Back in the 1990's, when it was Sega's heyday, side scrolling fighting games were in, and immensely popular. Streets of Rage being one of their flagship games that most older gamers will have played or owned. Simple and addictive gameplay won over graphics back then, and that was all you really needed. Now, Brazilian developer Qubyte Software have brought us 99 Vidas which follows the very same formula that was so popular all those years ago. Can it recapture the glory days of the genre, or does it miss its punch and fall flat in its face? The story behind 99 Vidas isn't a "rescue the girl" premise, and in that tropes place, you are a group of elemental powered heroes that have to fight the evil which has stolen a magical artefact. Each hero has their own element with which to fight with. Although your powers aren't fully powered just yet. Punching and kicking your way through a level will reward you with points allowing you to purchase upgrades for them, and making you even more badass, and let's not forget the combos which are vital to your progression the further you progress in the game.
There is more than just the standard characters to choose from, but to unlock these new characters, you will have to complete the game to access them. The good old way of gaming stays true here thankfully. It won't take long to reach the end, although boss fights could trouble you at first, with the attack patterns proving tricky until you realise when is the perfect time to strike. One on particular late on in the game was an absolute nightmare, but what's a game without a hefty challenge? Visually, 99 Vidas does more than just hold the old Sega games dear, it also looks like an old Sega game with sharper graphics and no glitch filled sections that these now retro classics sometimes had. Colourful and detailed, with varied locations and even some hidden levels which were a delight to experience. One of which was a hand drawn level on paper, and was well presented. The bonus here, is that it allowed me to earn more points for valuable upgrades at the shop which appears at the end of each level.
One thing I did notice with the enemies, is the football players seemed intent on making their presence known. A strange inclusion, and not sure how it fits the theme of a fighting game, but they're there to be disposed of, so go punch them and mind out their slide tackles. The variety of enemies sees tougher versions enter the fray the further you get with different colour schemes available for them. Some are particularly tricky to get past, but far from impossible to beat. Gameplay is as you'd expect, with the jump, punch and kick buttons being used to form a combo. But as mentioned before with the elemental powers, you have an elemental attack unique to the starting characters which once you've powered up the relevant bar, enables you to unleash a powerful attack to clear the screen of the bad guys.
99 Vidas isn't the biggest game in the world, and completing a single run will be a short affair, although up to 4 players can join in the fun and aid you in your quest bringing a new dimension of fun. But with the chance to unlock new fighters, this gives a new challenge to the player should playing through with all new characters appeal to you. Especially with achievements involved that require multiple playthroughs. I found 99 Vidas a fun game for a quick blast, and that's exactly what it is. Playing through multiple times in one gaming session probably won't appeal to many except the hardcore fans of the genre, or those who want to experience the 90's once more. An accessible game for any age, and an enjoyable one at that. Overall, 99 Vidas ticks the right boxes and provides fluid gameplay mechanics for combat, while following a tried and tested formula that Sega games that influenced it many years ago. It's currently not available in the U.K., and if you wish to purchase it, a region swap on your console is the only way to buy it. Overall 8/10 Developer: QUbyte Interactive Publisher: QUbyte Interactive Release Date: 3rd November 2017 Price: $9.99 - No UK release File Size: 1.43GB Also available on PlayStation 4 & Steam