QUByte Interactive present the player with a 2D retro style beat ‘em up. Featuring a variety of playable characters and enemies 99Vidas endeavours to provide an exciting side scrolling fighting game with a basic story and fun gameplay. It almost succeeds on all fronts, ultimately producing an experience that is essentially alright, but lacking in anything that really makes it stand out from other games in it’s genre. Nothing special and nothing that makes it feel truly memorable.
The ‘story’ in 99Vidas is very skeletal. You are a person who needs to fight their way through a number of different stages in order to reach the end boss. Each stage features a number of different enemies that you must overcome as well as there being bosses that will possess different capabilities from each other. The writing feels relatively self aware and delivers and appropriate amount of comedy without being overdone. Each stage is slightly different with the idea seeming to be that you’re working your way deeper into The Boss’ territory. You traverse through streets, arcades and back alleys although the individual environments don’t differ all that much aside form the colours and objects throughout each level.
99Vidas is intended to be played co-op with up to three other people, however the community for this game is extremely small so it’s unlikely that a co-op game will be located. Playing alone is viable, but playing alone will make anything other than the ‘Izzy’ difficulty mode feel extremely frustrating on the first try. The attacks available to you and to the enemies don’t offer much with regards to variation in combat. You can spam punches or deliver well-timed kicks to enemies and although you can upgrade your two basic attacks as you progress the outcome feels no different. This results in a game that feels based around stun locking. Generally your combat options are to stun lock an opponent, or gradually wear them down with kicks, which gets boring and in return if you get stun locked by an enemy it can feel very frustrating. In the harder difficulties even getting through the first stage alone is too much of a challenge, especially when the combat itself does not feel rewarding or satisfying in any way. On the easy mode the game is fine, but it presents the same frustrations as the harder modes, just without the same amount of struggle.
If you choose to stick to the easy mode and progress through the stages the game holds potentially and hour and a half of gameplay for the average player. There are multiple characters, some of whom can be unlocked, so there is some replay-ability in the fact you can experience the slightly different fighting styles, but it’s not really enough to truly invite the desire to replay the stages. With friends perhaps some enjoyment can be located but even then the price tag doesn’t make the game overly friendly towards being able to get a group of friends to pick it up.
99Vidas has a lovely art style that encapsulates the retro feel that the game appears to be aiming for. The colour palette is vibrant and bright, giving the overall visual appearance of the game a saturated look. The pixel art is enjoyable to look at and the individual characterisations and animations are well done.
An excellent soundtrack accompanies your journey through this pixel world. Exciting, retro style music goes some way to improving the overall feel of the game and certainly helps the combat feel less monotonous by injecting some needed energy into each level.
Overall, 99Vidas is not worth it’s price tag. $12 is fairly steep for a game that primarily relies on a very repetitive formula to gain additional enjoyment past the first playthrough of the levels. The overly simplistic feel of the combat doesn’t aid the games cause either and unfortunately it leaves the player with a game that really doesn’t hit the mark.