Game: 99 Fails Lite
Genre: Action, Platformer
System: Steam (Windows & Linux) (also on iOS)
Developer|Publisher: Frying Jelly
Controller Support: Yes
Price: UK £1.99 | US $2.99 | EU € 2,99
Release Date: June 15th, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to Big Games Machine.
No One Can Master It
99 Fails Lite is a challenging platformer that acts as a warm-up for the main title Neebota: 99 Fails which is set to release in Autumn 2022. This is a quick pick-up and play, snappy game. Right out of the gate the developers advise that anyone can play, but no one can master it. With a cheap entry price, you can’t go wrong giving this title a go. But its design is certainly an acquired taste that won’t work for everyone.
When you launch the game you are placed straight into the gameplay with no introduction or story. From the description on Steam, you learn you are entering Zeebo’s dreamworld and that’s about it. You are greeted with quite the surreal hand-drawn art style, where you play a purple-looking monster who has to navigate across some totem poles, while creepy spirits are trying to grab you from the pits below. The goal is simply to navigate across the totem poles without plunging to your doom.
Controls are dead simple: press and hold a button on the controller or a mouse click and you will charge your teleport move and then release to see if you make it. When you make your first move an arrow handily guides you to where you will end up, but after that, there is no help or assistance. You are on your own. Failure will come thick and fast as you misjudge your timing. Each time you fail it’s back to the start to begin the experience all over again, a message also appears from the game’s narrator just mocking your performance. In case that wasn’t hard enough the game will regularly and randomly distract you with its surreal hand-drawn art. Sometimes monsters will pop into existence to laugh at you or the screen shifts perspective as well as many more weird surprises.
Free on iOS
The immediate vibe I got from this game was ‘Flappy Bird’. If you remember your mobile gaming you may remember this also being a popular pick-up and play but a difficult experience that exploded in popularity. 99 Fails Lite is even available for free on iOS if you want to opt for the portable experience. The PC version adds the ability to invite three additional friends to join in the fun or, more likely, hell in this case. My wife took one look at the game and said No. So I called upon the assistance of my American pal to jump into the fray. When you play multiplayer you are able to observe the ghost of your friend on the screen which may just add to your stress for everyone involved but potentially create some memorable gaming memories.
The standard default difficulty is hard but, if somehow that is not enough challenge for you, the game includes 8 additional difficulty levels. I only briefly dabbled in these but they appear to add moving platforms and further distractions adding more spice to the mix. The game does offer some powerups, such as giving you a temporary guided arrow by collecting an absurd number of collectables, but I didn’t have the patience to obtain enough of these to try it. Most of my runs were no longer than five minutes… tops… in very short bursts. It’s not really a game I want to boot my PC up specifically to play. But on mobile, if you have nothing else to do while waiting at the doctor’s surgery, it might be more suited. Your blood pressure will possibly read high though.
99 Fails Lite is not a game for me. Much like surreal art you see at a modern art museum I was left looking at this and not really getting it. I also found the games’ audio kinda headache-inducing with its score and nasty noises. But as is the case with modern art I do see an audience for this game. There are certainly plenty of gamers that are up for an absurd challenge and will welcome what is on offer here. I would even go as far to say you don’t have to be an experienced gamer for this game to click. With a simple control scheme, even casual gamers can pick this up and may even perform better than the big-headed experienced gamer.
This game will mostly appeal to streamers and their viewers. We live in interesting times with video games where people prefer to watch people play games than play them themselves. I can totally see this being something people will want to observe their favourite streamer playing and watching them get angry and frustrated.
Conclusion – Achieves Its Goals
At the end of the day, I may dislike 99 Fails Lite and could think of 99 things I would rather be doing than playing it. I can’t help but still give it a recommendation. The game clearly achieves what it sets out to do. It’s simple yet devilishly tough with a surreal but certainly memorable art style. If you can drag friends into the mix I can see you creating some interesting gaming memories that may strengthen your friendship but also equally break those bonds. For some, this will click and will act as a great prologue before the main event in Autumn 2022. Try it if you dare.
Final Verdict: I Like it