Side-scrolling beat ’em ups were all the rage in the 16-bit days of video games.
Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Final Fight, Double Dragon; if you liked walking from left to right while laying the hurt on bad guys you were well catered for. Now, however, it’s somewhat of an overlooked genre. This May though, there are two side-scrolling beat ’em ups for retro fans to gorge themselves upon; Raging Justice releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on the 8th, and Coffee Crisis which releases on PC on the 2nd.
While Raging Justice tries to progress the genre forward a little with modern visuals, Coffee Crisis is happy to mire gamers in the past. It makes sense; after all, it was originally made and released for the SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis in February 2017. Really. Being released on PC should now allow it to reach more of an audience. Not everyone still has a Mega Drive hooked up their TVs and is in the market for buying brand new games for it, capiche?
Not only does Coffee Crisis look like a Mega Drive game, just as you’d expect, it also plays like one. It has a simple control system with one button being used to attack, another to jump, one more to pick up objects and grab enemies, and a lucky last to employ a health-sacrificing special attack. With both playable characters being baristas, their basic attacks employ a sack of beans and a percolator rather than their bare fists, and holding down the attack button charges up a mighty attack that sends enemies reeling.
It’s about as much fun to play as you’d expect. In other words, it’s fun, but also repetitive and a little frustrating. Hammering foes, which include aliens and a whole host of humans who I presume are under mind control, is entertaining, but after a few levels it becomes a little tiresome due to your limited moveset. The occasional moment of iffy hit detection and enemies retaliating mid-combo can irritate though. I can understand bosses and big nasties not being stunned by your attacks, but old aged pensioners and small aliens, not so much.
The lack of a save system can also annoy. If you don’t want to play through Coffee Crisis in one sitting, make sure you make a note of the passwords for each level. Otherwise, you’ll have to start from the very beginning every time you play.
Coffee Crisis is fun to play in small doses. It’s also quite humorous too, with a story that knows it’s daft and just runs with it. You can tell the developers had some fun making it, and that joy rubs off on the game. It also features a rocking metal soundtrack that gets you in the mood to do some pummelling. Some of the game’s sound effects are quite amusing too, like the noise grannies make when defeated.
If you’re in the market for an new old-fashioned side-scrolling beat ’em up to play, Coffee Crisis is well worth checking out. It has some flaws typical of the genre, but it also has a lot of charm. Of course, it’s also playable in local co-op. So, if you have a like-minded friend you can invite them over and engage in some fisticuffs together. That always makes things more fun.
Coffee Crisis is available on PC on 2nd May. You can also buy a physical copy for the SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis.