FACEBOOK          TWITTER          INSTAGRAM          YOUTUBE          PINTEREST          PINTEREST

Saturday, 9 June 2018

KISS: PSYCHO CIRCUS - THE NIGHTMARE CHILD


A first-person-shooter is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Kiss, but that's exactly what Third Law Interactive created way back in 2000 with Kiss: Psycho Circus - The Nightmare Child. When you realise it's based more on the graphic novel by Todd McFarlane's production company than any one Kiss song, it begins to make a little bit of sense. And only a little.

The story is something of a confused one. A band name Wicked Jester (no Kiss), have got a gig in a little venue called The Coventry. No-ones turned up so, on the wishes of a local old lady, they decide to go to the circus instead. And this is where hell literally breaks loose.

Gene Simmons and the gang are nowhere to be found in the game. Instead, we have a quartet of wannabe rockers who just so happen to be the saviours of the world. You see, it's been foretold that a Nightmare Child will be born and wreak all sorts of havoc. Four 'Elders' have been prophesied to be the saviours, each taking on the powers of one of four elements: Water, Earth, Air and Fire. It just so happens that the whole Kiss image has something to do with it.

THE STARBEARER
Pablo Ramirez

The first 'Elder' the game asks you to play as (although you can
play each scenario in any order). Bears the imagery of Kiss
vocalist and guitarist Paul Stanley. The Starbearer rules over
the Water Realm and called upon Pablo Ramirez to be the new
avatar. Wields a sword called the Thornblade in a scenario
that requires you to get wet with underwater exploration.
THE BEAST KING
Patrick Scott

The Beast King reigns over the Earth Realm with deadly Beast
Claws as a weapon. Modelled after drummer Peter Criss' stage
persona that was originally known as The Catman. His
scenario takes you deep underground with a large number of
bottomless pits.
THE CELESTIAL
Andy Chang

Things begin to get tough in the Air Realm where you'll have to
fend for yourself without a weapon for a longer period than the
other scenarios. The avatar takes on the makeup of original
lead guitarist Ace Frehley who was once known as The
Spaceman. You'll eventually find the magical gauntlets known
as the Twister to aid you through the high-rise levels.
THE DEMON
Gabe Gordo

Frontman and bass guitarist Gene Simmons is the inspiration
for The Demon who rules over the Fire Realm. The heavy but
powerful axe known as The Punisher is your first defense in
the toughest hellscape of a scenario yet.

Using the Lithtech engine, Psycho Circus is ultimately another run-of-the-mill first-person-shooter. Exploring maze-like levels, finding new weapons and shooting a shit-ton of bad guys is for the course with this sort of game. It does try to do a few things different, mostly in its art and atmosphere but let's talk about mechanics first.

Unlike most other shooters at the time - and even now - you'll find yourself mostly using the melee weapon instead of guns. It will be the first weapon you find and ultimately does the most damage if you can get close enough. It is especially useful for mowing down large hoards of enemies. It is one of the first 3D game to attempt such a large number of enemies too, and it's not uncommon to find yourself swamped with the spider-like 'headless'. With my sword at hand (or claws, axe or gauntlet depending on who you're playing as), I rarely felt overwhelmed and mowing through them is highly satisfying.

You'll later collect a number of fantasy-themed projectiles, but they mostly have a real-world counterpart - machine-gun, shotgun and rocket launcher. These are best reserved for flying enemies or those where close-combat fisticuffs just won't cut it. You'll also find a whip which allows for some sporadic Indiana Jones role-play that gives an extra dimension to the levels.

For the most part, each stage is rather well designed but not nearly as memorable as it should be. Progression is usually in the vein of 'find a key', 'pull a lever' or 'defeat a load of enemies' in order to open a door. Sometimes you can see that much-needed key but you don't yet have the ability to collect it. There's a few 'aha!' moments when you figure some of them out, but it's not in the same league as Zelda (apparently an inspiration according to the developers). It does get repetitive after a while particularly in the later levels as they feel as if the designers' creative juice was ebbing somewhat.

When the game opens up into a large arena, the large number of polygons charging at you is quite impressive for an 18-year-old game. This was a year before Serious Sam defined kamikaze hoards so it can easily boast of being the first in that regard. The one major problem is that most of the game takes place in narrow corridors, and when these are filled with fire-ball spitting demon dogs it's nigh on impossible to come out unscathed. It becomes a mad rush to reach and destroy the respawn portal before it gets too much to handle, which can happen very quickly on the harder difficulties. In such situations, you shouldn't be thinking 'die mutherfucker!' as you drain your ammo count, but 'where's that darn portal?'. Not only is it more polite, but the earlier you destroy it, the easier it will be.

The levels are quite big and can take over 30 minutes to complete and with three interconnected levels in each scenario, there's quite a bit of game here. They are often separated into separate sections but the actual end of the level is signified by an ornate mirror that will teleport you to the next. In another nice graphical touch that shows the full power of the Lithtech engine, you're fully animated reflection will stare back at you - another rarity for the time.

