Version Reviewed: 1.1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
99 Challenges isn’t mediocre because it’s insanely difficult. As “blisteringly hard” has become a new platforming subgenre, plenty of great examples like Super Meat Boy and The Impossible Game have emerged. However, while 99 Challenges is tough, it’s just not interesting.
As the title suggests, players are tasked with completing 99 short platforming stages one after the other. Players travel down a vertical dungeon with a new challenge awaiting them on each floor. Graciously, after a challenge is completed, players won’t have to do it again once they inevitably die on the next floor. And they can also retry as often as they’d like, the game even tracks how many lives have been wasted in total and on the current floor.
The challenges themselves are pretty typical endless running/platforming fare. Hop over blocks, avoid spikes, time jumps to reach the gaps between flying enemies and ground enemies, and so forth. And since each level is so short, there’s only really room for one problem to overcome. However, the game demands incredibly precise timing. Players have to jump right on cue and immediately let up or they’ll risk activating an unwanted double jump. Success is immensely satisfying, especially on the more creative stages where players run on the ceiling, but it can’t quite make up for the constant frustration. The inherent fuzziness of touch controls just isn’t good for games as supposedly skill-based as this. Plus, the short stages and constant repetition create an anxious, staccato rhythm that’s more off-putting than addictive. Throw in some ads that appear during the numerous deaths and players will be more than ready to put the game down.
If there’s one thing that might draw players back in though, it’s the intense yet friendly art style. Players control a little circular ninja running his way through neon geometric environments and it’s all very fast and colorful. Meanwhile, the surprisingly mid-tempo arcade music does what it can to relieve the immense stress caused by the gameplay.
Still, 99 Challenges is proof that even so-called “masocore” games can be pedestrian, too. There are better ways to virtually torture yourself.