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Review: Yeah Yeah Beebiss II

In this age of sprawling role playing games and mechanic-heavy shooters, it's sometimes easy to be a little overwhelmed not only by the sheer choice of games that we have at our fingertips; but just how confusing they can be to play. 

Now, I'm aware I type this as somebody who has recently entered the fourth decade of his life, but hear me out. Sometimes I want to just kick back, crack open a cold one and play a game that requires very little in the way of cognitive gymnastics. Sometimes I'm not in the mood to try to re-learn complex control schemes, or how to decipher an ever-filling map screen that needs its own Rosetta Stone to decipher. I just want something simple. And engaging. And addictive. That also sounds good and leaves me with a smile on my face. It's not a lot to ask for, is it?
Luckily, Yeah Yeah Beebiss II has arrived on the Dreamcast and it checks all of the aforementioned hypothetical boxes. If you think the name of this charming little indie offering sounds familiar, it's because it is a pseudo sequel to a NES game that never actually existed - Yeah Yeah Beebiss I. That game is a mystery in and of itself, and if you do a cursory search on YouTube you'll find a whole host of excellently produced videos explaining the whole rabbit hole - was Yeah Yeah Beebiss a copyright trap? A poor mistranslation? Did it ever really exist as a playable title? The answers to all those questions (and more) are but a Google or YouTube search away, dear friend. 



Created by indie developer and YouTuber John Riggs (with a little help from Mega Cat Studios and Bit Ink Studios), and published by WAVE Game Studios, Yeah Yeah Beebiss II is a Dreamcast port of a NES title that tasks the player with ridding the numerous single-screen stages of 'evils' before the timer runs out. You get to play as either of the game's protagonists - named Haoran and Li Jing on the game's title screen, but as Kyonshi Hui and Jiangshi Bo elsewhere in the packaging - who appear to be based on the Jiangshi (hopping vampires) of Chinese folklore. Quite why these two are out of their coffins, hopping about and zapping said evils is not really divulged, but we all need a hobby. 

Joking aside, these character designs are a nice/incredibly esoteric little nod to Rai Rai Kyonshis: Baby Kyonshi no Amida Daibouken, the game which is theorised to actually be the enigmatic Yeah Yeah Beebis I (many thanks to my learned colleague Lewis for that nugget of info).
Gameplay is refreshingly uncomplicated here. Essentially you are presented with a single play screen, the construction of which gets more architecturally complex as you progress through the 10 stages. Playing as either Haoran/Kyonshi or Li Jing/Bo (or both, if you play with a friend) you are then tasked with hopping around the place avoiding hazards (such as fire (I think it's fire...it doesn't animate)) and zapping the floating nasties that appear. 

Each level has a set number of enemies that must be dispatched before the timer runs out, and they can appear pretty much anywhere in the level so things do get a bit frantic as time limits become more stringent and levels start to incorporate more platforms and ladders and such. What can be annoying with this model is that due to the random nature of enemy appearance, sometimes they will appear right where you are stood and deal unavoidable damage...but swings and roundabouts. Some enemies will simply float about minding their own business, waiting to be bitch-slapped out of existence; while others are a bit more malevolent and will deal out ranged attacks of their own. Most of them only take a few hits though, so they never really offer much in the way of resistance.
Offing these baddies (again, I have to emphasise that they are brilliantly referred to by the game as 'evils') will sometimes result in bonus items being dropped; an extra life here or a bit of extra time there. There's also an item in the form of a clock that stops time and makes all the enemies freeze in place, but also stops new enemies from appearing while in effect so if you are short on time it's not a good idea to collect it - you can have that tip for free.

Being a game for the NES at heart (indeed, this Dreamcast iteration is powered by NesterDC), Yeah Yeah Beebiss II does not in any way test the Dreamcast's hardware, but conversely that's totally not the point. Like many other retro-themed titles released on Dreamcast (see Flea!, Hermes, Ghoul Grind et al) it is a game that plays to a certain audience and to a certain era in gaming, and it does it remarkably well. 

The music which plays throughout is a mix of classical overtures recreated with aplomb by chiptune composer ChipsNCellos and it never gets annoying - if anything it is actually quite impressive to hear these renditions of stuff like In the Hall of the Mountain King being played by a Dreamcast doing an impression of a Nintendo Entertainment System. The nods to the NES roots of Yeah Yeah Beebiss II are also depicted by the NES cartridge motif that displays on the VMU screen while you play.
There's not a great deal of depth to Yeah Yeah Beebiss II, but that really is part of the appeal - for me at least. It looks like a game directly out of the late 1980s or Early 1990s, with the limited colour palette and basic enemy designs, but at the end of the day it is aiming for that aesthetic and Yeah Yeah Beebiss II nails it. Authentic 8-bit visuals, a catchy soundtrack and simple and addictive gameplay. That's Yeah Yeah Beebiss II in a nutshell.

As a bit of trivia, when Yeah Yeah Beebiss II was first announced by John Riggs on his website, the clamour for a new Dreamcast indie title was so great that it sold out in little more than a few hours. WAVE Game Studios then stepped in to help publish and distribute the game and it can - at the time of writing - now be purchased for the princely sum of just £10.
To wrap this back around, then - if you yearn for a simplistic and rather endearing retro experience on your Dreamcast, you could do much, much worse than picking up a copy of Yeah Yeah Beebiss II. The only real negative (if you can even call it that) is that as this game comes on a nice printed disc in a lovely jewel case with some excellent artwork provided by Yoshi Vu, if your Dreamcast happens to have had its GD-ROM drive extracted in favour of some other method of operation, then you're out of luck. Well, unless you grab a NES emulator for your Dreamcast and run the NES rom file which is supplied on the disc...ways and means people, ways and means. Adapt and overcome and all that jazz.

Anyway, you can grab a copy of Yeah Yeah Beebiss II from WAVE Game Studios here, and check out John Riggs on YouTube here.

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