Being a metalhead, I’m quite fond of the artist Devin Townsend, formerly of Strapping Young Lad. One of his albums, Ziltoid the Omniscient, is a phenomenal metal opera based around the idea that some evil alien overlord has come to Earth to drink their finest cup of coffee. When it turns out he’s dissatisfied with it, he then tries to destroy the Earth, much to the chagrin of the Earth’s population. You may be thinking to yourself, “Edd, why are you blathering away about some metal album on a video game website?”, well the answer to that is quite simple. Mega Cat Studios have recently released a game that, if I didn’t know any better, I would swear was based off that album. Coffee Crisis is that game, and it not only has the epic metal that I’m so fond of, but it’s also a beat ’em up in the style of Final Fight, one of my favourite games.
There are a few notable beat ’em ups over the years: Double Dragon, Streets of Rage and, the aforementioned Final Fight, but most of these are getting up there in years now. Despite their success, I can’t think of many recent games that give me the same feeling I had when I first played the beat ’em up genre for the first time. Except, that is, for Coffee Crisis. They’ve managed to capture the essence of the best games of the genre and add enough to make it distinct from the clones and still have the fun factor. You play as a barista, up against an invading alien force who can teleport down to fight you, or even possess your grandparents to beat your brains out. It seems like an impossible task, but you’ve got an apron stuffed with coffee beans to smash over the heads of anyone who stands in your way. With this apron, you’ve got a few attacks, including a move reminiscent of Haggar’s spinning punch move from Final Fight. To add to that, you can pick up various items from around the levels to smash over the endless hordes heads. It’s all solid, polished gameplay as well. You can combo attacks together pretty seamlessly in order to beat things up, and it gets pretty intense, pretty quickly.
Coffee Crisis isn’t just a nice homage to the greats of the genre though, as I said earlier, it does add a little bit to the game which makes it incredibly replayable. There are various mutators that spawn throughout the game which add something different to every playthrough. Being invincible or having double damage are very useful, but you might come a cropper when dozens of possessed cowgirls come to lasso you and reel you into their deadly claws. I think I started the opening level five or six times, and different events happened on each trip through the streets. I genuinely didn’t believe that the game would have so much depth and replayability, but it was absolutely fantastic in that regard.
I mentioned it in the intro – but I’ll add to it here as well. The soundtrack is epic. It might not be to everyone’s tastes, especially those that aren’t metalheads, but if you enjoy that particular genre, you’ll want to play this game on loud. There’s nothing quite like clobbering an alien while listening to some excellent guitar riffs.
There are downsides to Coffee Crisis though. The major one is something that irritates me in games these days – the difficulty level. I don’t think I’ve lost my touch with video games, but more and more indie developers try to add in an absurd level of difficulty to the game in order to frustrate players. On the one hand, completing a very challenging level is a fantastic achievement, but when you’re repeatedly getting your arse handed to you by some overpowered enemies repeatedly, it gets a little tiresome. It’s not aided by the occasional alteration to the visuals. It was incredibly offputting smashing some alien scum into the earth, only for the screen to turn completely red. It wouldn’t be quite so irritating if it weren’t for the fact that the projectiles that some aliens fire at you, are also red, making it a nightmare to try and avoid them.
The Final Word
Coffee Crisis is a great beat ’em up, I just wish it wasn’t quite so difficult. It has all the ingredients there to be one of my favourite games, and, despite the over-challenging nature of it, I was still enjoying it. It’s a gorgeous game, with a fantastic soundtrack, and extremely solid gameplay. Definitely a game that any beat ’em up fan from the golden age of beat ’em ups would love to have in their library.