Into The Spine Of: Coffee Crisis

Get the coffee blender ready.

Released on February 2017, Coffee Crisis started up as a game originally meant to be played on Sega Genesis and Mega Drive. As motive of its anniversary, the guys from Mega Cat Studios decided to remake it for PC.

The game begins with a character called Yinzer introducing the story: an alien race called Smurglian’s discovered that Earth has internet and started to steal Wi-Fi from us.They created their own web a  la deep web called “Smurgnet” (I guess they just wanted a place where they could buy alien drugs and share all kind of deviant pornography aliens may be into). After the aliens discovered the internet they became interested in coffee, cat’s videos and metal music, and started to steal them too!

That’s when our heroes appear, two baristas named Nick and Ashley who work on the coffee shop called “Black Forge”. Just as they interchange words with the aliens, the rumble begins and the metal doesn’t take long to start playing.

Gameplay feels like your typical Beat ‘Em Up. you can hit your enemies with your reliable coffee sack or mocha pot depending your character, grab them, jump and kick them, and spin to trip them on the floor. The range of possibilities increases with the weapons that you may find laying on the floor, which go from ordinary objects like a baseball bat to a prosthetic alien arm that shoots lasers.

There are also destructible objects that can drop you a HP, a power up or even an item that gives you change for a mini-game in between levels. It consists in an extra screen with both characters sitting behind a table with lots of coffee mugs, and we have to button mash to get our caffeine levels up, gaining an extra life if we reach the required amount.

Every time you beat a level, along with your score and stats, there’ll be a password on the end screen. This is Coffee Crisis’ way to save your progress, as it can be later used to either resume your playthrough or revisit a level from the main menu.

Coffee Crisis also presents a set of modifiers that are applied on selected zones where we need to finish off all the enemies in order to keep going through the level. These modifiers are divided in different categories: some spawn enemies, others give you weapons or power ups, and there are a few that just mess things up. This feature can be integrated during livestreams as well. For example, viewers can vote for the modifiers that they want to apply, then the game selects the two modifiers with most votes and apply them to the zone.

I can safely say that the modifiers are the thing that add, along with the difficult settings, to the replayability of the game, making every play-through different by adding a little more of spice to the game, like cinnamon being poured on our coffee.

You can expect an average variety of enemies, which are the typical for most Beat ‘em ups you have heavy hitters, common mobs, and some ranged-melee enemies, but they can certainly put you in disadvantage if you get trapped  in a zone with a mix of the strongest enemies and the ranged ones.If you bring modifiers to the table like the ones that boost enemies and mess up with your vision, you are fucked.

What I liked the most about enemies were their designs, as you can find your typical grey aliens but also even more bizarre ones like an elderly woman with a walker. They blend well with the aesthetic and comedic context of the game. The artstyle is a clear homage to the 16 bits era of gaming, and although the pc version is bit more polished due having less limitations, one can appreciate it without difficulty. Most of the game takes place on Pittsburgh so there are some levels that use real life iconic places from the city as inspiration, such as the Warrington Avenue and Duquesne Incline.

The soundtrack is one of the features (if not the one feature) that stands out the most: we have Metal, Country music and for a change of mood to relax on pause screen we got a lounge song. All things said, the most prevalent genre in the game is metal, and right off the bat in the start menu we are welcomed with some furious riffage. Although the soundtrack is good I have to say that it becomes a bit repetitive, and I noticed some difference in quality between one track and another.

The game’s length isn’t a problem at least for me, yes is short but you can change the difficulty settings and get it as high as “Death Metal”, so you can bash your head on frustration trying to complete it. I only played the game on single-player, but you can get a friend to play local co-op for double caffeinated fun.

On conclusion, the game uses the nostalgia factor of old Beat ‘em up and brings something that is well received by them, its bizarre humor and setting feels fresh for the genre and the consistent, yet repetitive soundtrack, makes us company through all the adventure and find us head-banging at its rhythm.

A copy of Coffee Crisis for PC was provided by Higher Eclectic Ground on behalf of Mega Cat Studios. Make sure to visit the official site for more information.

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