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KISS Psycho Circus Review
2000-08-04 Staff Page 1 Page 2

Here's how the reviews normally go:  Chet plays a game, writes the review, and hands it off to me.  I then try to figure out what the game's about from reading Chet's review, add a few critical comments of my own and some pictures, run it by the game's publisher to get their approval, and send it to UGO so they can give it a once-over and make sure it won't offend any advertisers or potential advertisers.   Finally, you read the review and - if we've all done our jobs right - it helps you decide whether or not to download the ISO off of UseNet.  Each review is a massive collaborative effort like the space program - if, instead of trying to land on the moon, NASA paid a panel of highly trained engineers and physicists to sit around and call the moon a cunt.

For this review, I've decided to break format.  Chet submitted his KISS: Psycho Circus review yesterday, and it mostly consists of profane babbling.  I think he didn't play more than three minutes of the game before panning it.  But what the Hell, he seems passionate about his criticisms and, really, it's no skin off my ass either way.  It's not like we're designing machines to x-ray your head; there's a lot of room for slop in whatever you call this business we do here.

In another unprecedented incident, I've actually played KISS: Psycho Circus.  So I think I'm in a position to help guide you through Chet's review, because I understand his frustrations with the game.  Namely, where in the KISS game did Third Law hide all the KISS?  I'm going to reprint Chet's unedited review on the left, and comment on it on the right.


Chet's Unedited Review

Special Collector's Edition Commentary Track

Rarely does a game get me this fucking mad. But KISS Psycho Circus makes my blood boil. Look at the title of this game, because it's actually promising:

KISS - Old rockers, but could still kick the teeth right out of Korn's pussies with just their forked-tongues alone.  They don't call KISS Knights In Satan's Service because they're not Satan's Servants, but because they ARE.

Psycho - This means rock until - surprise! - you're fucking insane.  It's not just the normal KISS, it is the psycho version of KISS!

Circus - This is a semi-gay gathering of mimes and people on swings. Okay, ignore this part.

I'm going to spare you some agony and begin my review with the last paragraph of my review: Overall, KISS: Psycho Circus is a mixed bag.  The game isn't torture.  If you need some frantic action feeling and you already pirated Soldier of Fortune and you absolutely can't wait for the next Serious Sam demo, you could certainly do worse than KISS, unless you're actually expecting much KISS.  In that last sentence, feel free to pretend the word "worse" contains a hyperlink to www dot daikatana dot com.

With that out of the way, I totally support Chet on this whole circus issue.  In the olden days, some culturally influential person, maybe Walter Winchell, meant to say "circuses are stupid" but slipped and accidentally said "circuses are scary".  Since then, every time some hack like McFarlane needs to be "edgy", out come the clowns.  I'm going to try a little sociological experiment today:  Funny bumper stickers sure are creepy! 

I was pretty sure this whole game was going to be about rocking out as KISS and kicking ass with my guitar, drum kit, and tongue.

Nightmare Child? Come on - this is the psychotic version of KISS they knocked up some hooker and now the evil offspring has joined the circus to kill the fat lady. THIS IS THE GAME I WANTED!!  Instead, I got what I'm pretty sure is legendary half-a-fag Kenny G hitting faceless spiders with his sax while looking for a new suit.  Does Third Law even know who KISS is?

Somewhere in the middle of this section, Chet stops making any sense at all.  I'm not even going to attempt to figure out what he's talking about here.  Instead, I'm going to tell you a true story.  Third Law's putative KISS game is powered by LithTech.  Since I have a financial interest in badmouthing LithTech, I was immediately prepared to blame the entire "lack of KISS" debacle on Monolith.  I sent Jason Hall some mail asking him if LithTech is powerful enough to render KISS, because, I went on, I doubted it could.  I forgot to send the message through one of my troublemaker HotMail accounts, but Hall responded anyway.  In between descriptions of some of the different ways he's going to beat me up if he ever, ever, gets his giant hands on me, he answered my question.   Here is his actual statement:

The LithTech TeamThere are many people at LithTech Inc. who love KISS and just simply put, have made sure that LithTech can handle KISS related material. So yeah, LithTech can render KISS!

Jesus, Third Law, I don't know what to say.  If you can't even blame a game's problems on LithTech, you're kinda screwed.

Pictured above is the difficulty select screen.  I'm gonna run it down for you.  First, Lullaby.  Good one.  Musically related and weak.  But Daydream?   What are they talking about?  Is this the song Daydream Believer?  If so, okay, but then what about Sleepless?  Sleepless?  If I am fucking Sleepless I would take Ritalin - I would not go out and kick ass with the #1 rock band in America!  Cold Sweat?  What the fuck?  Is all of Third Law going through menopause?  It's like one of them was like, "We need a word for the second hardest difficulty" and then the other Third Law guy said, "well, these hot flashes I get from my menopause are darn bad" and then the first guy asks "how's your estrogen treatment coming?" to which the other guy responds, "Aw hell, I'm just going to get a hysterectomy, like my big hero Todd McFarlane, and a Porsche" and meanwhile they forget to put any fucking KISS in the game.  

