Titles like Shovel Knight and VVVVVV have proven that old-school graphics and gameplay still works on modern systems, and Pittsburgh-based developer Mega Cat Studios has taken this to heart. With a lineup of games for both older consoles (Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis) and PC, they’re mixing nostalgia into a medium that seems desperate to leave the past behind.
Log Jammers is a love letter to the 80s, blending both neon aesthetics and classic horror movie tropes. It functions as a mix between two-person fighting games like Street Fighter or Tekken and air hockey. The two combatants roll on logs in a body of water (or mayonnaise, depending on the stage) and attempt to chuck an ax into the other side’s goal. There’s a thin plot about the town of Bateman Hills being overrun with zombies and brave souls stepping up to combat them.
Mostly, though, it’s about a lumberjack fighting Zombear (which is exactly what you think it is). The eight playable characters each have their own special move and differing stats in three categories: Speed, Swole, and Tech. There are also two styles of gameplay and the option to play a single match or a full tournament.
Keeping with the fighting theme, Viking Democracy is a four-person brawler, similar to Super Smash Bros. There are four fighters to choose from, each with a unique weapon. What sets this title apart from the rest of the genre is the powerups each stage provides. Each themed stage features a powerup costume that replaces your fighter’s standard attack with a special attack based on the level (for example, the candy-themed level turns you into a giant gummy bear). There are also unique hazards and music for each stage. When tired of the standard stock lives combat, alternate game modes like Flying or Snowball add some variety. You can play against friends or AI.
As noted in our article about Mega Cat Studios, Coffee Crisis takes place in Pittsburgh itself and is a collaboration with Black Forge Coffee. Famous landmarks from the city, such as PNC Park and the Incline, appear in the background of various levels. It’s a standard beat-em-up style game, with powerups, special attacks, and a limited number of lives. Players have the
option of using Nick or Ashley, based on the company owners Ashley Corts and Nick Miller. The coffee-serving duo are tasked with saving Pittsburgh from an alien invasion targeting musicians. Fittingly, the soundtrack of the game is excellent, featuring plenty of metal and hard rock to match Black Forge’s theming. A two player co-op mode is also available.
These twists on classic genres keeps Mega Cat’s games from feeling like rehashes. Coupled with the excellent music and level design, and each game is addictive, multiplayer fun. For newcomers to gaming and nostalgia nerds alike, Mega Cat Studios has a controller ready for anybody.