Coffee Crisis PlayStation 4 review: pour one out

It seems everyone is going crazy with retro-themed brawlers these days. DotEmu recently released a fourth chapter in the Streets of Rage series that we’re going nuts over; and soon, Jay and Silent Bob will join the fray with their River City-inspired Mall Brawl. But that isn’t stopping Mega Cat Studios from giving the genre a shot with the neat Coffee Crisis. It may not have the greatest story in the world, but it pours out a lot of fun for those that need their java-themed beat-em-up fix.

The Baristas With a Real Job

There’s an alien invasion happening, and they’re taking all sorts of forms as they attempt to enslave mankind. Leave it to Nick and Ashley, a pair of heroic baristas, to step up and save the world. It ties in with a story that borders on the ridiculous, leaving you wondering, “Uh, where are the superheroes at exactly?”

But never mind. It creates a set-up that works pretty well for Crisis, as you swing away mugs and other weapons at these beings, eventually getting to those responsible. Whether you can hold up for the final fight has yet to be seen, but it doesn’t help that you’re on a coffee high.

Old-School Fun With a Caffeinated Twist

Featuring eight different levels of beat-em-up madness, Coffee Crisis isn’t afraid to fashion itself from old-school brawlers. It may not be as polished as, say, Streets 4 is, but it’s definitely got some inspiration behind it.

Hey, this ball field looks familiar.

The visuals are colorful, looking like something out of a Sega Genesis game. (Fun fact: Mega Cat actually released a physical copy of this game for Sega Genesis, in case you feel like hunting it down.) The animations are also pretty neat, with the baristas looking like their actual selves and the aliens representing some pretty funky human types.

The music is something else, too. Wonderfully remixed with some Genesis-style inspiration, it’s a fun listen, and really offers a throwback to the days of yesteryear. It might even make you want to hunt it down on BandCamp, it’s so much fun.

Challenging, But With Some Fun Mixes

Generally, the gameplay with Coffee Crisis isn’t bad. It lacks in creativity in the beat-em-up department but makes up for it with some engaging encounters and interesting modifiers.

These come from enemy drops, which can change things up dramatically. One minute, there’s a psychedelic effect that seems to resemble drinking too much coffee. (It can happen, just ask our own Eddie Nicholson.) The next, the difficulty spikes up, forcing you to keep on your guard.

As for the challenge, it can go off the chart sometimes. Coffee Crisis may be too daunting for those that aren’t used to the genre, as you can go through lives pretty quickly – even with special moves in your arsenal. Fortunately, you can change up the difficulty however you please; and being able to play alongside a friend in local two-player is cool, too.

Service with a smile — but with the teeth knocked out.

There is also a handful of challenges that will provide some helpful rewards, like an extra life here and there. These will prove beneficial, especially as you get that much closer to the final boss battle. Good luck.

Stir Up a Cup If You’re In For Good Taste

While Streets of Rage 4 remains fresh on our minds as the best brawler at the moment, Coffee Crisis offers up its own fair share of goodness. While it’s a bit harder than expected and the story can be loaded with wayyyy too many coffee puns (is there such a thing?), it makes up for it with a sharp presentation, inventive modifiers, and fun two-player local co-op brawling. If Starbucks is your home away from home, or you just want to enjoy another old-school beat-em-up during your time of quarantine, get yourself a hot cup of this joe.

RATING: 7.5/10

The Coffee Crisis baristas offer up service with a smile, thanks to a fun presentation and gameplay.

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