You Have to Win the Game is a free exploration platformer with a retro 1980s PC aesthetic.
User reviews: Very Positive (3,038 reviews)
Release Date: May 6, 2012

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"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."
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November 26, 2014

Super Win the Game 33% off!

Thanks for playing You Have to Win the Game! If you haven't checked out its sequel Super Win the Game yet, now is a great time to do so! It's 33% for the next few days as part of the Steam Exploration Sale!

http://store.steampowered.com/app/310700

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October 1, 2014

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!

http://store.steampowered.com/app/310700/

2 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

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP SP2
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Hard Drive: 20 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: 32-bit executable
    Minimum:
    • OS: OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
    • Hard Drive: 20 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: 64-bit executable
    Minimum:
    • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS or similar
    • Hard Drive: 20 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: 64-bit executable
Helpful customer reviews
63 of 70 people (90%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
0.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 12, 2014
I can't believe this game is free because it is really really good!
Without giving too much away the goal is to-- well the title says it all.

A simple puzzle platformer where your wits and curiousity is rewarded, or not.
Expect to die a lot. This is not "I want to be the guy" levels of cheap death nor does it feature that many cheap deaths.
It does contain leaps of faith often though and spikes. Lots of spikes.

xbox controller compatibile, small (111mb), and it's free.

I strongly recommend this game and you have absolutely nothing to lose by trying it out.
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32 of 36 people (89%) found this review helpful
4.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 26, 2014
I didn't expect the game to be that good, being free, but it's a good short platformer that provided me with a few hours of fun.

It is very nicely done: the controls are responsive (I used a 360 controller), the graphics are pretty nice (simulating an old 80s monitor) and the game is challenging (hard at times) but nothing that will prevent you from progressing.

It's pretty straightforward what to expect from it, try it if it catches your attention, you might like it.
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23 of 26 people (88%) found this review helpful
3.8 hrs on record
Posted: September 3, 2014
This is a nice, completely free-to-play 2D retro style single player platformer along the lines of VVVVVV with a lot of exploration and traversal. One might call it MetroidVania style since its a big open world that has you moving from screen to screen. Each 'room' is only a screen like the original Zelda. Since you are exploring, there is no map. The controls are simple, left and right to move and a jump button. On certain platforms you can hit down on them to fall through the platform like many old school 2D platformers.

Where's the challenge? When you get hit by an enemy or spike you die instantly. Luckily there are checkpoint bells everywhere on almost every screen. When you die, you instantly respawn with no load times. It really keeps you in the action. It is very similar to VVVVVV but much easier and relaxing. If you get frustrated easily, this might not be the game for you, but since you respawn, there's no real punishment for failing.

The game takes an hour or so to complete. For the most part the game is easy fun. It starts out calming and relaxing as you explore, but eventually has tricky platforming areas and intense bullet dodging boss battles. Along the way you'll find loot bags. What do they do? Nothing but an achievement at the end if you collect 100% of them.

Progressing through the game, you will enable different things such as solid blue blocks, solid purple blocks, double jump and so on. To enable each thing, you must get past the boss. I say get past, because you are just a boy in this game with no combat. You will dodge enemies and in the case of a boss, dodge dozens of bullets on screen at once. The bosses fire in patterns, so you will get the hang of it. There is not that much enemy variety, bats, snakes and crabs move left and right, spiders move up and down. The game's main enemy is spikes.

Since this is a retro style game, by default the game has a 1980s monitor feel. Thankfully you can turn off the 1980s monitor and see everything full screen with no added glare. For anyone that finds the game too easy, there is a remixed level design which is much more difficult yet still forgiving with checkpoints everywhere. If you are brave enough there is cat mode that features 9 lives and YOLO that has one life and then its game over.

This is an easy recommendation, but if it was $1 or more challenging I'd be hesitant to recommend, but this feels like a good game for the developer to make a better game with. Solid controls, the understanding of an easy beginning headed toward difficult end.
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25 of 31 people (81%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
0.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 17, 2014
-Oldschool graphics
-Fun to play untill you get stuck at some point imo
-Hardcore mode
-9 lives mode
-Generally a fun game , yet most people wil ragequit at some points of the game :D
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16 of 18 people (89%) found this review helpful
11.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 8, 2014
Very retro is true! I felt nostalgic playing this and did make me think of old arcade games. Idea and look was great but I need to admit that for me some levels were too hard to pass. I watched in Youtube how people did speedrun of whole game but for me that seems impossible and I do not have to win this game. Fun to try but after constant death the fun was over.
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22 of 31 people (71%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
4.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 2, 2014
You know what, you have to play the game
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13 of 15 people (87%) found this review helpful
1.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 1, 2014
Hell yeah this game owns. It reminds me of VVVVVV a ton, in that most rooms contain a puzzle to solve and there's collectable crap scattered all over. It's short and doesn't overstay it's welcome, but it does have a ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ ending where you can pick the wrong choice and basically undo all the little story bits you come across.
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13 of 16 people (81%) found this review helpful
22.3 hrs on record
Posted: September 29, 2014
Obviously inspired by VVVVVV. It has the same kind of world, made from a grid of named rooms. The same balance of brutally difficult jumps and frequent save points. None of VVVVVV's gravity gimmicks though. YHTWTG has traditional platforming, and more emphasis on exploration.

The aesthetic is a big part of it, especially in 4-color CGA mode. It's not just "pixels because low budget" or "pixels cause that's what I can do". The different rooms and areas feel unique, and are detailed, even in only 4 colors. It's done very well.
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8 of 8 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 23
A free game that is a loving tribute to the platformers and "open world" of the ZX Spectrum/Commodore 64/NEC computer days, where the world was divided between different screens that formed the whole of a world much like VVVVVV was, rather than the scrolling with the character that came with Pitfall and Super Mario Bros. Make no mistake while this is a tribute and love letter to many a classic game in level lay out, early 80s tube computer box outline, and art style for it's game world, it is very much a game for modern design and ease of getting into.

