New Retro Vault: Super Win the Game
Super Win the Game is the followup to sleeper hit You Have to Win the Game, upgrading its visuals from the CGA to the NES era, and gameplay from the silent movie era to something resembling the Zelda II era. It’s a solid step up in many ways, but also a sideways one – it’s bigger and better than the original but was nowhere near as popular. Here’s Wot I.. er, I mean, read on to find out more.
You Have to Win the Game was a bit of an indie hit, coming out of nowhere with its unassuming CGA graphics and silent, retro exploration platforming, it garnered a bit of a buzz in the indie world. So, not surprisingly, developer Minor Key Games was motivated to put together a commercial sequel that was bigger and better in every way.
Super Win the Game is certainly bigger, with multiple platforming dungeons linked by a sprawling, traversable world map very similar in feel to Zelda II. Gameplay is fleshed out too; there’s NPCs to interact with, abilities to acquire, and secrets to find. The trademark curved CRT monitor effect also makes a return, now customisable with various settings.
In Super Win the Game, much like in most video game worlds, the land is in turmoil. Also, much like video game worlds, everyone is pretty much content to sit and leave it up to some random kid, with no qualms about having him go off into dungeons alone to possibly die a horrible death. Luckily, despite the foreboding setting, the world of Super Win the Game is not a young adult novel – instead, it’s chirpy and bright. There’s a lack of direct combat, focusing on the platforming, which means that even though you can “die”, the fact that you’ll never have to “fight” something means there isn’t quite the same feeling of pressure as in the typical dungeon crawler. The world is relatively open and packed with secrets, seemingly in every corner, too. All these things lend a much more pleasant vibe to the proceedings, like a bizarro version of Zelda II or Simon’s Quest that was all about finding items and secrets and not hours of grinding against annoying shielded skeleton warriors.
It should all be a recipe for retro perfection, but somehow… falls slightly short of being so. What’s puzzling here is the fact that it’s hard to say why, though. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed Super Win the Game – it’s a rock-solid platformer – but here is perhaps a case of “less is more”. By upgrading to bigger and better, Super Win the Game loses some of the charm of the original – that was a short experience, a quick trip down memory lane that leaves that soft, fuzzy feeling in your heart for a day. But, perhaps that was enough – Super Win the Game is a competent sequel, but one that wasn’t “needed.”
Having said that, is it worth playing? Decidedly so. It’s been quite a while since You Have to Win the Game was released, and furthermore, even a few years after this sequel came out, for that matter. Like an old teddy that fell off the back of a truck, its first time around Super Win the Game didn’t receive quite the love it deserved but is ready to be hugged and find a new home today.