I Wanna Be The Guy

I Wanna Be The Guy
I Wanna Be The Guy Cover
Platforms Windows
Genre Platformer of Death
MtAMinutes to Action 0
Keep Playing? *cowers in corner*

Remember the old days when video game were hard? Back in the NES days of Mega-Man, Contra, Ninja Gaiden, and the like? These games were all about skill, requiring split-second timing, precision button presses, acute pattern memorization, and that was just to get past the first level!

More recently, game developers cater to a broader audience and make games that are so easy we could beat them in our sleep. There's no challenge, no thrill of achievement, no bragging rights... hey ya dern kids, get off my lawn!

Michael "Kayin" O'Reilly set out to change that with I Wanna Be The Guy, which is available for free download to play on Windows. It's a throwback to the days when video games were difficult. It's in the style of an 8-bit action platformer, and it's hard. How hard? Let's find out.

Note: It will be of use to inform you of my process of writing this review. I made an audio recording of myself narrating as I played the game, then listened to it and wrote the review based on that recording. I noticed some strange things towards the end of the hour because of this. Read on:

(minutes are in bold)
00 - Starts with an 8-bit cutscene, a young boy leaves his house on a quest to become "The Guy." The camera pans up a skyscraper (with King Kong hanging off the side) and at the top is the boy, wearing a cape and holding a little gun.

01 - I select my game, the difficulty options are "Medium" "Hard" "Very Hard" and "Impossible." This game is not "Easy." The Developer of the game has suggested "Hard," as he says the game is supposed to be hard.

Movement is basic, left and right arrow keys, shift jumps, then double jumps. The character is tiny on the screen.

I can go up or down from my starting position. I jump up first, onto another screen with apple trees. As I walk across the screen, one of the apples falls and kills me. I explode in a shower of red pixels and the screen says game over. I start back at the beginning.

02 - Some of the apples fall, some don't. I die again. The timing of when the apples fall varies, each apple is different. I die again on the second apple. Then I die on the first apple. I haven't gotten very far from the beginning of the level yet, so it only takes me a second to get back. I die on the apples again.

03 - I figure out how to shoot my gun (Z), but it does nothing to the apples. I try to dash under the apples as fast as I can, but no good; I'm dead again. I decide to go down instead of up, but as soon as I drop down a wall of spikes rockets down the corridor and totally owns me. Didn't see that one coming. I think I see what I have to do, but I die again attempting it. I die three more times attempting, then go back up and die on an apple again.

I Wanna Be The Guy Gibs

04 - I die four times on the same apples before figuring out how to get past them (sneak under, then quickly dash back as they fall). Then I die on the next apple.

05 - I'm getting good at this apple-dodging thing. I jump over a low hanging apple and it shoots straight up and kills me. That's just unnatural. Then I die again.

06 - I die three times on the apples.

07 - I die four times on the apples.

08 - I attempt going down, and die again. Seeing no way past the spike wall, I go back up and die five times from the apples.

09 - I die four times on the apples. I got all the way across the screen, but then I have to climb on some platforms and go back across the other way; turns out all the apples that didn't fall when I went under fall up when I go over. I go down and try to shoot the spike wall, but die twice in the attempt.

10 - I die eight times on the spike wall. I think you have to time your jump perfectly to be in a gap in the ceiling when the wall passes, but that's really hard.

11 - I die twice on the apples, finally making it to the row of platforms above the ground.

12 - I jump over an apple that doesn't fall at all. It's probably going to hit me from from an angle when I least expect it. I don't die at all in this minute!

I Wanna Be The Guy Apples

13 - I make it over all the platforms and move onto the second screen! Whereupon I die instantly because there are spikes right there. Start over from the apples. The screen I made it onto had a save block on it, but there were a lot of spikes before I could get to it. I make it past the apples again and onto the second screen. There are spikes everywhere! There are a few clouds, I can jump onto them, but I fall off and die on the spikes.

14 - The game is strangely fulfilling, because at first I had no clue how to get past the apples, and now I do. Then I die twice on them.

15 - Ah, the apple that never fell finally fell up. Apparently it sometimes falls up, but not always; just enough to trick you. It didn't hit me though. I get back onto the cloud screen and make the jump onto the second cloud, but as soon as my feet touch it it plummets to the spikes below, killing me. Then I die twice on the apples.

16 - I die three times on the apples.

17 - I die once on the clouds and once on the apples.

18 - I die once on the clouds and thrice on the apples.

19 - I die once on the clouds and twice on the apples.

20 - I die three times on the apples. I pretty much know the patterns of the down-falling apples, but the up-falling ones still tend to get me.

21 - I die three times on the apples. I wonder if it is possible to go down, or if the wall of spikes is to tell you that you have to go up.

I Wanna Be The Guy Apples Further

22 - I make it to the cloud screen, and manage to jump off of the plummeting cloud just in time. I land on the third cloud, which darts quickly upward, slamming me into a ceiling of spikes. Ow.