Beyond weapons and whips, each 'Elder' has a number of 'Armor Shards' to find that upgrades their strength and adds abilities. These mostly increase your offence and defence but when you find the boots, a whole other mechanic opens up - platforming. While you can hop about from the outset, the boots allow you jump a lot higher making previously unreachable areas available. There are quite a few of these sections to break up the action, and most are fairly painless. There were a couple of times when you're on the clock and you realise just how terrible old-school shooters were at twitch-heavy platforming but after a few tries, it's not incredibly difficult. I've seen worse in better games (Half-Life, I'm looking at you!).

If you go into Kiss: Psycho Circus with your guns blazing, you'll find the game very unforgiving, even on the easiest difficulty setting. You'll constantly run out of ammo and health as you rain bullets on the weakest of enemies. Go in with the idea that melee weapons are the way to go most of the time and you'll have saved enough bullets for when you really need them. Plus, the melee attacks are actually programmed very well here which isn't always the case.

Kiss have always been a theatrical band, so I guess it's fitting that Psycho Circus is filled with theatrics. Going from the first couple of issues, it's also very different to the comic book too, where the Kiss team appear to be part of the Psycho Circus troupe. I highly recommend you seek it out as it has some beautifully unique art to go along with the insane story.

The game, however, won't set the world on fire and it didn't in 2000. It could meet an average review aggregate were it not for the disastrously inferior Dreamcast port bringing the whole thing down quite a bit. In my eyes it's a lot better than most would give it credit for so if you're into shooters, rock-n-roll or disturbing spider-clowns give it a go.


To download the game, follow the link below. This is a custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses dgVoodoo in conjunction with DxWind to run on modern systems. nGlide 3D Wrapper (included) must be installed. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 395 Mb.  Install Size: 596 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download


Kiss (the band) is © Kiss Catalogue Ltd.
Kiss: Psycho Circus (the comic) is © Todd McFarlane Productions
Kiss: Psycho Circus - The Nightmare Child (the game) is © Gathering of Developers
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me


Like this? Try These...

http://collectionchamber.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/carnevil.html  http://collectionchamber.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/the-devil-inside.html  Powerslave

23 comments:

  1. And exactly those were the days when a Dreamcast (among other game consoles) was all I had, but no then current-gen PC far and wide in the early 2000s. So, without being aware of the much more superior Windows version of Kiss' Nightmare Child, I thought of the Dreamcast port as a quite alright porting. But then again, my biggest proud at that time was Sega's former flagship, so please pardon my adulation for even the most mediocre (in a technical sense) PC conversions for Dreamcast's rather shabby sub OS named "Windows CE". You hear me, Hidden & Dangerous, loud and clear, don't you? Anyway, H&D, I loved you nonetheless! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There were a few good ports on the Dreamcast. Quake III was pretty decent, though I still wouldn't choose that consoles controller for it (I had the Dreamcast keyboard & mouse). IIRC Kiss didn't have that option and levels were truncated too.

      Delete
    2. You're right, Biff. I guess, I was judging the aforesaid Windows CE a bit too harshly. So, how about describing it as "suboptimal" instead? Nonetheless, this alternative OS also brought us the whole-lotta-fun-to-play Super Runabout: San Francisco Edition! :-)

      Delete
    3. Yes, it sure did! It was a revolutionary console. My go-to racing game for the system was Hydro Thunder. Good times.

      Delete
  2. Hey, so I installed the game but for some reason it just won't open. I'll click play and a small black square window will appear saying The Nightmare Child, then close after a few seconds. The only way I got it to kind of open was running the combatability troubleshooter on the shortcut as Windows 8, running the KISS launcher, going into display options and setting the graphics card to my GTX660M instead of the dgVooDoo wrapper, and leaving the resolution at the default setting. The game booted, but the movies were broken and it seems as though it's only displaying one frame but not refreshing? I'm not sure - I managed to blindly navigate through the menu to get to the tutorial and i could hear the player running around and grunting but the screen wasn't moving at all. So i'm not sure what's going on - I'm running Windows 10, installed to the default directory and installed the two programs that came up during the installation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello. Sorry for the late reply.

      DXWnd and dgVoodoo are still rather new to me, so I'm still learning the programme. It sounds to me that DXWnd isn't connecting and that could be because it's been installed in Program Files. Try reinstalling somewhere else (eg D:\Games) to see if that helps - the admin rights could be causing issues. Compatibility settings won't help as DXWnd deals with all of that internally.

      Try running dxwnd.exe in the DxWnd subfolder and running the game from there (right click KPC, Run, Run Hooked). Double click on KPC to see all the options etc. There's a txt file called ChamberNotes which will give more details on what I've done within DxWnd and dgVoodoo.

