99Vidas / QUByte Interactive

99VIDAS: A RETRO ROMP 

Beat the Vida Out of Them.

by Felipe Parada

 

99Vidas (which is Spanish and Portuguese for "99 Lives") is a side-scrolling beat 'em up video game developed and published by QUByte Interactive. The side scrolling beat-'em-up is inspired by the classics of the late 80s and 90s such as Double Dragon, Final Fight, and Streets of Rage. It was first released for Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux in late 2016 but after a followed by a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2015 it made its way on to PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in 2017. Even though 99Vidas has the makings of a classic old school side scrolling beat-'em-up, does it have enough Vida to be placed along the side of the classics that made the genre popular? 

 

I've always felt that the scrolling beat-'em-up is one of those genres that never get old. Unfortunately, as of late, the genre has never quite made the comeback indie developers had hoped for. I'm a bit surprised that there only has been a few beat-'em-ups in the PS4's library with the most recent one being Knights of Valour, and I wont even count the abysmal Double Dragon IV. Maybe it's the simplicity or maybe it's the lack of over-the-top action set pieces that most modern games offer, the traditional old-school challenge has failed to catch on. The last side scrolling beat-'em-up that I played that was actually pretty good was the criminally underrated Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which 99Vidas shares a very similar style. 

The visuals are a classic throwback with its pixel art style and 8 bit techno-beat soundtrack. Everything from the menus to the characters are designed with a sense of homage to the games that came before it. 99Vidas takes the biggest influence here from SEGA’s Streets of Rage.  From the level design, to the funky soundtrack, which at times sound very similar to Yuzo Koshiro’s compositions from the Mega Drive classic. The game does a good job in making you feel that this game could have existed back in the late 80's and 90's. Maybe it could have been some arcade cabinet hidden somewhere in a café next to Street Fighter and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All the animations of the heroes look and feel great. I like it when you beat up the footballers, they flop on the floor just like they would on a football pitch. The street punks always comb their hair before getting up and coming for you.

As far as the story is concerned, its your typical 'friends" premise, a bunch of friends sworn to protect relics that were stolen villainous kingpin known as "Boss". Realizing the relics have been stolen, they embark on their epic journey beating up legions of baddies armed with their martial arts skills and super powers. It seems like every game like this starts off with the same premise. 

99Vidas / QUByte Interactive

The world is vast and deadly. Better bring a Ratchet.

Gameplay is your standard button mashing punch drunk affair. Anyone who has played a side scrolling beat-'em-up will know the drill. As you move from left to right on the screen, various enemies of different tiers and abilities descend upon you as you dispatch them with your arsenal of moves. Once you get to the end of the stage, you will end up engaging in a boss battle that can present a bit of a challenge, if you aren't careful. Usually each boss has a specific pattern you have to look out for and even after you find out the specific pattern, they can still present a bit of a nuisance. It doesn't help that during the process of the fight some extra enemies show up to makes things a little bit more difficult. 

Each one of the four starting heroes has a distinct set of abilities that can be upgraded in between levels. Each character represents one of the 4 different elemental forces, earth, wind, fire and ice. Don't let the elements fool you though, the moments of elemental sparks are mostly cosmetic and there really isn’t much difference between the main characters other than their appearance. On top of their basic attacks, each character has a special move that kills everything on screen which can also take a good amount off of a boss health bar.

If there is only one real big complaint here is that some of the levels can drag on a bit too long. You can replenish your lives in between levels but the points could be better spent by upgrading your abilities rather than waste the points on lives. It would have been nice to see the game offer more stages at shorter intervals. This would have given the game a real nice pace. There's nothing more frustrating than losing all your lives at the end of a stage during a boss battle only to restart the entire level all over again. But then again, this was the main design element of the side scrolling beat-'em-up of that time, so its nice to see that they still pay homage to the genre. 

Verdict

99Vidas stays true to the side scrolling beat em ups of the 80s and 90s. It’s also a fun game to play, i mean really fun to play. There’s not a lot of content and you can easily beat the game in a couple of hours. Having local and online co-op, unlockable characters, and the promise of additional levels makes this game a MUST PLAY for anyone looking to travel back in time where the side scrolling beat em up genre dominated the arcades.

Check out some of our Boss Battles below. And drop us a line in the comments below.

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