beat-em-ups began. Simple engaging gameplay and just having fun button bashing and beating the crap out of copy and paste bad guys. Coffee Crisis a game developed by Mega Cat Studios, transports me back to that golden and innocent time.
It’s worth mentioning before we get to the game in question, that Coffee Crisis was originally released on the Megadrive in 2017. That’s right, there are still gaming development companies wanting to develop games for this classic console. This review is about the PC version released on May 5th 2018 which thankfully has more in it than the Meagdrive version. There’s more on-screen enemies, move sets, increased obstacle awareness and amped stats, while the player is offered a renewed roster of flings, breakables, power-ups, mini-games and attacks developed only available on the PC.
In Coffee Crisis you play as one of two coffee shop ballistas (Nick or Ashley) from the Black Forge Coffee House fighting off an alien assault. It’s that Smurglian race you see, they took one look at our planet, loved our Heavy Metal, free wi-fi and coffee and wanted to take it all for themselves. Well, not if Nick and Ashley have anything to say about it. The story is exactly what I would expect from a scroller game. In short, it’s a simple and doesn’t get in the way of why you’re playing the game in the first place, the combat. You even get the single screen storyboards, ah it all takes me back.
Once you’re read through the story you choose your barista and are thrown into the action. Moving up, down, left or right across the screen you fight the various aliens at which point you can move further forward. Some aliens look like you would expect, like aliens while others are mind-controlled agents that look like men in suits, old ladies with Zimmer frames or old men with walking sticks among others.
You have two attacks a simple low power attack and a high-powered attack that costs energy. You only have a certain amount of energy, and if you deplete it, you’ll have to wait till it recharges again. Each level has one or more big bosses that hit harder and take a little bit longer to kill. All in all, this bit is fairly simple.
The game becomes much more challenging when there are multiple enemies of various types on the screen at once. Some ranged, some melee, the various special attacks. You haven’t got time to stop and plan, so you have to strategize whilst on your feet, and whittle them down.
There is also the rogue aspect of Coffee Crisis. As you play there are various power-ups (or downs) you can collect. Some will increase your attack, while others may increase the number of enemies, or distract you with odd visuals. If there is a way to predict what a power-up is going to do, I couldn’t find it.
As far as modern PC graphics go, it’s really not up to par but it’s very unfair to rate a Megadrive game’s graphics by today’s standards. By Megadrive standards, the game looks great. It looks and feels like a game straight from the nineties, and it sounds perfect too. No complaints here. Though, if someone was looking back without nostalgia they might think less favourable than I do.
Maybe, I’m out of practice but I actually found this game fairly difficult. Thankfully, at the end of each level you’re given a code so you can continue the action. Maybe, I just expected myself not to ever die. I am a lot older now of course. Reflexes old and slow. Regardless, I was pretty happy with the difficulty overall. It didn’t get overly infuriating, and it certainly wasn’t a breeze. The end of level codes means you should get through the entire game in around an hour and a half.
Which brings us fairly neatly, to whether or not you’ll want to keep playing Coffee Crisis over and over again. There are some good reasons. There are two characters to play through with, though they aren’t overly different, and there are the multiple levels of difficulty including the very difficult Death Metal level, that opens up once you’ve played through the game at least once. All this might be enough to bring you back a few times but it’s unlikely to grab you for months or years.
One thing worth noting, because I think this is great. Coffee Crisis links in with your Twitch again, so while you’re playing your watchers can vote on the special power-ups that will happen. This is only available in Death Metal mode, so if you want to see this, be prepared for a difficult challenge. I personally haven’t seen this Twitch integration before, but I would love to see more of it.