Mega Coin Squad has a premise that sounds simple to a fault: Run through randomly generated level sections, collect hundreds of coins without getting hit and losing them, and deposit a specific total of them in a giant piggy bank. With such a flimsy-sounding premise, I have to give props to developer Big Pixel Studios for making the final product surprisingly fun. While there are certainly some major issues that prevent the game from being a must-play, platformer fans looking for a unique challenge may still want to give this one a try.
For the single-player campaign, players can pick from one of several preset characters with variations in standard stats like speed and attack power. After a brief cinematic explaining why each character is journeying to the island the game takes place on, a world map hosting levels in four differently themed levels (Grass, ice, desert, and fire) kicks the game off.
Despite stat differences between characters, the controls generally work the same across all of them, with a jump, a projectile attack and charges up, down, and sideways initially available. The primary goal of each set of levels also stays the same, with several traditional coin-gathering areas that finish off with a survival mode of sorts that requires players to take out multiple waves of enemy drones.
For levels that expect you to collect an increasingly higher amount of coins, each one’s layout is rather compact. One of the other central gimmicks makes that aspect a lot easier to swallow, and that is the fact that each part of the level, generally a floating platform of some kind with coins, enemies, and powerups, will periodically disappear after a short while and have a differently designed part appear nearby. Not only does this encourage players to try and get as many coins from each part as fast as possible, but it keeps the level from feeling stale, though you’ll still encounter some repetition when having to replay a level that’s giving you a tough time.
A tough time is a good way to sum up most of the later levels in general. Characters can only take three hits before having to restart a level, and it also doesn’t help that if you’re holding on to some coins that haven’t been banked yet, many of them will go flying a la Sonic’s rings. A determined gamer can still make it through the campaign with practice and a little luck, but completionists will have a lot more of an overall challenge, as the game has three side goals per level.
Typically set to taking no hits, banking all the required coins in one go and finishing the level within a certain amount of time, each goal that’s successfully met will award players with a gem that can be used on a roulette to unlock new powerups and permanent abilities like a double jump. Players can earn more of an advantage in the tougher levels through this mechanic, but even on the easier ones, getting these goals will take some practice.
Lag can also be an issue, especially during the latter portion of the campaign. It pops up at random, and can cause you to move several inches without even meaning to. This makes earning all of the gems even more difficult.
The core gameplay of Mega Coin Squad provides an overall enjoyable time, but it’s a title that I’d only really recommend to those who both desire a good challenge and consider themselves completionists. Beating the campaign for one character will only take between 1 to 2 hours for most, but going for all the gems and beating the campaign with every character certainly extends the overall play time substantially.
As far as components that stumble a bit, while there’s a full-fledged multiplayer mode, it’s local only. While I agree with the long-standing opinion that playing multiplayer on the couch with friends and family is always preferable to playing with strangers that might trash talk over a headset, I don’t have a second Xbox One controller yet, and am unable to try the multiplayer as a result. Clips I’ve seen make it look like a fun and chaotic experience, but it’s impossible to say what my actual thoughts would be without playing it firsthand.
How much gamers will get out of Mega Coin Squad depends on how much of it they’re willing to play. Players who can deal with some frustrating gameplay will have fun getting all of the gems and subsequent unlocks, but anyone who’s ready to stop playing when the campaign’s done might feel that the $14.99 the game is going for isn’t entirely worth it. It’s certainly a fun little experiment of a sidescroller, but not one that needs to be played immediately.
This review is based on the Xbox One version, which was provided to us.
Mega Coin Squad provides a challenging and engaging experience for platformer fans, but a short campaign and lack of online play bring the experience down a bit.