99Vidas review for PS4, PS Vita

Platform: PS4
Also On: PS Vita, PS3, PC
Publisher: QUByte Interactive
Developer: QUByte Interactive
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

I’m trying really, really hard to have an opinion on 99Vidas, and failing miserably at it.

It’s one of those games that, for better and for worse, is just kind of there. It’s not particularly impressive, but at the same time it’s definitely not bad by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just…competent. Nothing more, nothing less.

That said, there are a couple of reasons why, despite its mediocrity, it still sort of stands out. First off, it’s a side-scrolling beat-em-up, and you don’t see many of those on consoles at the moment. I don’t think it does anything noteworthy in this regard, mind you. If you ever played Streets of Rage or Double Dragon or any other games of that ilk from decades ago, you’ll know what to expect here. The controls are pretty much the same, the story is the same, even the graphics are basically the same (in the sense that they look like they could be recreated on a SNES). But, as I said, the genre hasn’t been in fashion for years, so 99Vidas stands out for being the last of a breed that, if not dying, has definitely seen more fruitful days.

The other way in which 99Vidas stands out is its aesthetic and artistic sensibility. The game was designed by a team from Brazil, and they infused the game with bits and pieces of their culture. Rather than being “Bad City, USA” populated by generic street toughs, the buildings here are a little more colourful, your exclamations are in Portuguese (example: when you punch a barrel that pays out food, your character shouts out “Comida!”), and the bad guys are occasionally dressed in Brazilian team jerseys.

Of course, other bad guys are dressed in frog costumes and as Chun Li, so you probably don’t want to read too much into the game’s representation of Brazilian culture.

In fact, you probably don’t want to read too much into 99Vidas in general. It’s a retro beat-em-up — nothing more, nothing less. If you’re not into those, this won’t be of interest to you, but if that’s something that’s been missing from your life all these years, then by all means check it out.

Grade: C+