The Celestial

Al Jolson

The Demon

The Starbearer

The Beast King

Here, I should point out that, regardless of what Dr. Chet says, hysterectomies are not a surgical cure for menopause.  I also want our many female readers to know that there is a well-documented causal link between hormone therapy and an increased risk of breast cancer.  So be careful there, ladies.  Tempering your estrogen with doses of progesterone can reduce that risk, but there may be other complications.  Ask your doctor, or just send me some mail and I'll figure it out for you.

Finally, Nightmare.  Okay, so you stole this one from Doom, and stealing is more or less rock and roll, and I suppose it is part of the title of your game.  On the other hand, fuck you anyway, Third Law.  Who in the hell are you marketing this game to?  Here is the ladder of difficulty you should have used:

Eric Carr
Paul Stanley
Peter Criss
"Space" Ace Frehley
Gene Simmons

See?  Not only is it about KISS, it makes sense.  Clearly, Eric Carr is easiest because not only was he a member of KISS during their stupid makeup-less period, he is the only one who was a big enough pussy to die - of a broken heart [technically, heart cancer - ed] which is a pretty sissy way to go, if you'd just think about it for three fucking seconds.  The next two are kind of a toss-up.  Paul Stanley looks like a girl, but Peter Criss wrote "Beth".  I could go either way on these two fruits, but you get the general idea.  Ace Frehley's definitely tougher than Peter Criss and Stanley, but nowhere near as tough as Gene Simmons, so he's in the fourth position more or less by default.  Without question, Gene Simmons is the biggest badass of the group for five reasons.  First of all, he's a Jew.  So while you probably think you're a real big man when you sit on your ranch-style Doritos stuffed ass and bravely annoy helpless old people like Harrison Ford and the Pope with all your sarcastic jabs at Jesus Christ, Gene's people were in the middle of the desert pissing off the crazy fucking Islams.  Secondly, he's a flame-vomiting devil from Hell, which, now that I think about it, trumps all the other reasons I had anyway.

In this section, Chet really bounces back from the earlier part where he wasn't making any sense.  I agree with everything he says here.  However, even if I didn't, something just occurred to me that's more important.

Maybe people think circuses and clowns are so scary because of this famous photograph of enormously successful mass murderer John Wayne Gacy wearing a clown suit:

I did a little research and discovered this picture of sleepy John Wayne Gacy wearing pajamas:

Hey Todd McFarlane, I think bedtime just got a whole lot edgier!

My Desk

Above is the character selection screen.  Who is this guy?  Where is KISS?  Did I boot up Everquest by mistake?  Couldn't this guy at least be wearing face paint?   I don't want to play KISS's gay roadies.  Everyone look - behind me there is some hint of KISS!  Hey Third Law, thanks for making that KISS reference so subtle.   Nice job there, very tasteful.  I certainly wouldn't want too much KISS in my KISS game.  Look, dummies, KISS isn't subtle.  These are four middle-aged men who have to sit down during their show and wear girdles to keep their giant guts in.  But they do it, because they are fucking rock and roll.  But this guy?  This guy? THIS MOTHERFUCKER HAS NEVER BEEN IN THE KISS ARMY!!!    WHERE IS THE GODDAMN KISS ARMY?  WHO ARE THESE ABERCROMBIE AND FITCH WEARING DHARMA AND GREG MOTHERFUCKERS?  JESUS CHRIST - KISS is the only band that had their own army!  Where is my army?   Where is KISS?

Chet hasn't even managed to play the game yet, but so far he's right on the money.  In every review of KISS: Psycho Circus that I've read, the author makes a point of distancing himself from KISS.   Everybody's too cool for KISS.  Where was all the disaffected hipness when these same jackasses were praising Goldeneye, a game that forces you to pretend you're Mrs. Doubtfire's Pierce Brosnan? [pictured above: Bronson Pinchot - ed]  I say, if you're going to go through all the trouble of hiring a lawyer to license KISS, you might as well suck it up, act like a fucking man for once in your life, and put KISS in the game.  Instead, all Psycho Circus contains are lots of itty-bitty coy references to KISS.  Trouble is, (1) the word "KISS" is in the title, and (2) the box has a picture of KISS on it.  In other words, the man wearing the cat makeup is out of the bag.  The time for being bashful about actually putting KISS in the game is totally and completely over.  Trust me when I say that nobody who pays money for a game called KISS is going to be upset when it turns out to feature a lot of KISS.  And if they are upset, well, I'm speechless - after I call them a retard.  Off the top of my head, I can think of one million ideas for the KISS game that are better than the ones Todd McFarlane came up with.  Here they are in the order I thought of them:

1. You are KISS.

2. KISS has been kidnapped by punks. 
Rescue KISS!

The list sort of peaks with #2, so I'll leave it at that. But you get the idea.

K:PC StC?  0.00 seconds.

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