Coffee Crisis is a neo brawler developed and published by a studio in Pittsburgh called Mega Cats Studio. The game was funded using the Kickstarter website; originally looking for $10,000, M.C.S smashed that total by a whopping $5,000!
The idea for the game came from the two owners (Nick and Ashley) of the Black Forge Coffee House in Pittsburgh during a fundraiser for the the UPMC Children’s Hospital, where they met the owner of M.C.S. The trio agreed to develop the idea for Coffee Crisis, with Nick and Ashley writing the storyboard and M.C.S developing the assets and game code. It was also decided that the game should be made for the Sega Genesis/MegaDrive in the same style as the classic brawlers Streets of Rage and Golden Axe. During the Kickstarter, a stretch goal was added to make a PC port which would be sold through Steam and would be released a year later. This review is of the PC version released via Steam.
The plot for the game is as wacky and as full of late 80’s early 90’s attitude as could be crammed into a cartridge or PC port – The Smurgliens have invaded Earth looking to steal our most treasured commodities Coffee, Cats, Wifi and our Metal music! When they invade a coffee shop in Pittsburgh, two brave baristas take it upon themselves to save the Earth and their coffee shop from invasion and annihilation.
The game centers around the real-life setting of Pittsburgh USA. Many of the real world areas, including the Black Forge Coffee House, are depicted in stunning 16 bit goodness. Throughout the stages, you are entertained by some superb metal soundtracks.
Upon starting the first stage and having gone through the opening animation for the story line, you are greeted by four small grey aliens who have the ability to fire red balls of fire at you. Thankfully you are faster so dispatching of them will not be a long drawn out affair. Upon leaving the Coffee Shop is where the real game begins.
The enemies in Coffee Crisis are varied but do follow the tropes of most good retro brawlers. But unlike those games the enemies in the first few rounds are…OLD PEOPLE! Whilst they are slow, they have a long range powerful hit. Other enemies include a menagerie of small aliens and a cast of people that have been possessed by the aliens; at the end of every level is either an end level boss fight or a you get involved in an enemy rush mode where 5-15 aliens will all spawn in and you have to kill them all before you can continue.
To help you along your way there are a series of pick-ups that you that you can get by destroying various objects along the level; including signs, phone booths and fire hydrants. One of the pickups makes you gain extra speed so you’re able to get round the slower harder hitting enemies. The last one I will describe gives the player the ability of invincibility for a short amount of time which, combined with using the special move of the player, causes havoc for the enemy.
In the mid stage of some levels, an alien carrying a big bag of coffee beans will appear. If you chase the alien and hit him he will drop health replenishments in a similar fashion to the goblins in Golden Axe. Extra lives can be gained by your score intervals, or by a really interesting method that becomes a mini game at the end of some levels. You have to down as much coffee as you can by button mashing…and let me tell you I mashed the button on my controller so hard I thought I was going to send my thumb through the controller and my desk! Once a level is complete you are given a five character password so you can replay the level again or continue from where you left of as there are no saves in this game.
The controls can be set to controller or keyboard. In my opinion, I would stick to a controller as the keyboard is very awkward using the cursor keys and the four bottom left keys Z X C V to move and fight. As someone who plays on PC, I am disappointed that there are no options for refinement of keys which would really improve the overall playability of the game for keyboard users.
On the flip side, the controller is perfect and I don’t have many negatives for it. The lag is very minimal and when you’re in the heat of the fight you rarely even notice it. The controls are set out in a logical manner and if you have played the Streets of Rage game on the Sega Megadrive Collection on PC you will feel right at home here.
Throughout the game, you will hear the soundtrack and, as you can imagine it’s very heavy metal. All the chiptunes fit perfectly with the levels and slowly ramp up as you play through.
A few people have stated that they think the music is too loud; whilst I agree to an extent I believe that it’s more out of choice by the developer rather than bad sound design. The music is configurable in the settings menu should you decide to turn it down.
Overall I think that Coffee Crisis is a good attempt at an old school style brawler. The price point for the PC version is £4.79 which in my opinion is very reasonable and you should get your money’s worth with this game. Only negatives which could be worked on for the PC version would be configurable keyboard options, they would greatly improve the overall game play.