You Have to Win the Game

You Have to Win the Game is the prequel to Super Win: The Game. Before I go any further, let me first congratulate J. Kyle Pittman on coming up with one of the most unwieldy names I’ve seen at IGC. It’s awkward to type and speak, which means the game will inherently struggle with spreading via word of mouth. Remove the “You Have to” part, add a colon, and just call it “Win: The Game.” Still a crap name (so is Super Win, quite frankly), but at least it’s easy to relay the title from one person to the next.

I am NOT up there!

I am NOT up there!

Anyway, I liked Win: The Game more than its super counterpart. Both titles attempt to pay tribute to classic gaming platforms. Super was focused on the NES, a platform I had little nostalgia for. This one is a tribute to old 80s personal computers, something I have even less fondness of. I’m not the target audience of games like these, so my fondness for them might say something profound about their quality. Win: The Game has similar power-ups to Super, but eliminates all the bullshit. There’s no overworld map that breaks up the action. The game is much more focused on precision platforming, and that tighter focus led to better level design.

It’s sort of hard to pick apart a game that costs no money. It’s even tougher when that game has few flaws. It’s not a big game. It took me about an hour to beat (I clocked in at 90 minutes, but that included leaving the game running while I ran errands, a bad habit of mine that I really need to stop), which isn’t especially deep. But then again, it has a lot of extra modes and achievements for multiple play sessions. The biggest omission is the lack of a map. I’m not sure what Pittman has against maps. Maybe as a child, his family left the opera early and was ambushed by a map in a back alley. Maybe a map forced him to play Russian Roulette in a Korean P.O.W. camp. Both Win and Super Win would have benefited hugely from having some kind of map on-screen, and both games suffer the needless tedium of aimless wandering by excluding one.

I super won.

I super won.

Oddly enough, the thing that strikes me most about Win is that it could have cost money and doesn’t. This is a quality title that costs nothing. Sure, being free served some purpose. It got J. Kyle Pittman’s name out there and built up hype for his future projects. Still, considering all the lazily produced garbage out there that costs $2.99, a genuinely fun game for free is sort of startling. Maybe he is an artist and just wanted people to appreciate his work, and goody on him for that. But he could have easily charged $1 for this and nobody would have complained. Like the man who sawed off his legs to pay for his farm, he sold himself short.

You Have to Win the Game was developed by J. Kyle Pittman
Play it for free on Steam

Winigc_approved1Win: The Game (it should be called that damnit!) is Chick Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard

DLC Quest: Live Freemium or Die

DLC Quest was one of those rare games that exists strictly to parody the industry, did everything right, and ended before the joke stopped being funny.  It did real well, even taking home the Official Xbox Magazine’s XBLIG of the year award. I really liked it too, to the point that I wrote my single most boring review ever because I was dead afraid of spoiling the game.  I wanted people to play it.

I also did not want there to be a sequel.  I just figured that there was no way the joke could be stretched any further.  DLC Quest is pretty much a game without flaws, in the sense that it gives you just enough gameplay to not get too bored while waiting for the next gag to hit.  It gave players one hour worth of genuinely funny jokes, and ended before they started going flat.  It really felt like the joke had gone as far as it could.

Zombie sheeps.  Also known as Sega's fanbase.

Zombie sheep. Also known as Nintendo’s fanbase.

Still, everyone clamored for a sequel.  Not me.  I did everything I could to discourage it.  I asked creator Ben Kane nicely to not do it.  Then I asked not so nicely.  Then I made threats.  Then I blackmailed.  Then I  held his parents hostage.  Then I left a horse’s head in his bed.  Then I burned his house down.  Then I found out I was talking to the wrong Ben Kane.  Then I had to explain to the cops that I hadn’t grossly over-reacted to an ultimately trivial situation.  Then I had to make with the bribes.  By time I had tracked down the real Ben Kane, it was this morning and the sequel was already out.  Grumble.

Guess what?  My fears were for not.  DLC Quest: Live Freemium or Die is still quite funny, briskly paced, and offers genuine laughs.  Having said that, the best jokes clearly came in the original, where you had to get “DLC” just to be able to pause the game, or walk to the left.  It took absurdity to a new extreme.  The punchlines in Live Freemium feel more like run-of-the-mill gaming humor.  Well done, mind you, but still the type of jokes that can be done in any type of game.  Stuff like making guys speak with Canadian accents, or having a token NPC character that adds fuck-all to the game.  If the writing wasn’t so damn good, it would have really been a letdown, because this shit has been done before.

As a game, DLC Quest 2, like its predecessor, is as basic as buttered bread.  Jump around, collect coins, find the occasional secret room that contains more coins, and that’s pretty much it.  I’ve reviewed dozens of games at Indie Gamer Chick that have minimal gameplay and focus on the writing, but platforming is much more preferable to scrolling through menus, or pointing and clicking.  And I have to stress, the writing is sublime.  As an example, there’s a section of the game that focuses on fetch quests.  Such events in any game are guaranteed to induce cringes, and this was no different.  Then, just as tedium was about to settle in and make of mess of things, a brilliant punch-line to the whole sequence instantly defused me.  It was the biggest laugh of the whole game.  I actually shook my head in disbelief.  I can’t believe he made that part work the way he did.  He got me.

Add an extra thirty minutes to the playtime to find everything if you so wish.

Add an extra thirty minutes to the playtime to find everything if you so wish.

Like the original, Live Freemium takes about an hour to finish.  Unlike the original, it doesn’t stay fresh to the end.  It doesn’t really get annoying or boring.  In fact, I didn’t think the game had run out of steam until right before the finale.  But, yes, the joke has officially ran its course.  It’s nothing short of remarkable that Ben Kane stretched it for over two hours before it grew stale.  His talent as a game designer is remarkable.  At the time of this writing, he has three games on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard, ranked #19, #20, and #31.  That’s pretty damn impressive.  Thus, I officially proclaim Ben Kane and his Going Loud Studios the first recipient of the Indie Gamer Chick Certified Developer Who Doesn’t Suck Award.

dont_suck2

Congratulations Ben.  But for God’s sake, don’t make another one.  I don’t care if this earns you enough money to buy a small nation.  Don’t make me put a horse’s head in your bed.  This time I’ll get it right.  How many Ben Kanes can there be?

xboxboxartDLC Quest: Live Freemium or Die was developed by Going Loud Studios

Seal of Approval Large80 Microsoft Points said “no seriously, I know I doubted you before, but there is no possible way you can stretch out this joke for another episode.  Think of Naked Gun 3.  That shit was unwatchable” in the making of this review.

DLC Quest: Live Freemium or Die is Chick Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard

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