So you want to be the guy, huh? Well...

 

In the Year 200X  

I WANNA BE THE GUY: The Movie: The Game (I Wanna Be The Guy or IWBTG for short) is a computer game, starring The Kid, on his monumental quest to become The Guy, by killing him. This is accomplished by traveling all across the world, dodging a myriad traps, defeating eight grueling bosses, retrieving six fancy glowing red orbs, and then progressing through the Castle of The Guy. His only weapons are his double jump, his measly peashooter, and his boundless charisma and endurance.

Also, The Guy is The Kid's father, and The Kid's mission to become The Guy involves killing his own father, as The Guy killed his own father before him.

I have no remorse in spoiling the plot of this video game for you, as the likelihood you will ever be able to experience it for yourself is almost certainly zero.

 

On his 15th birthday...

Think of any game you've ever played. Preferably one of the older retro ones, with the big pixels and the amazing music and the insurmountable difficulty that you somehow managed to surmount later anyway. IWBTG is all of these, except without that last "you somehow manage to beat it" part. And it's not just blatantly impossible, as in unclearable: it can be cleared, you can be just sure as all hell that you'll never do so.

Every obstacle, every enemy, every jump is co-ordinated and calibrated to perfection, with one goal in mind: making you die. Fruit will disobey the laws of gravity. Enemies will not be what you expect, even when you think you're prepared for their unexpectedness. Each and every part of the landscape is out to get you, and things will be glaringly obvious just a minute too late. Shame on you for not noticing, your punishment is to do all of that again.

The death riff will become the leitmotif of your nightmares.

 

A child left home...

The Kid, the player character of this torturous game, at first appears to be a cheap Megaman edit, down to having the exact same sort of little gun in hand, as he prepares to take on the big bad world. But he is much deeper than that. There is a small cape, a toyish pistol, and a large grin on his face, as though this is just another big adventure to go on. As his begins his quest, wanting so hard to be The Guy, you fail to notice a large apple cherry DELICIOUS FRUIT falling from a tree above, and it lands on him, crushing him instantly. An enormous splatter of blood and giblets spews forth, coating the landscape in specks and pools of bright red. You hastily follow the on-screen instructions to clean up the mess and begin afresh—The Kid is right back where you found him, still grinning, still bouncing in place. But the stage has been set. You know the consequences: a violent explosion of death.

You somehow find the courage to press onwards, through numerous missteps and misguided attempts to advance. The pellets of the Very Small Gun, which was handed down to The Kid from Grandfather The Guy, surprisingly do damage to many of your enemies, but it's still repaid in kind with every time you steer the Kid towards one of his many, many demises. You are still troubled by the plight of The Kid: how many times has he died—how many times have you killed him—to get this far? How many more until the end of it? Will you even stick it out to the end? Has it all been in vain?

But he always smiles. Is he taunting you? Is he standing defiant and cold-hearted in the face of endless death and adversity? The world may never know.

 

On his dangerous and epic quest  

IWBTG is founded on the idea of subverting expectation. The fundamental bit of information you glean from the Pavlovian conditioning you are exposed to whilst playing this game can be summed up as "LITERALLY EVERYTHING IS OUT TO GET YOU". As much as it's much more interesting it you find this out on your own, some of the more memorable 'learning experiences' in this game are: DELICIOUS FRUIT kills you when it fall on you, you are too heavy to stand on small clouds, old-style cannons are also equipped with powerful lasers, you should never ever jump on couches, and yes, you're going to have to do all of that again except faster. Even when you think you've figured out a gimmick, its next instance will throw you another curveball, and you'll die again. Or it'll be used in tandem with something else, and you will consider yourself doubly screwed.

Some would call this style of game "trial-and-error", also known as the "exceedingly shitty" genre. And they would be entirely correct. The entirety of IWBTG is these traps, gotchas, and nonsensical shenanigans that invite either play by repeated death and rote memorization, or inhuman cautiousness, neither of which is better suited to the game than the other. Any groan, moan, or whine you emit truly is something that you've brought upon yourself, and you have no right to complain about the difficulty of one of the hardest games in the world. But to some—the masochists among you know what I'm talking about—this sort of game is fun, in a way. It's partly the challenge, to say you've beaten it, and partly the morbid fascination of what other sorts of obstacle the creator has conjured up and immortalized into this game, but you'd be damned if you're not going to find out firsthand what happens when you beat the game, even if it takes you the rest of your life.

But there is a bright side to all of this. This game is a tribute to the fun and difficult retro games of yore, albeit a very sick and twisted one. References to anything and everything from both that era and our more recent one, from the music, to the backgrounds, to the enemies, can be found in IWBTG. They might be played straight or ironically, but regardless, they invoke some sense of nostalgia as you "play" through this game, and it can help alleviate the atmosphere frustration.

