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Game Info:

Coffee Crisis
Developed By: Mega Cat Studios
Published By: Mega Cat Studios
Released: February 24, 2017 (Physical); May 4, 2018 (PC digital)
Available On: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, macOS, SteamOS+Linux, Windows
Genre: Beat ‘em up
ESRB Rating: T for Teen: Violence, Blood
Number of Players: 1-2 players offline
Price: $5.99 (Digital), $39.99 (Genesis/Mega Drive cartridge)

Thank you Mega Cat Studios for the review code.

No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. This is not an old game that received a re-release for the computer platforms. A bunch of madmen did indeed create a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive game in the year 2017 and release it to the public. Coffee Crisis is a rather interesting game. A game based on a real coffee shop; Black Forge Coffee House in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which came to be when two groups met each other during a fundraiser, and decided to create a retro game out of passion and love for the older days. If one has the material to create retro carts, may as well do something as crazy as this.

Coffee Crisis stars two baristas based on real living people: Ashley and Nick. They work in a fictional version of the Black Forge Coffee House, when suddenly aliens attack, and they want four things: our metal bands, our cats, our coffee and “all of the WiFi.” For reasons unknown, it is up to our barista duo to save our world and the things we hold very dear with it. It’s a rather silly premise that isn’t taking itself seriously in the slightest.

Coffee Crisis is a side scrolling co-op beat ‘em up where the goal is to eliminate all enemies on the screen and proceed forward. The controls are rather simple. You have your standard attack button, your grab button which can be used to grapple enemies or pick up weapons, your special attack button which does heavy damage and disperses the crowd at the cost of some health, and a jump button to either avoid damage or to execute a jumping attack. Enemies have a good amount of variety to them; there are short one-eyed aliens, standard grey aliens that shoot projectiles, the typical men in black, farm girls who use whips to attack, and much more. As standard of beat ‘em ups, the game uses a life system. Normally, you start off with three lives, and can gain more from earning 1000 points in a level, picking up extra lives, or partaking in a minigame at the end of a level (minigame participation requires an item pickup within the level). Power-ups are also littered throughout the stage which grant you various abilities such as invulnerability (which also means you can use your special attack with no cost), and higher damage output. The playable characters do not have any stat advantages over the other, but I personally found Nick to be the better combatant due to a vastly better special attack, and slightly longer range when using weapons.

Coffee Crisis
Highlights:

Strong Points: A nice amount of features to differentiate itself from the Genesis/Mega Drive counterpart; interesting use of mutators and cheats to make every experience feel different; really nails that retro feel
Weak Points: Short; archaic; music choice doesn’t exactly fit most of the scenery or setting of the game
Moral Warnings: Some enemies do shed blood when hit; some characters use the letter “F” a filler word for a certain swear; some enemy types include elderly people

The graphics consist of 16-bit sprites which are used rather impressively and look very sharp and crisp. The characters have a nice amount of detail to them, and the sprite animations have a nice fluidity to them. The controls can be used by controller or keyboard, and both can be used simultaneously and seamlessly, which did help me in spots when my controller’s start button wasn’t working properly.

As the PC version of Coffee Crisis is an enhanced remake of the Genesis/Mega Drive version, it does include extra things such as higher quality graphics, multiple controller support and mapping, achievements, an extra difficulty, a heavy metal based soundtrack, Twitch and Mixer integration, patches and updates, and one of the most notable features, mutators. The game runs rather well, at a solid 60 frames at all times. To set itself apart from most beat ‘em ups, Coffee Crisis enables the use of these mutators that activate at a “Finish Them” zone. These mutators can do various beneficial or harmful effects such as changing the look of the screen, giving you a helper to attack enemies, or even make enemies deal and withstand a lot more damage. One to five mutators can activate for each zone, and it’s typically random as to which one you will receive. The system is rather interesting and can lead to some amusing moments, as well as equally frustrating ones. Thankfully, if one wants a more standard experience, the mutators can be toggled off in the options menus.

As Coffee Crisis is a retro game in itself, it also suffers from being a very archaic experience. As the game was made with the Genesis/Mega Drive in mind, it leaves itself restricted and limited in how much it can do. What I mean by this is that some commands do require precision, such as the grappling of certain enemies and that pressing button commands too quickly may lead to some actions not happening, which isn’t the fault of the controls as is the limitations of the system. For a person who has played all kinds of beat ‘em ups, it misses out on various improvements that more modern games of the genre were able to implement. As with most beat ‘em ups, it is also a short experience, lasting around 30 minutes to an hour for most players and thus doesn’t lend itself kindly to someone who only plays one game and moves on to the next one. As with the music, it consists mostly of heavy metal tracks but most of the music tends to clash with the setting and scenery of the game. The developers also left me rather disappointed in that there was no option to swap the music with the Genesis/Mega Drive soundfont. Maybe they’ll implement it in a later update.

Coffee Crisis
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 72%
Gameplay - 13/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 90%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 8.5/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Morally, the game is a beat ‘em up so violence is a given. There are instances of pixelated blood shown in the game such as when the player character is wailing on enemies, but also at the beginning when a character is chosen. There is an image before starting the game that shows a pair of bloody hands holding a controller. There are also enemy types that consist of old men and old ladies and you can’t reason with them, except for smacking them into submission. The player characters at times use the letter “F” as a fill in for, well you know.

Coffee Crisis ends up being a rather satisfactory beat ‘em up, and funny enough, an interesting representation of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania as it uses quite a bit of Pittsburgh/Pennsylvania jargon and slang. Its archaic feeling does hold it back in many ways, it’s far from the best one in the genre, and the aged premise may not appeal to a younger audience, but it was never aiming for them in the first place. I can recommend it to lovers of beat ‘em ups, lovers of couch co-op, and lovers of retro games. There is even a neat option of buying the region free Genesis/Mega Drive cartridge directly within the game and can even receive a discount on it depending on your score on the PC version (or you can simply buy the physical cart directly from Mega Cat Studio's website). The developers also seem to be preparing for a rather big update that includes extra levels and bosses, as there are some achievements I have yet to obtain, even with beating the game on all difficulty settings. With four difficulties, great usage of the mutator system, as well as streaming integration, and a cheap price, Coffee Crisis is a suitable bargain for the target audience of the older generation who grew up with the fourth generation of consoles.

-Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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