I Wanna Be the Guy

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I Wanna Be The Guy
I Wanna Be the Guy title screen.png
The title screen is influenced by that of Mega Man 2
Designer(s)Michael "Kayin" O'Reilly
Programmer(s)Michael "Kayin" O'Reilly
EngineMultimedia Fusion 2
ReleaseOctober 5, 2007
Genre(s)Action-adventure, platform

I Wanna Be the Guy (IWBTG) is a freeware platform game created by Michael "Kayin" O'Reilly for Microsoft Windows using Multimedia Fusion 2.[1][2][3] First released on October 5, 2007, the game is no longer in active development, though the game's source code was released by Kayin in 2011[4] and a remastered edition was released in 2020.[1][5] IWBTG has unusually difficult platforming elements, unorthodox level design, and uses sound effects, characters, and music from many other games.[6]


the remastered version of I wanna be the guy
A screenshot of the remastered version of I Wanna Be the Guy

The player controls "The Kid". The controls are limited to left/right movement, jumping, double-jumping, and shooting. IWBTG is made up of several stages split into many screens, which are mostly pastiches of Nintendo Entertainment System games, such as Tetris, Ghosts 'n Goblins, The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Kirby, Mega Man, and Metroid. At the end of each stage, a boss must be defeated to progress. The first seven bosses (Mike Tyson; Mecha Birdo; Dracula; Kraidgief, a parody of palette-hacked character glitches; Mother Brain; Bowser, Wart, and Dr. Wily in the Koopa Clown Car; and a mix between the Mecha Dragon from Mega Man 2 and the Yellow Devil from Mega Man and Mega Man 3) are adapted from classic games, mostly platformers, but their behavior and appearance have been modified and enhanced for IWBTG. The final boss, The Kid's father, is unique to IWBTG. The game parodies many 8-bit and 16-bit era video games, such as the frequent use of references and sound effects from the Nintendo game Mario Paint.

IWBTG is most famous for its difficulty.[7][8] Most of the landscape is engineered specifically to kill the player character. Alongside a traditional range of recognizable dangers, such as spikes and pits, there are many less obvious threats as well, most of which are all but impossible to avoid without either previous knowledge or trial and error (such as Tetris pieces and "Delicious Fruit", which can fall downwards, upwards, or sideways).[9] The Kid always dies with a single hit, at which point he explodes into a mass of blood. Although each death results in a "Game Over", the player is allowed an infinite number of attempts.[10] From the starting screen, there are three different ways to progress; all of them ultimately lead to the same warp screen which returns to the first screen. Thus, to complete the game, the first six bosses along each path must be defeated before the warp screen will allow the player to access the final area.

The game has four difficulty settings: "Medium", "Hard", "Very Hard", and "Impossible", with "Hard" considered to be the "normal difficulty". The only difference in gameplay between the difficulty settings is the number of save points available throughout the game, with 62 in Medium mode, 41 in Hard mode, 22 in Very Hard mode, and none at all in Impossible mode. Also, while playing on Medium mode, The Kid's hair has a pink bow in it, and any save points exclusive to Medium difficulty are labeled "WUSS" instead of "SAVE".


Like many games that IWBTG parodies, the game's plot is straightforward and does not heavily impact gameplay. The player controls "The Kid", who is on a mission to become "The Guy". The entirety of the plot is given in a message during the opening credits, a parody of bad Japanese translations and broken English in early NES games.

At the end, The Kid reaches The Guy, who reveals that he not only killed "Former Grandfather The Guy", but that he is also "The Father" to The Kid. A battle between the two takes place ending with The Kid becoming "The New Guy".


Kayin describes the game as "a sardonic loveletter to the halcyon days of early American video gaming, packaged as a nail-rippingly difficult platform adventure".[3][11] The inspiration came from a challenging Japanese Flash game on 2channel called The Big Adventure of Owata's Life (人生オワタ\(^o^)/の大冒険, Jinsei Owata no Daibōken), which Kayin played and thought he could outdo due to it being incomplete at the time.[9][12][13]

On November 9, 2011, Kayin released the source code of the game under his own software license (forbidding new content), so that the game's community would be able to create fixes and patches.[4][14][15]


"The Kid" is an unlockable secret character in Super Meat Boy (2010). He also appears as an assist in the upcoming fighting game Fraymakers.

