You Have to Win the Game is a free exploration platformer with a retro 1980s PC aesthetic.
User reviews: Very Positive (2,672 reviews)
Release Date: May 6, 2012

Sign in to add this game to your wishlist or mark as not interested

Play You Have to Win the Game

Free to Play

Recommended By Curators

"When not working on AAA titles at Gearbox Studios, J. Kyle Pittman apparently has the time to make gems such as You Have to Win the Game."
Read the full review here.

Recent updates View all (3)

October 1

Super Win the Game is now available!

Super Win the Game is now available at a 10% launch discount on Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux!

0 comments Read more

August 1

Super Win the Game release date announced!

Hi y'all! Exciting news today! Super Win the Game will be coming out October 1, and we have a new trailer to celebrate! Check it out on the Steam store or at!

23 comments Read more

About This Game

Originally released in May 2012, You Have to Win the Game has now arrived on Steam with a more difficult remixed campaign and Playable Cat DLC*!!

You Have to Win the Game is a free exploration platformer with a retro 1980s PC aesthetic.

Run, jump, and avoid deadly pitfalls as you explore the ruins of a lost world in search of hidden treasures and rare artifacts!

Experience the thrill of four-color CGA graphics and monotonic PC speaker sounds! Or take a peek at the future of home entertainment with the SIXTEEN-COLOR EGA GRAPHICS option!

Want a tougher challenge? Try YOLO mode! You only live once -- one wrong move and it's back to the start of the game!

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP SP2
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Hard Drive: 20 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: 32-bit executable
    • OS: OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
    • Hard Drive: 20 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: 64-bit executable
    • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS or similar
    • Hard Drive: 20 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: 64-bit executable
Helpful customer reviews
469 of 517 people (91%) found this review helpful
4.8 hrs on record
Exactly what it says on the tin, it's a free tricky retro platformer. Will not disappoint.

Oh and you can play as a cat.
Posted: May 6
Was this review helpful? Yes No
355 of 439 people (81%) found this review helpful
9.3 hrs on record
The game is so good even steam published it 2 times.
Posted: May 6
Was this review helpful? Yes No
199 of 237 people (84%) found this review helpful
1.4 hrs on record
You Have to Win this Game is a quality 2D platformer at an unbeatable price. Free.

Here's a Quick Look video I did of the game after “winning” it. Have a look if you want to see the game in action, or just read the in-depth review below for something more concise. (Please note I did this video before it was released on Steam, which simply means it only shows the original game and not the much-harder, remixed version you can select at the beginning)

To begin, I'll say this game is a classic platformer in every sense. You jump from platform to platform all the while dodging spikes, energy balls, angry crabs, and anything else the game throws at you. Yet while you may not be able to kill anything, you are able to acquire power-ups like activating ghost blocks, double jumping, and jumping off walls to navigate the map easier. There are even checkpoints littered everywhere so when you do die, you can instantly respawn and try again as many times as you wish.

But don't be fooled. Although you may not have any lives (except if you're doing YOLO or the cat, you crazy person), the game is challenging, especially when you're gunning for optional moneybags to collect. You'll probably die multiple times before nailing the pattern down to pass to the next screen. But thankfully it never feels frustrating due to the instant respawn that's always nearby. It's the game's forgiving nature that allows you to constantly want to beat what's stopping you. And I can safely say that every time I did fail, I just dismissed it as my own fault and kept at it until I beat the obstacle. Which is truly the mark of a good platformer.

The game also has a nice, retro visual style. I enjoy how the game acts as if you're playing a classic game on an old TV. It really put me back in the mood when I was just a kid playing my NES. Now while I realize that some people may not have experienced or liked something like this, I really do think it adds to the game because it successfully mimics the era where games used to be like this. It simply gave me nostalgia all over. But hey, for those that don't want it, you can easily turn it off in the options menu.

Now let's talk about a few of the game's flaws:
*There's no music. Some awesome chiptunes really would've made this game shine. Instead all you get is silence
*It's really short. It'll only take about an hour to “beat,” more if you collect everything and explore
*No story. You just thrown into it not knowing what the heck you are or what you're doing. Personally, I don't really mind it not having one since games like Mario never really had much of story either, but some people like to have some purpose other than beating the game. And no, the clever title doesn't count as a reason =p

That's really all of the negatives I could think of. The game simply does its job well, especially so because of how it leads you where you need to be without holding your hand. There's no maps, quest markers, or waypoints telling you where to go, just like most classic games. But somehow I always wound up where I needed to be even when exploring just for the fun of it. Sure, the game liked leading you to places you couldn't do anything in until you got a power-up, or even trolling you by making you do platforming again for trying to take an easy route, but I always regarded it as a discovery that brought me one step closer to the end.

So to sum this game up, it's simply a joy to play. You don't get many free games as good as this one. So if you have some time to burn or are bored, pick this up and have a blast. There's even a NG+ for those like me who missed stuff on their first playthrough.
Posted: May 6
Was this review helpful? Yes No
145 of 165 people (88%) found this review helpful
2.7 hrs on record

Great graphics with old monitor.
Awesome level design.
Smooth controls including double jump.
Lots of CATS and other stuff.
yea CATS!!!

Trying to finish %100 is pain in the ♥♥♥.
Posted: May 6
Was this review helpful? Yes No
96 of 107 people (90%) found this review helpful
2.8 hrs on record
You have to win the game, is a game that grinds at your obsessive compulsive behavior. You always feel a need to explore more, get that next thing.

Reminded me of playing the original Metroid, sparking that sense of wonder I had as a child to keep wondering "What's on the next panel?"

Also the game is hard, really hard at times, but it's like Ninja Gaiden-unlimited continues. So you gotta press on, your brain tells you this constanly.

Either way its free to play, it's hard but fair. It all depends on your skill/OCD/Masochistic nature.
If you like 8 bit, you'll like this.
Posted: May 6
Was this review helpful? Yes No