Enjoyable Imperfection – ‘Mega Coin Squad’ Review

With an already saturated 2D platformer market, is there enough in Mega Coin Squad to make it memorable?

Mega Coin Squad feels like a culmination of several retro platformers. The game might be decent in its own right, but when the game openly borrows from the classics, it gets excessively difficult to to not get frustrated when it doesn’t match their greatness.

Gameplay

At its core, Coin Squad is a pretty solid 2D platformer. The way the player moves from level to level is similar to that of the original Mario Bros. games. In between the actual stages, you navigate the map and even the order in which the worlds are exactly the same – World 2 is desert and World 3 is snow. Being similar to the classic franchise isn’t a bad thing necessarily, it’s just sort of an odd homage to a game that doesn’t share many similarities besides the 2D perspective.

One of the four worlds. Note: there are four stages per world.
One of the four worlds. Note: there are four stages per world.

Much like the name suggests, the central theme of each stage is to collect a certain number of coins to put into your piggybank and end the level. The stages are quite a bit smaller than what you’d expect from other 2D platformers, but that doesn’t mean Coin Squad is any easier. After being hit by thee separate times by some of the many diverse enemies in the game, you’ll hit a game over screen and have to retry. If that weren’t hard enough, each time you get hit a single time, all the coins you’re carrying are dropped. Luckily, you can, at any time, go to the piggybank in the middle of the stage to deposit what you’re carrying. While that is convenient and lowers the risk of losing it all, it also costs you one of three upgrade diamonds you can receive from each stage. The upgrades are well-worth the risk, too. There are power upgrades that help strengthen your ground pound or fireball abilities, there are double jump bonuses, and there are even upgrades that limit the number of coins you drop upon being hit. Basically, Mega Coin Squad pushes the player to takes big risks if they want a big reward – and that’s a good thing.

This stage, level 3-1, was brutal
This stage, level 3-1, was brutal

Because Coin Squad isn’t excessively long in nature, the game features five different characters all with different stats. Each character has to play through the story separately, which prolongs gameplay, but I’m not sure if I love that design choice. Yes, you will get more bang for your buck, so to speak, but it would have been much more interesting to force the player to choose which character to be on a level to level basis to figure out which was right for the given level. Each of the five players do have varied stats, but from what I noticed, the differences between them felt minute. I wish that wasn’t so.

The core gameplay of Mega Coin Squad is quite good, I just wish the character differences were a little less shallow.

Graphics, Audio & Performance

The 2D art style of this game is rock solid. When browsing the menus or pouting at the game over screen, a well-detailed pixel art version of your character is shown. During each stage, the character is less detailed and takes on a much more expected 2D approach. This is all well and good because with the hectic pace of the game, anything more detailed could catch the eye. The characters are neat and each enemy design feels fresh and stylistically on point. Developer Big Pixel Studios nailed enemy variation and design, that much is certain.

Just a few of the many enemy types
Just a few of the many enemy types

As far as audio goes, Mega Coin Squad is pretty standard stuff. I did enjoy that the game’s soundtrack featured a quick tempo that matched the intense speed of the gameplay. If you enjoy (or even tolerate) the old school music direction that most 2D platformers take, you’ll be satisfied in this department.

Where I can’t sing high praise, though, is in the game’s performance. Nearly all of the game’s stages suffered from framerate drops for a second or two. That may not be a big deal in an open-world game, but when the core focus is fast paced 2D action, a stutter is the difference between a game over screen and collecting sweet, sweet upgrades. Perhaps a patch in the future could fix the stuttering issues, but honestly, the current performance problems are a big mar on an otherwise decent action platformer.

Verdict

Mega Coin Squad is a enjoyable game that is bogged down by pesky performance issues. What could have made each character unique and special is instead used to add longevity to a otherwise short platformer. The gameplay is tough and ruthless at times, which is generally a good thing. I even found myself force quitting the game from the Xbox Home out of pure frustration only to boot it up again seconds later. For the most part, losing felt like it was my fault and not the result of poor design – I just wish getting hit by an enemy projectile didn’t become an unavoidable missile every time the game stuttered.

logo

At the end of the day, this game is a fair amount of fun, but it doesn’t break enough ground to be considered unique. Mega Coin Squad certainly feels like a solid retro title, but it doesn’t satisfy the requirements to ever feel like a true classic.

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