A game where you have plenty of opportunities to learn exactly what to do due to natural and clear explanation of what to do in what is shown and required (touch an enemy and die, longer pit requires to hold the jump longer, etc), and true to it's roots it never gets too confusing in what to do or where to go unless you yourself have lost your way. It rewards mastering the jumps and wall jumps (a power up), it gives the chance for pixel perfect jumping when desired in it's normal mode, nothing is impossible to reach once you know how and can (power ups, 2 of them), and there is never a situation where one can get stuck.
As it is old school it can prove challenging to those who require a clear cut map, as none is provided and instead has one memorising the world and it's lay out until you have a good idea where to go next. As death is never a issue in it's normal mode, with Super Meat Boy like instant-respawn and an infinite number, however one is never punished for exploring and through time you learn the routes to take until they become second nature. Take as many tries as needed, never respawn too far from doing it again or leaving to try something else, it's open to you with the normal mode. As it is screen to screen, a static image as only you and enemies and some objects move in it, you learn what each one looks like with a way to remember them by a quote at the bottom to make each one stand out beyond just it's unique lay out.

Never more than a game about collecting all the money bags in the world and platforming save for one end game puzzle, which you are told how to solve by clues written on the wall, your only worry is your own skill at platforming. You jump, you wall jump eventually, you slide down, you move. The enemies are things that move from left to right or shoot small bullets in a set pattern, nothing to worry about because they never do anything different and thus you can take your time until you master them. Then, quickly speed past them and that may just be the best tactic to get through a specific screen.

As a platformer fan, as someone who loves to explore a game world, and one who enjoys creative designs with limitations on what is actually shown at any given time, I find this to just to be a spectacular and amazing game that does so many things right and is a pure example of a platformer. A game where my first play through was filled with numerous deaths, gave me the greatest sense of satisfaction in earning an achievement (Steam) when I beat the game by never dying, proving that I had mastered the game and knew exactly what to do.

Yet it doesn't even end there. For it offers a Master Quest style challenge, named Extra Spicy Mode, which completely changes up the lay out of every screen, the order in which you travel the world, the challenge offered, and you collect power ups in reverse making it that much more of a different experience. A wonderful thing to go through after I had just "mastered the game and knew exactly what to do". One section required me to do a pixel perfect landing on what normally is death for example, another learning not to jump to keep yourself alive as normal on a vertical positioned platform, and it made me work through it and improve my skill that much more without ever being unfair.

There are issues that can prevent many people from finishing it because it is challenging, those who quit games easily/rage quit may find little to love here as it's all on the player, at times easy for some to lose track of where they are or going due to no map, it won't be for all fans of platformers who want the Super Mario Bros influenced style of always moving right and holding down speed and jumping only, and there is no action/attacking some crave. Yet it is still one of the best examples of this type of platforming, a loving homage to a style very rarely seen today, and of course it's free so there is no loss in trying.

Also you can play as a cat.
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9 of 10 people (90%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 10
Holy F### this game is hard!

"You Have to Win the Game"? I think not, lol.

Seriously, it is actually a well crafted game, and for people who are good at games like Electronic Super Joy, Love, and so on, this game will provide a fun challenge. If you are like me though, the 100th death or so is the point where I had to decide just how much I valued my gamepad. Turns out, I value my gamepad a whole lot more than I value this game, so rather than smash the controller, I deleted this game.

That said, the quality of this game cant be denied, and it happens to be free as well, so there is no reason not to play it and decide for yourself. It is designed to make you angry but also get a sense of achievement when you finally do get your timing down and do something. you also get a very real sense of frustration when you fail to do so and end up having to try the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................♥♥♥♥!
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9 of 10 people (90%) found this review helpful
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 26, 2014
Has a great nostalgic feel to it.

+Fun
+Challenging
+Soundtrack

8/10
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20 of 31 people (65%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 3, 2014
You Have to Play the Game
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7 of 9 people (78%) found this review helpful
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 13, 2014
When I first played this game, I played it for only five minutes, turned it off, then went and wrote a review saying it wasn't that good.

Then I played it again.

I found that this game was much more than just a stupid-rage-inducing-waste-of-Steam-library-space. It was indeed a fun time waster that I definately enjoyed.

And hey, it's free. What's the worst that can happen?
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6 of 8 people (75%) found this review helpful
4.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 27, 2014
You have to play this game
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7 of 10 people (70%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
2.0 hrs on record
Posted: December 20, 2014
I won the game.
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7 of 10 people (70%) found this review helpful
0.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 8, 2014
A wonderful flashback to the days of unfairly hard platformers such as Maniac Miner. A must play for all skilled gamers.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
2.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 11
One of the best free to play game on steam, grab it and chill with great nostalgia from the 8-bit dungeon platforming, sfx and visual sprites that we so used to see on the old consoles and portable gadgets, this is one of those you'll definitely die a whole bunch but progress provides very sweet satisfaction type of game, will you deliberately lose or triumphantly succeed, in the end you'll definitely have to win the game :3
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 6
You can play as a cat, that's insta-winning the game. :^)
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
0.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 15, 2014
when i started this game i honestly didn't know what to expect, except that i had to win the game, due to my poor platforming skills, i could not win the game
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.6 hrs on record
Posted: September 24, 2014
VVVVVV meets Super Meat Boy.
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