You Have to Win the Game
My first PC didn’t have that newfangled VGA graphics card everyone was talking about – instead I had the four-colour glory of the CGA chip. Unfortunately, those four ‘colours’ were cyan, magenta, black and white. While I remember playing a lot of ugly games, You Have to Win the Game turns that memory on its head and avoids the eyesore by presenting a minimalistic yet expressive use of such a limited palette to excellent effect.
Win the Game really goes the extra mile in aping the look and feel of classic PC games. Not only are the graphics and level design perfectly reminiscent of an older time, but the game mimics the appearance of an old CRT-style monitor, complete with curved screen. The game comes with little to no explanation or exposition either, capturing that classic exploration and ‘figuring out what to do’ vibe. Perhaps most interestingly, the game is completely non-violent: reminiscent of ancient games like Manic Miner or Monty Mole, you need to avoid your enemies rather than explode them.
Fortunately, the controls are smooth and responsive, and the gameplay, while challenging, is not punishing by any means. The developer brings in some modern concepts to the mix, of course. First and foremost, death merely teleports you back to the last checkpoint (rather than beginning the game or level all over again) and you have unlimited lives with which to win the game. The game also incorporates a basic metroidvania-style skill progression system, where unlocking new skills gradually let you explore more of the game. However, sticking to its old school heart, the system is minimal, with the focus remaining tightly on the platforming action. A seemingly perfect New Retro Game? I wasn’t able to honour the title and win the game, but perhaps you might.
Also, out of nowhere, they released a sequel: http://www.superwinthegame.com/! We’ll be checking this one out at a later date.