Tag Archives: Double Dragon

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – 99Vidas

So, on the PlayStation 3, each game gets its own like…splash screen, music, or audio cue when you land on it in the menu selection column. This is both neat and sometimes annoying. Case in point: when you go to play 99Vidas, our topic du jour, you get this screamingly high-pitched voice saying what I think sounds like, “Oh my gawd!” Except it’s more like ohmygawd as in one word, and something about it drives me batty. Other games on my list that also play a really ear-bleeding audio bit include Quantum Conundrum, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, and Siren: Blood Curse. These are not deal-breakers, as they actually push me more to play these games, because the faster I play ’em, the quicker I can remove ’em from the list.

Anyways, 99Vidas, which I believe is Portuguese for “99 lives,” is a side-scrolling beat-em-up developed and published by QuByte Interactive. The game is clearly inspired by classics of the genre, such as Double Dragon, Final Fight, Golden Axe, and Streets of Rage, all of which I played back in the late 80s, full 90s, and somewhat recently. 99Vidas features six playable characters from the start–and more unlocked via multiple sessions–though I only played as King, who seems like the generic go-to dude for punching and kicking. There’s a single player story-driven campaign, as well as multiple cooperative and competitive game modes, for up to four players, which can be played either locally or online. I will admit here and now that I only stuck to the story mode for my brief time with 99Vidas.

Each character has unique attributes, like speed and strength, along with an elemental alignment (fire, water, wind, lightning, and so on), which affects their regular attacks, combos, and special moves. I believe King’s special moves are water-based because at some point I summoned a giant tidal wave to clear out multiple enemies. 99Vidas has a more modern take on the brawl-heavy genre, with characters gaining experience points by defeating enemies and collecting special items that can then be used to upgrade their abilities, combos, and unlock new moves. This makes all the repetitive punching and kicking less…repetitive, but you still end up doing a lot of the same combos because once you find one that works it continues to work as your character grows stronger.

Believe it or not, there is a story in 99Vidas, and it’s a bizarre one. Some might even call it bombastic. The game starts when an artifact known as the 99Vidas goes missing. Uh oh. Now, this artifact is believed to hold immense power possible of covering the Earth in darkness and chaos. Double uh oh. The Guardians of the 99Vidas, granted the Power of the Elements, are bound to live through the ages to protect this artifact, which means it is your responsibility to face these forces of evil, defeat the Evil Boss and his six henchmen, and retrieve the legendary 99Vidas. More or less, go beat up everyone in your path and retrieve the shiny trinket.

99Vidas seems like a perfectly fine and perfunctory beat-em-up. It has some modern elements to it to keep things fresh, but I found myself getting bored playing alone, doing all the punching, kicking, and combo-ing, and the boss fights can be a wee bit difficult if you are running this solo. I got a few levels deep into the whole affair, but it hasn’t really drawn me back in. Others might really dig it, but I for one am now happy to remove it from my PlayStation 3’s library.

Ohmygawd!

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

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Abobo’s Big Adventure is a risible romp through the NES era

AbobosBigAdventure001 gd impressions

I’m now at the point that I no longer remember where I download these strange little games. Could be a random website, some sort of bundle, or even just a blog post pointing me to something interesting. I just stumble across them in my “videogames” folder on my desktop days, weeks, and months later, with new names popping up left and right, often giving me pause. Maybe I accidentally fed one after midnight, and now they are spreading like wildfire, threatening to take over my time with so-called bigger games, despite many of these wee indie oddballs working a thousand times better than anything produced by an actual studio these days. Mm-hmm. Still annoyed about that.

Thankfully, Abobo’s Big Adventure helped put a smile on my face and keep me distracted while Dragon Age: Inquisition continued to fold in upon itself. And that’s surprising, because, while I appreciate the NES for what it was and still is today, I have little nostalgia for it. I never had one as a wee boy, though some neighbors did; videogaming didn’t truly happen for me until that Christmas morning when I unwrapped a Super Nintendo, which came pre-packed with a copy of Super Mario World. That said, Abobo’s Big Adventure is a loving tribute to the NES era, and I get a lot of the references and sprites and winking nods, but there’s also some more obscure elements zipping right on by. It’s an odd mix of old and new, but is thankfully a ton of fun to play, even rekindling my desire to trek through the original Legend of Zelda.

For those that don’t know–and I didn’t know upon starting up this free Flash game–Abobo comes from Double Dragon, appearing multiple times, often as a boss character. I played some Double Dragon in my early days, but this character never stood out to me; I guess the developers behind Abobo’s Big Adventure felt otherwise, thrusting him upon a quest to rescue his son, the hilariously named Aboboy. To do this, Abobo must travel through eight different levels, all themed to a classic NES title. I got as far as the one based around Mega Man, but more on that soon.

