Old School Gamer chats with game developer Zack Manko, who lets us know why the enhanced version of Coffee Crisis, which is currently gearing up for release on Steam, is the best version of the game to date.

About Coffee Crisis:

The Smurglian race has come to Earth and they’re not leaving until they steal our four most prized commodities: metal music, the best coffee, cat videos, and all the WiFi. Challenge them through unique and innovative levels inspired by real-life areas in Pittsburgh, PA. Join Black Forge Coffeehouse baristas Nick and Ashley, two galaxy gladiators called to arms to stop this madness and remove the Smurglian threat from Earth.

The Smurglians can have the cat videos… but if you don’t help our heroes fend off against the alien-assimilated elderly, bros, cowgirls, and country western singers, who knows what could happen!

Old School Gamer Magazine: For those who never experienced this game on the Genesis, what makes it special?

Zack Manko: The retro version of Coffee Crisis is special because of the many real-world collaborators that came together to make it great. Not only does it feature local businesses and a local heavy metal band’s music translated into a 16-bit soundtrack, but we also included the feedback and suggestions from our early supporters and fans. Their enthusiasm and recommendations helped make Coffee Crisis the dark and satisfying brew it is today.

Old School Gamer Magazine: How did the reception of the original game impact the development of the PC version?

Manko: A lot of the initial feedback was related to game feel and art. On the Genesis?Mega Drive, there is only some much room for improvement because of the limitations of the console. With the PC version, we had way more freedom to create awesome art and exciting new mechanics.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes the PC version the best version of the game?

Manko: The PC version is the best version of the game because it stays true to the best parts of the retro Sega release while taking advantage of all the things you can do on the PC. The biggest addition has been the modifier items, these ensure that you never get the same playthrough twice – it’s always a fresh cup of gameplay, every time you play.

Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories from this dev cycle?

Manko: Things got pretty crazy in our brainstorming sessions. If you think a swarm of eagles on screen is wild, you should see some of the stuff on the cutting room floor.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What have you learned about yourself as a developer through this project?

Manko: Taking Coffee Crisis to modern systems has taught us a lot about the porting process. It’s helped us to stay true to a game’s retro roots while making it even more viable to a modern audience.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Manko: Turning what started out as a philanthropic project for local businesses into a full-fledged release has always been our most significant hurdle with Coffee Crisis. After the initial change in scope with the game, it’s just been a matter of delivering an awesome experience.

Old School Gamer Magazine: How did the new modes change the game?

Manko: The new modes provide a ton of value and replayability. Some of the modifiers are silly, some ramp up the challenge, but all are fun. Death Metal mode is our version of Hard Mode, with the difficulty cranked way up. Of course, players who want an unfiltered experience can always turn the modifiers off.

Old School Gamer Magazine: Why must someone play this game?

Manko: Do you enjoy games that combine the best of retro with everything the future has to offer? Do heavy metal riffs and solos make you thrust your horns in the air? Have you ever heard of Pittsburgh? Do you, or does anyone you know, drink coffee? If you answered yes, yeah, or yaaasss to any of these, then Coffee Crisis is a must for you.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?

Manko: We have some awesome titles in the works, for PC and retro both. Expect our 16-bit catalog to get a lot bigger this year!

Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?

Manko: I’d like to thank everyone that has supported Coffee Crisis, Mega Cat Studios, and the Retro Renaissance in general. It’s a passionate, vibrant community, and we hope to continue serving them with fun and interesting games. Thanks, everyone!


Patrick Hickey Jr. is the author of the upcoming book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from McFarland And Company. Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games–including Deus Ex, NHLPA 93, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam–the book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.

Patrick Hickey Jr. Patrick Hickey Jr. (319 Posts)

Patrick Hickey, Jr., is the founder and editor-in-chief of ReviewFix.com and a lecturer of English and journalism at Kingsborough Community College, in Brooklyn, New York. Over the past decade, his video game coverage has been featured in national ad campaigns by top publishers the likes of Nintendo, Deep Silver, Disney and EA Sports. His book series, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Game Developers," from McFarland and Company, has earned praise from Forbes, Huffington Post, The New York Daily News and MSG Networks. He is also a former editor at NBC and National Video Games Writer at the late-Examiner.com