In the ‘90s, arcades were quite popular in the US and some of the most interesting machines were for side-scrolling beat ‘em ups. Instead of allowing for one or two players, these machines had up to four, making them quite a bit larger than the average machine. Even though the genre was popular back then, it has started to disappear. Games like Scott Pilgrim, Castle Crashers and Double Dragon Neon prove there is still a market, which 99Vidas hopes to find success in. With plenty of characters, online and offline multiple, several modes and a six level campaign, is it a must for fans of the genre or is it proof the genre is dead?
99Vidas holds true to traditional arcade stories by being little more than a vague premise to justify the events of the game. There is a stone that is so powerful there are a group of guardians assigned to protect it. Unfortunately, Boss has taken the stone, so the guardians need to fight their way to him and reclaim the stone.
Upon watching the introduction, you’re ready to start your journey. Those familiar with the genre will likely have a lot of fun playing through 99Vidas, as the game tries to recreate one of these classic experiences. This means the world is filled with small touches and cute references, with the first one being a garage door that occasionally opens revealing a car with the license plate “I’m bad.” These range in effort, like the winners don’t do drugs sign is far from subtle to characters named D. Lux or Dirt E.
While playing through 99Vidas it’s hard to miss the influence of classics, the most notable being Streets of Rage. At times it can feel derivative, as certain attacks, enemies and mechanics are clearly based things from Streets of Rage, but it also has more than enough to stand out.
Part of what makes 99Vidas engaging is how the A.I. behaves. Instead of taking hits or being very simple, the A.I. will often times avoid combat and work together to bring you down. At times this can be frustrating, as some of these enemies can do significant damage in seconds or force you to chase after them, but it’s still better than mindless combat. However, it also makes 99Vidas a tough experience.
Even on easy or as the game puts it “Izzy” difficulty, it can still be quite challenging. It’s entirely possible to make it to the final boss with several lives and have it end in defeat. There is a strong emphasis put on reading bosses and knowing when to strike, so if you run in guns blazing, you’ll likely lose. Thankfully, the game isn’t too unforgiving.
Every character has four basic attacks, which include two combos and two dash attacks. Each character attacks a little differently and their attacks can be enhanced by spending points you earn playing. So instead of doing a simple punch combo, you might end with a flaming punch and another level might transform it into a flaming uppercut. These moves make it easier to manage enemies, defeat foes and make your way to the end. Better yet, upon maxing out a character or getting the upgrades you want, lives can be purchased instead. Beating the game is much easier with 10 or more lives than the amount you start with.
To further enjoyment, 99Vidas supports four-player offline co-op and two-player online co-op. Playing with another person will make some things easier, though the overall difficulty will be higher. Those looking for a true retro experience can enable friendly fire and try to avoid killing one another.
Besides the campaign, there is also the ever popular versus and survival mode. Both modes are what you’d expect, with survival also having something of a time limit. This puts some pressure on finishing, plus some excitement, if only for the fact you can’t run around the enemy forever.
99Vidas has a good understanding of it wants to accomplish. It isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel or innovate the genre, it just wants to be a fun game that pays homage to the classics. For this reason you might not need to play 99Vidas, but fans or someone looking for an offline co-op game will likely have a blast.
[Editor’s Note: 99Vidas was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]99Vidas Review,