 

To become The Guy!

The picture looks bleak. If this game is so hard, how am I expected to beat it?! Well, there are save points littered about the landscape, for you to save at, so as to continue your adventure later. And you will learn to love and cherish every save point, in much the same way that a Chilean miner loves and cherishes sunlight or the protagonist of Hatchet loves and cherishes food and survival tools. For they happen rare enough that you might actually see an average of only one per sitting, advancing to the next one only once in a blue moon.

And there are difficulty levels, too! Four of them! Each higher one does not make the game itself harder in any way, it just has less save points. The "Normal" difficulty, the smallest of the available four, places a girly bow on The Kid's head and calls him a wuss at every save point not available on "Hard", i.e, the equivalent of the normal difficulty level in any other game. The final difficulty level, "Impossible", only has one save point throughout the entire game, right at the end, though if you're good enough to play on "Impossible" regularly, you probably don't need that as much as you need friends or a social life.

In the interest of full disclosure, the game has been cleared by real human people. Even on Impossible. Recordings of runs are available on YouTube and other video sharing sites. So it's not like this game is actually impossible. But, to give you some sense of how hard it is, when the first person to clear it on Impossible announced that he had done so, the creator actually called bullshit on him, and proof of completion had to be presented. (It has since been TAS'd, too, but despite how cool that usually looks, it's not as impressive as when you know a human was behind the keyboard.)

 

GAME OVER

PRESS 'R' TO TRY AGAIN

 

I Wanna Be The Guy is a platforming game set in a Metroidvania-esque world, featuring endless traps, annoying enemies, and all-but-innovative challenges thrown at you without remorse. It is difficult. It is made by Kayin, commonly known as one of the most sadistic people on the face of the Earth, who wholeheartedly supports the description of the masterpiece as "a sardonic love-letter to the halcyon days of early American videogaming, packaged as a nail-rippingly difficult platform adventure." You can find IWBTG at Kayin's website—along with a whole host of other items of interest, like an FAQ, maps, a forum, and more—but if you know what's good for you, you won't.

10/10 stars, would not play again.

[IN12#12]

I WANNA BE THE GUY

MANY YEARS AGO "THE GUY"
LEFT WORLD AND RETREAT
TO "DUNGEON OF DOOM"
NOW "YOUNG BOY" GOES TO
DEFEAT "THE GUY" AND
BECOME "THE GUY" WITH HIS
GUN PASS HANDED DOWN BY
FORMER "GRANDFATHER THE GUY"

GO FIND THE "8" UNITS
NOW BECOME "THE GUY"

- the introduction screen for IWBTG



In 1942, the Algerian philosopher Albert Camus stated that "there is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy." Ultimately, he found in favour of life. Now I offer you evidence to the contrary.

I Wanna Be The Guy: The Movie: The Game (IWBTG), taken at its most benign and superficial, is a platformer video game developed in Multimedia Fusion 2 by Mike "Kayin" O'Reilly. It has, since its freeware PC release in October 2007, become infamous throughout the indie gaming community, noted for its sadistic difficulty and its surreal callbacks to classic 8-bit games.

Our hero is, of course, The Wanna Be The Guy (aka the Kid), a modern, spiritual heir to Candide, whose smile serves to allay our fears, assuring us that "blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God." His armament is bare: the "Cape of Hero" and a "Very Small Gun" (the former serving no discernable purpose, the latter, very little).

There is no Halo-esque shield regeneration, no super mushrooms, no lives, no hit points—well, there is one hit point. Lose it and watch as the Kid lights up, as if his insides were made of C-4. And after the little guy bursts like a raw blood sausage in a cape, a rock riff taken from Guilty Gear Isuka plays over the words "GAME OVER" and "PRESS 'R' TO TRY AGAIN". "R", actually, is the permanent "quick reload" button. "Q" is for suicide.

The game's save boxes are its only mercy; shooting one will start you in that location after you reload. Incidentally, the game's difficulty functions solely off save box placement. The default difficulty is "hard". Selecting "medium" will add additional save boxes, but they say "WUSS" on them instead of "SAVE". Also, the Kid is made to wear a little pink bow on his head. Selecting "very hard" actually removes some save boxes, which in my mind is right up there with "stabbing a fountain pen into your thigh". The aptly named "impossible" difficulty has no save boxes; any death will take you to the start menu.

