by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
99Vidas is an homage to side-scrolling beat-em-ups of old such as Dragon Dragon and Streets of Rage. You pick from a cast of characters, beat up hordes of unnamed mooks as you traverse each level and cap it off with a fiendish boss battle at the end. It doesn’t take a lot of risks, suffers from a need to grind upgrades and lives, and does not take long to master, but 99Vidas is as good an homage as any towards the beat-em-ups from yesteryear.
For those unaware, 99Vidas takes its characters from Brazilian video game podcast 99Vidas. Developers QOByte Interactive have taken the podcast and created a game inspired by many of the retro games the cast loved. As someone who does not speak Portuguese, the lack of background knowledge in 99Vidas was not a downside, as it was more than capable of drawing me in based on its merits as a game.
This was, for the most part, because of the gorgeous animation found in the game. Much like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, which was itself inspired by side-scrolling beat-em-ups, 99Vidas pays plenty of attention to how the levels and characters look, resulting in a game that is always delightful to look at. Animations are crisp and clean, while the environments are eye-catching and varied. Special mention should be made of the soundtrack, which is easily the highlight of the game. Filled with very catchy tunes inspired by retro games, it goes a long way to making the game enjoyable.
If you’ve played any of the other games I’ve mentioned in this review, gameplay in 99Vidas is extremely similar, if not identical. You choose from one of several characters, four of which are available at the start with a further seven to unlock, hop into one of the levels and proceed to punch, kick and jump-kick your way through enemy after enemy. It’s very basic, though the large cast of characters to choose from goes a long way to help give the game replayability. The problem with 99Vidas is that the gameplay becomes very repetitive, very quickly, as you will quickly find yourself repeating the ideal combo or attack that can best incapacitate enemies. This is exacerbated by the enemies frequently used ability to walk out of the screen where you can’t hit them, delaying a fight for much longer than it should be. While the characters are unique in appearance and in special abilities, I could not find a discernible difference between them despite having different stats for each character. I understand that some people appreciate this kind of gameplay, though I have seen better examples of gameplay within this genre in the past.
Another issue is that the game almost requires you to replay earlier levels to earn upgrades for an individual character before the last level, which has a very high spike in difficulty. While it undoubtedly prolongs the game, it is rather tiring to play through the same levels over and over for the sole purpose of trying to advance further. Coupled with the aforementioned basic gameplay, and 99Vidas begins to lose its charm.
There is also local and online multiplayer available for up to four people. However, I was unable to test out the online multiplayer due to a lack of players playing online. Which is unfortunate, because I think that with friends or even a group of strangers, 99Vidas would be an enjoyable experience, all things considered.
As it stands, 99Vidas is an inspired tribute to beat-em-ups, with its solid aesthetic brought down by gameplay that lacks the diversity or complexity that would otherwise make this a more compelling game.
Great soundtrack, large cast of characters
Lack of tutorial, basic gameplay, late game grind is a chore