The Shockingly Good Shooter Game KISS Made in the 2000s

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From pinball machines to caskets, there is nothing that KISS won’t slap their logo on.

In the 90s, video games experienced a first-person-shooter renaissance. The release of Doom in 1993 made the genre the most popular thing going in all of video games. This ushered in a lot of great additions to the genre, including Quake, Half-Life, Goldeneye and numerous others.

Of course, with any trending genre of media, it also brought in a host of terrible shovelware from creators trying to make a fast buck. If anyone knows about making a fast buck, of course, it’s KISS.

KISS was sort of experiencing a mini-renaissance in the 90s themselves. Reunited with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, the original lineup of KISS was more impactful than they had been in years, selling out tours and making movies like Detroit Rock City (a story for another time).

Two years after the release of their reunion album Psycho Circus, they dropped their game KISS: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child.

Developed by a team of former Ion Storm members (the powerhouse game studio responsible for Deus Ex and intended to change the world), KISS’ video game actually managed to be pretty solid.

Players choose one of four KISS cover musicians who have been granted powers in line with the KISS persona of their alignment. The game took its lore from the Todd McFarlane-penned KISS Psycho Circus comic books, capturing a vibe more in line with The Crow than anything else.

As you progress through the game, you gain more armor for you character, powering them up and eventually bringing you closer in line to KISS’ onstage outfits. Enemies follow the Psycho Circus theming, as you fight a variety of clown-faced spiders and other fiends.

Against all odds, the game is probably better than the album that inspired it. Sure, no new ground is really broken and it’s a retread of a lot of the things Quake accomplished in the 90s, but it’s undoubtedly pretty damned fun.

Check out what the gameplay looks like below.

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