You don't often see video games based on podcasts and 99Vidas is a beat 'em up starring the four Brazilian blokes from the retro gaming podcast of the same name. Let's get ready to fight!
When I first started playing 99Vidas, I was happy to see how simple it is to control. The only buttons that you need to use are for punching, kicking, jumping, and performing a special move. This move is extremely powerful and has the potential to clear out all of the onscreen enemies. To charge it, you merely have to keep fighting. Thankfully, you can unleash it when the meter is only halfway full although the resulting damage isn't quite as devastating. Of course, there are some additional special moves and combos that you can perform whenever you're comfortable experimenting with your character's move set more. Enjoying the simple gameplay is a lot easier when you play with others so thankfully, you can have up to four players fight simultaneously via either local or online multiplayer. Heck, you can even compete against friends in a versus mode if you really want to.
By looking at the screenshots, the world of 99Vidas is obviously vibrant and fun-filled. The characters are animated beautifully and the stages are brimming with silly background scenes and their own distinct personalities. One problem with the graphics is that I often lost track of my character. There's no indication of who you're controlling and considering the playable characters look so similar to their enemies, it's easy to get confused. To remedy this, I wish there were overhead arrows pointing at each player. Anyway, another aspect that's well-done is 99Vidas' sense of humour. There were many times when I laughed out loud such as when I fought an 8-bit boss in a 16-bit game and spotted a pervert peeking out from an adult-oriented shop. It's funny stuff and doesn't take itself seriously.
As you progress in the campaign, you'll spend your points in a shop between stages. It's great to see points actually used for something besides just gauging how well you played. Anyway, you can buy upgraded moves as well as extra lives. The upgrades are permanent so switching up your characters and maxing them out can be a fun endeavor. However, I'm still very perplexed by the continue system. I played mostly with my wife and after one of us perished; I was confused as to why we couldn't continue. Then, after finishing the next stage solo, the other player was allowed to continue but with only one life. Later, we quit the game and upon booting it up again, she couldn't join me no matter what we tried. I don't get whether 99Vidas is a roguelike or this continue system is just broken.
Seeing as the gameplay is as basic as it is, it gets repetitive a lot sooner than you'd hope. Even with the extra moves and upgrades, combat doesn't involve much more that punching, kicking, and unleashing the odd powerful attack whenever your meter is filled enough. I wish there was more complexity in order to extend the gameplay's longevity. Speaking of which, the campaign isn't long at all and could be completed in little over an hour (depending on your skill level). Finally, the boss fights can be exceptionally frustrating. They all have a small window where you can attack successfully and it's not always intuitive. Some of them are but others can be downright irritating. Whenever you attack outside of this window, their retaliation can be devastating which can feel rather unfair.
99Vidas is a fairly solid throwback to classic beat 'em ups. The fact that it doesn't take itself seriously will leave a smile on your face while the annoying aspects may take away that joy in an instant.
- + Simple beat 'em up gameplay with up to four players either locally or online
- + Great humour and fun visuals
- + Satisfying permanent upgrades
- - Gameplay could use more complexity / bosses can be unintuitive and frustrating
- - The campaign is quite short
- - Needlessly convoluted continue system