And his enemy? Perhaps it is nothing less than the game itself, if not the entire history of console gaming. First, I speak without irony when I say that only the rare player will ever make it to the first in-game enemy. The Kid must first learn to distrust the landscape. He will learn, for instance, of the delicious fruit, that should he touch it as it falls down, he will die; more so, that he will die should he touch it as it falls up. The game is not concerned with throwing obstacles in your path; the game is the obstacle, and it hates you. Likewise, there is no unique world for IWBTG outside of generic Multimedia Fusion 2 stock sprites, such as the fruit and the spikes. The world of IWBTG is video games. The Kid is merely navigating a sequence of game boards, hoping to and fro between a pastiche of nostalgia flavoured death traps. At one point in the game, having jumped into a pit, you find yourself standing at the bottom of a Tetris playing field. Of course, in any other game, one could reasonably predict where the pieces will go based on logical predictions. In IWBTG, the "Tetris player" really blows, with tetronimos sliding back and forth frantically. The Kid explodes if one touches him while moving, and if you don't escape in time, you're greeted with an easter egg. And of course, it kills you.

Although it may not appear so at first glance, IWBTG actually does allow the player to take a number of different routes, which in turn take you through different screens, to different bosses, and different horrific deaths. Through one path, the Kid finds himself in the bowels of the planet Zebes, where he's forced to confront Mother Brain, then escape ala Metroid. Had the Kid gone a different route, he could have instead found himself up against Kraidgief, an enormous green Zangief (Street Fighter 2), with the attack pattern of Super Metroid's Kraid. In his second attack phase, rather than fire spikes from his chest, he fires fucking Blankas. Is one path really better than the other? Who's to say? It's like that Frost poem, "The Road Not Taken", except more like that one where he wants to stop in the middle of the snowstorm so he and his horse can freeze to death.

One slogan that's made its way onto IWBTG t-shirts is the phrase "The game where everything kills you. Even the moon." The moon does kill you, but it doesn't just fall on you. If it just fell on you, it would only be unexpected and frustrating. No, see, in IWBTG you finish fighting a gigantic Mike Tyson from Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!, and after he's dead, you have to leap from the ledge of a sky palace. As the Kid experiences reentry, his body begins to burn up; he dies if you don't know to double jump off the ledge so as to get as far to the left as possible in order that you might land in a size 2 x 2 tile hole filled with water. Then, after you've dodged the obstacles, including the cherry (carefully hidden behind a spike) that flies up when you jump over it, and the hidden lightening bolt that falls from one of the background clouds, only then does the gigantic moon fall. From a screen above you. You saw it as you jumped off that ledge. And then the moon begins to roll to the left, in an attempt to kill you. And then, as if an ignoble, sentient being capable of experiencing wrath, it falls up toward you. With nowhere but a one tile hole to hide, you cower as the moon drops one last time, before rolling away. And then, on the next screen, you find yourself in a twisted 2d platforming facsimile of the first screen from the Legend of Zelda, complete with gigantic Link and a floor lined with spikes.

What I'm trying to say is, this shit is fucking Duck Amuck. In Super Mario World, when you reach Bowser's Klown Kopter, you're prepared; the programmers have set the bar as a challenge for players, and challenges are meant to be overcome. In IWBTG, if a boss appears to be Bowser's Klown Kopter, well, now you're fucked. There's no challenge, just a punch line, and it's you. I spent hours trying to beat the Klown Kopter, hours. When I'd finally done it, I walked, nay, I fucking strolled into the next screen, and there was no save box. There were ceiling mounted spikes plummeting toward the ground, and a the Kid sized vertical gap between two spikes. So, I was back trying to beat the goddamn Klown Kopter some more, and on the off chance I'd win, I'd get another hand at the room of death. You can't just jump through that gap, you have to fucking double jump. It makes you look like you're floating if you do it right. Long before I had, I'd realized that the spikes were dropping too fast, that I needed to make for a small the Kid sized hole in the ground, just perfect sized to miss the spikes. I felt like a fucking champ when I'd finally made it, my safe haven from this vile motherfucker of a game. And then the spike above me abruptly doubled in size.

Well, I suppose, I should leave it at that. Nearly every screen has a story responsible for another scar on my soul, and I can't even tell you the worst the game has to offer, because I haven't seen it yet. Now, Camus is calling Sisyphus the absurdist hero, says he continues pushing his boulder for eternity, suicide boo, et cetera. Well, good for him. Last I heard, the boulder had the consideration to roll back down on the side opposite him. And it wasn't the fucking moon.


Title: I Wanna Be The Guy: The Movie: The Game
Developer: Mike "Kayin" O'Reilly
Genre: Platformer/Platformer Hell
Platform: Windows
Date Published: October 2007
Link: http://kayin.pyoko.org/iwbtg/index.php

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