Platforms: PlayStation 4 (review), Xbox One, Steam
What do you do when you’re down on your luck, can’t find a job, trying to return to your former glory, or need to pay off your outlandish medical bills for a surgery that turned you into a robot? Why, join the Mega Coin Squad of course. This is the premise that gets a group of money hungry characters onto an island and collecting thousands of coins in this fast-paced, action platformer.
When you begin Mega Coin Squad, you’ll get to choose one of five characters, each with their own set of attributes that change up their play styles a bit. Mikey is your average, well-balanced character. Stef is fast on her feet but on the weaker side. Chunk is slow but powerful, and Mouth and Data are more of a mixed bag. While the characters all have varied looks and personalities, their actual in-game differences are far more subtle with movement speed being the only real noticeable difference.
Once you decide on a character, you’ll get a short cutscene showing why they decided to join the squad, and then they are whisked away to a mysterious island. The island is presented as an overworld map similar to that of Super Mario World and is broken down into four different zones, each with its own aesthetic. Unfortunately, each zone only contains four levels and all of those levels end up feeling rather similar to one another. Each level is randomly generated from a handful of preset block/enemy layouts that change as you spend more time in the level. Even then, you’ll still see the same layouts multiple times in the same level. This takes some of the luck out of success as pattern recognition becomes a factor, but it doesn’t do the game any favors as far keeping things fresh.
While the levels end up feeling far too similar in each zone, the fast paced and sometimes chaotic nature of the gameplay help alleviate that. Each character has the ability to use five moves from the start. They’ll have a standard jump, a ground pound, an upper punch, a shoulder dash, and the ability to shoot a fireball. Utilizing all of these is essential to succeeding in Mega Coin Squad. Once I got used to and started embracing all of these powers, I began to see just how fun and fluid the gameplay could be. Stringing together all these abilities to pull off an insane platforming sequence is quite satisfying.
Your goal in a majority of the levels is to collect and bank a certain number of coins without being hit more than three times. You’ll also have subgoals in each level for beating it under par time, banking all coins at one time, and not being hit. This starts out rather easy, but Mega Coin Squad can get deceptively difficult, especially if you’re looking to perfect each level. There are numerous enemies and hazards that are all out to ruin your good time. If they damage you, you’ll lose nearly every coin you’ve collected (that wasn’t banked) and have to start from scratch. This becomes all the more difficult as the farther you advance, the more coins you’ll need to bank in each level.
As you complete the previously mentioned subgoals, you will receive a jewel. After each level, you’ll get to spend the jewels you earned (up to three per level) on new items and upgrades in a randomly generated block breaking game. Here you can unlock upgrades for your stock abilities (jump, ground pound, fireball, etc.), new items such as a coin magnet or invincibility star, weapons that you can find in stages, and even items that extend each level’s par time or reduce the amount of coins dropped when a character takes damage. These are all rather useful and gives you plenty of incentive to earn each jewel available.
If there’s one weak aspect of Mega Coin Squad, it’s the short length of its single-player campaign. If you’re skilled enough, you can get through it in under 30 minutes, and even if you’re not, it probably won’t take you more than a couple of hours to see it through to the end. You can play through with each of the five characters as they each have separate progression, and going for all the jewels in each level will extend that time as well. If you’re just going for a one and done run, you might feel a little let down with the amount of content.
There are also four different local multiplayer modes for up to four players, but I wasn’t able to test that feature out for this review so I can’t speak on their quality. If you have some friends that are willing to give it a go, I suppose that could add a little more bang for your buck.
Mega Coin Squad probably isn’t going to blow you away with its gameplay, but there’s still a good bit of fun to be had with it if you can get past some of its shortcomings. While levels within each zone never really differentiate from one another much, there are plenty of power-ups and a variety of upgrades that keep the platforming and coin collecting exciting. I’m not quite comfortable giving a full recommendation to everyone because there’s just not much content here, but if you’re a diehard fan of platformers I’d say Mega Coin Squad is worth checking out, especially if you can pick it up on the cheap.