I’ve always made a deal with myself while writing this series of articles: First, that I would only recommend games I could play. And second, that I would only talk about games that I thought most people would enjoy. However, I also promised that I would try and take requests whenever I could, so this week I’m going to go ahead and talk about a game my computer could barely run and and a game I couldn’t even beat the first level of (though I was able to find a Let’s Play). Ladies and Gentleman, I bring you the sequel to one of the most frustrating games of all time, I Wanna Be The Guy: Gaiden, and a contender for the scariest game of the year, “Slender.”
I Wanna be the Guy: The Movie The Game (IWTBTG for short) came out in 2007 and was made by a single person, Michael “Kayin” O’Reilly. While Kayin is an interesting figure to discuss, I’ll wait till the release of Brave Earth Prologue to say anything. In any case, all you need to know is that the game was massively popular and drew a lot of attention for its difficulty and the Let’s Plays of it. The game spawned a huge number of fan games but no official sequels outside of a demo for the abandoned prequel, I Wanna Save the Kids. However, earlier this year, a trailer showed up promising a new entry in the saga that would appear at EVO 2012. After it premiered in an amusing demonstration where Floe, who had a popular LP of the original game, got to be the first person to play it. The game was finally released to the public this Sunday on Gamejolt and had a number of new features, including the ability to charge shots and use a bionic arm, more save slots, a new character, and a trophy system.
I Wanna Be the Guy: Gaiden, follows the Lad, a young boy who has decided to seek out The Kid, the hero of the last game. After defeating his father and becoming The Guy, the former kid found no rest as the people he knew became afraid of him and banished him to be chased by fruit spikes and The Moon (play IWTBTG to understand this). Now the Lad goes out, hoping to discover what happened to The Guy. In all honesty, this bit of story is surprisingly dark, as it reveals that all of the lives you lost in the last game were actually different Kids. True, it still is more comical than anything else, with “Engrish” being used, Dr. Wily’s castle showing up, and finding out the place you are in is Worldland, but it’s a nice touch.
Still though, you don’t want to hear about the plot and, with the exception of a cutscene at the end, the game ignores it. Instead, let’s talk about the gameplay. Like IWTBTG, this game is an unfair platformer. No, you didn’t misread that, I didn’t mean to say an ultra-tough platformer like Super Meatboy or Mighty Jill Off (where things are very tough but you can see the threats you’re facing and have time to respond to them most of the time), I meant to say unfair, as there is no way to prepare for any of the dangers you’ll face. This is a game where you will start on a Super Mario World-like map, go to the right to start the first level… and get killed by jumping cheep-cheep. Then you try to jump over the kamikaze fish only to have the bridge explode under your feet. When you finally get to the level though, things don’t get any better: you will have to contend with enemies popping out of nowhere, dropping platforms, and some of the most difficult grappling hook shoots to ever make. Of course, even if you survive the first level, there are two more… and this game is only the first episode. This game is pain and misery wrapped in an almost sickening number of NES and SNES references.
However, that’s exactly what should be expected of a sequel to IWTBTG and fans of this type of game will love it for being unfair… and I do too. Yes, while I couldn’t even beat the first damn level, I had moments of almost masochistic glee as I failed for the tenth time to even reach the first level. As fun as the schadenfreude is from seeing people like Floe going slowly mad from playing the game, there is a completely unique joy I experienced as I watched The Lad explode into a spray of blood and the nearly iconic ‘Game Over’ riff played. As strange as it sounds, I actually enjoyed failing at this game. Oh, I certainly got mad and almost tossed my laptop down but when I finally reached the second save point, an admittedly small feat, I exploded with joy. Of course, I don’t think everyone will enjoy this type of game but for the type of people who love games like I Wanna be the Boshy or ultra-tough Super Mario World ROM hacks, this will be a delight… for the most part.
While it is hard to find problems in a game that is, by design, to be unfair and cheap, there are definitely two I noticed: 1. The grappling hook/bionic arm is annoying and 2. The game crashes rather often. While the latter point is pretty self-explanatory (the game has crashed four times after only playing for three hours) the first one requires some explanation. As previously mentioned, The Lad has a bionic arm (in addition to the ability to charge his gun and perform a double-jump). Like the one in Bionic Commando, you can use it to catch on to platforms and, if you hit the platform at an angle, you can swing on it. Unfortunately, it’s not always obvious what can be swung on and sometimes it will just not grab on to what you want it to. An early example is when you need to swing on to a spotlight that will fall towards a water trap. You can line up the shot perfectly multiple times and about a fourth of the time, the shot will go past the point or even make the spotlight fall but not latch on. This isn’t the only time the hook will cause frustrations and any time the game required it, I got frustrated for all the wrong reasons.
I’d talk about the aesthetics but, since almost all of the game’s art and pixels comes from other games and I couldn’t reach the later levels to hear the music (and the only LP I found had commentary, so I couldn’t hear it anyway), I instead will just conclude here. Ultimately, it comes down to this: did you like IWTBTG? If yes, you’ll like this, though you might want to wait for a patch. If no, then there’s no reason to start here. Yes, the game has a bit more variation and feels a touch more epic with its parachute opening but at the end of the day, it’s a game that will cause you endless frustration and not give you an ending better than “please play the next episode.” However, if you’re into masochistic games like this you’ll love it.