Couch-based multiplayer has been falling away in recent years but, with the rise of indie developers who are keen to see it make a comeback, more and more titles seem to be remembering that pretty much every console ever made supports more than one controller being in use at a time. This resurgence is most definitely occurring on the Xbox One and Mega Coin Squad is the latest title to put local multiplayer at the forefront of the action.
It isn't all multiplayer in this retro-styled world though. Indeed, Big Pixel Studios have crafted a single-player mode that is fun to play, rather than being an afterthought. As you'd expect, the Mega Coin Squad revolves around collecting coins. In single-player, you have to use your directional dash, fireball, double jump, and collectable weapons to avoid or destroy all manner of enemies as you make your way toward collecting a set amount of coins. Once you've got them in your pocket, you need to make your way to a giant piggy bank to deposit them. If you're hit, you lose coins and one of your lives, but you can't lose coins that you've already banked. So, there's a nice bit of risk/reward gameplay going on most of the time.
In each level, there are three gems to collect. One is awarded for completing the level without losing a life, another for beating a certain time, and a final one for depositing the targeted amount of coins all in one go. Beating these challenges awards you with trips to the semi-random power-up store, with a new power-up being awarded for each gem that you collect. It must be said that collecting the full set of three gems isn't massively difficult, although some levels can prove to be much trickier than you'd initially expect them to be.
The goal of the single-player mode is very much a speedrunning one. Your first playthrough will probably take an hour or two. Indeed, our initial run took longer than that as we had blitzed through, not picking up enough gems early on to award power-ups that would make the later levels a less daunting proposition. Your second run through will be much quicker. Your third, quicker still, and so on until you've played through with all six available characters - complete with their different attributes that will require different approaches - picking up an achievement for beating the game with each one. Mega Coin Squad only ever shows you the top ten fastest players for the game as a whole on the leaderboards though, and whether or not you'll ever be listed amongst those speedy few will come down to how much practice you put in. Certainly, there's nothing here that would prevent you from wanting to play through the game again and again, given how much fun it is to do so.
Multiplayer mode is where Mega Coin Squad really excels, however. Up to four can play locally, and matches consist of rounds of four game modes. Bank the Coins sees players trying to collect coins and bank them before other players can stop them from doing so. Mega Coins has everyone trying to grab a giant coin to put in the piggy bank before they get taken out by other players, Capture the Flag style. Hold the Rainbow gets players to grab a rainbow coin which awards coins as they move around with it, while everyone else tries to take them down before they reach the target number of coins, and Death Match is exactly what you'd expect. During each tournament, the top players collect gems that – as with the single player game – can be used in the power-up store for the next round. This does mean that early winners can have a slight advantage, but when you're playing multiple rounds, it all pans out in the end.
This multiplayer action is what will provide the longevity for Mega Coin Squad. Undoubtedly, the single player mode is enjoyable enough to ensure that players will play through multiple times – especially if collecting all of the achievements is their goal – but the fast-paced action that ensues when you have just two players playing, let alone four, is right up there with the best of them. There's nothing more fun than just dodging the fireball of an opponent who is sitting right next to you, leaping over it with aplomb and landing right next to the piggy bank so you can throw your coins in and pick up the win. It'll lead to friendly arguments and entire evenings of battles, that's for sure. We would have liked to have seen a few more game modes in play, outside of the initial four. That isn't to say that what is there will quickly become dull, but there is a threat that once you've played a couple of tournaments, you'll feel that you've seen and done it all. Being able to play in each mode in each different world, complete with their different threats to your character's health, does throw some more elements into the mix that help relieve that feeling.
There are times when the action becomes so frantic – with multiple explosions going on – that the game does occasionally stick and judder for a second or so. It isn't something that is going to cause player deaths or losses, and it certainly doesn't happen even as often as once per round, but it is most definitely noticeable at times. Also, flying in the face of the current couch renaissance, the high quality of the multiplayer action does really make us pine for online playability complete with a ranking system, leagues and tournaments. So much so that this feels like a bit of a missed opportunity in that sense. It's perfect for all ages and all levels of player, with gameplay that's easy to pick up from the off. This means that for our money – without exaggeration – Mega Coin Squad could have been one of the most popular competitive titles on the system were online play implemented.
Mega Coin Squad is a superbly entertaining title. Not everyone will be down with the speedrunning single-player style which sees you completing the admittedly short game multiple times with different characters, but there's fun to be had even for those that oppose the style the most. With multiple players, the game really shines and if you're looking for some fun and competitive action with your friends locally, this is right on the money.