Saturday, January 12, 2013

First impressions: IWBTG:G

Hey, check it out, this is the oldest 'draft' post I have on the whole blog, and I'm actually revisiting it!  I guess the readers don't know this, but now you do!

If life was like I Wanna Be The Guy:Gaiden, You would wake up in the morning, scratch your head, and put your feet on the floor.  The floor is covered in spikes and you die.  You go to feed your cat, and he slices your head off.  You go to the bathroom to relieve yourself, and the walls cave in on you.  Breakfast would also be a disaster of stabbing and crushing. In this game, everything is trying to kill you.

Since downloading and playing, I Wanna Be the Guy: Gaiden has provoked different reactions from me. Initially, I thought it was pretty funny, then, with quickness, I began to hate it. It became clear that I do not have the patience to progress through this incredibly difficult game. Finally, after watching someone else beat the game without dying, I am left with a grudging respect for the game and its designers.

IWTBTG is a parody game.  As a parody game, IWTBTG:G is excellent; the best I've seen.  The game is made up mostly from a collage of sounds and images from other games, mostly 16-bit and NES games.  The implementation of the boss characters is fantastically clever, interesting; And awesome to watch-- on youtube videos (I didn't manage to reach a single boss.)  

Opening map for IWTBTG:G
IWTBTG is stupidly hard, emphasis on the stupid.  The game is designed, purposely, to piss people off.  It works.  So, to me the challenge of describing this game is to not get too hung up on the challenge, to try to critique the game as though it were a legitimate attempt at game-design.  I'd like to punch the game in the nose, but I realize that will never happen, and if I tried to scrap with IWTBTG, it would beat the tar out of me.  It's just too goddamn difficult.

I had heard of the notorious difficulty of IWTBTG, prior to playing, but I didn't realize how purposeful it was.  It's like a series of practical jokes. The designers like to mess with the player, and the first twelve things that killed me were sort of out-of-place and unexpected.  These things would never find their way into a properly edited mainstream game, and I think that's the point.As far as I can tell, gameplay is mostly memorization and quick, precise movements.

I Wanna Be The Guy is very  much like Super Meatboy or Bit.Trip.Runner: One-hit-kills platform games- but not as well designed.  One key thing those games have to keep gameplay moving, that IWBTG lacks, is to have the music play continuously even when the character dies.  This feature helps to reduce the jarring sensation that comes from character death, and the quick restart of the level.  I hope if there are further editions of IWBTG released, that the designers will implement endlessly cycling music.

I originally set out to write a slanderous review to make myself feel better after being utterly crushed by frustration. I changed my mind after I took a time-out to watch a you-tube video of someone beating it without dying.  Watching this video gave me a renewed respect for the designers.  It's much more fun to watch someone else play, to appreciate some of the ridiculous traps and  fantastically silly boss fights.  So, ultimately, I'd like to declare a truce with I Wanna Be The Guy.  I won't play the game, but I will appreciate the design safely from my role as a non-playing spectator. 

If you have an amazing tolerance for game-related pain and frustration, then I recommend giving IWTBTG:G a play-through, and then show your friends; it's a great game to watch.  If you can't manage that, there's no shame.  Just head over to youtube and watch someone else beat it.  I do recommend playing it for at least a half-hour first, or until frustrated.  It will give you a greater depth of appreciation for the playthrough video.  


P.S. After writing this review, I discovered that IWTBTG:Gaiden is actually a sequel.  However, after checking out the original, I see that most of the outstanding features are the same, and so I use the two names interchangeably in this review.  I recommend playing Gaiden first, simply because it is more immediately entertaining.   

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