The controls are very simple, though they obviously change a bit from level to level. Basically, you move with the arrow keys and execute techniques with “A” and “S,” giving you the sensation of using an NES controller in terms of complexity. You can fill up a meter and tap both A and S together for a special move of sorts. Abobo’s actions change with each level, going from fighting goons in scummy alleyways to exploring a top-down dungeon to floating right to left thanks to some helium-pumped balloons. Abobo’s Big Adventure does a good job of mimicking how these old games looked and played, while also infusing them with modern mechanics and less-than-inspired teenage-level humor. Yup, looking at you, penis-shaped Zelda dungeon map. It’s probably silly to call this out in 2014, but the built-in Achievements system is quite flashy and reminded me of the days when Achievements were designed to be fun, rewarding, and experimental. After reading some descriptions, I went back and got a few out-of-the-way ones.

Much like their original counterparts, some parts of Abobo’s Big Adventure are tough, real challenges of skill. This mostly relates to the boss battles, such as the Old Man in the Zelda-themed one, but I found the entire Balloon Fight flight to be a tough grind, as well as the underwater level. The difficulty became too much once I hit the Mega Man level, which features everyone’s favorite off-screen laser beams to narrowly avoid. If you’ll recall, I’ve never been even mediocre at Mega Man games, and so, after multiple attempts of trying to take down the second form of the boss here, I’ve walked away. The keyboard’s not cutting it. And that’s okay. I got through most of Abobo’s Big Adventure, had a pretty good time, and saw plenty; I can’t imagine what comes later is too surprising, though I might find a Let’s Play to see what the last few levels act like.

While games like Shovel Knight and Axiom Verge are obviously deeply inspired by the classics from gaming’s so-called Golden Age, Abobo’s Big Adventure is them. Just slightly warped and more accessible. If you’re itching for something kind of like an NES game, but also not, I say give this a go. Watch out for that damaging TMNT seaweed in the underwater level though.

Games Completed in 2011, #7 – Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game

I grew up on a decent diet of beat-em-up titles, such as Streets of Rage 3, Double Dragon, and Battletoads in Battlemaniacs. This genre was perfect for me at the time, a boy not very interested in reading or learning about stats, as well as a kid often mooching off friends’ systems on the weekends, and brawlers like such were made for two players. Beat-em-ups are as simple as their namesake, and all I knew was that there were some bad guys that needed beating up and mashing the buttons often worked well. Good enough for me, and–many, many years later–good enough for Scott Pilgrim.

Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game is, besides a mouthful, a downloadable 2D side-scrolling brawler. It’s based way more on the book series that inspired the movie than the movie itself, which is a golden surprise to many, I’m sure. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series is brimming with videogame tropes and nods, even more that Edgar Wright could fit into the theatrical release, and a good number of these references make their way into the game. And what a game it is. First, we have sprites and animations done by the legendary Paul Robertson; second, we have a bouncy, chiptastic soundtrack from Anamanaguchi; and third, we have a strangely fun mix of River City Ransom and The Simpsons Arcade Game.

SPVTWTG is also extremely difficult. I think that should be evident from the fact that I downloaded this around the time the movie dropped (early Fall 2010), and only got around to finishing off Gideon last week…on the EASIEST difficulty. The game starts out really hard, gets easier once you’ve gotten some EXP and food to go, and then gets hard in a cruel way for the final boss battle. Some of the designs in here are pretty retro, like having to start an entire level over again if you lose all your lives. It’s not enjoyable, but it makes sense.

SPVTWTG, like many brawlers, features co-op play. This is good and bad, and I’m speaking from experience here, as playing with a second character does not necessarily make things easier. Why? Well, Scott can punch Kim or accidentally pick her up or have to constantly reanimate her fallen body. It can be a distraction, and yet it can also be a blessing, but the majority of time the two characters end up hurting each other more than helping. We can also blame the lackluster d-pad on the Xbox 360 controller, which doesn’t make manuevering like sailing on butter. Because of this, the final boss level became extra frustrating, and I eventually had to tackle it solo (sorry, Tara!) after I had leveled Scott up as far as he could go and discovered the secret code for the Sword of Love.

I still don’t understand or love the RPG elements here. Gut Points and Heart Points and shopping for EXP instead of getting it from kicking evil henchmen’s asses. It’s a little odd, and sadly encourages grinding for coins. Thankfully, the punching and kicking and throwing and hyper combos are a lot of fun, and the enemy designs extremely varied. I personally loved all the crazy robots in the Techno Base level, even if I was sick of fighting them at that point.

So, I’ve beaten this once, with Scott. Supposedly, if you complete the game with the remaining characters (Kim, Ramona, Steven) you’ll unlock Nega-Scott as a striker. Don’t know if that’s enough incentive for me to try again, especially considering how long it took me to do this one time. We’ll see…