Super Win the Game Title Screen (Featured Image)

Super Win the Game Preview: A Genuine 8-Bit Throwback

Platform: Windows PC
Developer: Minor Key Games
Publisher: Minor Key Games
Release Date: October 2014


“Oh jeez,” I pretend to hear you say so that I can prove the following point. “Another 2D indie platformer with an 8-bit art style… Do we really need another one of these?” Wait. Before I pretend that you made any more snap judgements, download and play You Have to Win the Game from Steam. It’s free and it’ll only take about two to three hours to get through. Once you’re done playing it, come back and we’ll talk about why we do need another 2D indie platformer with an 8-bit art style.

Since you played You Have to Win the Game after reading the last paragraph but before reading this one, I don’t have to tell you how awesome it is. But I will anyway. You Have to Win the Game is a throwback to 80s PC platformers. It has a simple purple/blue color palette, super precise controls, and a sprawling, brilliantly laid out, dungeon that encourages memorization as you traverse its rooms again and again searching for its secrets. In short, it’s a perfect bite-sized platformer snack. Now it’s getting a sequel with Super Win the Game which shifts its inspiration from 80s PC platformers to the glory days of the NES.

Super Win the Game Map View

If you’re a recovering victim of Zelda II this screen probably scares you.

Super Win the Game is basically structured like Zelda II: The Adventure of Link where you navigate an open world map and enter 2D sidescrolling levels by moving towards towns, caves, bridges, and dungeons. The individual levels resemble the original Win the Game in that they’re often sprawling labyrinths with multiple paths to be explored.

The focus of Super Win the Game is steadfastly on the platforming. The original game has incredibly tight controls and superb level design and Super looks to be following in its footsteps. As you navigate levels you acquire items that give you more abilities and unlock different parts of the world. Levels have to be explored to find all possible routes, and then sometimes abandoned until you find the right item. The structure feels very much like a Metroidvania but the discovery and problem solving often feel very rewarding.

Super Win the Game doesn’t just mimic the look and sound of 8-bit games, it unabashedly and unironically is one. In the preview build I played there were no sarcastic nods about how silly games were back in the 80s or how the mechanics (like climbing a single wall using wall jumps) don’t make any real world sense. Super Win the Game is a straight 8-bit game and that’s refreshing in a time when everything seems to come with some level of snark.

Super Win the Game Smashing Blocks

That’s not to say the game doesn’t try to transcend its inspiration. The preview build I saw hinted at a fiction behind the world as well as a story that (like the original Win the Game) knocks on the fourth wall. And even though it isn’t ironic with its inspiration, it still has a sense of humor. One room features a sign on the wall that when read says, “Don’t read this sign,” and a character warns you of talking to a myserious figure because he’ll talk your ear off.

Super Win the Game looks like its going to be more of the same fun You Have to Win the Game offered. It has the same tight controls and intricate level design as its predecessor while looking to add more items, catchy chiptune music, and a bigger world. From the preview build I played, Super Win the Game is shaping up to be an honest-to-goodness throwback to the heyday of 2D platformers.