Prequel and sequel[edit]

Two months after the release of IWBTG, Kayin announced a prequel titled I Wanna Save the Kids.[16] IWSTK features "The Kid" escorting children back to their home. On the way, The Kid has to save these kids and himself from various dangers, as well as bringing them to the next level. The game closely parallels the classic computer game Lemmings, while still maintaining the notorious difficulty of IWBTG. The game is no longer in development, though a demo is available.[15]

After the success of fighting game competitor Ari "Floe" Weintraub streaming his playthroughs of IWBTG and multiple fangames, Kayin announced a sequel on June 26, 2012 titled I Wanna Be the Guy: Gaiden. Originally planned as an episodic series (though only one episode was released), IWBTG:G has "The Lad" trying to find "The Kid" after his ascent to Guy-dom. The game was first featured in the 2012 iteration of the Evolution Fighting Game Tournament with Floe playing.[17]


On December 22, 2020, a small group of fans remastered the game using the Yuuutu community fangame engine and Game Maker 8. The remaster was acknowledged by Kayin himself,[18] citing it as a "best case scenario" and a "perfect package for anyone who wants to play IWBTG who isn't some super specific game "research" type".[19] The remaster is intended to make the game more accessible by removing the compatibility issues and frequent crashing caused by running the original game in newer Windows versions.


I Wanna Be the Boshy, a 2010 fangame which is considered to be even more difficult than IWBTG, is popular in the speedrunning community.[20]

There are thousands of fangames that were made by individuals and teams inspired by IWBTG using the same controls and almost the same physics.[21]


In "Critical games: Critical design in independent games", Lindsay Grace describes the game as one that critiques the logic and illogic of platform games in a way that questions the underlying assumptions of the genre.[22] Shaun Prescott similarly describes it as a self-critiquing game, noting that it "subverts the learning process of games by constantly breaking the rules."[23]

The game has been categorized as "masocore", a descriptor for games with intentionally unfair design.[24][25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "I Wanna Be The Guy Has Been Remastered". Kotaku Australia. 24 December 2020. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  2. ^ Wiltshire, Alex (20 May 2020). "How I Wanna Run The Marathon riffed on Mario to draw a crowd". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2021-10-05 – via www.rockpapershotgun.com.
  3. ^ a b "IWBTG! A Very Hard Game About a Boy and 8-bit Masochism!". Kayin.pyoko.org. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  4. ^ a b "Fix My Game: IWBTG Source Code Release". Kayin.pyoko.org. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  5. ^ "I Wanna Be The Guy Remastered". Delicious-Fruit. Retrieved 2020-12-23.
  6. ^ Doctorow, Cory (2008-02-20). "I Wanna Be the Guy - platformer game is a stew of 8-bit classics". Boingboing.net. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  7. ^ "Review: I Wanna Be the Guy". 2008-01-07. Archived from the original on February 3, 2008. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  8. ^ "TIGArchive » I Wanna Be the Guy!". TIGSource.com. 2008-01-13. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  9. ^ a b "Iwbtg! - Faq". Kayin.pyoko.org. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  10. ^ "IWBTG! - Manual!". Kayin.pyoko.org. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  11. ^ Grace, Lindsay (2009). "Games as Teachers". Open Access Publications by American University Faculty. CiteSeerX
  12. ^ "『人生オワタ\(^o^)/の大冒険』作者に『IWBTG』作者から感謝のメール「あなたのゲームにインスパイアされた」 | ガジェット通信". Getnews.jp. 2010-05-13. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  13. ^ Veix, Joe. "The ecstasy of playing video games that abuse you". The Outline. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  14. ^ DIYGamer: Recursive Romhackery – I Wanna Be The Guy Source Code Released (2011)
  15. ^ a b "IWBTG! - Downloads!". Kayin.pyoko.org. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  16. ^ "New Project Previews!". Kayin.pyoko.org. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  17. ^ "Start Getting Wet, Boys: Gaiden Is Coming". Kayin.pyoko.org. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  18. ^ "I've played a decent bit in and fully endorse this remake". Kayin on Twitter.
  19. ^ "Kayin on Twitter".
  20. ^ "Absurdly tough I Wanna Be The Boshy looks effortless in this speedrun". destructoid.com. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  21. ^ "Delicious Fruit". destructoid.com. 11 April 2022. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  22. ^ Grace, Lindsay (2014). "Critical games: Critical design in independent games" (PDF). Proceedings of DIGRA. IGI Global.
  23. ^ Prescott, Shaun. "Games: 'Clicker and the bleak futility of games". The Lifted Brow (22): 43.
  24. ^ Wilson, Douglas; Sicart, Miguel (2010). "Now it's personal: on abusive game design" (PDF). Proceedings of the International Academic Conference on the Future of Game Design and Technology. New York, New York, USA: ACM Press. doi:10.1145/1920778.1920785. S2CID 18923357.
  25. ^ Guins, Raiford; Lowood, Henry (3 June 2016). Debugging Game History: A Critical Lexicon. MIT Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-262-03419-7 – via Google Books.
  26. ^ Khaled, Rilla (11 June 2012). "Muse-based game design". Proceedings of the Designing Interactive Systems Conference on - DIS '12. DIS '12. New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 721–730. doi:10.1145/2317956.2318065. ISBN 978-1-4503-1210-3. S2CID 7657670.

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