You Have to Win the Game

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You Have to Win the Game is a free platform adventure game developed by J. Kyle Pittman and self-published in 2012. The graphics and sound are purposely designed to be retro (CGA and PC speaker) and the game play features the now common theme of placing save states all over the map. As you explore the region you must pick up bags of money and find clues to decipher a code to beat the game.

I first saw this game in a video about game programming. I remember appreciating the CGA graphics and wanting to play the game, but I didn't remember the title (or if it was even mentioned). Later, while searching through Steam's Metroidvania category, I saw the game and remembered it from before, and was pleased to see it available for free.


The game is freeware. I have beaten it with 100% completion, though I needed a hint for the final puzzle.


  • Overall: 5/10
  • Best Version: Windows


  • Despite being limited to single-screen maps and CGA graphics, the game is pretty attractive, and the maps are quite interesting.
  • I always enjoy seeing harder portions of the game when I'm still too weak to deal with them.
  • I like how each room had it's own name often with jokes, although some of them seemed unnecessary.
  • While there are some more complicated jumping puzzles, nothing ever became too frustrating.
  • The ability to display the game in a retro CRT monitor, or use EGA colors is a nice touch.


  • In general, there isn't much for the player to do. Other than the end puzzle, the entire game boils down to simple jumping puzzles, with the occasional difficult one.
  • There is a fair amount of back-tracking. Each time you get a new power-up, you have to return to old areas to get the bags you missed.
  • The audio was a bit dull. Even limited to PC speaker emulation, more effort could have been added.
  • With only a tiny amount of monsters, the game world seemed rather empty. It would have been nicer to see more living things in the game, like if some of the spikes with monsters or platforms and moving walls were neutral monsters.
  • One of the room names actually points out an design weakness, the over-used contrived lock-and key progression mechanism. It would be better if the game used more power-ups to open larger areas of the map rather than generic platform fillers.


  • The lose option which resets your power-ups is dumb. All it does is force you to redo a large section of the map again for no real reason, and it's mandatory for a 100% completion.
  • The clues to identify the magic word are extremely vague and don't offer enough information to decipher it.