Super Win the Game

Some background

I had ended up following mr Pittman's doings for a while, but because I still remembered very vividly how foul the CGA graphics looked like in its days, the Minor Key Games' retroplatformer You Have to Win the Game didn't appeal to me. My deep retro spirit didn't help, even though I read plenty of praise about the (free, iirc) game.

When I started seeing screenshots of Super Win the Game, I was getting interested. The NES-like approach appealed to me, even though I had never owned the classic device myself, I played its games at friends for hours on end. By the time I saw the trailer I was sold. The funny feature that caught plenty of attention, the NTSC effects, didn't do a thing for me, as I grew up in a PAL country.

The game

Without further ado: I bought SWtG from Steam the moment it was released and I was beyond happy. Audiovisually it's like from the golden age of NES and I guess you'd tag it as "metroidvania". The player runs around an overworld map and then platform-jumps around the levels themselves. Your character has no offensive or defensive skills or items, touching just about anything kills you straight away.

Next to the ice lake

Fortunately the controls were awesome. Whenever a jump went wrong, the problem clearly was between the keyboard and the chair, not in the contol(ler)s or input handling. Or that's how it always felt and that was a very important thing in keeping the inevitable white-hot frustration at bay, when you had to try the same set of jumps (especially that one deep spiky cave-drop in the Underworld) again and again and again...

More or less accidentally the defenseless character came across different useful items along the journey, which took the adventuring into new directions. This then lead to some backtracking and revisiting the levels, but it didn't bother me one bit. Finding totally new dimensions in familiar levels was pretty damn fun.

All these items gave pretty traditional bonuses to aid in the game. The first two unlocked the occasional red and blue blocks that were sprinkled around the levels. Spider gloves allowed wall-jumping and wonderboots gave the double-jump ability. In the very beginning of the game even water kills you, but that was fixed with a snorkel and some sort of armor-thingy protected against the other liquids. If my memory serves me, the mask in that latest pic revealed some invisible platforms. Classics, the whole lot of them.

Each of the levels that hid the items had an entrance to a dream world. The dreams aren't dangerous, the adventurer just has some weird dreams. Going through them wasn't necessary for the game itself.


So, the excuse for all this. The king's heart has been removed from his chest and the poor pump has been spread around the kingdom in six pieces. Along the way you got some vague hints regarding their whereabouts, but the good old-fashioned trial and error method was mandatory. Or I'm just bad.

The first...

... and the last heart piece

When you had stuffed all the missing pieces into your pockets, the locks into the Hollow King's place were unlocked and you had to go through the palace and its numerous traps. You had to slam the heart into his chest and shoo the evil wizard from the kingdom. For some reason the palace level was insanely much more difficult than the actual last level, but let's not spoil that any more than this at this point.

After I had just about completed the game I decided to return to the Underworld. There were a total of 128 diamonds hidden in the world of SWtG and I had found a respectable pile of them already. In the end I missed two, one of them I had seen but my nerves simply couldn't take wall-jumping up and down a wall with alternating timed spikes. The aforementioned Underworld had some locks that you had to open to get to all of the levels in there. I finished the last two of them with a granny-scaring amount of swearing, but I did complete them!

The last thrice-cursed lock

All in all I had spent something like nine and half hours, even though Steam's playtime counter was a couple of hours on the plus side, thanks to my idling. Not that it matters one bit, I think I paid about ten eur and I vastly enjoyed the time spent (excluding some annoying moments) 8)

630? Not bad. I guess.

My verdict

An awesome game, that's what this was. I heartily recommend this to anyone who has ever liked NES games, two thumbs up. Some people have been bitching about the music being repetitive, but to a chiptune freak like myself it's only another sign of authenticity and sank into my happy brains like a chainsaw into a space monster.

These folks at MKG have another project under way: Gunmetal Arcadia. I'm following that with great interest, as well.

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