      Delete
  3. Once in a while I feel the urge to replay KPC as it is a hard as nails shooter in higher difficulty. Maybe I'm biased because Third Law was founded by former members of Ion Storm who developed Deus Ex - one of my all time favorites.
    With KPC on Win10x64 I ran into an issue with my mouse letting me turn my avatar only in clockwise direction thus making the game unplayable. It seems to be a polling issue I didn't bother to resolve. On my secondary Win7x64 system I gave all the .exe files admin privileges in compatibility settings and bypassed the DX9 wrapper in dgVoodoo settings. Launching the game with psycho-c.exe (the one with the No-CD patch) let me play KPC without issues.
    What puzzles me is the fact that I got the game running some years ago on a Win8.1x64 system in 4K resolution. The only issue there was the intro and outro not displaying properly. Maybe the problem lies in Win10 which is still a work in progress while Win7 remains untouched aside from some security and stability updates. Not surprisingly the game doesn't like 64-bit systems very much. A Win7x32 installation ran the game flawlessly.
    Somehow dgVoodoo and DXWnd seem to work their magic in the background as the graphical quality is superior to my former game installs. The only bug I encountered is a possible crash in Molten Vein level where you fight two Unipsychos in a chamber. Save before the encounter as you may have to reload multiple times until you win the battle without the game crashing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, I had to use both programs to get the game running well. DxWnd helped with fixing controls and compatibility while dgVoodoo made the videos run. There's full info in the ChamberNotes.txt.

      I didn't encounter any bug crashes from what I recall. At least not once I got my DxWnd and DgVoodoo settings down. I'll see if I can replicate it when I have time.

      Delete
  4. some one please help me the game runs but it is smashed to one side when runiing in 720 also the damn thing shows all purple and green graphics please please help

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. update the game looks so far but all i did was run the tutorials ok but the menu and start up video are all messed up with the green and purple and being smashed please help i would like to get it running perfectly

      Delete
    2. Hello, and sorry for late reply. If you read the game's ChamberNotes there's a note about the errors I encountered. This sounds like DxWnd isn't picking up the options. Have you tried running as admin or installing outside of Program Files?

      Delete
  5. how can i change weapon bar in game look too big ?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for providing this. As a fan of Kiss, this is one of my all-time favorite FPS games!

    The wrapper works fine. But for some reason, I can't adjust the setting to make it run in a 16:9 aspect ratio. I've tried the settings in DXWnd and dgVoodoo, but I keep getting the square aspect ratio. I don't mind playing this way, but it would be great to get it to full screen size.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, the game wasn't originally designed for widescreen so I don't really support it. I only do if an interpreter already accomodates it (see Trespasser).

      To trick it, I suspect you'll need to play with both dxWnd and dgVoodoo. Though I won't be testing it, try using the stretched option in the relevant dropdown menu on the general tab in dgVoodoo. You might have to change dxWnd settings as well, but back up both config files just in case you mess something up.

      Delete
    2. I was able to do that through DxWnd itself, but for some reason couldn't do it through the shortcut. However, once I eliminated the "C:\KPC.dxw" section from the command line options in the shortcut, it ran in widescreen. :)

      Delete
    3. Read the Chamber Notes or the FAQ. You'll have to export the changes and over-write the .dxw file. Right click the icon in dxWnd and click eXport. The shortcut (and Run.bat) directly references this file.

      Delete
  7. Mr Biffman, With your installer I can get the game to run which is my best attempt in the past 10 years. Thank you. But I have a couple of small but one game breaking problem. The game breaking problem is I can only see certain textures on the walls if I am far away from them. If I cam close to a wall, the texture disappears. My two other small but lesser problems are that the cutscenes are missing some textures as well as the color/textures on the main menu screen are all messed up. I'm using Win 10 64 bit and I have to start the game from Psycho.exe from the KPC folder inside the DxWnd folder. (Starting from KPC with DxWnd.exe open and choosing Run with hook does nothing) Can you help me solve these? Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Starting the game with psycho.exe will only implement the dgVoodoo options. On my setup, both programs are needed to play it properly. Try running the shortcut (or Run.bat) as admin or DxWnd itself if running the game from within there.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for the reply but nothing helps. When run from the desktop shortcut as admin I get the same results as my msg above. When running Run.bat as admin I get a DxWnd error that says, "Windows cannot find DxWnd.exe. Make sure you typed the name correctly and try again." Running DxWnd.exe as admin itself then choosing KPC and right clicking on it and choosing Run Hooked does absolutely nothing, game doesn't run at all. I have all installed to the default folders the installer wants to use.

      Delete
    3. Have you set a compatibility setting to Psycho.exe? Doing so will conflict with DxWnd. I'll have to look into it further my end, but so far it works well with me. Those screenshots are from my playthrough.

      Delete
  8. I have not set a compatibility setting for Psycho.exe. I'm running Windows 10 64 bit version 1909. Thanks. Hopefully you'll find something.

    ReplyDelete
  9. How to fix that buggy color in the game ?

    ReplyDelete
  10. A little suggestion here... perhaps you might want to update this installer of yours to include this here patch: https://www.moddb.com/mods/kiss-psycho-circus-the-nightmare-child-windows-10-patch that would allow for things like higher resolutions (without shrinking the HUD), widescreen support and fixes for things like "rainbow colors" during intro videos and menus. Along with also removing the need for your installer package to include/rely on things like dgVoodoo, DxWnd and/or nGlide anymore...

    ReplyDelete