23 - I die once on the clouds and once on the apples.

24 - I die once on the apples and twice on the clouds.

25 - I die once on the clouds and once on the apples.

26 - I die four times on the apples.

27 - I die once from the apples and decide to go down just to see a different death. I die three times on the spike wall, but notice that it doesn't go quite all the way to the back wall. If I drop down and run back... yes! It doesn't hit me! Then if I wait a moment the wall retracts and I run after it, dropping to the next level and doing the same thing. Sweet! Now let me guess, this last one is going to come from the other way... yup, it kills from behind.

28 - So it turns out the last one only comes out if you try the trick that worked on the first two. All you have to do is drop down normally and it doesn't come out at all. So I drop off the bottom of this screen onto the next. I kid you not, the phrase I uttered when seeing the screen was "What?! Captain Insane-o here!" I don't know what that means. This screen is one giant pit of spikes. There is one safe landing point near the top of the screen on the side opposite of my entry point.

29 - I drop into the spike pit again, with no chance of making it to the landing point. I do notice a strange vibrating spike on the wall. It has to mean something.

30 - I die twice in the spike pit. It's fun to shoot my gun and say "pew pew pew!"

I Wanna Be The Guy Spikes

31 - I die again in the Pit O' Spikes before deciding to try shooting the vibrating spike on the wall. I can't tell if I hit it or not, but I die.

32 - I die again in the spike pit trying to shoot the vibrating spike, then I get impatient and die on the spike walls from before.

33 - I die twice more trying to land on the vibrating spike. Maybe it hides a secret passage or something, I don't know!

34 - I die again in the spike pit.

35 - I decide to try the apples again.

36 - I'm moving much more slowly now, because I'm tired of dying so much. Which I do once on the clouds and once on the apples.

37 - I die once on the apples, but I think I know how to make the jump on the clouds which would get me to the save point.

38 - I die four times on apples.

39 - I have indeed figured out how to get to the save point, but it requires incredible timing and accuracy, which I do not achieve. I die twice.

40 - I guess if an apple as tall as I am fell on my head, I would die too, but I don't think I would explode in a shower of blood. This is what I think about as I die six times from said apples.

I Wanna Be The Guy Lots Of Spikes

41 - Six more apple deaths.

42 - Some times I shoot my gun just for fun because there's nothing else to do except die. Pew pew pew! And I die twice to boot.

43 - Apples or spikes? Apples or spikes? How do I want to die? The game is wearing on me, and I begin singing a little song about how tired I am of dying. The song gets an interjection each of the four times I die as I add lyrics about being killed by apples.

44 - I die three more times. The lyrics of my song are very repetitive.

45 - I mostly just sing "I die again on apples" over and over as I do so four times. This game has really worn on my psyche.

46 - I die twice more, once on clouds, once on apples. I'm really losing it, the apple patterns I've traversed a hundred times are fuzzy in my brain and I'm getting hit when I don't expect it.

47 - Two more deaths. I don't even care anymore.

48 - I die twice more on spike things. I don't want to keep going.

49 - I take a break from death to play around with some game options. I turn the music on. It's pretty bad, I'm glad I didn't have it on the whole time.

50 - I chose the option "Reduce Death Splatter," which reduces the number of red pixels that appear upon death. I'm glad an hour is only 60 minutes, because if it were 100 I'd only be half done.

I Wanna Be The Guy Zelda Shop Gibs

51 - I die twice.

52 - Twice more.

53 - Five more deaths

54 - Four deaths.

55 - Two more. I'm mumbling incoherent sentences, something about "spikes everywhere."

56 - Three more.

57 - Once more.

58 - Four more.

59 - Two more.

60 - I die and quit.

I Wanna Be The Guy Title Screen

Minutes to action: 0

Minutes to Game Over: 1

Number of Game Overs: 167

Max Game Overs in one minute: 8

Favorite Thing: The concept of this game, before I started playing.

Least Favorite Thing: Dying.

Graphics: Don't matter.

Sound: Hardly matters, the music was annoying.

Environment Design: Clever. I'm not kidding, making the levels that hard and still possible to get past is something.

Story: N/A.

Fun: For the first few minutes.

Keep Playing: Are you kidding me, did you even read the minute-by-minute? I couldn't get past the first couple of screens after an hour! No, I am not going to play this game any more!

Thoughts: This game succeeds in being really hard. So hard, that as I was listening to my recorded commentary, I noticed I had started to break down after about half an hour. It did something to me psychologically to just keep failing like that over and over. In fact, when I finished writing the minute-by-minute, I felt drained just from listening to myself go through so much. I don't really want to talk about it any more. You can feel the pain for yourself by downloading the game for free.

Just thought I should mention, I looked up a walkthrough when I was done and shooting the vibrating spike is indeed the solution to my spike pit problem.