Game Review #062: 99Vidas (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Chad M.
Developer: QUByte Interactive
Publisher: QUByte Interactive
Category: Arcade, Action, Fighting, Multiplayer
Release Date: 11.27.2018
Download 99Vidas from the Nintendo eShop here.
Nothing Like A Punch To The Face
Beat 'em ups have always been a close personal favorite of mine. In arcades, while everyone else was pumping quarters into fighters—of which I was still guilty—I was hunting down the beat ‘em up adventures to play. From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time to The Simpsons Arcade, I would lose hours, and a pocket full of quarters. So, on console, I was always drawn to that same type of games, with Final Fight on SNES being another favorite. Well, you can tell that the developers over at QUByte Interactive have love for all of the games that I have mentioned, and so many more.
In 2015, developer QUByte partnered with the Gaming Podcast from Brazil, 99Vidas, to create a fresh all new beat ‘em up game that would pay tribute to the classics, all while updating gameplay for a more modern feel. To help bring their dream project to life, they brought their game to crowdfunding in hopes to reach a goal and make it a reality. The goal was met and exceeded, which allowed them to not only release on steam, but on other consoles as well. After a wait, 99Vidas has made its way to Switch.
The Power Is Yours
At its core, 99Vidas is a 16-bit beat ‘em up that is inspired by 80s and 90s classics from the same genre like Double Dragon, Final Fight, Golden Axe and Streets of Rage. I mentioned those games in particular because you can see little bits and pieces pulled from each one. As far as the story goes, a magical artifact called the 99Vidas has gone missing and falls into the hands of the big bad boss man. Now, four guardians, who have been granted the powers of worldly elements, must work together to get back the 99Vidas. To do so, however, you must beat the hell out of a bunch of goons, from frogmen (that’s men in frog outfits), little girls that use bunnies as nunchucks, soccer players, to boxers named Mike (who look just like Mike Tyson…) and more.
While working your way through the regular baddies, you also have mini-bosses and main stage bosses to get through that are just as insane, if not more, than the normal goons. As stated before, the guardians have the elements to add to their arsenal. While playing with characters that had powers of fire, earth, wind, and water, I was getting major Captain Planet vibes in a great way. Now, the main guardians themselves I’m not too familiar with, as I’d never heard the gaming podcast, 99Vidas, that the game was based off of, but even if I had, I wouldn’t have picked up too much, since they’re based out of Brazil and I don’t speak Portuguese. So, because of that, I don’t get some of the inside jokes they drop.
For the most part, though, it’s gaming and cultural tropes that most can pick up on, and they’re pretty darn funny. Two examples that stick out are: (1) a boss that is an Argentinean soccer bully who transforms from 16-bit to 8-bit when in battle mode, and (2) being a little tiny bald-headed goon that, after defeated, gets back up and mutates into a VERY familiar-looking green monster with orange hair, who also resides in Brazil… and was a major character is a classic fighter by the name of Street Fighter II…
Gameplay & Fun Factor
If you’ve played one of the many beat ‘em ups I mentioned before, or many others, you know what to expect, gameplay- and control-wise. A light strike as a punch, hard strike as a kick and jump. You can also use a power strike, if you’re overwhelmed—but it will take health away—and finally, you have a magical elemental powerful strike that, once used, can be filled back up by completing combos while fighting. One major problem that all beat ‘em ups have had since the 80s and 90s, however, is that they rinse off the paint and apply a new coat, giving it a new look, but a lot of it is the same old thing: fight wave after wave, then mini-boss, then more waves, then stage boss, and then on to the next stage. This is the blessing and the curse of beat ‘em ups, as this is a great game, but a lot of it feels like we’ve been here before. As I said before, though, I was just hoping for something that really would shake up the genre. They did add more playable characters—11 characters in all—and you unlock them by playing through and beating the game over and over, unlocking secret levels as you go.
So, even though they didn’t reinvent the wheel with 99Vidas, they sure made a funny and very action-packed game that any fan of the genre will love. One great part was the added layer of RPG, where you level your characters up, adding replay value. Also, as mentioned, you can unlock characters and levels, and play through different modes. The modes are: Arcade, Story, Remix, Versus (fighter), and Online, where you can enjoy the game with friends. Speaking of, enjoying it with friends is the best part of the game. Having three friends playing with you, couch co-op in multiplayer, is so much fun! This was easily my favorite aspect of the game, as it took me right back to playing in the arcade as a kid. The online, at the moment, was kind of dead, but I’m hopeful that, with this very open price-point, the online community will grow in time.
The sounds and music are straight from the 90s beat ‘em ups, with the upbeat music and over-the-top sounds while fighting, as your punches knock goons all over the place. The visuals, at first, reminded me of the beat ‘em up Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but then somehow finds a way to feel visually like so many others—and then again, still be one in its own. The backgrounds had a recycled look, but sometimes something would pop up that would make you laugh, or just stick out to say, “This is different!” in the 99Vidas world. It ran great in both handheld and docked mode.
Beat ‘em ups are starting to become a crowded market, just as are many other genres on the eShop. QUByte and 99Vidas podcast throw their hat into the ring, all while paying tribute to games of old, and it was a fun trip down memory lane—even if this was a brand new IP! Any fans of the podcast I’m sure are already sold. If you are a fan of the beat ‘em up games of old, or are just looking to see a new story with hilarious looking characters and baddies, you should definitely pick this up. It has many layers that will keep you having a blast, all while smashing comic-style goons for quite a while.
Final Score: 8/10
Download 99Vidas from the Nintendo eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by QUByte Interactive