☕️ Review: Coffee Crisis "A caffeine-fuelled burst of arcade action" ☕️ #GameDev #IndieGame @kingdomofcarts @BrittRecluseuk

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Title: Coffee Crisis
Developer: Mega Cat Studios
Platform reviewed: PC (Steam)
Rating: Ice Cool

Coffee Crisis was originally released on the Sega Mega Drive back in 2017, developed by Mega Cat studios in conjunction with Black Forge coffee house in Pittsburgh, who handled the story of the game whilst Mega Cat worked on the design.

As a retro game collector myself, (specifically with Sega Mega Drive) the game has been on my radar for a while and I fully intend to pick up a boxed copy at some point. Fast-forward a year or so, and Coffee Crisis has seen a Steam release with enhanced graphics and audio (as obviously this version is not limited by the Sega hardware), but yet still keeping a very 16-bit artistic approach. 

Whilst an enjoyable romp, it is a brief game that has a very arcade approach with the depth that the arcade experience brings.

The game begins with our protagonists Nick & Ashley being attacked by aliens in their workplace, the Black Forge Coffee House. After the alien General makes an appearance and disappears into the Pittsburgh streets, our heroes pick up their chosen weapons (Nick – a hessian coffee sack filled with coffee beans, Ashley – a coffee grinder) and work their way through the Pittsburgh streets to fight off the alien forces. 

Not a hugely deep story, but the brevity of it fits perfectly with the game’s ‘pick up and play’ approach and works really well in keeping the pace of play at a fair old clip.

The genre of Coffee Crisis is firmly rooted in the side-scrolling brawler camp and whilst the fact that it was originally released on the Mega Drive may point to it having a similar play style to Streets of Rage 2, it actually plays a lot more like The Simpsons arcade game. The reason for this is mainly in the way that the characters control. You have the usual buttons of attack (hold for a power attack), jump, throw and a spinning whirlwind attack to get out of tight spot, but the speed of the game, as well as the way in which your characters move and attack, feels very much like The Simpsons and not the slower, more deliberate SOR2.

Graphically, the game’s sprites are chunky and colourful with brief static images between each of the levels which help to move the story along. Whilst the levels are mostly brief, they are visually varied as you move from the Pittsburgh streets to a stadium, factory and beyond but the essence of each level is the same and quite limited…move from left to right. 

The enemies come in various guises, aliens, possessed elderly folk and red-eyed businessmen to name a few but, much as in The Simpsons game, it all boils down to a button-bash-a-thon. This isn’t to say that the game is easy, getting cornered by a few enemies can cause you to lose a wedge of health if you aren’t careful and can chew through the three lives that you share with a second player, (if one is available to take part with you) but Coffee Crisis is a fair game and supplies you with a password after each level which, upon entry allows you to restart the latest level with a full stack of three lives. It’s also possible to gain lives in-between levels by a button-bashing coffee-glugging mini-game which is oddly addictive and satisfying…much like coffee itself, I suppose.

Another way in which the game offers variety is in the visual effects that can happen when fighting certain aliens, this can add HUGE challenge to the section that you are playing when the screen can suddenly morph into broken glass, neon or even a Virtual-Boy styled deep red, making it hard to keep track of what is taking place on-screen.

As you bash your way through the levels, you’ll be accompanied by a pounding metal soundtrack (supplied by Pittsburgh band Greywalker). I’m not a huge fan of metal but the music is oddly fitting with the action and the soft-jazz that plays during the pause screen is amusing in its deviation from the in-game soundtrack.

There are a few extra things to mention about Coffee Crisis, aside from the usual power up/health/invincibility pick-ups, the game actually gives you a 20% discount off the Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis) version if you take a screenshot of your score and email it in. This is a really neat idea and was it not for the hefty shipping charges to the UK, I would definitely have taken advantage of it, although still a nice inclusion nonetheless. Coffee Crisis also supports Twitch streaming and has a system whereby the audience can vote on which pick-ups or obstacles you will come across in your playthrough, again, a nice touch for those who tend to play online.

In summary, Coffee Crisis is a solid arcade brawler that can be completed in around an hour or so. At first, I felt that this was quite brief, but then it dawned on me that the relatively basic gameplay could probably out-stay its welcome if the game were too much longer, plus it seems fair at the sub-fiver price point. 

There is the usual repetition that can come from this genre but the game side-steps it somewhat with the inclusion of visual artefacts, mini-games, fun cheat modes and a general charm. Coffee Crisis may be brief, but it’s full of beans.

Right, I’m off for an espresso. (The game did genuinely make me fancy a cup of coffee as I played it!)

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)

MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Review By Britt

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