Coffee Crisis, what we call the time when we run out of cuppas to drink, but it is also the name of the new game developed by Mega Cat Studios as their debut onto Steam alongside Log Jammers. Put into the shoes of 2 metal-loving baristas, you will have to stop an invasion of aliens bent on abducting the worlds “greatest” musicians. You can’t kill the metal, the metal will live on!
CC is set up like many other side-scrolling beat ‘em ups, you have several missions that force you to move to the right side of the screen. As our 2 baristas, Nick and Ashley, make their way through their own coffee shop, music gig, lava-filled arenas and more they will eventually find themselves at the final alien boss.
There isn’t much in the way of a story, like many other beat ‘em ups, you have an objective and you go to complete it. There is some backstory to the characters, with their love of metal music and hatred of country, alongside their love for coffee. The campaign only lasts 40 or so minutes depending on how long you insist on fighting in the same level. Thankfully, the harder difficulties do make you want to do replays.
Higher difficulties also unlock mods for each level, melding in streaming sites like Twitch and Mixer. Viewers can vote on mods for the next level, helping to engage audiences as the streamer smashes their way through hordes of aliens and old people. Mods can come in the form of modifiers to your characters, aliens or the level, increasing the difficulty or just make the game a bit more comedic.
The gameplay is very reminiscent of older games like Streets of Rage, moving from left to right, punching, kicking and jumping your way through levels with a boss after each. CC is best played with a controller, and so I hooked up my X360 controller and dished out some pain. Both characters have a normal attack combo on X, a grab with Y, jump with A and special attack with B. Sadly the combo doesn’t extend more than 4 hits, with the rest of your mechanics staying the same throughout the game.
As you traverse the map you will be able to smash objects for health pickups, invincibility and coffee beans for temporary buffs. You will need to pick up health all the time, as your special ability does take away from your health, balancing out how useful it is. Enemies also have a chance of dropping items, but you have to wait for their death animation to play out before they do. There isn’t any form of currency since your characters are static throughout the game. You can, however, obtain score points, granting new lives every 1000 and challenging your couch buddy.
Music is always important, and the protagonists sympathise with that sentiment. The game is full of metal infused tunes of high quality. Each new area has its own track, invincibly has a killer sound to it and all the cutscenes come with their own unique sound. The pause menu even has comedic elevator music and a cup o’ joe. I can tell a sound designer had a field day working on this game.
If you’re a fan of retro games or the reuse of pixel art in later years, then CC will definitely tickle your aesthetic brain stem. The levels, characters and storyboards are colourful and pleasing to the eye, with plenty of clutter filling the backgrounds. The developers did a wonderful job of making some of the levels feel lived in, instead of a void of space. Later levels do ditch this idea as they shift to outside areas but still continue the colourful designs.
The difficulty is pretty solid throughout the game, with no real steep jumps aside from boss battles with ludicrous amounts of health on higher difficulty settings. I never found myself running out of lives, though I have played quite a few of these games in the past. The modifiers on higher settings do help to keep the game fresh and difficult for later sessions.
CC utilizes the old password save system of gaming, used back in the day when we had no memory cards or hard drives for save files. This does hamper the enjoyment somewhat as you are either forced to note these down or complete the game in one sitting, which is easy to do at 40 minutes. Thankfully, the game does seem to keep a global save for statistics and achievements so if you’re going for 100% you can still do so.
Overall, Coffee Crisis gets a 7/10, it has done well to keep the spirit of old beat ’em up games, whilst bringing some other aspects to modern times. The graphics are still spritely which is more of a personal preference, with some jarring animations due to its style but can be overlooked. Music is on point and energetic, with the story being average, hanging onto its comedy side for delivery. It feels way too short of a game, being under 1 hour long, but gives ample reason to replay it over and over.