Those old enough to have owned the likes of the Mega Drive/Genesis will no doubt have many fond memories of playing games like Streets of Rage. Fortunately there are still developers who cater to these players and perhaps new ones by releasing games such as Coffee Crisis. The game has even seen a physical release for the Mega Drive/Genesis.
In Coffee Crisis aliens are invading Earth and it’s up to two brave coffee shop baristas to eliminate this threat. If you think this tidbit already makes for a bizarre concept, then you are in for a treat. Coffee Crisis has aliens mind controlling humans like an elderly man in a wheelchair, an angry granny with a stick and even a bunch of frat bros. Heck, some of these wacky aliens don’t even try to mind control humans and some of them just chill out in wheelchairs wearing suits, whilst trying to beat up the hapless barristers. Then there is the weird mini-game like levels where the baristas compete to see who can drink the most coffee.
If Coffee Crisis could be entered to win an award for most insane ideas, then it probably would have a really good chance of winning. The story itself makes effective use of humans mind controlled by the aliens to elaborate on their reason for attempting to invade the planet. It’s great to see what the developers can do with the limited resources they have, given the type of game that it is.
Armed with only bags of coffee beans and whatever makeshift weapons they can find, our heroic baristas have to fight their way through waves of enemies. The side scrolling style gives it a look that is highly reminiscent of the likes of Streets of Rage. Even the way that brawls play out feels like playing one of those old school side scrolling fighting games. As expected most of the levels consists purely of taking on waves of enemies. It becomes more fun when taking on these enemies with a second player as well.
Although it would have been nice if characters had more moves or at least could earn/unlock them with progression. There is a special attack that characters can use, but it will deplete a bit of life force whenever it is used. Unfortunately, losing all lives in this game will result in a permanent game over and having to then make use of a password to start from the same level. It’s a nice touch to the heydays of the golden age of games, but it also feels pointless to try to make it so authentic. More so when it means having to do some of the levels over and over again, when the simple addition of continues or even a checkpoint here and there would have done the trick. At least the Switch’s ability to take screenshots make it less cumbersome to keep track of all the level passwords.
Although levels mostly consist of beating up waves of enemies, the game also makes use of special filters and effects to make some of the fights more unusual. These filters and other modifiers can be turned off and they actually make it easier to get through levels, which is quite odd.
Whilst the modifies and other special effects are fun to see, there is no denying it that it’s far better to play through without them, by turning them off in the Options menu. It makes it more feasible to play through levels without ending up feeling frustrated at having to keep doing the same ones over and over again. It’s a shame since the game still provides a worthy challenge on the easy difficulty and the password system somewhat spoils it.
At least the game doesn’t take itself too seriously as seen in the previously mentioned coffee chugging contest. It might seem like a simple idea, but taking part in such bizarre concepts by just pressing a button as fast as possible is fun.
The retro style used for the visuals really makes Coffee Crisis seem like the natural evolution of classic games such as Streets of Rage. The enemy designs are varied and there are a lot of them to fight as the levels themselves become more bizarre with progression. Even the boss fights become memorable due to neat ideas such as a boss fight with a country musician that summons other enemies. All of this is held together by a powerful soundtrack full of rock inspired tunes. Oddly enough, it’s often the quieter tracks that make more of an impression.
It’s not without its flaws but Coffee Crisis is still a decent attempt at making effective use of the golden days of side scrolling fighting games like Final Fight and Streets of Rage.