You Have to Win the Game takes the aesthetics of yesteryear and packages them into a brand new game that is free to download. It is a side scroller that has players exploring a labyrinth structure (think Metroid) constructed out of single-screen platforming challenges. As you explore you’ll unlock new areas of the map and collect copious amounts of treasure. The controls are highly responsive and the quick respawn system makes it easy to lose yourself for hours on end, delving deep into the maze in order to grab your next bag of loot. The aesthetics also warrant praise. The game emulates the feel of a 1980s PC environment, complete with a curved screen effect. It is amazing how diverse the environments can look with such a sparse color palette.

However, there are a few hitches in the overall design. The most frustrating problem with the game is its lack of a map of any kind. You receive no markings about places you have visited, and it is easy to find yourself traversing between the same three or four screens for an undue period of time. The exploration heavy environment also means a sporadic difficulty curve. One screen might be tough but fair, while another will have you pulling your hair out. The game also lacks any sort of background music, making the entire thing seem oddly empty. The constant respawning noise will lose its charm after you hear it for the hundredth time within three minutes.

Irritations and nitpicks aside, this game is recommendable to anyone who loves exploration heavy platformers. While it may not be the most original game in existence, You Have to Win the Game is a challenging experience that deserves a look from those of you itching for a platformer.

Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major? You can also find him on Google+.You-Have-to-Win-the-Game