Video Game: You Have to Win the Game

You Have to Win the Game is an exploration platformer with a retro 1980s PC aesthetic, made by J. Kyle Pittman aka Minor Key Games (the same person who created Eldritch).

As such, it's extremely hard.

You are a stylized boy who explores a massive labyrinth to obtain precious treasure. Since you cannot attack, you must dodge the deadly traps in the way. Progress is saved via bells, which act as checkpoints. Eventually you can run across items which give you extra abilities and allow you to progress further in the castle.

The game can be found here. Two years later Pittman made a sort of sequel named Super Win The Game, which can be bought on Steam here, starring the same character who can find the same abilities (and many others) but this time with a proper plot and extensive setting.

Not related to I Wanna Be the Guy or You Have to Burn the Rope.


This game contains examples of:

The sequel contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The Subterranean Waterways are an equivalent.
  • Dem Bones: The Hollow King, just another random obstacle in the previous game, here a major part of the plot. An evil wizard stole his heart and broke it into six pieces that need to be retrieved.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The six pieces of the Hollow King's heart.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The protagonist's name is never said, but everyone calls him "the Wayfarer".
  • Floating Continent: The Sky Pillars area.
  • Grimy Water: The toxic waste in the Waterways. The ability to swim in caustic substances is needed.
  • Hub Level: Subcon (see Shout-Out below).
  • 100% Completion: This time there are 128 gems to find.
  • Ice Palace: Glacier Palace, also an example of Slippy-Slidey Ice World.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Until you can buy the Skeleton Key from the shops. There are shops that will lend you a key if you have none, but you will incur in a debt, which does absolutely nothing.
  • Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid: After you find the ability to swim in dangerous/caustic substances.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The Realm of the Hollow King, at least looking at the overworld map, and The Underworld, even if by that point lava should no longer be an issue (see the trope above) and the spikes are still the main concern.
  • Retraux: This time the source of inspiration are NES games instead of computer games.
  • Shout-Out: To various well-known NES titles.
    • Super Mario Bros.: Scenery elements such as clouds and bushes with eyes, the not-Thwomps, etc.
    • Super Mario Bros. 2: The hub area is named Subcon and is seen as black silhouettes over a monochrome background.
    • Zelda II The Adventure Of Link: The overworld map is very similar to the one in this game.
    • Metroid: The Waterways look like they're caverns straight out of this game.